Tree Nuts Allergies
Avoidance to all products containing tree nuts is essential
If you are allergic to tree nuts, you need to avoid almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts (pignolias), pistachio nuts and walnuts. Note that coconuts are not actually a nut; they are a fruit. Therefore, most people with allergies to tree nuts will be able to eat coconut.
Avoiding tree nuts can be as difficult as avoiding any other allergen. Tree nuts can be present in a whole host of foods, either directly or as a result of cross contamination, including:
- Baked goods and baking mixes
- Gianduja (a combination of chocolate and chopped nuts)
- Ice cream and frozen yogurt
- Pralines and other sundae toppings
- Sauces or toppings to main course dishes
- Flavorings and extracts such as almond extract
- Nut butters or oils
- Nut flavored foods or drinks, such as liqueurs
- Snack foods of all sorts
- Spreads such as almond paste or other nut pastes
Not only can you find this allergen in your food, you can also be exposed through non-food sources. We don't normally think of non-food sources as a problem of exposure, but for serious allergies, you'll need to keep this in mind. You could be exposed to tree nuts in such items as bean bag chairs, kick sacks or hacky sacks, commercially produced bird seed, some cosmetics, hair care products, sun screens and massage oils. Also, you can be exposed to tree nuts in your pet food! So, be sure to read your labels, and know what's in your pet's dinner as well as your own.
Again, as with most allergies, your best management tool is avoidance. If your allergies are very severe, you will have to be particularly aware of cross-contamination. You may need to avoid processed food, unless you contact the company and can be assured of a completely tree nut free product. You may also have to avoid restaurant prepared food for the same reason; while you can pick a dish that doesn't contain any tree nuts, common food preparation surfaces or handling procedures can lead to the presence of allergens in your food.
Don't underestimate the need to avoid your allergen, unless you are in the care of a trained physician and undergoing immunotherapy. Uncontrolled exposure to your allergen can lead to increasing severity of your allergy. New research is currently underway to test new and more effective ways of testing for food allergies.