Coping with Food Allergies -- Part 1

Imagine dissecting the food label for every food product you want to put into your mouth, and upon dissecting that label, needing to understand where every single ingredient comes from!  It would be difficult, tedious and frustrating, but absolutely necessary for someone with a food allergy. 

Prevalence among Children:

Food allergies are a growing concern in the United States as approximately 1 in 25 people and 1 in 100 children suffer from a food allergy. Among these children, 0-5 year olds have the highest food allergy rate, affecting boys and girls evenly. According to The National Center for Health Statistics, food allergies among children have unfortunately increased by 18% from 1997 to 2007. This also correlates to an increase in the number of visits to ambulatory care clinics due to adverse allergic reactions, which all parents know is stressful, scary, tiresome and costly!  

More than 160 foods are known to cause food allergies. 

Surprisingly, eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews)
  • Fish (pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper, eel, and tilapia)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, crayfish, lobster, crab)
  • Soy
  • Wheat


Manufacturers are required to state on the food label if the product contains protein from any of the top eight allergens; for example, the label will say, “this product contains milk.” Manufacturers may also indicate if the food was made in a facility that contains these allergens, but this is not yet mandatory.  Overwhelming? Being a parent can be challenging, let alone being the parent of a child with a food allergy. There are so many things to think about! 

Two helpful things a parent can do to ease the transition into this new way of life. 

#1: Understanding what ingredients indicate a specific food allergen is very important. To expand your food label reading capability, take a look at the links below. The links name ingredients to avoid based on your child’s specific allergy. Don’t worry about memorizing all those hard to pronounce ingredients! You can print your list and use it as a reference while you shop.

#2: As your child grows older, another extremely important aspect of coping with a food allergy is teaching your little one about their food allergy. Of course, your child’s age will determine the skill and information you give them, so start with the basics. Gradually increase the information so they are eventually able to manage their food choices on their own.

The more you know about your child’s allergy, the easier it will be to manage and increase the variety in your family’s diet, prepare meals, and prevent unwanted reactions. 

For more information on hidden milk ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden egg ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden peanut ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden tree nut ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden soy ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden wheat ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden fish ingredients, please visit:

For more information on hidden shellfish ingredients, please visit:

Please stay tuned for the next blog post when I will discuss more on food allergies!

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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