Considering Food Allergies When Building Your Emergency Supply
When I was little, I had many close calls when it came to eating. I had severe allergies to shellfish and almost every kind of nut. This was a real hurdle for a young child that just wanted to eat the same brownies as the rest of the class, or that didn’t understand the concept of what a “shellfish” actually was. As I got older, things got much better. I grew up to understand what I could eat, which foods to avoid, and which questions to ask about food. I also encountered quite a few other kids that had food allergies too!
According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), 1 in 13 kids have a food allergy, which equals about two kids in every classroom. Up to 15 million Americans also suffer from food allergies, so in celebration of Food Allergy Awareness Week (this week!), we’d like to explain how to build your emergency food supply while taking food allergies into consideration. Follow these four easy steps!
Step One: Know Your Family’s Food Allergies
Food allergies are often mistaken for food intolerances, but they are very different. A food allergy is a serious medical condition that can cause death, while food intolerances or food sensitivity are not life-threatening. The best way to determine if you have a food allergy is to see a qualified medical professional. Assuming or self-diagnosing a food allergy may lead to insufficient nutrition and needless food restrictions. Once you have seen a trained doctor, you can make note of the allergies that exist within your family—it’s also important to note that food allergies are often linked to heredity and can onset suddenly. Therefore, even if a family member does not have a food allergy now, they may develop one, or even grow out of one, in the future.
Step Two: Check Labels
After identifying the food allergens that your family has, start checking labels! Did you know that the FDA requires food producers to separately list the eight most common ingredients that cause food allergies? Since these eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions, it makes sense to single them out. When shopping for food, or preparing your emergency food storage, read over the nutritional information. To see ingredients in Food Insurance products, click on the Nutritional Info tab, and then See Label.
Step Three: Have Backup/Alternate Meals
Look for foods (that your family does not have allergies to) that are nonperishable and store well. If you invest in a long-term emergency food supply with predetermined meals, be sure to have alternate options for those with allergies. Get to know the ingredients in each item and prepare accordingly. Remember that water is the most important emergency supply—and no one is allergic to that.
Step Four: Have Emergency Allergy Supplies Handy
As cautious as we try to be, sometimes accidents happen, or allergies surface out of nowhere. Even if no one in your family has any food allergies, it’s best to be prepared with a first aid kit that contains the necessary medications to treat a food allergy, or other allergies, should they occur. Your doctor will need to prescribe medications such as epinephrine, also known as an EpiPen®. In addition, you can have your doctor fill out a Food Allergy Action Plan form to help guide you through a food allergy.