Tree nut allergies are one of the most common and talked about among the Top 8. It is the second most common among infants and children and once acquired is usually a lifelong food allergy, with only 9% of the population ever outgrowing it. This makes it common among adults as well. Tree nut allergies (as well as peanut allergies) can cause severe reactions and even death. Epi-Pens are usually a must with nut allergies and in some cases even the touch or breath of someone else who has just consumed the allergen could cause a reaction.
Tree nuts should not be confused with peanuts or seeds. Peanuts are legumes (beans), but in some cases, a peanut allergy may accompany a tree nut allergy and vise versa. There are many types of tree nuts and you may be allergic to one, two, a select few, or all of them. Coconut is also listed by the FDA as a tree nut, however, it is extremely for someone allergic to tree nuts to be allergic to coconut as it is actually a fruit seed. But coconut can still cause allergic reactions.
Because of the severity of many nut allergies, schools have started to make "nut-free" zones, classes rooms, etc. It causes controversy of course, but safety is most important in these cases. Some people even require an "allergy-detecting" dog that will let them know if the allergic substance is nearby or in the room. The only way to stay safe, as with any allergen, is to avoid the allergen (tree nuts) at all costs by reading labels, checking for cross-contamination and processing/manufacturing/facility practices, and keeping the allergens out of the house.
Grab this word search activity to help teach your kids which tree nut terms to look for on packages!
The good news is nut-alternatives have become more mainstream over the years and there are great safe options that can replace those of nuts.
Nuts can be replaced with seeds: hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, flax seed, sesame seeds etc.
Nut milks can be other plant-based: Flax milk, soy milk, coconut milk*, quinoa milk, rice milk, etc.
Great companies like Enjoy Life Foods, Cherrybrook Kitchen, Skeeter, SunButter, Good Karma Foods, Udi's (baked goods), Ian's Natural Foods, Freedom Foods, Soom Foods, PlantFusion, and many others with safe or dedicated facilities.
So tell me:
+ Do you or a loved one suffer from a tree nut allergy? If so, do you only avoid certain nuts or all of them?
+ If your or your child's school "nut-free"? Do you feel it's an inconvenience?
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