First, let me say that I am so not a doctor and that you should always check with your child’s pediatrician or allergist for accurate information about your child’s specific allergy. Websites can be great resources, but they are no substitution for a doctor’s advice. If you think your child has a food allergy, bring your child to doctor who specializes in allergies–there are skin and blood tests that can confirm an allergy and its severity.
Also, there is a difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. People with a food intolerance (the most familiar example is a lactose intolerance) can usually have small amounts of a problem food without a problem. However, a true food allergy usually will trigger a reaction to even very small amounts of the problem food. In my son’s case, a quarter of an ounce of milk caused hives, vomiting and some respiratory distress. Fun times.
Even after I had lots of answers from our allergist, I found I needed direction about specific foods my child could eat. So I started hitting Google for recipes and products that my son could have. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but if you’re just getting an allergy diagnosis, you may find some of these links helpful.
- General Overview of Food Allergies from the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic website also has great information on egg, milk, soy and wheat allergies if you do a search on their site.
- Examples of Foods That Contain Eggs from the Cleveland Clinic. This was one of the first pages I found when researching allergies months ago and it’s still one of my “go-to” pages for quick reference. It also includes a list of egg substitutes for recipes.
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network–this website does require a membership to see some areas, although many sections are “free”, and it seems to be “THE” website recommended by allergy doctors. It also has links for kids and teens, who may feel isolated or afraid because of their food allergies.
- Food Allergy Initiative (FIA). FIA is sort of like the jackpot of allergy information. It has a clean, easy-to-navigate website which includes a “quick reference” for nine top allergens. Plus, there’s info on support groups, “helpful food companies” and allergy research grants.
- Kids with Food Allergies also requires a paid membership, but does have a section of recipes.
I, personally, didn’t purchase any memberships to allergy websites, although I do peruse the free sites, or sections of sites often. For me, I began to realize that instead of looking for a resource that would give me a bible of recipes I could feed my kid, what I really needed was just healthy recipes I could adjust. I found using regular websites like Wholesome Baby Food, and the book, The Petit Appetit (which features only organic recipes and uses icons to easily show which contain allergens) worked just fine for me. There are substitutions that can be used for virtually any allergen.
Also, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 did improve food product labeling, so spotting problem ingredients is a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. The good part about having a child with food allergies (why hello there, silver lining) is that it forced me to start reading labels in a way I’m not sure I would have if my son didn’t have allergies. In turn, I started paying more attention to all ingredients, not just the allergen ones, and my son has a healthier diet because of it. Do you remember that Breyers Ice Cream commercial from back in the 80s (I think) where they give a bunch of little kids containers of other brands of ice cream and the kids can’t pronounce the ingredients? Then they give the kids Breyers containers and the ingredients are cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean? I’ve come to use that as the standard with my son, who of course, can’t have Breyers ice cream anyway. But the point is, if I can’t pronounce it, it doesn’t need to be in his food.