Do you suffer from food allergies or intolerances? For someone who is neither allergic nor intolerant it can be hard to understand how difficult, frustrating and complex it can be. Food allergies or intolerances are medical conditions — not fussiness, nor food preference. Allergy impacts the immune system, which can have serious — if not fatal — effects if ignored. Intolerance is concentrated to the digestive system, which can cause severe discomfort. Do you suffer from — or suspect — allergies or intolerances? You will find that this post is full of resource-packed tips how to win in the jungle that our food has become. Feel free to share, comment and review – Thanks!
Allergies or Intolerances: The Junk Food Jungle
Our body needs good fuel to function, but how do we know what we eat? In today’s junk food jungle our health has become a game. We have a hard time understanding what we consume. Too many so-called foods come in tins, plastic pre-prepared formats and deep-frozen saucy mix formats.
To make it ‘easier’ for consumers, and to ‘win’ time, the food industry has invented ways to preserve ingredients, heighten flavors and change the chemical makeup of foods. As consumers we find ourselves looking at labels which contain too many lines to make sense, and it is easy to be a loss when trying to live relatively healthy.
Allergies or Intolerances in the Food Jungle?
Now – what if you have to avoid certain foods or ingredients because your body reacts badly to them? It takes the mapping of the food jungle to a different level, right?
In the junk food jungle, you can get very ill indeed if you don’t know what you’re eating. If you suffer from food allergies or intolerances the struggle to understand which food triggers a bad reaction can be complicated and tough.
Eating healthy, clean food is a good start, but if you suspect that you suffer from allergies or intolerances you need to take action. There is no cure for allergies but, knowing more can save lives and prevent a lot of added luggage.
Tip: Read Part 1: The essential guide to allergy and intolerance to find symptoms, common allergens, and the difference between food allergy and intolerance.
Allergies or Intolerances: Facts and Figures
Food allergies or intolerances have become so commonplace that it is almost trendy. However, it is a not fake news, nor fashionable. There are still too many situations where people do not recognize allergies or intolerances as a medical condition. Some still view it as fussiness and a hassle.
Facts and figures show how numbers are rising; why food manufacturing is tricky; and how the impact of undetected allergies or intolerances leads many to think again.
Rising Numbers of Allergies or Intolerance
Today a higher percentage of people suffer from food allergies or intolerances than before Tip: Read Food Allergies on the Rise :
- More than 15 million in the US and 17 million Europeans suffer from allergies or intolerances.
- In the US food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011, according to CDC.
- Although allergies to milk, egg, wheat, and soy often resolve in childhood, children appear to be outgrowing some of these allergies more slowly than in previous decades, with many children still allergic beyond age 5.
The way in which the Western world manufactures food has changed. For allergies or intolerances it means additional warning labels:
- Scientific research claims that there is a strong correlation between this increase and processed food.
- Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are generally lifelong. Processed foods often contain these food traces and are hard to detect unless you read every label.
- Peanut allergies in US children doubled from 1997 to 2002, but there is no indication that the consumption of peanuts—or the awareness of food allergies—increased as significantly during the same period. Instead, changes in food manufacturing might be to blame.
Undetected Allergies or Intolerances
Scientific research also shows how the impact of undetected allergies or intolerances can be devastating.
- Self-medication for ailments which are actually due to food is common. Diets that do more harm than good, as well as don’t work is another alarm bell. Weight can be an indicator that you have undetected food sensitivities.
- Undetected food allergy or intolerance can interfere with the brain’s ability to receive and process information. Medical Science is now aware of this linkage and thus diagnosis for learning difficulties, ADHD etc will often include food sensitivity testing.
Allergies or Intolerances: 10 Food Jungle Tips
Are you convinced that awareness is important, but don’t know how to change the way you’ve always shopped, cooked or thought about food? Let’s look at how to map it out, and win in the food jungle.
How can you survive in the jungle that our food has become? Birthday party food and must-have ‘treats’ surround children at every corner. As an adult, you rush around the supermarket or work lunch options. As we are caught up in multi-tasking, parenting and competing deadlines we grab what looks quick and easy.
Do you write off as ‘normal’ mood swings, fatigue, lack of concentration, bloatedness, and stomach cramps? Are you on a diet but can’t seem to lose weight? You say to yourself that you ought to go to the gym more or promise a better work-life balance. Hmmm…. Is it actually the so-called food that’s making you feel like this?
Listen To Your Body (and Mind)
If you — or someone you care for — is showing symptoms of suspected sensitivity to the food you should take action. Ignoring, or treating it as fussiness may provoke more discomfort and possibly worse.
- Do take your body’s signals seriously. The body — and mind — knows what it can and cannot take. Allergies will misinterpret what they consider a foreign substance and attack it — and you. Intolerances will affect you slowly but surely. Ignoring rashes, shortness of breath, headaches, bloating, concentration difficulties and stomach upsets etc — will do no good.
- Seek medical advice. An allergist will test you and give you real advice how to proceed with your particular allergy or intolerance.
- During your medical journey, you will most likely be asked to keep a food diary and/or proceed with an elimination diet. Be honest with yourself. This process will help you and your Doctor to understand if you are dealing with allergy or intolerance, or both.
Eating With Allergies or Intolerances
- Avoid junk and processed foods. With the increase in allergy and sensitivity to additives, MSG, food coloring, emulsifiers, genetically modified foods etc there is a strong case to avoid these altogether. Always read the label, and if you don’t understand what it says — or if the list is more than 5 opt for another product.
- Get into cooking with real, organic foods. You will know what is in the food, and the taste is much better than anything semi or processed.
- Kids are under constant peer pressure to eat foods that are not good for them. To tell them not to touch sweets, treats and party food are almost cruel. There are so many yummy recipes now that are safe for allergies or intolerances. The cookbooks below come highly recommended. Click and find out.
- Learn to cook with natural foods instead of substitutes. There are many gluten-free natural options. Diary free doesn’t have to hard, as calcium needs can be satisfied naturally. Many opt to go the Paleo way as well. Overall the internet is your friend for recipes, tips and natural ways to substitute the food you can’t eat. Tip: Check out these fabulous cookbooks with recipes that exclude common allergens:
Away From Home
- If you can’t eat certain foods, get used to telling a host/ess, restaurant, canteen, friend etc. You have to get over yourself. Be upfront about allergies or intolerances. Do not confuse politeness with medical prevention.
- Bring your own dishes to parties, and make enough so everyone can share. Show how your food can be just as great, even though it doesn’t have dairy, gluten, or other common allergens. For days out bring your own healthy snacks, fruits and enjoy the day without making food restrictions an issue. Check out the cookbooks above for recipes.
- Travelling with allergies can be tough. You need to plan differently and be upfront with airlines, hotels, and restaurants. If you need country-specific information for international travel, including how to deal with eating out check out this site: IFAAA Travel Plan and Tips – FARE (ww.foodallergy.org)
Allergies or Intolerances: The Healthiest People
Interestingly enough the healthiest people in the world live in Italy. This is thought to be a direct consequence of their diet, which is mainly based on vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish and olive oil. It is easy to eat in Italy if you want to avoid certain foods, as everything comes to the table on separate plates. In Italy, the food allergies or intolerances are less common too…
Italian food shoppers will circumvent tins, packages, and frozen foods. They go for the fresh produce. It is customary to ask questions where food is grown, and what is in it. Italians will avoid anything ‘weird’ and processed with great suspicion. Ask an Italian to go to a fast food joint…they will stare at in disgust.
Perhaps this makes you smile, but Italians are in way better shape than Americans, Canadians, and Britons, who all suffer from higher blood pressure and cholesterol and poorer mental health. Just check out the latest allergy statistics here: A Guide To Allergy Statistics.
Allergies or Intolerances: A Healthier You?
The best prevention to ill-health is knowledge and common sense. It doesn’t have to be hard, but if you suffer from an allergy or intolerance you need to plan, think and prepare in a different way so you can eat healthily — and safely.
By being aware what your body tells you will create a healthy partnership for life. With food allergies or intolerances you learn to make choices that suit you — and your guests. The Italian approach to food can inspire, perhaps?
The body is a complex machine. Good food should mean enjoyment, and fuel for healthy living at home and working (far) away. We have been told: You are what you eat, not what you avoid. With allergies and intolerances, it takes guts, thinking and planning. You are what you eat and what you avoid, right?
Recommended and Related:
- 7 Signs You Have Food Sensitivity – prevention.com
- A Guide on Allergy Statistics – UK wristbands
- International Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance Travel Tips – FARE
- The Easy Way To Figure Out If You Have Food Intolerance – Greatist
- Food Allergy Testing – ACAAI
- 8 Party Planning Tips For Kids With Allergies – everyday health
- How Food Allergies Affect Weight Gain – positivehealthwellness.com
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