If you have just been diagnosed with an allergy, you may not know where to start and be a little discouraged with the diet to adopt. Initially, many adjustments are needed but over time, it becomes easier and easier. Here are some tips to help you deal with this new food reality.
1. Learn About Allergy
It is important to know the ingredients or keywords that refer to your allergy. You will find a list of keywords on the Allergies Québec website to help you identify in which type of food the allergen can be found. Then read the list of ingredients of each product purchased to verify the presence or absence of the allergen in question. Companies sometimes change the composition of their products and this can change the presence of allergens. So, even if you have bought a product several times, always review the list to make sure there are no changes. Notifiable allergens listed under the ingredient list are the following: peanuts, nuts, eggs, milk, mustard, soy, sesame, wheat, fish / shellfish / mollusc, sulphites. This mention will help you find them more easily. Also, note that traces or the words "may contain" are not notifiable. When you have a doubt or if the information on allergens is missing, it is better to call the company to inquire about the possibilities of contamination or if traces may be present in the food.
2. House Without Allergen?
If you live with other people (not allergic), you will have to ask yourself if you remove the allergens from home for all members of the family or not. If you choose not to eliminate all foods that may contain the allergen in question (so as not to impose constraints on the entire family), it is important that other family members take special measures to avoid cross-contamination. You can discuss this with your allergist or a nutritionist if you are not sure. They can advise you on how to deal with the number of allergies, your tolerance to stress allergy and the complexity of it.
3. Cook More at Home and Review Recipes
The more you cook home, the more you control the presence of allergens. Depending on the allergy in question, it will sometimes be possible to simply adapt the recipes by substituting the allergen in question. In some cases, it is better to find a new recipe. For example, in a muffin recipe, you can easily replace the eggs with compote or banana puree. On the other hand, in a pastry recipe asking for 3 or more eggs, you will not get the same result so you will have to find another recipe. Marie-Josée Bettez's book "Avoiding allergies" presents recipes without most common allergens. Many popular websites also offer recipes without certain allergens. This is the case of “Cuisine futée, parents pressés” and Ricardo.
4. Notify and Educate Others
It is important to talk about your allergies to those around you to inform them about the potential risks. You can give them the list of keywords from Allergies Québec to help them. What seems obvious to you in relation to your allergy, is not necessarily so for the people around you. The world of allergies is unknown to many and a lot of education is still needed so don’t hesitate to talk about it. It’s always better to prevent! Déjouer les allergies offers an annual training day for the general public to better educate families and people living with allergies and their surroundings.
5. Subscribe to Certain Services and Inquire About Available Resources
• Epipen ® Expiry Deadline Service
• Facebook support group to eliminate allergies. This is a community of people who live with allergies and sharing their stuff, products / foods and experiences
• Health Canada e-mail notification regarding allergen-related food recalls.
• Allergies Québec newsletter to receive relevant and up-to-date information on allergies.
• Free support line from Allergies Québec
• Website To eliminate allergies
• Our team of nutritionists can also assist you in this transition to help you simplify the diet surrounding allergies and maintain a balanced diet despite the restrictions.
Do not hesitate to make an appointment with a registered dietitian if necessary.