Tag Archives: Kids Health

Eggs

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Eggs

When it comes to dietary allergies, eggs may be one of the most restrictive.   There are so many items that obviously contain eggs like most desserts/baked goods and noodles, but there are just as many, if not more foods that use eggs in a more veiled way.   Luckily, while eggs are harder to avoid than other food allergens, it does occur a little less often.  According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, “Egg allergy is estimated to affect approximately 1.5% of young children.”  The good news is that on average it is an allergy that can and will be outgrown.  However, it’s still smart to know what to avoid and the risks that an egg allergy presents.

EggsHow do egg allergies develop and can they be prevented?

Like most allergies, egg allergies are the body’s immune system attacking an element that it thinks is invading, in this case the egg protein.  According to the Mayo Clinic these attacks can manifest in symptoms including: Skin inflammation (most common), asthma, nasal inflammation, stomach issues and in severe cases anaphylaxis.  The reason for this allergy can range from a family history of the allergy and most often the immaturity of the digestive system, which is why the allergy shows up in children, but can be outgrown.  The Mayo Clinic continues to say those that suffer from this particular allergy are also more likely to suffer from other health problems as well.  These problems include other food allergies, hay fever, atopic dermatitis and allergic asthma.

As said before, many children do outgrow the allergy as their digestive system develops.  Kids Health says that an, “Egg allergy usually first appears when kids are very young, and most kids outgrow it by the time they’re 5 years old.”  However, it’s important to know that this is not always the case.   Allergic Child reported on a recent research study done on this topic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.   According to the study, “In what are believed to be the largest studies to date of children with milk and egg allergies, researchers followed more than 800 patients with milk allergy and nearly 900 with egg allergy over 13 years, finding that, contrary to popular belief, most of these allergies persist well into the school years and beyond.”

There has also been work done to help to actually prevent the allergy from appearing in the first place.  The study presented in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggested introducing eggs to a baby’s diet between the ages of four to six months.  While it’s not conclusive whether or not it actually prevents the allergy, it has been found that it at least does not increase its development.

What should be avoided?

With every food allergy, it’s essential to be aware of what a dish or product contains by reading labels and asking questions.  With eggs it’s also imperative to know the names of items that are egg related yet are not just simply called eggs.  The Mayo Clinic list these terms as the following: Albumin, Globulin, Lecithin, Livetin, Lysozyme, Simplesse, Vitellin, and words starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin.  It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid certain foods in general, unless they are specifically noted as not containing eggs.  Some of these items are anything made with a mix or batter, mayonnaise and items that include this ingredient, marshmallows, salad dressings and most baked goods and pastries.   It’s also wise to avoid drinks like beer, lattes and cappuccinos that use eggs in foaming agents, anything glazed and even many shampoos which use egg proteins for strengthening.  A final item that might not be as obvious is the vaccine for the flu.  The reason behind this according to the Center for Disease Control is that the vaccines are grown on egg embryos, which means they’ve been mixed with proteins from the egg itself.  However, with this item it’s important to talk with your health service provider before making a decision as they will be able to tell you if your allergy is or isn’t severe enough to cause a reaction to the small amount of protein.

Egg alternatives and eating on the go

While there are some specific alternatives to cooking with eggs like Egg Replacer by Ener-G, there are also many items that you may currently have in your house that can be used in place of eggs as well.  PETA provides many detailed options on how and what to use to substitute for egg use.  Similarly, you can try these great options compiled by Calorie Lab:

1 gelatin packet, 2 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 1 tbsp. liquid (such as water)
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water
1/2 of a medium-sized mashed banana
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp. warm water
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. xanthan gum
In place of an egg wash, use melted margarine.
*Note:  It is important to know that these alternatives may not turn out well when a recipe calls for more than three eggs though.

When eating out with food allergies of any kind, Eating With Food Allergies advises that it’s helpful to either eat earlier or later than the normal crowds (i.e. before 6 PM or after 9 PM).   Doing so will help in allowing you to get more attentive service both at the table and in the kitchen.  Another handy item to remember when venturing out to eat is a Kids Health great cutout for your wallet that lists different foods and ingredients to avoid.  In addition to this cutout, checking sites like Special Gourmets can assist you in making decisions on the most appropriate place to eat.  The search engine bills itself as, “The largest global guide to restaurants, shops & hotels with options for gluten-free, dairy-free & other allergen-free diets.”   Not only is this guide helpful when looking for new places to try or when out of town, but it’s also handy when your or others you’re with are allergic to more than one item since it allows you to check off multiple items for your search.

