• Nicola Stewart

Food Allergy or Food Intolerance - do you know the difference?

Updated: Aug 19


"....we are appealing to shoppers to think about those that need ‘Free From’ foods to feed their families. We are receiving reports that shoppers are leaving ‘Free From’ fixtures empty as they buy up alternatives such as oat milk and gluten free bread when standard products are temporarily sold out, leaving people who need these products empty handed..."



Allergy UK are the leading charity for people living with allergic conditions and they are appealing to shoppers to consider the needs of people living with allergy during coronavirus pandemic.


Do you know the difference between an allergy and an intolerance? ALLERGIES are an inappropriate reaction of the body’s immune system to a common food or substance.  Such a reaction may be quick and can be very severe, sometimes even life threatening.  Symptoms can include a rash, pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.   Severe allergies can cause anaphylaxis (a swelling of the throat, severe asthma and a drop in blood pressure). Common allergies include reactions to nuts, fish, citrus and dairy products.     Allergies are quite uncommon.


If your child has an allergy or is about to have a skin prick test I would recommend looking at these flyers which were created by the paediatric allergy team at Evelina London. Click on the links to download:

'Preparing your child for their skin prick test'

'Preparing for your skin prick test'

'Travelling with allergies'

Allergy UK also have lots of factsheets HERE.   INTOLERANCES are more common than allergies and take longer to develop. Eating a certain amount of a particular food to which there is an intolerance may not be a problem but eating more can cause symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue and skin rashes.  On other words wheatabix for breakfast, a bread sandwich for lunch and pasta for supper and biscuits in between could lead to a wheat intolerance.  There are no proven tests for food intolerances apart from by eliminating food types one by one.  To find out if a child has an intolerance, a dietician will ask you to keep a detailed food diary, writing down what they have eaten and recording any symptoms that happened afterwards.    The most common foods causing gastrointestinal ‘intolerances’ are cow’s milk protein (not lactose), soya, egg and wheat. Click HERE for Food Intolerance Factsheets.

"The Gold Standard, and only way, to ascertain which foods cause adverse reactions, is by accurately recording the times and duration of all symptoms, illness or stress, as well as everything you eat and drink. This includes all prescribed medicines and other supplements, all sweets, nibbles and even licking out the mixing bowl when cooking!

This record diary should be continued for 2 weeks and should be representative of your normal diet. Use a new page each day. Ideally, it should be analysed by a registered dietician or nurse with nutritional training." Allergy UK


Click HERE for the Allergy UK Food Diary Template #Allergy #Intolerance #GlutenFree #FreeFromFoods

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