Top 8 Tips for Allergy Sufferers

Posted on: Jun 14, 2016

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Whether it be food, medication, outdoor or animal related, it’s estimated that 1in 5 individuals deal with some kind of allergy in their lifetime. Having an allergen plays a crucial role in your life, especially a food allergen. Currently there are eight food groups, which account for 90% of allergic reactions, which include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, milk, soy and wheat. But this doesn’t include the range of other foods or additives such as sulphites, which can also cause allergens.

As a qualified nutritionist I deal with many clients who have one or more allergens and understand how difficult it can be to buy food, eat out, follow a recipe or simply order a takeaway. Here I’ll be sharing my top 8 tips for allergy sufferers;

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask

I cannot stress how important is it to not feel embarrassed or afraid to ask when you’re eating out or buying groceries. As allergens are so common every restaurant should have a different allergen menu or specify when certain meal contain any of the 8 major allergens. Although I have seen a few restaurants (who I wont name) that do not specify allergens on their menus, so always ask the waiter/waitress before placing an order and notify them how severe your allergy is.

  1. Take away

I read recently that a study by the FSA found that 70% of individuals with allergens avoiding buying takeaway due to lack of trust in the information given. Prior to placing an order always ring to question the take away shop about their food and notify them of your allergens. If your allergens are severe then its best to ask about their cooking utensils as cross-contamination can cause an allergic reaction.

  1. Pack snacks to carry with you

We have all been there where we need a snack and cannot find what where looking for in the nearest corner shop or grocery outlet. To prevent checking each item for the ingredients, it’s a good idea to prepare snacks for the week and carry them with you as this way you know what you’re eating.

  1. Carry medical records (wear bracelet if needed)

I would recommend to always carry a food allergen card with you at all times or even use your Smartphone (Apple iPhone health app) to input your allergens so that if you do have an allergic reaction on your own then others can inform the emergency service of this. Also when travelling abroad, I recommend using a website such as (www.selectwisely.com) who provide a allergen translation card for when you’re travelling abroad.

5.Read labels (may contain) hidden allergens

Reading the labels when you’re grocery shopping is essential when you suffer from an allergy as many brands change their ingredients on a regular basis so its always best to read the ingredients even if you’ve eaten that product before.

  1. Plan ahead

Always plan ahead and research what you’re going to buy, cook, eat or order as this can help make your outing more enjoyable and less stressful. You can always use a search engine such as Google to find out the ingredients or even to find recipes, which you can change, to cater for you allergen.

  1. Cross contamination

If you find a product which states for example may contain nuts then stay away from this if you have a nut allergy as cross contamination can occur when in production. Also ask when dining out if there’s a possibility of cross contamination through using the same kitchen utensils.

  1. Carry medication (EpiPen) with you

Finally the last but by all means not least, if your allergen is severe and you have been prescribed medication such as an EpiPen then always carry this around with you at all times. As a simple mistake such as a cross contamination can cause a severe reaction and it’s always best to be prepared by carrying your medication with you.

By Egzona Makolli

Egzona Makolli pictureEgzona Makolli (BSc Hons., MSc, Anutr) is a qualified nutritionist and is registered with the Association for Nutrition. Egzona runs her own nutritional consultation business (MakNutrition) and works with the general public where she deals with bowel disorders, exercise nutrition, weight gain, weight loss, heart health, healthy eating and many other nutritional related issues.

Egzona has a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from The University of Roehampton. After successfully achieving these degrees, Egzona has built a wealth of understanding having worked as a lead nutritionist for many London companies such as Naturhouse, Nutricentre and many NHS hospitals.

Egzona has been interested in nutrition since the age of 16 where she started to analyse the importance of food in her physical performance in activities such as netball and tennis.

Apart from nutrition, Egzona is interested in clinical neuroscience and regularly conducts research on pain receptors in bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Egzona also enjoys traveling and researching scientific studies relating to nutrition and neuroscience.

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