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Top 8 Food Allergies: a guide to safe enjoyable eating | Box Appetit

| by Drew Middleton

allergy, awareness, allergies, cereal, wheat, nuts, allergy uk

For Allergy Awareness Week we've chosen to discuss the top 8 food allergies, from milk to peanuts to fish. Spot the symptoms, eat safely and enjoy your food!

It's Allergy Awareness Week in the UK (25 April - 1 May). Allergy UK have a clear goal: to educate the country about all allergic conditions - from food to asthma to hay fever.

All allergies can be life-threatening. Over 160 foods can trigger food allergies which cause stress or anguish in daily life; for instance, having to avoid specific foods or drinks in restaurants when you're socialising can be very embarrassing. 

So do you have an allergy? Could you have an allergy? Or are you curious in order to raise awareness? Follow our guide on recognising symptoms, what to avoid, what to check labels for and alternative eats for the eight most common food allergies...

peanuts, allergy, awareness, allergy uk

What is a Food Allergy?

According to Allergy UK, food allergies are "caused when the body mistakenly makes an antibody (IgE) to 'fight off' a specific food. When the food is next eaten (or sometimes is just in contact with the skin) it triggers an immune system response which results in the release of histamine and other substances in the body."

Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance

People with food intolerance can suffer symptoms after eating certain foods, even when they aren't producing antibodies to fight them off. Intolerances to gluten and lactose are very common; they have a slower delayed onset and symptoms are extremely varied. 

Find out more detials: Food Intolerances

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Food Allergies: How To Spot The Symptoms

Allergy symptoms range in severity and occur with rapid onset, anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours after eating the harmful food. They affect different areas of the body depending on where they are released. The most common symptoms will include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Itching and/or swelling
  • Runny nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Abdominal pains, vomiting and/or diarrhoea 

If you experience any of these symptoms after eating food or drinking liquids, it could be an allergic reaction. Don't hesitate to seek immediate medical attention or advice from a doctor in the long term.

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Top 8 Food Allergies: Milk

FACT: An allergy to Cows' Milk affects around 3-6% of infants and young children.

AVOID: Cows' milk-based foods including butter, all types of cheese, yoghurt, cream, ice cream and more. Many processed foods will containing cows' milk.

ALWAYS CHECK LABELS FOR: Whey, Lactose, Milk Powders of any kind, Casein

ALTERNATIVES: A healthy variety of milk types (Almond, Goat, Soya, Rice etc)

Find out more details: Milk Allergy

fish, allergy, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Fish 

FACT: Eaten as a healthy meat alternative, around 1 in 200 people have a lifelong fish allergy.

AVOID: Oily and Bony fish, fish fingers, sushi, fish oils and sauces, seafood dips, prawn crackers and more containing fish. 

ALWAYS CHECK LABELS FOR: Specific sea food types - such as tuna, salmon, mackerel etc - which should always be listed.

ALTERNATIVES: Leafy vegetables for fatty acids and other meats including beef, chicken and pork. 

Find out more details here: Fish Allergy

peanuts, allergy, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Peanuts

FACT: The most common food allergy, especially in younger infants and children. 

AVOID: food such as oils, biscuits, preserves, cakes, cereals, dips and sauces, some vegetarian foods, desserts and sweets may contain traces of peanut.

CHECK LABELS FOR: "Contains peanuts" or "may contain traces of peanuts"

ALTERNATIVES: hummus and sunflower seed-based products 

Find out more details here: Peanut Allergy

wheat, allergy, allergies, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Wheat

FACT: Wheat forms the centrepiece of most Western countries' diets.

AVOID: bread, baked foods, cereals, flour and pasta, beverages, confectionery, medication and more containing wheat.

CHECK LABELS FOR: "Wheat" or "Gluten" 

ALTERNATIVES: dairy and eggs, meat and fish, cereals and grains such as maize, corn and potato. 

Find out more details here: Wheat Allergy

eggs, allergy, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Eggs

FACT: You can be allergic to all forms of egg OR only loosely cooked/raw eggs. 

AVOID: Any form of eggs (scrambled, poached, fried etc), most baked goods, egg-based pasta, chocolate bars and more.

CHECK LABELS FOR: 'Egg' - by law, this covers all egg derivatives. 

ALTERNATIVES: Tofu for savoury dishes, banana for sweet tastes in baking, Egg replacers

Find out more details here: Egg Allergy

soy, soybeans, allergy, allergies, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Soya (Soy) and Soybeans

FACT: The Soyabean belongs to the legume family which also includes fresh and dried peas, beans, carob, liquorice and peanut. 

AVOID: Any Soy-based products - Soya is widely used across food manufacturing (around 60% of foods may contain Soy)

CHECK LABELS FOR: "Soy", "Soya" and it's many variants e.g. milk, powder, protein, yoghurt etc.

ALTERNATIVES: specially produced Soy-free foods e.g. oils, margarine

Find out more details here: Soy Allergy

shellfish, crabs, allergy, allergies, awareness, allergy uk

Top 8 Food Allergies: Crustacean Shellfish

FACT: More common than fish allergy with around 1% of the shellfish-eating population allergic to Crustacea. 

AVOID: Shelled fish such as prawns, crabs, lobster, shrimp and crayfish. 

CHECK LABELS FOR: "contains traces of shellfish/fish" or foods with cross-sensitivity / cross-reactivity and contact with varieties of fish. 

ALTERNATIVES: Leafy vegetables for fatty acids and other meats including beef, chicken and pork. 

Find out more details here: Shellfish Allergy

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Top 8 Food Allergies: Tree nuts

FACT: The majority of allergic reactions are mild. 

AVOID: almonds, macademia, brazil or cashew nuts.

CHECK LABELS FOR: food such as oils, biscuits, preserves, cakes, cereals, dips and sauces, some vegetarian foods, desserts and sweets may contain traces of tree nuts.

ALTERNATIVES: hummus and sunflower seed-based products 

Find more details here: Tree nut allergy

Using our allergy guide will certainly educate and raise awareness at a basic level. By visiting Allergy UK for in-depths definitions, descriptions, alternatives, symptoms and more, you'll be equipped with every dose of expert knowledge you need surrounding the top 8 food allergies. 

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