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5 Foods You May Be Allergic to Without Realizing It

5 Foods You May Be Allergic to Without Realizing It

We’ve heard the expression “watch what you eat,” normally in reference to healthy dieting. What about allergies, though? Before your next meal, check out these five foods you may be allergic to without realizing it.

5 Foods You May Be Allergic to Without Realizing It (Slideshow)

According to the Mayo Clinic, food allergies are caused by the immune system recognizing certain foods as dangerous and fighting them by releasing antibodies. These antibodies neutralize the food substance, and the next time the food is consumed, the body releases chemicals such as histamines into your bloodstream, creating allergy symptoms.

Around eight percent of children suffer from food allergies, and three to four percent of the adult population does as well, said Dr. Grace Peace Yu, an allergist and immunologist, in a video for Healthline.

Food allergies have varying degrees of severity, causing reactions ranging from breaking out into a cold sweat to digestion problems to difficulty breathing, to, most dangerous of all, anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction that that can cause symptoms like a serious rash, facial swelling, dangerously low blood pressure, and the closing of the throat.

Obviously, if you’re severely allergic to a food item, you probably already know it, but in more minor cases, you might be allergic to certain foods without even realizing what’s going on.

“The most important thing you can do when you have a food allergy is practice strict avoidance from what you’re allergic to,” adds Dr. Yu.

Take a look through this slideshow to find out if you might be allergic to certain foods without even realizing it.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is a meal plan that avoids or removes certain foods or ingredients so you can find out what you might be sensitive to or allergic to.

It isn’t about weight loss. You aren’t out to delete unneeded calories or drop some extra pounds.

The most common reason for an elimination diet is because you and your doctor think certain foods may be the reason for your allergy symptoms. You’ll need to partner with your doctor on this and make sure that you still get all the nutrients you need.

Don’t do it if you have a serious food allergy or have had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If you have, you need to know your trigger food as soon as possible so you can avoid it. Talk with your doctor about that. Blood and skin tests can identify some food allergies. You may need them before you can safely try an elimination diet on your own.

5 Foods That Cause Belly Bloat + What To Eat Instead

When you are bloated and have stomachaches, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea, the insides of your intestines are irritated and, quite frankly, pissed off at you. Specifically, the villi, or tiny hairs that line your intestinal walls, get inflamed. Because your small intestine is about 20 feet long, and your large intestine is about 5 feet long, one microscopic inflammation can become one giant abdominal bloat.

The key to nourishing your stomach in the right way is actually simple: You have to avoid foods that your system biochemically protests. Each of us is slightly different, but there are many foods that can lead to belly bloat for almost all of us. Just eliminating these can make a big difference in how your stomach looks and feels. Here are the foods to avoid:

Recipes & Diet

Removing foods from your child can lead to the loss of important nutrients. A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is vital for a child’s growth a development.

A child’s body stores nutrients. A short-term (2-week) elimination diet is likely not a concern regarding nutrition. Beyond two weeks, you must find safe sources of nutrients to replace the nutrients lost from foods your child can no longer eat.

Restricted diets must have safe sources of nutrients.

Milk Allergy

Milk is one of the most common food allergies in young children. 1 Milk provides a good source of many nutrients essential for bone mineralization and growth. These nutrients are especially important during peak growth periods. These nutrients include: protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin and phosphorus.

In order for your child to replace these nutrients, you must carefully choose food substitutes. Meats, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and legumes can easily provide needed protein.

But, to get enough calcium, your child may need to eat lots of non-dairy food sources containing calcium. This may be more than a young child is capable of eating. Many of these non-dairy sources are not foods that are favorites of most children.

For example, one cup of leafy greens contains as much calcium as 4 ounces of milk. A child who needs 500 milligrams of calcium daily would need to eat as much as 4 cups of leafy greens to meet the requirement. Would your child eat all these leafy greens? Probably not. So, you will need to read labels to carefully seek out a variety of calcium-fortified foods.

In some cases, you may need to give your child supplements. If he is at an age when a specialized milk-free formula is a large part of his daily diet, a supplement may not be necessary.