While you’re out, the most reliable dining option would be to find a specifically Vegan venue.  These restaurants are always a great option for those with egg allergies because Vegans do not eat products that come from animals like eggs and the food is unlikely to suffer from cross-contamination as well.  Unfortunately, Vegan based dining options can be few and far between.  If you’re on the go and looking for an often occurring fast option, check out Taco Bell and Dairy Queen.  Taco Bell is a helpful option because most items do not contain egg products and since most items that do contain them are not necessarily created on-site, the risk for cross-contamination is lowered a bit.  As for Dairy Queen, there are some great options for you to get your ice cream fix.  However, even on their website they do warn of cross-contamination possibilities and encourage getting an ingredient listing from that specific restaurant for extra safety.   For a sit-down experience, On the Border provides a viable egg free option.  Most items there can be enjoyed normally since most of them don’t use eggs, but often require requesting the item without sauce and/or sour cream.

Delicious egg free recipes to try at home

Oven Baked Eggless Zucchini Fries from Eggless Cooking

Sweet Potato Biscuits from The Sensitive Pantry

How do you or your family members deal with being Egg Free?  Please share your story. 

Image from MorgueFile

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Tree Nuts and Peanuts

Image from MorgueFileCan you imagine an elementary school lunch without a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?   How about getting on an airplane without getting a tiny bag of nuts?  And as if both of those weren’t enough, what if you couldn’t even eat chili to warm you up on a cold fall evening?   These are just a few items on the do not eat, touch, etc. list for people suffering from nut allergies.   And while it isn’t necessarily the most common item to be allergic to, nut allergies have begun to occur more and more.   Robert Wood, MD, director of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore told WebMD, “The number of people with peanut allergies doubled over a recent five-year period, from four in 1,000 people in 1997 to eight in 1,000 in 2002.”  This growth may mean more people could potentially suffer from the ill effects of the stray peanut or tree nut, but it also means an increased awareness to the allergy.

What’s the difference between tree nut and peanut allergies?

Often when a person is diagnosed as allergic to peanuts they are also told to avoid tree nuts and vice versa.  This is because according to the Food Allergy Initiative, “30-40% of people who have peanut allergy also are allergic to tree nuts.”  But what exactly is the difference?  The main answer is simply the plant family from which they are produced.

Tree nut allergies are basically nuts grown on trees.  The proteins in these nuts are what cause the allergic reaction.  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) says that about 1.8 million Americans are allergic to this family of nuts which are also one of the leading causes of death among those with food allergies.

Peanut allergies are caused by a similar protein to that in tree nuts and basically present the same reactions (anything from breaking out in hives to anaphylaxis).   The main difference between the two is that a peanut is a member of the legume family along with items like peas and lentils.

What should be avoided?

Image from MorgueFileSince there are so many different types of nuts, it can be difficult to know exactly what to avoid.  While it may sound easy at first to just avoid a peanut or an almond there is a lot more to the process.  First, for tree nut allergies it’s important to know what qualifies under U.S. law as that particular item which means it must be labeled as containing tree nuts on packaged food items.  The Food Allergy Initiative lists the following as being considered tree nuts under U.S. law:  almond; Brazil nut; cashew; chestnut; filbert/hazelnut; macadamia nut; pecan; pine nut (pignolia nut); pistachio; walnut.  For peanut allergy sufferers the basic peanut is the main culprit to avoid.

But just because you avoid the tree nut or peanut in its most basic state, doesn’t mean that’s the only item to stay away from.  Items like barbecue sauce, chili and even spaghetti sauce sometimes use peanut butter or peanut flour as a thickener.  NBC Washington also advises to be careful with pancakes, salad dressing, pasta, pie crust and meatless burgers that may contain traces of different types of nuts.  When eating out it’s a good idea to also avoid ice-cream parlors (due to shared scoops) and Asian and African restaurants due to the risk of cross-contamination since many of their foods contain different types of nuts.  Kids Health even warns to be especially careful when performing some everyday activities due to the possibility of coming in contact with nuts.  They list items such as bird seed, hamster food and bedding, cosmetics and even ant traps as items that could cause a reaction due to nut contamination.

What are some alternatives?

Thankfully for allergy sufferers, items containing these products must be marked on the outside of the package as either containing or possibly coming in contact with nuts.  This leads to a pretty wide variety of products that are nut-free.  PeanutSafeFood.com  has a fairly comprehensive list of several products nut-free and non cross-contaminated items including: Sun Chips, Vanilla Wafers cookies, Skittles, Special K Bars, Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake Mix, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Blue Bell Creameries Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  And if you’re in the market to try some goodies specially made to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free, check out Divvies.  Their facility specializes in making items with minimal cross contamination and as allergen-free as possible.   They offer items ranging from gourmet popcorn to cupcakes and even have a cupcake to help you make your own nut free items at home.

