During the summer, monitoring a child’s eating habits can prove tricky. More free time on your child’s hands can mean visiting a friend’s house, going on vacation, and dining out more often, all of which can pose a major health risk.
According to the CDC, between four and six percent of children in the US have at least one food allergy. Also, if you have an allergy or asthma, it is likely that your children have allergies, too. Before searching for an “allergy clinic near me”, take a look at this article for some advice.
Especially if you are on the go, traveling about on your summer vacation, preparation is key to a safe, yet delicious, summer outing.
Quick Tips for a Safe Outing
Here are a few short, quick tips that can help your family stay allergy-free this summer:
- Go Beyond Meal Prep: Preparing for a dining out experience can be like meal prep—but for a restaurant. Choose the restaurant before you leave the house and take a quick scan of the menu to see if there are food options for everyone in the family.
Going beyond that, keep in mind that some members of the family with a fish or shellfish allergy, for example, can be sensitive to be physically inside the restaurants that cook these foods as the aerosolized allergen affects them.
- Speak Up: While you are ordering, letting the waiter or waitress know what specific allergy you or a family member has and ask if they can take the necessary precautions when preparing the meal.
- Bring a Doggy Bag: It is always best to speak with the restaurant prior to whipping out food brought from home or a different restaurant for the family member who has allergies. However, if you explain the situation carefully, most restaurants will be accommodating.
- Bring Back Up: Wherever you may be going, whether you are going to dine out or on a summer day excursion, you should always bring your up-to-date epinephrine auto-injector on the trip. It is also highly suggested that you take a food allergy action plan along with you, as well, to be ready for all circumstances.
- Be Aware of the Details: Certain patients with a peanut allergy, for example, cannot tolerate cold-pressed peanut oil. If you happen to be dining out at an Asian restaurant, for example, always ask the staff if the chef can avoid cooking with cold-pressed peanut oil. Highly refined peanut oil, on the other hand, does not have a lot of peanut allergen present, which can be a helpful suggestive substitute.
When in doubt, always ask the chef or staff in the restaurant about the finer details of the meal. This can help you and your family best prepare to avoid allergies while dining out.
Nut, wheat, and soy allergies are at the top of the list.
They can make it particularly easy for children to accidentally consume snacks containing allergens, which could lead to an anaphylactic reaction.
At Arkansas Allergy and Asthma in Little Rock and Conway, we are experienced in diagnosing and treating children with allergies and wish to help you and your child avert the risk of allergic reaction.
Avoiding Peanuts by Reading the Food Product Label
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website notes that the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 applies to the labeling of FDA-regulated foods and includes all foods except poultry, most meat products, and certain egg products, as well as alcohol. Additionally, eight foods were specifically-targeted in this Act for labeling, peanuts in particular.
Therefore, carefully-reading the food label before purchasing a pre-packaged product can help you or your child avoid consumption of a summer snack made with peanuts or peanut oil. However, it is important to remember that packaged food ingredients can change. It is always a good idea to re-read the label periodically before re-purchasing the same food item.
What Should a Person Allergic to Wheat Avoid?
For anyone allergic to wheat, Stanford Children’s Health has published a list of the wheat-containing food items to avoid, which includes the following:
- Most prepared mixes for pancakes and waffles
- Root beer
- Most pretzels and crackers
- Graham crackers (including graham cracker crusts)
- Processed luncheon meats (e.g., bologna and ham)
Many grocery stores now sell specialty products promoted as “containing no peanut products” or “containing no wheat”. This can make finding a suitable summertime snack much easier for you and your child.
Diagnostic Testing and Food Allergies
Are you unsure what food allergens are triggering a reaction in you or your child?
It is essential to identify the precise food allergens. Doing so ensures the best approach for your allergy treatment.
At either our Little Rock or Conway sites, a food allergy test via skin testing and/or blood testing can be performed. The doctors at our local allergy clinics are experienced in testing and treating both allergy and asthma patients.
One of the methods we use to identify your precise allergens is called “skin-prick testing”. It measures allergic severity by exposing skin to a small amount of a given allergen. If the formation of a red, raised wheal occurs on the skin immediately after exposure, this confirms that the allergen does provoke an allergic reaction in you or your child.
How Allergy Treatment Promotes Quality of Life
Your child may view your attempt to limit their choice of snacks as punishment rather than protection.
Also, depending on the number and severity of your child’s food allergies, their nutritional status may suffer as a result of lacking certain nutrients in their daily diet.
For these reasons, seeking assistance from the well-trained clinicians at Arkansas Allergy and Asthma, a Little Rock allergy clinic with offices in both Little Rock and Conway, is a good step toward developing an appropriate allergy treatment plan for you and your child. Schedule a food allergy test in Little Rock today!