You may be able to use milk alternatives as an acceptable substitute if your child is over one year old. You can substitute soy milk, fortified rice milk, grain and nut milks (such as oat milk and almond milk) if tolerated. Be sure to read labels to make sure these milk substitutes are fortified with extra nutrients.

For example, look for the nutrition information on the package to check the amount of protein. There should be 8 grams per 8 ounce serving. Calcium fortified juices will provide extra calcium, but are not a good source of other nutrients.

Egg Allergy

Children with egg allergy must avoid egg in all forms, unless their allergy specialist tells you otherwise. Egg white is the part of the egg responsible for the allergic reactions. But, it’s impossible to separate the white from the yolk without the yolk containing traces of egg white protein.

Eggs provide a source of quality protein as well as iron, biotin, folacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, selenium, and vitamins A, D, E and B12. Your child can get an adequate amount of protein from other protein sources, such as: milk, meat, poultry, fish, nuts and legumes. Be sure your child is not allergic to these substitutions. Meat can also supply selenium and vitamin B12. Folacin is in legumes, fruits and leafy greens. If your child consumes a variety of other foods, an egg-free diet should not place your child at nutritional risk.

A child avoiding foods containing egg may lose essential nutrients from the diet. For example, most baked goods use enriched and fortified flour, which contains B vitamins and iron. A child avoiding baked goods will need to get extra calories, B vitamins, iron and extra nutrients from other egg-free sources.

Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy

Peanuts and tree nuts are a good source of protein in a child's diet. Yet, if your child needs to avoid nuts of any type, he should not be at nutritional risk. There are many other sources of protein as previously mentioned. Peanuts also provide a source of niacin, magnesium, vitamins E and B6, manganese, pantothenic acid, chromium, folacin, copper and biotin. Your child can get these vitamins and nutrients by consuming a variety of foods from other food groups.

Soy Allergy

Soybeans provide one of the highest quality proteins in a child's diet. They also contain thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamin B6. These are present in specific soy foods. The small amounts of soy in processed foods do not supply a significant amount of these nutrients. A soy-restricted diet should not pose a nutritional problem if your child eats a variety of fruits, vegetables, enriched and fortified grains, and tolerated sources of protein.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat is a grain you can replace with other grains. Allergies to other grains like corn, rice, barley, buckwheat and oats are not common. But, you will need to choose other grains with care due to the possibility of cross contact. Be sure to choose alternate grains from a reputable source.

Wheat is often fortified with additional nutrients. The milling process for grains can also remove important nutrients, so make sure you choose fortified and enriched grains. A serving or two of an enriched and fortified grain at each meal will contribute to meeting important nutritional needs for B vitamins, folacin and iron.

You can substitute wheat flour with other fortified grain flours in recipes to provide the same nutrients as wheat. But, replacing wheat flour with other grain flours can affect how the recipe turns out. Follow your recipe carefully to get the best result.

Fish Allergy

Fish is a good source of protein. Fish contains the nutrients niacin, vitamins B6, B12, A and E. Fish also contains phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, iron and zinc. If your child must avoid fish, you can find the same nutrients in other protein sources such as meats, grains and legumes.

1. Boyano-Martinez, et al. (2009). Accidental allergic reactions in children allergic to cow's milk proteins. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 883-8.

The Easy Way to Figure Out If You Have a Food Intolerance

It seems like everyone and their cat is on a special diet. Maybe you’ve wondered if you might have a food allergy or intolerance, especially if you feel a little bloated after eating dairy or wheat.

Trying a super restrictive elimination diet or some fancy “cleanse” to find out whether dairy, gluten, or shellfish is triggering your symptoms may seem exhausting and no fun. The list of what you can’t eat could be longer than the one of what you can eat!

Luckily, there’s an easier way to figure out if you have a food intolerance. Consider our plan the Cliff’s Notes version. It may help you identify the food(s) causing your misery.

First, it’s important to know the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance. They can cause the same symptoms, so they’re easy to mix up.

