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How can I live with a food allergy?

Most people with severe food allergies can lead a normal life. They can do everything that anyone else can do, like going to school, playing sports and going to parties. They just need to be a bit more careful when it comes to choosing the foods that they eat.

If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, worried or upset about your food allergies, you can talk to your doctor, nurses, friends and family about it. They are all there to support you. You can even ask your doctor about local support groups.

Ms. Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

It is absolutely possible to live a healthy and successful life with food allergies. The key is to identifying and managing your food allergies. Stay educated and consult with a registered dietitian specializing in food allergies to better guide you in living with food allergies. Consider becoming a member of support groups such as Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), Families with Food Allergies, etc.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Living with a food allergy can be difficult at times. However, knowing the basics of how the body works and what exactly is causing the allergy can make the process easier. Most individuals with food allergies eventually find out what is causing the problem. Once the food(s) is pinpointed, elimination or limitation of that food is crucial to alleviate symptoms. Once the individual knows what their trigger food is, they are able to avoid it by practicing proper label and menu reading techniques. These days, food allergies are on the rise, so finding allergen free products in grocery stores and restaurants is actually quite easy. If there is a specific food you are looking for but can't find, a specialty or natural grocery store might have what you are looking for. There are even websites available that assess local restaurants based on their ability to adapt to various allergens that patrons might have. In this case, the more research the better. Get to know your food allergy and practice proper nutrition techniques to limit reactions to that food.

First, it is important to make sure that an accurate diagnosis has been made. Make sure to work with your doctor, preferably a board certified allergist, to make sure that you know what foods need to be avoided and how to manage symptoms and allergic reactions. Briefly, areas of special education about food avoidance include reading ingredient labels on manufactured products, understanding how to get safe meals in a restaurant, understanding food avoidance at home including avoiding cross contact of foods with allergens, and, for children, special issues for schools and camps.

The other major issue with living with food allergy is to learn how to recognize symptoms and treat them. The primary treatment for a severe allergic reaction is epinephrine which, for people with severe allergies, is carried at all times as a self injector. Talk to your doctor about when and how to use this life-saving device. For children, an adult must be knowledgeable about recognizing and treating symptoms. Consider obtaining medical identification jewelry as well. Sometimes living with a severe food allergy can take a nutritional, social and emotional toll on the individual and family. Be sure to talk to your doctor about this as well, to consider advice from dietitians, mental health professionals and other resources.

Resources are available through the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, Food Allergy Initiative, and the Consortium of Food Allergy Research.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.