8 Facts about food allergies

1. Food allergy symptoms vary in severity. While one mother may have to rush a wheezing child to the nearest emergency room within minutes after he eats a peanutbutter sandwich, another child may develop only a nuisance-like rash around the mouth.

2. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days for a food to cause a reaction. Monday's chocolate bar may be the cause of Tuesday's rash. Food allergies are often known as the "eat now, pay later" phenomenon.

3. Food allergies are often dose related. A teaspoon of peanut butter may not be a problem, but a couple tablespoons on a big sandwich can trigger wheezing. Some people do just fine with one glass of milk, but may get bloated after drinking three glasses. Eating shellfish every day could make you break out in an all-over body rash, yet having a few shrimp every four days may not be a problem. This is the rationale for the "rotation diet" in which you eat related food groups every four days.

4. Even though it's possible to be allergic to just about any food, over 90 percent of food allergies, especially in young children, are caused by seven foods:

5. If you're allergic to one food in a food group, you have a greater chance of being allergic to other foods, or all the foods in that group. If you're allergic to peanuts (which is a legume and not a nut), you may be able to eat almonds, but not other foods in the legume family (e.g. Soya or Lentils).

6. Don't be surprised if you actually crave the food you're allergic to. When you go on an elimination diet , your body may go through withdrawal symptoms, triggering cravings for the very food that is not good for it. Sometimes the wisdom of the body breaks down. This food-craving paradox is especially true in children who are hypersensitive to sugar . When the blood sugar rises and then falls, children crave the food that will send their blood sugar skyrocketing.

7. Food allergies should not interfere with a child's growth. Few foods are absolutely essential for growth. A child who is allergic to one food can certainly get the same nutrition in many other foods.

8. Allergy symptoms change with age. The good news is that most children outgrow their food allergies by three years of age. The tomato- allergic toddler may become the preschooler who can safely indulge in ketchup. Children tend to outgrow their sensitivity to milk and soy products; other food allergies, such as nuts and shell fish, tend to persist.

The incidence of food allergies may be on the rise because more people are eating processed foods containing preservatives and additives. It's no wonder that the body rebels against all the foreign substances added to food in factories.

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