A food allergy is an adverse reaction to a protein in food. Nearly any food can cause a reaction in someone around the world, but luckily most are very rare. There are a few, however, that are prevalent enough that you should be aware of them.
These allergies are called the “big 8,” and are the most common. They are, in no particular order:
- nuts from trees (including hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts)
- peanuts (groundnuts, legumes)
- shellfish (including shrimps, mussels, and crab)
- wheat (gluten)
Now, if you are not allergic to any of those foods, that’s great. You don’t need to make any adjustments, but you do need to be aware if you are cooking for someone else or going to a pot luck and you are not aware of allergies.
- Always ask if anyone has allergies you should be aware of
- Label any homemade dishes that may contain food allergens
- Take a picture of the ingredient list of foods that have been removed from their packaging. Tell the hosts that you have these pictures so those with allergies can look them over.
Taking these precautions will be a great help for those with allergies and they will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
One thing to note is that an allergy is caused by one of the food’s base proteins, so even if a product is made from a byproduct of that food (like the whey protein in protein shakes), it can cause a reaction.
We would love to list each and every name that an allergen could be hidden under, but that would take forever.
Luckily, there is a handy website at The University of Manchester that provides a nice database of food.
Another thing to note is that while some allergies fade, no one is really sure what causes that to happen. Don’t go trying to force a reaction, hoping you will “grow out of it,” that can only end badly. These actions should be done only under the supervision of a doctor.
Also, you can develop food allergies later in life, again because of mainly unknown causes. If you ever find yourself having an allergic reaction to food, try to isolate what is causing it and go to your doctor.