6 Unhealthy Habits of Food Allergic People

Don't crowd out healthy food with candy!. By Morgan/Flickr

You can be healthy and have healthy habits with a food allergy, or you can be heading down the wrong road with unhealthy habits. The truth is, it’s not difficult to develop bad habits. Think about the food environment we are exposed to: fast food on every corner, sweets and treats in school and on playing fields, and couple that with our move fast mentality. All of these, and more, act together to make unhealthy habits easier than healthy ones!

 But, what makes unhealthy habits for the food allergic person disturbing are the potential risks to health they may cause. Here’s my take on the 6 most disturbing habits of people with food allergies:

Disturbing Habit #1: Failing to read the ingredient label. Ingredient labels can change without much forewarning. Your once beloved milk-free crackers might undergo a recipe overhaul or different manufacturing processes which may change the ingredient profile or influence cross-contamination. That means the onus is on you to make sure food is allergen-free and safe to eat. Bottom line: you have to read the ingredient label every time you make a food purchase. If you don't, it increases the likelihood of an allergic reaction, which is why this is an unhealthy and disturbing habit.

Disturbing Habit #2: Eliminating food groups. Removing one of the five food groups (dairy, lean meat, fruit, vegetable, and grains) and failing to substitute alternative foods is a big no-no.

For instance, removing dairy products in the case of milk allergy removes good sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium. These nutrients are important for bone health and need to be replaced with other foods high in calcium. Without substitutions, low intakes of calcium and vitamin D may lead to an increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Disturbing Habit #3: Getting hooked on junk food. This habit is a bad one because of the risk of extra calories and low nutrient content in the diet. Extra calories that aren't needed means weight gain for most people, and missing nutrients don’t bode well for growing children. The potential for poor nutritional status, low nutrient intake, and weight gain is high when junk food is the mainstay of the diet.

Disturbing Habit #4: Missing out on food variety and key nutrients. Choosing the same old foods to eat everyday is an unhealthy habit because it may reduce the overall exposure to important nutrients. In light of the need to avoid foods like milk or nuts, certain nutrients are obviously at risk, and so these need to be replaced with alternatives. Variety is the spice of life, and the more variety of food available, the more likely it is that nutrient needs will be met and food enjoyment will be had.

Disturbing Habit #5: Not carrying or keeping medication available and up-to-date. From antihistamines to epinephrine, your medication can be a lifesaver.

Not carrying it with you as you travel, go to school, or sleepover at a friend's house is not acceptable. Make sure you renew your prescriptions and check expiration dates so that you have reliable treatment in the event of an allergic reaction at your fingertips.

Disturbing Habit #6: Not talking about your food allergy. Communication is essential to your safety and survival. You need to know how to talk about food allergies: your needs and the specifics about your food allergy. From eating out with food allergies to reducing the stress around managing food allergies, communication can equip others with knowledge to help you or your child. 

These unhealthy habits put you at risk for an allergic reaction. Instead, try to adopt these 9 healthy habits for food allergy. You'll be safer!

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