Some people still think of food allergies as something you can outgrow. But don't take your allergies lightly − coping with food allergies is a full-time job.
Step 1: Read food labels Read food labels to avoid allergy-inducing foods. Companies are not required by law to report every ingredient, so do all you can to find out everything you can.
TIP: Food with hydrolyzed protein can contain dairy products.
Step 2: Wear medical bracelet Wear a medical bracelet. If you are unable to speak in the time it takes for your allergic reaction to begin shutting your system down, companions and strangers can find help and provide information.
TIP: No drug can cure a food allergy, but you can save yourself when an attack starts by using an EpiPen -- emergency epinephrine delivery device. But be sure to get to the hospital within 20 minutes after use.
Step 3: Check for sulfites Research sulfites and be sure to ask restaurants whether menu items include sulfites, peanut products, or other allergens.
Step 4: Notify primary people Notify primary people in your life or your children's lives so they know what to do in case of life-threatening contact. Write and distribute an action plan to schools and friends.
Step 5: Follow diet Follow your special diet. Be consistent and don't waver, regardless of how long it's been since you suffered an attack.
Step 6: Use allergy-free cookbook Buy and use an allergy-free cookbook. Find alternative foods that can become a staple of your diet. Balance your foods nutritionally while you're eliminating allergens.
Step 7: Wash dishes and utensils Wash dishes, utensils, pots, and pans thoroughly to ensure you don't accidentally ingest something. Educate yourself on cross contamination.
FACT: The National Institutes of Health reported in 2007 that over 30,000 anaphylactic attacks occur annually, resulting in 100 to 200 deaths in the U.S.