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FAQs: Top-8 Food Allergens-Free

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So your doctor has told you to go for the big one: eliminating all of the top-8 allergens from your child's diet or your own.  You have our sympathies – we’ve been there.  Take a deep breath, make some room in your pantry and resist the temptation to panic.  You will eat, and eat well – and we’re here to help.  Let’s start with the basics.

What are the “Top-8 Allergens”?

The 8 most common foods to cause allergies or intolerances are:

  • Gluten (a protein found in all products containing or made from wheat, barley & rye, along with oats that are not certified “gluten-free”)
  • Wheat (including durum, faro, kamut, spelt, semolina but not buckwheat)
  • Dairy (all products made from milk, including butter, cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Soy (including edamame, soy sauce, soy lecithin, soybean oil, tofu, etc.)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (including mollusks and/or crustaceans)
  • Nuts (including peanuts and tree nuts; most sources do not consider coconut to fall in this category so ask your doctor)

Why might I have to eliminate all top 8 allergens?

While there are many reasons your doctor may have prescribed it, a Top-8 Elimination Diet is often used as a diagnostic tool to identify whether any symptoms you are experiencing are caused by a common food allergy or intolerance.  It is often prescribed for breastfeeding mothers in an effort to reduce digestive upset, colic or eczema in their nursing baby.  The idea behind the diet is typically to eliminate all of these common food irritants for some number of weeks in order to allow your body to establish an equilibrium without them.  The foods are then reintroduced one at a time while carefully recording any and all symptoms in a food journal.  This allows you to identify if one of the eliminated foods was the cause of the problem.  You can find more information on food challenges, including a downloadable food journal, here.

Of course, you may find that you do need to continue to avoid some or all of the top 8 allergens.  If you do, stick around - we've got lots of great recipes that are top-8 free, and folks who've been through it themselves in our community.  With our custom search tool, you'll be able to find all the recipes that work for you, even if the person who wrote them didn't have your particular needs in mind at the time.

How do I get started?

Read through our step by step guide to starting top 8-free, along with our New Diets Toolkit.  Print out a copy of our Top 8 Cheat Sheet and stick it in your wallet for your next trip to the grocery store or to eat out, and put another one on your fridge at home to help you adjust to a new way of cooking.

Where can I find out more?

Food Allergies & Anaphylaxis Network article on Top-8 Food Allergies

Last modified on Sunday, 19 January 2014 15:06