When you’ve got a for-real allergy, your immune system reacts to the food. An intolerance is more of a sensitivity or trouble digesting the offending food. Kleine-Tebbe J, et al. (2016). Food allergy and intolerance: Distinction, definitions, and delimitation. DOI: 10.1007/s00103-016-2356-1

A severe food allergy is nothing to sneeze at or self-diagnose. If, immediately after you eat certain foods, your throat tightens, you can’t breathe, or you get hives, call a board certified allergist ASAP.

Before diving into an elimination diet, it’s important to have an idea of whether you have a true food allergy or a food intolerance.

Symptoms like constipation, headaches, heartburn, fatigue, bloating, or trouble swallowing may signal a food intolerance. Sometimes the symptoms will get worse 1 to 3 hours after you eat the food. But often the timing makes it unclear if diet or something else is causing your problems.

Blood and skin tests can help identify allergies. But even after these tests, the diagnosis may not be clear. Sometimes doctors recommend a food challenge to confirm the food sensitivity.

Food challenges — where your doctor gives you small doses of the possible food trigger and watches you for symptoms — are considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing allergies. O’Keefe AW, at al. (2014). Diagnosis and management of food allergies: New and emerging options: A systematic review. DOI: 10.2147/JAA.S49277

For an intolerance, you can try an elimination diet. You take a group of foods out of your diet for a certain period of time and then reintroduce them to pinpoint which ones are causing you to react. It’s best to do this under an allergist’s guidance.

The plan below is a little different from a full elimination diet where you take out eight or more foods at the same time. It can be really cumbersome to take out so many foods at once.

Recent research has found that you can also deprive yourself of nutrients if you cut out too many foods. Lim HS, et al. (2018). Food elimination diet and nutritional deficiency in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. DOI: 10.7762/cnr.2018.7.1.48

This modified version is a lot easier, because you eliminate only three or four foods at a time for 21 days. It should take about that long to notice any difference in your symptoms.

After those 21 days of avoiding certain foods, you should feel better if you’ve hit on the right trigger. That’s when you reintroduce foods one by one, following your doctor’s advice. Allow at least 3 days after reintroducing each food, so you can see how your body reacts.

If you add back all the eliminated foods and you have no symptoms, move on to the next step of the plan, when you take out new foods. Continue doing this until a certain food causes symptoms — that’s likely your trigger.

You can stop the diet at that point or continue if you think more than one food is at fault. Start by cutting out the most common offenders. Then move to less common ones, which should mean you can figure out your culprit faster.

During each phase, make sure to check in with your doctor. And read food labels to see if packaged goods contain any ingredients you’re avoiding. Forms of gluten, dairy, and other triggers can hide in more places than you might think!

When you eat out, ask the restaurant staff what’s in dishes. For example, are the vegetables cooked in butter, or is peanut oil used in that stir-fry?

You won’t have to worry about being hungry if you avoid only some foods. If you do get the munchies, you can always chow down on lots of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats such as avocado and coconut.

There are many processed food that have egg as one of its ingredients. U.S. law requires that all manufacturers of foods that have egg proteins in their ingredients must include the word "egg" in the label, so one can easily identify such foods at the grocery stores. Egg is found in mayonnaise, meringue, egg noodles and pasta, creamy salad dressings and sauces. Other examples of foods that have egg in the recipe include French toast, cream-filled pies, custard ice cream, pudding, sherbet and commercially prepared pancakes, cakes and brownies. Breads with a shiny glaze were brushed with egg before baking.

Egg-allergy sufferers will find it helpful to identify food that may contain egg as a hidden ingredient, since egg-free foods may still contain allergy-causing egg proteins. Egg may appear on a label as albumin, globulin, lecithin, lysozyme, simplesse and vitellin. Food Ingredients labeled with "ova" -- such as ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid -- also indicate the presence of egg. Egg substitutes contain egg white, so they will trigger allergic reactions in people sensitive to egg.

