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Food Allergy & Intolerance - Section 2

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Food Allergy & Intolerance - Section 2


Excluding problem foods
Once your problem food or foods have been identified, the most obvious course of action is to exclude them from your diet.

However, while excluding one particular food might not be difficult (e.g. if you are allergic to shell fish) problems could arise if you are allergic or intolerant to a particular food group or range of foods.

Coeliac disease (see a - z conditions section for further information) is an inflammatory condition of the small intestine, caused by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. This is one type of intolerance which can be diagnosed through medical tests.

If you think you may suffer with Coeliac disease, see your doctor who can refer you for testing. For sufferers, the only way to control the disease is to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. However, because wheat is an important staple in our diet, this often involves a lot of careful label and ingredient checking.

Wheat can be found in bread, cakes, biscuits, pasta, pizzas, pies, soups, sauces, pate, snacks, breakfast cereal, gravy, breadcrumbs and many processed foods. Rusk, an ingredient in sausages and burgers also contain wheat. Whenever possible it is preferable to prepare home-cooked food using fresh ingredients.
Examples of problem foods
Wheat and grains

Coeliac disease (intolerance to the protein gluten) can lead to weight loss and poor growth in children, and sickness and tiredness in adults. Other sufferers can be allergic to the whole wheat grain not just the gluten protein, and can experience symptoms such as asthma, itchy skin and diarrhoea. Some gluten free products can still contain wheat starch, so check labels carefully.

Milk and dairy produce

For some, cows' milk protein causes eczema, whereas others cannot digest the lactose (natural sugar) it contains. Babies and young children can be given a soya-based substitute, and often outgrow the condition.

If the intolerance is due to the milk protein, goat or ewes' milk may be an option but shouldn't, however, be given to children less than 1 year. Alternatively, soya or rice milk may be suitable. If you have to exclude milk or dairy products from your diet, make sure you use a calcium enriched alternative or take a good calcium supplement daily.


Some preservatives and colourings are linked to allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. The 'free from' range keeps the use of artificial additives to a minimum.


These are known to cause eczema and nettle rash in some sensitive individuals and even severe anaphylactic shock on occasion.Most common among toddlers, it's not unusual for sufferers to outgrow the problem.


Strawberries, oranges (and sometimes citrus fruit in general), apples, cherries and kiwis can cause an allergic or intolerance reaction.

Nuts and seeds

Peanut allergy is not common but even slight contact has been known to trigger severe anaphylactic shock.

Fish and shellfish

These have been known to cause nettle rash, as well as anaphylactic shock. A study in 2002 found 1 in 70 children were affected. Most supermarkets identify any major allergens in their products in the 'Allergy information' box on the back of packs, near the ingredients list.
Useful Tips
Problem Foods

Allergy and intolerance sufferers can experience problems with all kinds of food however, there are certain types of food groups that are more commonly found to be the cause of problems for sufferers.