Do you or a family member have a food allergy? Getting the news can disrupt your whole life. Whether you are allergic to one food, or 10 foods, the days and weeks following a diagnosis are filled with stress, anxiety and confusion. Grocery shopping feels endless, reading the labels of nearly every food that goes into your shopping cart. Going out to eat seems impossible, with so many variables that could lead to an accidental exposure to your allergen. Even the simplest tasks like having lunch with a friend or a play date is all the sudden more complicated than you could even imagine.
And if the person with a food allergy is your child, you may find yourself worrying about their overall nutrition. When foods and food groups are cut out from the diet, you may worry that your child is not getting all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are needed for proper growth and development.
Your allergist, primary care physician or pediatrician should have given you some good education about your new food allergy diagnosis, how to avoid your allergen, and how to react if there is an accidental exposure to your allergen.
But what about the food? What about nutrition? What about grocery shopping and cooking?
RDNs are the nutrition experts
You may have heard the title ‘nutritionist’, but did you know that this title isn’t protected by law? Just like medical doctor (MD) and registered nurse (RN), a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is a nutrition expert who has met specific academic and professional qualifications. When you are looking for an expert to help you manage you or your family’s food allergies, be sure you find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
You can find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist near you by using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ‘Find an Expert’ tool. Each practitioner listed will include their specific areas of practice, so you can find someone who specializes in food allergies.
Many Registered Dietitian Nutritionists also pursue advanced training and professional affilications in food allergies. Look for RDNs who have memberships with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Ask your RDN about their experience and training in food allergy management. Many RDNs also encourage you to schedule a quick phone call with them prior to booking their service, to make sure they are a good match for you and your needs.
Your health is important
Just like you see your doctor for well visits, your allergist for your allergies, and other types of doctors, you should make sure you see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to discuss you or your child’s nutrition. Proper nutrition has huge impacts on health, and with food allergies, knowing how to properly manage the condition can literally save your life. Your health is important. Your child’s health is important. Make an appointment to see an expert.