Egg Allergy

If you're allergic to eggs, you may be allergic to the egg white, the yolk or both parts of the egg. During an egg allergy, your immune system fails to identify the proteins in the egg whites as safe, which triggers the body to produce certain antibodies that attempt to neutralize the proteins. The presence of these antibodies causes mast cells in soft tissue to release histamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the body, according to Histamine and other chemicals cause inflammation in the body that lead to common egg allergy symptoms.

Doctor-Administered Remedies

For these treatments, you must go see an allergist to receive the proper dosage. When administered properly, research says these treatments can significantly reduce (if not eliminate) your sensitivity to allergy triggers and provide long-term relief. Note: These not considered medication.

Allergy Shots (Subcutaneous Immunotherapy)

Subcutaneous immunotherapy (or SCIT) works like a vaccine. It is a form of exposure therapy that helps patients to become desensitized or more tolerant towards their allergen. For example, if someone is allergic to ragweed, an allergist would initially concoct a sub-allergic dosage of ragweed pollen and inject it (usually) in the upper arm. When this small amount enters your body, your immune system creates antibodies to stop symptoms from occurring.

In the first phase of SCIT, a patient receives these shots from a health care provider one to three times a week. The doctor then increases the dosage as the patient's tolerance builds. In phase two of SCIT, patients only need to see their physician once a month for the next three to five years. It's definitely a commitment, but if a person responds well to the treatment and keeps following through on their appointments, they can experience significant relief for several years or more.

Sublingual Allergy Drops and Tablets

If you hate shots, SCIT may not be the best avenue. On top of that, some people don't enjoy the inconvenience of having to schlep to their allergist so frequently, while others are bothered by the swelling and itchiness that can occur around the injection site.

Fortunately, there is a method that can solve many of these issues: sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). It's another form of desensitization, except instead of getting a prick to the arm every month, you'll receive prescribed liquid drops or tablets you can take daily &mdash kind of like a vitamin.

"We make up the dosing that's appropriate for you and you do these drops under the tongue at home, " says Dr. Dean Mitchell, the author of Dr. Dean Mitchell&rsquos Allergy and Asthma Solution. "It's very safe. There's no long-term side effects. It's extremely effective and it's probably as natural as you can get."

Research suggests that SLIT is just as effective as SCIT when it comes to dampening allergic reactions.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved four allergy tablet products that treat five kinds of northern grass pollen, timothy grass pollen, short ragweed, and dust mite allergies. Liquid products have yet to be approved since more research needs to be conducted to confirm their safety and efficacy. But some physicians still use them as off-label treatments.

5 Strategies to Help Your Child Try New Foods

These five strategies will help your child be confident around new foods and taste them willingly, without preassure, bribes or rewards.

My 10 year old announced a few days ago: "Mom, I LOVE chicken curry". Then, looking at my slightly shocked expression, she corrected herself a little: "Well, maybe it&aposs not my favorite food, but it is really good."

Rewind a year. We moved to London and the girls started a new school where chicken curry, a staple for many British families, was served weekly. Everything about it—the spice, the aroma, the look - was very foreign to my daughter who promptly decided that she and curry were not becoming friends any time soon. She didn&apost even try it, and chose a sandwich or baked potato instead. for a whole year.

I asked her why she hadn&apost tried it before, and her answer made sense. She does not like a lot of spice and wasn&apost sure what to expect from this new food. And since she had only one chance to pick from the cafeteria offerings and could not change her mind later, she obviously went with what she KNEW she could enjoy, like the familiar sandwich or baked potato.

I am sure the staff in our school cafeteria is doing its best to feed a bunch of hungry students in a limited time. Probably they do not always have the time to provide tastes of food or explain more about it. All the kids are typically served a regular sized portion. They are also, unfortunately, often required to eat a certain amount of it before they can go play in the yard. This, on top of my daughter&aposs cautious attitude to new foods, may explain why it took her so long to finally give the curry a chance.

However frustrating it may be, the way the food is presented at schools is currently outside the direct area of influence of many parents. But we can definitely help our kids learn to taste and like a bigger variety of foods at home, in a less rushed environment. Here are some of the strategies that may help raise good "tasters".

