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QOTM: Can You Help with Ideas for Snacks for Children with Food Allergies and/or Intolerances?

Peanut Allergy
 
Peanut Allergy

First let’s review some background information about food allergies and food intolerances. Allergy symptoms may include rashes, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, shortness of breath, and/or dizziness or fainting.  Without treatment, food allergies can be life-threating. In emergency situations, call 911.

The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. All ingredient statements on food packages must list any of the potential allergens that are present. Companies often list whether the food was packaged or processed on equipment that came into contact with allergens to help protect people with severe food allergies.

An example of a food intolerance is “lactose intolerance,” where the affected person has difficulty digesting lactose (milk sugar). The person may experience bloating, cramps and/or diarrhea after eating milk-containing foods. Even those with lactose intolerance may be able to handle smaller amounts of milk especially with a meal. Most can tolerate yogurt or cultured dairy products. Lactose-free milk and lactase (enzyme tablets) also are available.

Gluten-free foods have become a popular item in many supermarkets. Gluten is a protein component found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free diets are needed by those with celiac disease, which affects about 1 percent of worldwide population. Therefore, only a small percentage of the population medically needs gluten-free foods, and much confusion about the topic exists. For more information about gluten-free diets, see www.celiac.org

 When planning events for children (or adults), be sure to do the following:

  • Have them identify any food allergies or intolerances on the registration form. Pass the information along to the committee or person planning meals and snacks. For example, in schools, classrooms often are “peanut free” if one child has a peanut allergy. Sometimes, parents choose to send a separate snack for their child.
  • Label the container of snacks with the allergen information (such as “Contains wheat”). You might leave the snack package by the tray so parents can see both the nutrition information and any allergens that are present.
  • Avoid “cross-contamination.” Sometimes allergens can be spread from one food to another. Be sure to use separate utensils and containers for allergen-containing foods and non-allergen-containing foods.
  • Provide fruits and veggies as snacks. Although some people may be sensitive to certain fruits and vegetables, these foods are not on the “top allergen” list and are great snacks for kids. Most children and adults do not meet the daily goal for fruits and vegetables.
    • Safety note: Be sure to rinse fruits and vegetables (even bananas!) thoroughly with water. Keep cut-up fruits and vegetables cold (and safe to eat) by nesting a container of fruits and vegetables on a container of ice to keep them cool.

Check Out This Food Allergy Resource

Although it can be challenging to provide snacks when food allergies and intolerances are present, a website with a searchable recipe database allows you to specify the food allergy and find snacks that fit the bill. Click on “Recipes & Diet.”

www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

 

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D.

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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