With so many children and adults getting them, one would think food allergies are as hip as iPhones and twerking. Unfortunately, they’re totally the opposite. These days millions of people are having reactions to dairy, egg, soy and gluten. Some food allergies, like those to nuts, can be deadly if not quickly addressed.
Children are affected the most by these allergies. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education Center, 1 in 13 children suffer from this type of condition, and this costs parents and other consumers almost $25 million dollars a year to treat. This includes changing their purchasing habits to find the right foods. Panic can set in for many folks when they or their children are diagnosed with these allergies as they try to adjust their grocery budgets. The good news — it’s not as bad as they think as long as they follow some guidelines. Here are a few.
Find the exact allergy
Some allergies, like those to nuts, mean a purchase can’t be made of any food containing that product or made in a plant where nuts are manufactured. On the other hand, allergies to soy or egg may mean they can’t eat products with those ingredients but can eat items made in factories where those types of foods are prepared. People can determine what needs to be done once they find out the exact nature of their ailment from their physician.
Read the ingredient label
From boxed meals to items made in a supermarket’s bakery, food manufacturers are required to mention if there are any allergens in their products; hence the reason consumers see a final line on the content label that reads ‘Contains nuts, eggs, soy and gluten.’ Reading the labels on food already in the home can determine if everything needs to be scrapped or if their are some items that can be saved.
What to buy
The easiest way to avoid allergens is to go clean. This means avoiding any pre-packaged items and going with lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Will this cost more? It’s possible, depending on what’s purchased. For example, switching to fish and fat-free meats can cost double if purchased at a Whole Foods or other natural grocer. Fruits and vegetables may up the budget if they were never part of the household diet in the first place. Organic produce, which is manufactured without pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), will cost more from normal markets. However, those with allergies may get a better deal if they purchase their seasonal produce from local farmers’ markets.
How about allergen-free mixes, like those made without gluten? The average cost for these specialized products can be $4 or more, so stocking up the cupboards can stretch the grocery budget. A better way to go about making allergy-free meals and desserts is to take out a few recipe books from the library and renew them a few times while experimenting with new foods.