  1. Serve food family style, in the middle of the table, instead of plating it. This way, kids do not have to make the important decision about what they want to eat at the very beginning of the meal. They also get to see and smell all the food without the pressure to eat it. And even if they fill their plates only with their favorites, the new food is still on the table and they can "sneak" a taste of it at any point during the meal.
  2. Think small and expect setbacks. When kids are ready, they will probably serve themselves the tiniest amount, like a few drops of sauce or the smallest piece of chicken. It is still a big step for them although it does not guarantee that the food will become their favorite now. Learning to enjoy eating something new is a process, just like learning any skill, and it is full of setbacks.
  3. Teach them to spit food out discreetly. Let&aposs be honest, our kids will not immediately like everything they taste for the first time. And if they know that swallowing is optional, they will be more willing to actually place the new food in their mouth. So keep a pile of napkins handy and teach your child to use them as needed, without making a big fuss. This important skill will help him be more comfortable around new foods at home, at school, and in his friends&apos houses.
  4. Describe the food without trying to "sell it". If you are serving a new food, provide some neutral background information,਋ut avoid being too pushy. For example: "This is chicken curry. I made it using chicken meat and a special sauce with Indian spices which give it a specific aroma and flavor. One of the spices, turmeric, has a very mild taste but it makes the sauce bright yellow. You can mix a few drops of the sauce with some rice on your plate to taste the flavor." Avoid comments like: "This is chicken curry. It is so delicious and good for you! Please eat some, you need some protein and I spent a whole afternoon in the kitchen putting this meal together. No, it does NOT smell funny. C&aposmon, just try some for me." Sadly, this approach rarely works with kids.
  5. Use a tasting plate. Smaller kids and those who are very sensitive to new smells, tastes and textures may avoid any interaction with anew food because they do not want it to touch other things on their plates. In this case, keep a little "tasting plate" next to their regular place setting. They can choose to put the new food on it and just keep it close without tasting or even touching it. It still counts as the important exposure they need before they are ready to try the food.

As grown-ups, we have a lot of experience with all types of food. Based on our extensive background knowledge, we know, at least most of the time, what to expect when we try something new. Our kids, on the other hand, are still eaters in training. They are novices in the world of food and they need a supportive and trusting environment in order to explore it safely. Help them become good "tasters" to feel confident around new foods and keep expanding their eating repertoire now and throughout their lives.

Natalia Stasenko MS, RD, CDN is a pediatric dietitian based in London and New York. She offers an online, one-on-one support program for parents of picky eaters called�ing Bytes, and is the mother of three. Natalia is the cowriter of the cookbook Real Baby Food, and when not writing, teaching or consulting, she is in the kitchen cooking and eating with her family. 

Conclusion and Summary: The Difference Between Food Allergy, Intolerance and Food Sensitivity

It’s great to be aware of both one’s intolerances and one’s food sensitivities, so improved wellness can happen.

Unlike food allergies and food sensitivities, it is not possible to remove one’s food intolerances.

  • A restricted diet that reflects one’s food allergies is essential, to avoid immediate and sometimes life-threatening immune responses, but may be temporary if the patient is able to find an alternative healing method that works.
  • A restricted diet that reflects one’s food sensitivities is temporary, assuming the patient avoids the foods and allows their gut to heal. Long-term removal of all processed foods from one’s diet is advised.
  • A restricted diet that reflects one’s food intolerances is permanent. This food, food group, or combination of foods should be avoided completely, unless the patient feels in optimum health, detoxes well and feels fine about occasionally eating these foods.
  • Finding one’s food intolerance(s) (and eliminating it/them) can help to heal allergies.

Last but not least, if you wish to find out your own food intolerances, you can order the kit in the mail through my doctor. (It’s $175, and I do not profit from the purchase.) I ask all my clients to have the evaluation done, as we have a lot more to work with by knowing this information. I was on the GAPS Diet for many years before I found out I couldn’t eat fruit. The results were a watershed epiphany that finally allowed my wellness to project forward. I’m sorry to tailor a diet for anyone without first knowing which foods to avoid.