Maybe you let adults check food labels
and pack your lunch so you won't accidentally eat peanuts or wheat or whatever food gives you trouble. But you're starting to go more places with your friends now, and you want to eat at the food court once in awhile. Or you just want to make your own decisions about what you put in your mouth. That's a normal part of growing up. But you want to be known for who you are and the cool things you do, not as the girl who had an allergy attack in the cafeteria. Right?
Whether your food allergy gives you blotchy hives
, scaly eczema
, or nasty stomach problems, or makes it hard for you to breathe, you can take control by making smart food choices. It takes only a minute to be sure that the cafeteria's chili is safe for you before you chow down. If you're prepared with the facts, you can avoid having a serious allergic reaction. back to top
How can I avoid foods I'm allergic to?
Start by educating yourself about which foods contain the things you're allergic to. Read the list of ingredients on food labels
. If there's no list on the package, don't eat the food. If you don't know what some of the ingredient names mean, write to the company that makes the food and ask about them. You can find the manufacturer's name and address, and maybe its phone number, on the package. Or check out its Web site! Your health professional or dietitian
should also be able to answer your questions. back to top
Food labels confuse me!
can be confusing, especially on processed foods like frozen dinners and canned soup. It helps to learn all the possible names for foods you are allergic to. For instance, milk may be listed as casein
, DMS (dry milk solids), or whey. Wheat is sometimes called gluten
. And if you see a word that starts with "ovo-" on a food label, it means that the food contains eggs. Albumin and globulin are names for eggs too. Soy may be called hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soya flour, or TVP (textured vegetable protein). These are just a few examples. Ask your health professional or dietitian for a complete list of names for the foods that trigger your allergies. back to top
What if I'm eating out?
When you're eating at a friend's house, it's smart to let him or her know ahead of time that you have a food allergy. That way your friend's family can plan a meal you can eat safely. In a restaurant or food court, ask what's in each food and ask how it is prepared. For example, those noodles may not contain peanuts, but they may have been cooked with peanut oil. To be safe, tell the food service person you have an allergy and could have a bad reaction. At restaurants, ask the waiter or waitress to double-check the ingredients and cooking method with the chef. You'll find that most waitpeople are happy to check for you. If they don't want to answer your questions, don't give them your business! You're in control. back to top