SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — May is food allergy awareness month, and according to according to the Journal of the American Medical Association 20 percent of adults believe they have one.
In reality, only 10 percent of actually have a food allergy.
Brenda Ahrendt says you can usually find her in the grocery store doing one thing.
“Reading a label,” Ahrendt said.
In addition to being diabetic, Ahrendt has a soy allergy. That means she takes extra steps to make sure what’s going in her cart is OK to eat.
“Look for sodium content and also for the sugars try to avoid things that have added sugars. It’s really amazing how some things have a lot of added sugar,” Ahrendt said.
If you suspect you have a food allergy or intolerance, registered dietitian Kristin Sousek says it’s important to seek medical advice before making any diet changes.
“If you start cutting out multiple things in your diet you could run the risk of having some deficiencies and you want to pinpoint actually, is it milk? Is it soy? Is it wheat? Is it a true allergy?” Sousek said.
She says once you have a clear diagnosis and know whether you’re suffering from a food allergy or intolerance a dietitian can be a useful resource when it comes time to restock your pantry.
“You can have a actual allergy, food allergy and there’s 8 main food allergens. Or you can have an intolerance to a food, something that maybe just doesn’t make you feel real good when you eat it,” Sousek said.
The eight main food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans according to the FDA.
And the symptoms can vary, which is why Sousek also recommends food journaling.
“You can have multiple symptoms from headaches to runny noses to stuffiness to fatigue, bowel issues. A lot of those different things, and then you have to decide what is causing that actual symptom,” Sousek said.
Dietitians say checking food labels is an important step in making sure what you’re eating fits your diet.
And while label checking can seem time consuming, