Did you know that roughly 32 million people in the United States have some type of food allergy? And that number is only on the rise! With more than 170 foods documented that induce an allergic reaction, ranging from rashes to anaphylaxis it’s no surprise there are many misconceptions about allergies.

Whether you, your child or someone you know has any type of allergy, it’s only beneficial to increase our knowledge of treatment, response and support for these individuals. 

Myth 1: Food allergies aren’t serious

  • Every individual has varying responses to the foods they are allergic to, no matter what response they have it is a serious condition! Reactions can be anything between itches, stomachaches, vomiting, shortness of breath or as severe as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is the most life threatening response! People with food allergies must be vigilant in there food purchasing, ordering and consumption to avoid serious repercussions 

Myth 2: Eating a little bit won’t hurt

  • For some individuals even a trace or air exposure to an allergen can induce a reaction. You must remove the allergen completely from your diet to stay truly safe. One of the biggest concerns amongst parents, is the unknown and potential cross contamination their child can come in contact with when at school, sleepovers and out with friends.

Myth 3: Each allergic reaction will only get worse

  • Unfortunately food allergies and the response is unpredictable! The way your body reacts once may be drastically different than a time following. Reactions can be mild, moderate or severe so being prepared for the worst is the best way to avoid serious consequences.

Myth 4: Food allergies are the same as food intolerances

food allergy vs. food intolerance picture

  • Food allergies are IgE-mediated, meaning that your immune system produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E when it detects a food allergy. These antibodies fight back by releasing antihistamines and other chemicals that trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction. 
  • Food intolerances do NOT involve the immune system. While food intolerances can cause discomfort and GI issues they are not potentially life threatening like an allergy is.

Myth 5: A food allergy is always develops in childhood and then you are stuck with it for life

  • Food allergies can develop at any age and sometimes even with food you previously ate and tolerated well. While you may develop allergies at any age, you can also potentially outgrow them! Children may outgrow food allergies overtime, typically with allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are not as common to outgrow. 

Navigating in today’s world when you have potential allergies at every corner can be scary, intimidating and overwhelming. By learning more about how to best support your child, family and friends with these issues you can potentially help avoid and treat any allergies as they come along.  Work with one of our dietitians to support you or your family! 

 

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.