As you probably know, the best way to handle a food allergy is avoidance. But according to a presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), you may not have to avoid all of the food all of the time.
“Different parts of food may have different allergenicity,” noted presented Sami Bahna, MD, allergist and ACAAI past president. “For example, someone with an egg allergy may be able to tolerate egg yolk but not the whites. And someone with a fruit allergy may be allergic to the seeds but not the pulp.”
“Just because someone is allergic to cow’s milk doesn’t mean they are allergic to milk from all other animals,” explained Dr. Bahna. “Some sufferers might have to avoid several foods, which can be difficult and cause malnutrition. But there are substitutes that can be eaten without any side effects.”
Testing Can Determine Allergy Severity
Allergy skin tests or blood testing must be done to determine food allergy and the severity of the food allergy. Oral food challenges can also confirm an allergy but should be performed in a doctor’s office under medical supervision.
“While many food allergic individuals find they can eat certain parts of food or substitutes, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach,” noted Bahna. “Allergy manifests in everyone differently. If you have a food allergy, evaluation by a board-certified allergist can identify the exact foods that you should avoid and the substitute foods that you can safely eat.”
An allergist can also tell you if you have outgrown an allergy or acquired a new one. Some allergies, like a milk allergy, are commonly seen in childhood only. Other allergies, like peanut or shellfish, will likely last a lifetime.