Allergy Avoidance Diets
The most effective and advisable treatment of food allergies is to avoid the offending allergen, but what are the dangers of following an unsupervised allergy exclusion diet?
The principal danger here is following a diet lacking in essential nutrients and subsequently developing deficiencies. It is therefore always important to seek nutritional advice before embarking on a food exclusion diet. This advice will not only inform you of the nutrients you will need to supplement (for instance a chance of Vitamin E deficiency in vegetarians with a nut allergy), but also the foods which may subtly include the allergy trigger (for instance the inclusion of milk in some processed hams), and advice on what measures to take when it comes to food allergy labelling.
Those with an egg and milk allergy may find particular difficulty in following an allergy avoidance diet, simply because of the wide range of foods that these are found in. For those with an egg allergy, words in particular to take note of are 'ovo' and 'ovum' which are the latin derivatives of egg and are commonly found in cosmetics. In addition, many processed foods such as cakes and biscuits contain egg. The silver lining for parents of an infant with an egg allergy are that approximately two thirds of egg allergic infants will develop a tolerance to egg by the age of seven.
Those with a milk allergy must avoid all forms of milk, including its dairy derivatives, such as cheese, ice cream and yoghurt, as well as many chocolate confectionery products. When considering milk alternatives it is important to consider the nutritional needs of the allergic individual (i.e. the difference in infant nutritional needs compared with adult nutritional needs). The silver lining for parents of an infant with a milk allergy are that approximately 80% of milk allergic infants will develop a tolerance to milk by the age of five.
Wheat allergy is particularly difficult to avoid in countries that follow a westernised diet, due to the ever-presence of foods such as bread and pasta. In addition to obvious forms, wheat is also highly present in processed foods such as breaded meats. Similar to those with a milk or egg allergy, the likelihood of growing out of a wheat allergy is relatively high, with approximately 65% of children becoming tolerant to wheat before reaching teenage. These rates of tolerance are also similar for children who have developed a soy allergy, who should take care especially if dining oriental.
For those with a peanut and nut allergy, common foods to avoid are confectioneries, desserts, flapjacks, pastries and restaurant prepared food. Aside from vitamin E, those with a peanut or nut allergy should be aware of their iron and zinc intake. Unfortunately due to the nature of the allergy trigger proteins in nuts and peanuts, the likelihood of outgrowing either a peanut allergy or nut allergy are relatively low.
In conclusion it is very important to gain advice from a nutritional professional if you have been diagnosed with a food allergy as they will aid you in creating a balanced diet, and give advice on common foods which should be avoided. It is imperative that food labels are checked each time a product is bought as recipes are liable to change. In addition each person with a food allergy should their emergency medication/ plan with them at all times as even the most meticulous preparation can not avoid an accidental allergen consumption.