There are more than 15 million Americans suffering from food allergies, including one in every 13 children in the U.S. Food allergies in the United States are growing (food allergies increased 50% between 1997 and 2011), and experts aren’t sure why. Here are five of the most common food allergies and foods to avoid if you have experienced them.
Egg allergies are the most common type of allergy and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from hives to severe anaphylaxis. Luckily, many children with egg allergies end up outgrowing them. Foods to Avoid: Besides the obvious (eggs, egg substitute, and many baked goods,) eggs can be found in other foods like macaroni, pasta, marshmallows, and pretzels. Additionally, certain vaccines, like the flu shot, contain trace amounts of egg protein.
Individuals with milk allergies react to one or more proteins in the curds (the substance that forms sour milk) and the whey (the watery part of milk.) A milk allergy is different than lactose intolerance, which is when an individual cannot digest milk or milk products. Foods to Avoid: Dairy products, like cheese, milk, and yogurt are out, as well as processed meat and some chocolates. Check the label for words like “contains milk ingredients.”.
Peanut allergies are common, especially in children, and can be deadly. They are one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks; even trace amounts of peanuts for an allergic individual can cause a reaction. Peanut allergies can be triggered with direct contact, cross contamination and inhalation. Foods to Avoid: Food triggers for peanut allergies go far beyond peanuts. Individuals should avoid peanut flour, oil and cooking spray, as well as foods that are processed in a facility that processes nuts. Candy, baked goods, ice cream and sauces should be vetted thoroughly before being eaten or served. Check the labels for any trace of peanut.
a Soy allergy often cause hives or itching in the mouth, and is sometimes discovered from a reaction to soy-based infant formulas. Although individuals often outgrow soy allergies, they have been known to continue into adulthood. Foods to Avoid: Soy-based sauces are a given, but soy can be a hidden additive in many processed foods. Some unusual foods that may contain soy are canned soup, canned tuna, low-fat peanut butter, processed deli meats and high-protein energy bars. As with any other allergy, if you are allergic to soy, you should check labels for soy and other names (like MSG or Glycine max) that may mean “soy ingredients”.
Seafood allergies are usually lifelong, and about 40% of people with a seafood allergy experienced their first attack as an adult. The trigger is a protein in the flesh of the fish, although is it not uncommon to have a reaction to fish gelatin (made from fish skin and bones.) Foods to Avoid: If you’re allergic to one type of fish, you’re most likely allergic to all types of finned fish. The most common types of fish are bass, catfish, cod, flounder, Mahi Mahi, salmon, swordfish, tilapia, and tuna. Also stay away from Caesar salad, Worcestershire sauce, and barbeque sauce.