Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Eight Food Allergens

Peanuts, Eggs, Treenuts, Wheat, Milk, Soy, Fish and Shellfish account for 90% of food allergies. People who do not live with food allergies often do not realize just how much those eight ingredients are present in everyday food. Nearly all processed foods contain soy. Many contain wheat, milk and eggs. Many foods "may contain peanuts." It's just crazy!

When Treavor was first diagnosed with four of the top eight (peanuts, wheat, eggs and milk) plus bananas, I had no idea just how many foods--and even non-food items-- contained these allergens. I was already a food label reader...but I usually just skimmed the label to look for things like artificial colors, artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, and high frutcose corn syrup. But, now I needed to pay attention to every little word. And, I had to make sure that others paid attention as well.

I was surprised to find wheat in my daughter's play doh. I was even more surprised to find it in my shampoo and conditioner. One would think that Cheerios--which is referred to on the box as a Toasted Oat Cereal--would actually be oats. Nope. Wheat in there too. Soy sauce contains wheat. Tomato soup contains wheat. Twizzlers contain wheat. Most rice mixes (Rice-a-roni, etc) contain wheat. Some seasonings contain wheat...Once, my friend brought over rolls for a cookout. He said, "Look, I got Potato Rolls!" Nope, first ingredient still wheat...It's been a challenge...but one I feel good about. I'm pleased that I am learning and am able to help others learn even if it's just in a small way.

To that light, I'd like to share this little story. Jecilyn is pretty aware of Treavor's allergies. She looks out for her little brother and will tell others about his allergies. She once told my friend Diana that she wasn't supposed to have peanut butter in her kitchen because Treavor was allergic. (Seriously, is this kid four?) The other day Treavor, Jecilyn and I were all cuddled up on the couch watching TV. There was a commercial for Beneful Dog Food.
You can watch the commercial by clicking here. As we were watching, Treavor got all excited--probably because of the dog--and pointed at the TV. Jecilyn turned to him and said, "No, buddy, you can't have that. It has eggs and wheat." Now, how totally sweet is that!?!? She didn't get that it was a dog food...but she knew it had wheat and eggs!

While you grocery shop, or even while cooking this week, take a moment to read a few food labels. Notice just how prevalent those top eight are in our everyday foods! Have a great day!

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