Eating Tree Nut and Peanut Free on the Go

Eating nut-free on the go can be a bit more difficult than some allergies due to the ability for small traces to cause big reactions.  Just as in our previous dairy-free post, it’s extremely important to be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination.  Because reactions can be severe, it’s extremely important that you make servers or your host aware of your allergy ahead of time to prevent any accidents from happening in the kitchen.   It’s important to remember that even something as small as not fully sanitizing a knife that has come in contact with a nut can cause a severe reaction.  Kids Health advises, “If the manager or owner of a restaurant is uncomfortable about your request for peanut- or nut-free food preparation, don’t eat there.”

In the meantime, if you’re on the go and curious as to where it’s safe to eat, you can rest assured that there are options available.  A great site for looking up ingredients and policies at different restaurants prior to visiting is Project Allergy.  This site has a plethora of places that are nut-allergy friendly that’s not only includes restaurants, but also lists hotels and airlines as well.  Project Allergy restaurant lists include everything from kid-focused places to the family-friendly and just about anything else you might be craving.  For the kids, Chuck E. Cheese’s warns against cross-contamination in many birthday and sweets options, but overall could be an option.   If you’re looking for family dining Applebee’s  can provide around three pages worth of everything from appetizers right down to desserts that are safe to dine on for nut-allergy sufferers.  Even theme parks like Holiday World (in Indiana) and Hershey Park (in Pennsylvania) have joined in to help make sure everyone can have a fun getaway without having to worry about a bad allergic reaction.

Delicious Tree Nut and Peanut Free recipes to try at home

Nut-Free Pesto from Parents Connect

Peanut-Free “Mock” Buckeyes from Kids With Food Allergies

How do you or your family members deal with being Tree Nut and Peanut Free?  Please share your story. 

Milk; Image from MorgueFile

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Dairy Free

Milk; Image from MorgueFileThink about what you’re planning to have to eat today.  Does a dairy product make it onto the menu?  If you’re part of the 75% of the world’s population that is lactose intolerant to some extent or a lower 3% with a milk allergy, you may be giving a bit more thought to your daily dairy intake.   Read on to find the differences between an intolerance and an allergy, what is being done for sufferers and a few helpful and delicious dairy-free recipes.

What’s the difference between
lactose intolerance and a milk allergy?

Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the milk sugar, lactose, found in dairy products.

Milk Allergies are more focused on the proteins or caseins within milk products.

What products should be avoided?

For both you should avoid dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, milk, butter, chocolate, goat’s milk products and any product labeled as containing milk or milk ingredients.

What are some alternatives?

Most dairy-based product have an alternative that uses a soy or rice base although sometimes soy may also cause allergic reactions and intolerances.

Eating Non-Dairy on the Go

While it may take a bit of pre-planning using online allergen guides, many restaurants now have tasty options for those with dairy-free eating restriction.  There is also a handy databases like Allergy Eats and Allerdine which allow you to search for restaurants in your area that have special food safety measures for patrons with food allergies.

The most important tip when eating out (other than avoiding the obvious dairy products) is to be aware of cross-contamination.   This can happen through using the same frying oil, grills, woks or cutting boards for the dairy and non-dairy foods.  Another way to prevent cross-contamination is to bring along your own wet cloth to wipe down any surfaces just in case the allergens were left from the previous diner.

It’s also imperative that you open a dialogue between yourself and the wait staff and/or management.   While you may have already looked at the allergen guides, it’s always a wise idea to double check to confirm that the item you’re ordering is cooked and prepared separately and without any allergy/intolerance inducing elements.  Making these inferences every time and at every location is important since staff, preparation guidelines, etc. may change from visit to visit.

Places like Chipotle, Qdoba and Subway are some of the more obvious options since you’re able to add exactly what you want (be sure to watch out for cross contamination).   However, there are many options at your average sit-down restaurant like Denny’s, Chili’s, Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse as well.  In fact, Outback not only gives suggestions on menu items, they also give advice on how to request the food be cooked and what extras should be left off to ensure a higher degree of safety.

And just in case you’re planning a trip to Disney with your dairy-free eater, not to worry, there are plenty of tasty options there too including tofu ice cream, waffles with fruit and dairy free whipped topping, rice milk and dairy free pasta.

Deliciously Dairy-free recipes to try at home

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Lasagna

Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins – Milk Free Recipes

How do you or your family members deal with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy?  Please share your story.

Article sources
1)     Dairy Free Living
2)     Kids Health
3)     Mayo Clinic
4)     National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)  
5)     PubMed Health