Keep calm and carry...your epi-pen.
What exactly is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance? What can you do to reduce your exposure to your allergens? We've got all of your general questions answered and more!
A food allergy is when your body's immune system reacts to a specific protein. Your body sees it as harmful which sets off a chain reaction. This results in either mild (rash, GI discomfort) or life-threatening (closing of airway, anaphylactic shock) symptoms.
System: Immune System
Timing: IMMEDIATE Reaction (<2 hours)
Amount: Can be triggered with very small amounts
Age: From infancy
- Prevalence: 2% of adults, 6-8% of children
A food intolerance, or a food sensitivity, occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food. This can lead to symptoms such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea.
System: Digestive System
Timing: Delayed (Up to 72 hours)
Amount: May take large amounts to trigger
Age: Any age
- Prevalence: 45% of the population
The TOP 8 Food Allergens:
Food Fact: The Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) which requires that milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans be named as ingredients was passed in 2004.
5 TIPS TO KEEP YOU SAFE FROM FOOD ALLERGENS.
1. Allergy Cards
Having a card with all of your allergies listed (along with popular restaurant ingredients that often include them) is a great tool for staying allergy-safe! With an official allergy card, you’re allergy is perceived much more seriously in situations such as dining out by removing the waiter as the middleman. This way, you can take control of the conversation and can feel much more secure when making requests while dining out.
2. When in doubt, wipe it down
When traveling on public transportation such as trains, planes, or even in a friends car, use disinfecting wipes to clean the seat, armrests, and tray tables to safeguard against "contact" reactions or cross-contamination. Airlines that have been known to be especially accommodating to persons with food allergies are:
Air Canada, Jet Blue, British Airways, Delta, Southwest, and Virgin.
- With at least 48 hours’ notice, a person with peanut or tree nut allergies can request a “buffer zone” while booking through Air Canada Reservations.
- Gluten-free meals are available on international flights. (But the airline cannot “guarantee” the gluten-free status; a catering company provides the meals).
- Gluten-free options are available among sold snack items.
- No shellfish is served.
If booking online, note “allergies” in the ‘special service or requirement’ box. It’s recommended to contact Delta Reservations to make sure the allergy is noted on the passenger’s record.
Gluten-free meals may be ordered in advance on international flights.
Shellfish isn’t served but salmon is offered on international flights
It’s best to inform the airline of an allergy at booking. Upon boarding, the head of the inflight crew should be informed of a peanut or nut allergy. Jetblue's in-flight accommodation is that they don’t serve peanuts. However, it’s possible some snacks or surfaces may contain traces of peanut.
- Upon request, a buffer zone can be created for a peanut or nut allergy. This consists of the row where the allergic person is seated, plus one row ahead and one behind
Southwest does not serve gluten-free snacks.
On shorter flights, the usual snacks (when no allergy has been declared) are peanuts or pretzels. Allergic passengers are encouraged to bring their own snacks.
On flights over 1,271 miles, there are three snack choices (meals and sandwiches are not served).
- Snack selections change every six months!
Gluten-free meal options are available.
British Airways does serve fish and shellfish, but generally at least one seafood-free meal is offered.
The airline does not refrain from serving a particular food on a flight to accommodate an allergic person.
- Remember to inform the airline of an allergic condition at the time of booking.
For gluten-free fliers, the airline has a platter with a variety of cheeses, grapes, dried apple and apricots, and gluten-free crackers.
Depending on the destination, salmon, ginger soy chicken and shrimp may be served in first class.
Virgin America’s website says peanuts are not served on flights, but other nuts may be served.
The snack items sold in flight items do not have nuts as ingredients, but some are processed in the same facility as nuts, so always read the package carefully. On flights over two hours, peanut butter and jam sandwiches are among meal options.
- The turkey sandwich also contains nuts.
