Several parents have asked me how to deal with children who have allergic reactions to some foods. Giving anti-allergy medication isn’t the only precaution to be taken. If your child has a food allergy, you must ensure that a proper diagnosis is done, after which the food that has caused the allergy is eliminated from your child’s diet. Also make sure you inform your child’s teacher or caregiver about their allergy and the symptoms associated with it. You can manage the food allergies by keeping these points in mind.
Eliminate allergens: This is very important in the management of food allergies. It involves eliminating the suspected food from the daily diet. But while doing so, one has to take advice from the experts to make sure that nutrients that are present in the excluded food are adequately replaced by a healthier option.
Read food labels: Read the list of ingredients mentioned on the pack/box of the food you want to eat. Don’t assume that you know the ingredients, because sometimes, the ingredients of a food item do change. By law, it is compulsory to state the most common food allergens on the label.
Avoid food products that do not mention the list of ingredients. For example, if you are allergic to milk, look out for names like whey and casein in the list of ingredients on the pack.
Recognise early symptoms: Take the prescribed medicine as soon as you spot the first sign or symptom of an allergy.
Take care while cooking: Sometimes there might be cross- contamination while cooking, so the person who makes the food has to be cautious while preparing it.
Be careful when eating out: Choose your dish wisely because while eating out, it is difficult to find out what ingredients are used in preparing a particular dish. Parents should know that food itself is not the allergen, but the contaminants of food like certain preservatives or insecticides act as allergen. These contaminants can enter food during storage or processing.
The body’s immune system produces antibodies to protect us against harmful foreign particles. In case of a food allergy, an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) is produced. This IgE identifies certain proteins present in allergen food as harmful for the body. So, in response, it releases histamines, which in turn cause the symptoms of food allergy.
Certain genetic and environmental risk factors cause food allergy, and early identification is required to control them. As far as genetic factors are concerned, some people have more chances of developing food allergies than others. If a person in your family has a food allergy, chances of you developing it are more. Also, a person’s diet during their infancy has also been linked to developing allergies at a later age. It doesn’t take long to trigger an allergic reaction. And as the person grows older, the allergies seem to increase and the person gets allergic to more foods. A deep-level detox with a raw food diet, coupled with ayurvedic herbs, helps in reducing the frequency and severity of allergic reactions.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre