Caution: Several foods, such as nuts, can prove to be fatal to children who may be allergic. *MCT Photo
Caution: Several foods, such as nuts, can prove to be fatal to children who may be allergic. *MCT Photo

What comes to mind when you suspect your child might have a food allergy? 

Are there complaints of tummy upset, hives, itching or does breathing become difficult? All of these can be symptoms of food allergies. There are two different types of food allergies.

The first is known as Type 1 or fixed which can be life threatening if the offending food is not avoided.  “Fixed” food allergies can come from the ingestion of fish, peanuts and shellfish. 

The second is known as Type 2, or delayed which is the most common type of food allergy people may experience.

“Delayed” food allergies can come from the ingestion of foods such as eggs, yeast, milk, wheat and corn. Food allergies can develop for a variety of reasons.  

Food allergies are being diagnosed more frequently due to increased allergy testing. Persons with compromised immune systems can be at an increased risk for developing a food allergy.

Genetics can also play a significant role in whether or not a child will develop food allergies that are particular to the family.

There are no recommendations at this time to avoid foods while breastfeeding to prevent allergies.  

When you are concerned about your child’s food allergy, follow these easy tips to help with creating a food-allergy-free environment:

Both parent and child should meet with a Registered Dietitian: Registered Dietitians can help both parent and child to understand which foods are safe to eat and the best way to avoid items that may cause a reaction.

Dietitians can educate both parent and child about good nutrition needed for growth and health.  Dietitians can also help with planning menus.

Educate your child about the foods they should avoid and substitute those foods with those similar in nutritional content: Provide a list of food ingredients to be avoided.

Do not rely fully on lists of “safe” prepackaged foods because ingredients may change, making the lists out-of-date quickly.

Teach children to read the labels on packaging: Manufacturers can change ingredients of products without notice so checking ingredient food labels carefully for every food item being served is very important.

Sometimes ingredients that are not expected to be present in a particular type of food can be included and will cause an allergic reaction.

An example of this was when a child, allergic to legumes, (beans, soy, and peanuts) had an allergic reaction to a cheese pizza she had eaten.

The ingredients were listed but she was unaware that the manufacturer put beans in the crust to increase protein content.

Please see some common foods label items according to allergies

Develop and teach your child about specific cleaning procedures: Making sure that tables and surrounding areas are thoroughly cleaned before and after preparation of food is very important.

A specific area should be designated where allergy- free meals can be prepared and served. It is important that a specific cleaning cloth is used for the allergy-free tables to avoid cross contact. 

Those who are not affected by allergies tend to be less inclined to accommodate or take food allergies seriously: Do not be afraid and teach your child to ask questions when dining out regarding the preparation of a food item. If possible, call the restaurant in advance to request specific food preparations. 

Inform child’s school about allergies and adverse reactions: Ensure that the school nurse is aware and can provide training to staff in regards to specific medical procedures that are to be followed in the case of an emergency.

Teach your child not to share or exchange utensils, food, snacks or beverages. 

Create and discover new recipes: Do this by using ingredients that are non- allergenic. Developing your own cookbook is a great way to experiment with different ingredients with your child.