The Issues with Having a Nut Allergy
The fact is that so many other allergen free foods we eat — gluten free breads, soy milks, coconut yogurts, etc… — are processed on machines that have been contaminated with tree nuts. So, your eating “world” can seem to shrink and much more of your time is “eaten” up by the constant reading of labels.
The good news for you, if you are only allergic to peanuts or nuts, is that the world acknowledges peanut and nut allergy these days. Most labels visibly have “may contain traces of peanuts or nuts” or “processed on machines using peanuts or tree nuts” written on the product.
The not so good news is that you really do have to become a label reader, because peanuts and tree nuts find their way into foods you wouldn’t even think of checking. While it makes sense that items with nuts are to be avoided, you might not think to check your salad dressing, that enchilada sauce you like, the cereal you’ve always eaten, or your favorite pudding, but all of those and more might have peanuts or tree nuts contaminating them.
Some sample phrases that might show up on a label which you wouldn’t know to be a peanut or nut are arachidic acid, hydrolyzed plant protein, mandelonas, marzipan and nougat. You can find complete lists by googling, and it would be best if you were at least familiar with what’s on those lists and used them to check the labels of anything you’re uncertain about eating.
For folks allergic to peanuts, you should remember that peanuts are legumes, and sometimes people who are allergic to peanuts have problems with other legumes like peas, lentils, beans, soybeans, and etc… or develop an allergy to those items later. So always be sure to be careful as you eat those foods.
For folks allergic to one type of tree nut, you need to know that almost all nuts processed these days are contaminated by other tree nuts. So even if you’re just allergic to almonds, the chance of the Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pecans, or cashews you want to eat being contaminated by almonds is quite high.
For all folks with either a nut or peanut allergy, if you’re going out to eat, make sure to ask your waiter about sauces and oils used, because peanut oil is a very commonly used restaurant oil.