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Decoding Food Allergies

Written by Liz Kerins Pacheco

Photography by Photo via Village Green

Anyone who has a child with severe food allergies can tell you all about the anxiety and constant vigilance that comes along with dining out, playdates, attending a birthday party, or hopping on a plane. We have a few close pals who are super calm, careful (and admirable!) expert nutrition label decoders and always travel with treats their tot can safely consume. Even those whose children can indulge without concern need to be aware these days as food allergies become more prevalent and daycares and schools enforce nut-free policies.

We’ve heard that c-sections can be to blame, that peanuts during pregnancy could both cause or prevent said allergies, and that antibiotics could be a potential culprit. But even expecting moms who consume just as they’re told, have a vaginal birth, and follow the advice of their doctor’s recommendations to a T can be faced with food allergies in their children. So, how do we navigate this strange new world?

Most pediatricians will recommend that you introduce new foods one at a time and monitor your budding foodie with the most recent meal in mind. They mention to be on the lookout for hives, welts, swelling of the face/tongue/lips, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, flushed skin or a rash (but try not to worry or panic!). Also keep in mind that if you just devoured a nutty granola bar and then covered your baby’s face and neck with kisses, it might be your last few bites that are to blame for the sudden appearance of any symptoms.

We broke down a few of the most common food allergies with links to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) for those eager to learn more.

An allergy to cow’s milk in infants and toddlers is more common than you might think! Fortunately, this is an allergy that many outgrow, but we’ve heard miraculous stories about mothers struggling to breastfeed who go on to nursing bliss after eliminating cow’s milk from their diets.

This is another common allergy that requires close attention as eggs are hidden in a multitude of products. If you suspect your child has an egg allergy, you should consult with your pediatrician about vaccinations, as many contain egg protein.

Tree Nuts vs. Peanuts
These are two distinct food allergies that don’t necessarily go hand in hand. They are likely the ones you have heard the most about as they can bring on the most extreme reactions. Because of this, your pediatrician will likely recommend that you introduce nuts for the first time in a controlled environment (preferably at home).

An allergy to wheat doesn’t necessarily mean your child is gluten-intolerant or has celiac disease. Wheat gets a bad rap for causing inflammation, but this is an allergy that many will outgrow by the age of three.

Hold the sushi if you suspect a soy allergy in your family. Here’s another food known to cause inflammation and although allergies are detected in .4% of children, most symptoms aren’t severe.

If your child or someone you know has a food allergy, we’d love to hear your thoughts and trusted resources in the comments below. We’re all in this together! Here’s to safe and happy eating for you and your family!

P.S. Here’s a fun option for reminding care providers of your child’s allergy at snack time or in case of an emergency: http://www.allermates.com/

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