Food allergies and sensitivities are a real (and growing) concern for a significant portion of the American population. Currently, the FDA has identified eight foods or food groups as the major food allergens. They are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy.
These eight account for over ninety percent of ALL documented food allergies in the United States. However, there are more than 160 foods identified to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals— and that’s just from the FDA. –Learn More About Food Sensitivities vs Food Allergies
With the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) all food products MUST list these allergens explicitly in the ingredient list on the label. This is a great step towards more food transparency in processed and packed foods.
Food sensitivities and food allergies is a topic that is near and dear to me on both a personal and professional level. Many of my patients are dealing with ongoing sensitivities and unexplained symptoms that require strict avoidance of certain ingredients (and additives).
When my best friend Kirsten found out that her son, Tripp, had Cystic Fibrosis she was sent into the world of allergen-avoidance without a choice. As a parent without a nutrition background, this can be an eye-opening experience into the world of food manufacturing and processing. After some trial and error, Tripp has known allergies to dairy and eggs. GUESS WHAT: SO MANY FOOD PRODUCTS GEARED TOWARDS TODDLERS HAVE THESE THINGS IN THEM! Even things you wouldn’t expect, like breaded chicken nuggets, pastas, cake mixes, and granola bars.
Many infants and children have food allergies that present challenges to new parents and families for grocery shopping and making the healthiest choices. Sure, going 100% packaged-food free is an option, but when you’re needing convenience that isn’t always realistic.
Allergen-friendly Convenience options
Luckily, there are some brands out there who recognize this need. They make an effort to produce food products FREE FROM top allergens at every step; dedicating the entire facility to being allergen-friendly.
A few of my favorite allergen-friendly brands:
- Enjoy Life : Enjoy Life is a certified gluten-free brand that offers allergen-friendly treats from cookies and snack bars to chocolate chips (dairy-free!!) tailored to those with food intolerances and other sensitivities.
- Siete : One of my go-tos for grain-free Mexican-American food. You’ll find chips, tortillas, dips, cookies, and more made with alternative flours suitable on a gluten-free diet. The Siete company was born out of a family member’s need for dietary restriction and they’ll filled a major void in the market.
- YumEarth : YumEarth was founded by two dads with a shared interest in making treats without artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup.
- Partake Foods : This company is woman-founded in response to a child with severe food allergies. Find baking mixes and more that are allergen-friendly, certified glyphosate-free, and support food equity initiatives.
- This Saves Lives : A personal recommendation from Kirsten, you’ll find a number of dairy-free and egg-free bars that even a three year old loves! With every purchase, This Saves Lives works with nonprofit partners to deliver meals to children in need throughout the world.
- Hu Kitchen : THE best chocolate hands down. Hu Kitchen uses organic cacao, no Soy Lecithin, no emulsifiers, and NO refined sugar! Their products are Fair Trade, Paleo, & Vegan. The Hu Kitchen Hunks are a staple post-dinner snack for me.
- Made Good : Granola bars that are nut-free, dairy-free, AND gluten-free. These are the answer to classic Quaker Chewy Bars, but made with real ingredients. Great for kids’ lunch boxes and on-the-go.
- OatHaus : OatHaus’ signature product is Granola Butter. For individuals with a peanut or treenut allergy, this is a godsend. Like nut butter, but only made from oats! The name says it all, it’s like spreadable granola.
Where to shop
This is where THRIVE MARKET shines. They make the grocery shopping process so simple for navigating special needs and getting the best prices. In the main menu, you can shop by ‘Value’. Thrive Market has over 70 values aka special filters by diet (gluten-free, paleo, AIP, vegan, ketogenic, low-FODMAP, whole30, etc); allergen (gluten-free, nut-free, no sulfites, soy-free, yeast-free, grain-free, big8allergen-free, and more); certification (organic, fair trade, kosher, etc); as well as environmental/social (cruelty-free, family-owned, BPIOC-founded, ethically-sourced, and more).
The best part? Thrive market is a membership community that offers wholesale prices on their groceries and products. Most items are 25-50% off retail. Aka waaaay better pricing than WholeFoods or other speciality grocery stores.
Similar to Costco, you’ll pay a monthly/yearly membership fee to shop. BUT, with your membership you get free shipping, exclusive discounts (seriously, so many great offers every week), and the ease of online shopping. Most members make back their membership fee in savings within their first TWO orders (I certainly have!!).
Reframe Food Allergies with Hope
After the initial shock of dietary change due to food sensitivities and allergies, I hope you find some excitement that there are MANY great brands available. The food system is shifting as consumers call for more transparency and less artificial additives. Don’t take food sensitivities as a punishment, but reframe it as a chance to explore NEW favorites!
I’m always up for suggestions and new finds- got a favorite allergen-friendly brand you don’t see on the list? Let me know in a comment below!
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