Living With a Food Allergy

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on January 15, 2022
2 min read
  • If you or a loved one has a food allergy, be prepared for an emergency. If you have severe food allergies and have medication to prevent anaphylaxis, carry your medicine (generally an epinephrine auto-injector) at all times in case you accidentally eat a trigger food. If you have an anaphylactic reaction, inject yourself immediately. Even if you are not sure if it is a true reaction, the medication won’t harm you. Be sure someone knows to take you to the emergency room.
  • An organization called "The Food Allergy Initiative" advises people with food allergies to carry a card that lists the foods to which they are allergic. The card can be given to the chef, manager, or server prior to ordering food at a restaurant.

Foods that trigger allergies can be found in the most unlikely foods, so keep the following points in mind.

  • The same deli meat slicer used to cut meats is likely used to cut cheese products, too. When this is done, small particles of cheese can be transferred to sliced meats.
  • To add flavor, some restaurants melt butter on steaks after they have been grilled.
  • Casein, a milk protein, is sometimes used in canned meats.
  • Eggs are sometimes used to create the foam topping on specialty coffee drinks.
  • Some ethnic dishes, such as African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese foods, contain peanuts or are prepared in areas near peanuts.
  • Some beanbags and hacky sacks are filled with crushed nutshells.
  • Some labels use the term "may contain" to indicate the possible, but unintentional, presence of food allergens in their products.