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Nut Allergies? Eat These Nutrition Expert-Approved Meals

Pexels. Table filled with bean salad, cranberry salad, hummus, chips, and other snacks

September 2, 2018 | Categories:

If you have a nut allergy or have a family member with one, you know that navigating the world of nut-free foods can be a challenging one to say the least. Whether your child is among the 1.5 to 3 percent of children allergic to peanuts or attends a school or daycare that’s nut-free, you’ll have to spend a lot more time reading nutrition labels.

You may also need to avoid tree nuts—people with peanut allergies are 25 to 40 percent more likely to be allergic to them. Many manufacturing facilities may have cross-contamination between peanuts and tree nuts as well. If you or your child has a peanut allergy, discuss with your doctor whether they need to avoid tree nuts as well.

Although this practice is time-consuming, it’s extremely important to be vigilant if your child has an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts. Accidental ingestion of peanuts and tree nuts can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that could send those affected to the emergency room or even cause death.

Rest assured that there are plenty of nut-free options for you or your child. Aja Stokes, a registered dietitian at Fairview Park Hospital, in Dublin, Ga., suggests delicious ways to avoid nuts while enjoying your meals and snacks.

Learn 10 reasons why it’s a good idea to try a vegetarian diet.

HOW TO READ FOOD LABELS

You’ve probably read labels to learn about sugars, fat, carbohydrates and protein in your foods, but looking for nuts and tree nuts is an important skill too.

Thanks to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004, the process is a bit easier. Manufacturers are required to call out the eight most common allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish.

FALCPA-regulated allergens can be mentioned in one of three ways:

  1. The allergen’s name will be in the ingredient list. With tree nuts, the specific nut must be listed.
  2. A phrase with the word “contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen—for example, “Contains nuts, tree nuts.”
  3. In the ingredient list in parentheses, when the ingredient name may not be recognizable as the allergen, such as albumin (egg).

Continue reading the food label since language like “may contain,” “processed in facility that also processes” or “made on equipment with” are warnings you’ll often find after the ingredient list. The term “peanut-free” is not regulated, so it is important to still read the label if you encounter a product using that terminology.

Reread a product’s label every time you buy it. Manufacturers change ingredients lists often and what was once a “safe” food may now contain peanuts or be manufactured in a facility with other nuts.

It may sound strange, but check non-food items, as well, since they aren’t subject to labeling regulations. Allergens may be found in cosmetics, bath products, cleaning supplies, sunscreens, art supplies, kitchen products and gardening supplies.

Always look up ingredients that you’re not sure about and call the manufacturer with any questions about a food’s potential cross-contamination or ingredient list.

NUT-FREE FOODS TO START THE DAY

Fruit is always a great option for kids’ breakfasts, says Stokes. “Fresh or frozen fruits are good go-to’s for a morning meal.”

You could also give your child certain cereals, Stokes says, but be vigilant about checking the ingredient list and where it is manufactured each time you buy a product. Even if the packaging looks the same, recheck the ingredients list in case something changed.

A simple solution that some children like is cheese and toast in the morning, Stokes says.

Enjoy these high-protein breakfast ideas in the morning.

BROWN BAG LUNCHES WITHOUT NUTS

Remember, a nut-free world isn’t as simple as avoiding peanut butter. Peanuts and tree nuts can be ground up and found in sauces, condiments and candies. And, as noted above, many processed foods are made in facilities where tree nuts are present.

Some delicious nut-free lunches for families include turkey and cheese on a nut-free bread, cottage cheese and fruit, hard-boiled eggs, lunchmeat wrapped around cheese. As with any food, always check products with multiple ingredients to be sure they are nut-free.

HEARTY HOME-COOKED DINNERS

If you’re looking to get dinner on the table faster, families with food allergies might be better off making meals ahead of time, packing them up and freezing them. Think homemade meatloaf, mac and cheese, soups and nut-free stir-fries that you can quickly defrost and serve at supper.

Breaded frozen products, even vegetables, may contain nuts or have cross contamination, says Stokes. “Be mindful of them and read the label,” she cautions.

Keep these foods in front of your fridge for health and weight loss benefits.

A WARNING ABOUT BAKED GOODS

“I would be leery of cakes and baked goods,” says Stokes. “Read the label before buying these because there’s an opportunity for cross-contamination [during manufacturing],” she says.

Instead try fresh fruit as a great dessert for kids. You could freeze grapes for a frozen treat, make fruit smoothies or try homemade fruit ice pops.

Flavored applesauce is a great snack to satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth. Make sure the brand says it’s nut-free. You can also easily make applesauce at home, adding your own spices and additions.

TIPS TO STAY NUT-FREE AT RESTAURANT

When dining out, it can be challenging to know whether a food contains peanuts or tree nuts. Alert your server or a restaurant manager that a member of your party has a nut allergy. Ask how a meal is prepared and if it is possible to avoid cross-contamination.

There are also many unexpected places where nuts can be hiding at restaurants. “Gravy is a food that comes to mind as something a lot of people wouldn’t think contains peanuts, but it can. Sometimes sauces have a possibility of peanut cross-contamination,” says Stokes, which can include tomato sauce, marinades, barbecue sauce or creamy soup bases.

“Sometimes breading is made with seeds or nuts, so be mindful of anything you’re ordering that’s breaded,” says Stokes. Fried foods may be more likely to have cross-contamination or be fried in peanut oil. “Plain menu items that don’t have breading are your safest route to go,” she says.

If your family member is diagnosed with a nut allergy and you’re not sure what products and foods are safe, chat with a pediatrician or a registered dietitian. They will be able to provide you with the best options to keep your family safe, healthy and well fed.

You can read the full article at Sharecare!

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