Having a food allergy or food sensitivity can be really tough. It can be socially isolating and can turn even the simplest meal into a chore if you’re not familiar with the allergy. So with this in mind, the Flora team has compiled a quick guide on some of the most common food allergies.
The Most Common Allergies
Milk or lactose, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy and wheat/gluten allergies account for 90% of food allergic reactions according to Foodallergy.org in the US. For most sufferers, the only way to avoid the reaction, which can become fatal, is to avoid the food group entirely and to ensure that there is no “contamination” of allergens in the foods.
How to cook for someone with food allergies:
- Make sure your dishes are clean and thoroughly rinsed to ensure that no allergens remain on the crockery or cutlery.
- Read food labels – if in doubt ask the allergy suffer to check and confirm ingredients themselves. For example, if a product is nut-free but was manufactured in a space where other tree nuts are processed, the product may be contaminated with microscopic traces of the allergen, which can be enough to trigger a reaction.
- Prepare food in clean areas – where none of the allergens have been used in cooking. For example, don’t reuse a chopping board that has come into contact with an allergen, make sure it’s 100% clean.
- Label your groceries – If you live with someone with a food allergy, labels help them make quick decisions as to what they can or can’t eat. Consider a green “safe” label you can stick on allergen-free food items when catering for someone with these challenges.
- Wash your hands – As much as surfaces and utensils need to be clean, so must your hands be.
- Stovetop Safety – Severe allergy sufferers can react to the proteins released in vapors when cooking with certain allergens – make sure the person avoids the kitchen during cooking and 30 minutes after it’s complete.
This is an extreme allergic reaction and can be fatal if the person is not immediately treated with an injection of epinephrine (usually called an Epipen) followed by a swift trip to the emergency room. If you often cater for allergen suffers, it might be worthwhile to keep epinephrine at home in case of an emergency.
Luckily healthy eating and lifestyle is still possible for allergy suffers, it’s just about how you go about it that makes all the difference.