Shopping for a nut allergy

Before your child was diagnosed with a nut allergy, you probably never really thought about how common nuts and nut traces are. All of a sudden, they seem to be in everything, which can make shopping a hassle. Today, we’re taking a look at some helpful tips to hopefully stop you from going nuts while shopping for and dealing with a nut allergy.

Get familiar with food labels

The Food Safety Authority legally requires that all labels state if any of the 14 allergens are in a food. Thankfully, the labelling is generally pretty clear and spells out if the item contain nuts or nut traces. The hard rule here is to avoid any foods if you’re not sure.

While that makes shopping for staples difficult (nut-free bread is surprisingly difficult to find), you really can’t risk it. Of course, another big thing to remember before you go on your first nut-free shop is to do your research and to draw up a very specific list beforehand.

And here’s one you might not have thought about: toiletries and other household items. Depending on the severity of the allergy, you might need to keep an eye on ingredients in things like toiletries. For example, many shampoos are enriched with nuts—so always read the label until you’ve figured out a complete list of what’s safe and what isn’t.

Shopping for a nut allergy

Beware of hidden nuts and always double-check when shopping on-the-go

Nut milks, butters, flours and granola are particularly trendy right now with many bakeries and companies using them as healthier alternatives to traditional baking ingredients—but that means food you would have presumed was safe might not be.

Bakeries often include nuts in their baked goods: walnuts in carrot cakes, hazelnuts in brownies and almonds in bakewells. Before you choose a homemade or un-packaged food, ask questions. If the waiter or person on the till doesn’t know for sure, don’t take the risk. 

As with shopping for foods in a local supermarket, packaged items in cafés, bakeries, or restaurants are also required to state if they contain any of the 14 allergens.

Be particularly careful with small kids

This isn’t strictly a shopping tip, but we’re including it anyway as it’s an important one to remember. While a teenager or older child will understand if you explain their allergy to them, a small child won’t, beyond understanding that ‘mom said no’.

Even a nut-free classroom isn’t 100% safe, as other parents can forget or not realise that the food has nuts in it.

When it comes to after-school events like parties or school tours, parents can go as a ‘minder’ or ‘helper’ to make sure that your little one doesn’t eat anything she shouldn’t. While you can be careful when you’re in charge of the shopping, it gets tricky once it’s out of your control.

Cake at birthday parties is particularly tempting and your little one won’t fully understand why she can’t have it. Even if she’s sensible, she’ll be tempted. To keep her away from the cake, we suggest buying her favourite treats beforehand so you can do a ‘swapsie’ with her.

As for school, make sure she has clearly-identifiable lunchbox with her name written it on big letters so everyone knows it’s her.

Use tech support

There are lots of great food allergy support websites out there, so do some research and find which ones work best for you. The Allergy FT: Food Allergy app is also worth downloading if you’re going on holiday and you need to translate food labels or ingredients. 

Draw up you list and head to your local shop

All our labels are clearly presented so you’ll know what foods are nut-free. If you’re not sure about any items, our customer care team will be delighted to help. For more tips and cooking advice, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.