3. Going to allergy friendly restaurants:
Not all restaurants are created equal and this is no-different when it comes to being "allergy-friendly." No, this doesn't mean they get their air filters cleaned often, or that they use artificial flowers as centerpieces. What it means is that they have proven themselves to have best-in-class food allergy procedures, protocols, training and knowledge, receiving high ratings and positive feedback from food-allergic diners. The Website Www.AllergyEats.com has compiled and published their list of the Top 10 most allergy-friendly restaurant chains in the United States. Simply put, the restuarant chains on this list hold the highest ratings on the AllergyEats application and website, and is based on the feedback from the food allergy "community."
"What I love about AllergyEats as a resource is that their restaurant ratings are no-frills and fluff since they are
based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners,
and not on any other factors, such as ambiance, service or food quality.
Top 10 Allergy Friendly Restaurants:
Most allergy-friendly small chains:
- Rainforest Café (4.87 rating)
- Burtons Grill (4.74 rating)
- Not Your Average Joe’s (4.45 rating)
- Joe’s American Bar & Grill (4.41 rating)
- Legal Sea Foods (4.39 rating)
Most allergy-friendly large chains:
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.63 rating)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.38 rating)
- Mellow Mushroom (4.36 rating)
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.31 rating)
- P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.29 rating)
4. Just kitting around.
One major thing I recommend, and your doctor will to, is having an Allergy Kit! All jokes aside, it just might save your life. Most people with allergies refer to their kit fondly as their "third-arm," taking it with them to do even the smallest of tasks (yes even checking the mailbox). Some ideas for what to include in your kit would be your Epi Pen (of course), your anti-histamines (like Benadryll), and your allergy card that you just ordered!
The publication "STAT" recently reported that the rise of epi-pen costs are causing people to not only make-due with expired epi-pens but revert back to using syringes for administering epinephrine! Dr. Richard Lockey, a professor at the University of South Florida who has been an allergy doctor since the 1970s, estimates that 1 out of every 6 of his patients choose to go with the regular syringe. He stated that as long as patients are educated about how to use syringes, they’re “99 percent as good” as the EpiPens.
5. Visit a registered dietitian, after seeing your doctor.
After seeing your PCP and allergist, remember to make an appointment with a specialized Registered Dietitian like myself (I specialize in food allergies and sensitivities - it's my jam) to get you on track! The journey of food restrictions does not have to be a difficult one when you have the right resources! As a client of Roots Reboot you'll have access to your personal RD, ready to answer your every food and ingredient questions right at your fingertips!
According to the Food Allergy Research & Education,
every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room
and every 6 minutes that reaction is an anaphylactic one.
APPS that could save your life:
Here's a list of the mobile applications we’ve found extremely helpful with our clients
when navigating restaurants and life in general with food allergies.
iPhone and Android
What we like about this app is that the data comes straight from real people with allergies who have eaten in these restaurants and are reviewing how well allergies are accommodated.
Road trips can be a big hazard for people with food allergies. Allergy Caddy has allergen guides for 40 of the country’s biggest chain restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen, Arby’s, KFC, and McDonald’s. Stay in the know while you're on the go for what’s safe to eat and what you should avoid!
With this app you can create and store your food allergy action plan. The food allergy action plan will include a list of your specific allergens, what medicines you take and the dosage, who should be contacted in the event you have a reaction, and instructions on giving your medication. You can even set a reminder to replace your epinephrine auto-injector before it expires.
ASK THE RD: Will eating locally farmed honey help with my seasonal allergies?
I had this question come up while in the grocery store baking aisle. It stems from the idea that honey can prevent allergies based on a concept called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the practice of exposing your body to what you're allergic to in very small amounts so that it can build up immunity to the allergen. The first issue is that there is a big difference between medical immunotherapy (which is when the the exact allergen is isolated administered to the patient) and eating honey to build up allergen immunity. This is because eating honey does not guarantee you are being exposed to your specific allergen. Also, honey and pollen from weeds, trees, and grasses are different and are mistakenly confused to be one in the same. However, pollen from weeds, trees, and grasses are the leading cause of seasonal allergies whereas bee pollen is not. Bees tend to pick up pollen from brightly colored flowers and pollen from these blooms rarely causes allergies.
P.S. NEED TO RECHARGE + REFOCUS + RESET YOUR HEALTH?
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