There are 14 common food allergens in the UK which legally have to be listed on food products. Some of which are far more common than others and sometimes those who develop a food allergy later on in life can find things far more challenging. If you are concerned about an allergy or confused on the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance check out our previous post on allergies. Today we’re sharing our top tips for managing a food allergy and alternatives which you can use instead. This can also be helpful if you’re cooking for friends or family with allergies too.
Tree Nuts – These are a really common allergy with varying degrees of reactions. For some people this can be an air born allergy where exposure to the allergen in the air can stimulate an allergic response whereas for others, it may be that air exposure is ok but consumption is not. Avoiding tree nuts can be challenging as they can be present in many foods or if they’re not they may contain traces of nuts due to the production line. Healthy snacking can be a challenge for those with a tree nut allergy but oat based snacks, oat cakes and roasted beans and chickpeas can be a really great alternative. Additionally, if you’re looking to top a salad with nuts try opting for roasted beans or chickpeas instead.
Dairy – Nowadays having a dairy allergy has become far more manageable due to the significant rise in plant based diets and individuals opting for dairy alternatives. Where possible, opt for a nut based milk due to the lower sugar content than oat based milks (unless of course the individual is also allergic to nuts too). Nut milks are also higher in protein than oat milks however, do ensure your milk alternatives are fortified with key nutrients such as Vitamins B12 and D and calcium as a bare minimum. Furthermore, be aware of some dairy free cheese as they can be coconut oil based which means they’re much higher in saturated fats. Opt for almond or soy cheese where possible.
Peanuts – For those allergic to peanuts and not tree nuts a simple switch can be quite easy there however, some individuals are allergic to both and therefore trying seeds as an alternative way to pack in the protein, fibre and healthy fats can be useful too. If you’re looking for an alternative to nut butter opt for sunflower seeds butter or tahini (sesame seed paste) as these can work as great toast toppers and in dressings too. Tahini is also a rich source of calcium and iron too.
Eggs – For those allergic to eggs there are a wide range of egg replacers which you can use in baking, alongside bananas, flax eggs or chia eggs for a more nutritious alternative. Eggs can be a great source of protein too and therefore if you’re allergic try opting for scrambled tofu on toast as a nutrient dense and protein rich alternative.
Wheat – Wheat can be a challenge and it’s important to note that wheat free does not mean gluten free. Where possible opt for wheat free alternatives. These include: rye bread over normal bread, red lentil pasta or brown rice pasta over regular pasta and rice or quinoa instead of cous-cous.
Gluten – Individuals with Coeliac Disease are allergic to gluten, however there are many individuals who may be intolerant to gluten. This means that whilst consuming gluten may provoke undesirable and unwanted reactions it’s not necessarily dangerous. Nonetheless, those who choose to exclude gluten can opt for gluten free products, the market is enormous nowadays. Where possible try to opt for those products and ingredients which are naturally gluten free. Often gluten free products can be packed with added artificial ingredients, sugars and flavourings so always read the label.
Whilst there are many other allergens we’ve chosen to focus on those which are most common and hopefully you’ll find this helpful whether it be for you, a friend or a family member. Remember always serve food with caution.