Written by Jennifer B - FoodAllergyBuzz.
Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
After being diagnosed with food allergies, most people will encounter a learning curve. Just finding out about a food allergy, especially as a result of a reaction, can be traumatising. A severe allergic reaction can be quite frightening. Then, after you recover from that experience, at least physically, you have to learn a whole new way to read labels.
You will want to examine all of the foods you already have at home and check their labels. Are they safe for your food allergies? Do they contain ingredients you need to avoid? Depending on what your allergist recommends, you may need to avoid cross-contamination as well. For example, the allergist instructed me not to feed my son any foods manufactured in an environment where peanuts or tree nuts are present. I write to every manufacturer of a product I’d like to purchase to find out if peanuts or tree nuts are in the manufacturing facility. You too may need to determine if the allergens you need to avoid are present at the manufacturing facility.
Being diagnosed with food allergies can be overwhelming and frightening, but you will soon learn they are completely manageable. Until you gain a comfort level with selecting food that is safe for the food allergies you manage, you may question whether any processed or packaged food is safe. Even now, years after my son’s diagnosis, I feel safest when I am making food from scratch. It is, however, so exciting when we discover a new safe, off-the-shelf food. What a treat!
It does take time to figure out which food manufacturers you feel comfortable with and which ones you should avoid. You’ll eventually have a list of “safe” companies, and go-to products that will work for you. I found that after about a year, I felt quite comfortable managing my son’s allergies.
How to shorten that learning curve? Read! Read as much as you can! Nowadays, there is a wealth of information about food allergies online. You can find support groups, discussion groups, closed and open Facebook groups, blogs for recipes, blogs with product reviews, blogs with personal food allergy stories, and a number of food allergy awareness and advocacy sites. The information is out there, you just need to find it!
Connect! You are in good company so connect with others–you don’t have to go through your food allergy learning curve alone.
Jennifer B is a food allergy blogger and runs The Food Allergy Blog Club. Visit her website Food Allergy Buzz, or follow @FoodAllergyBuzz on Twitter.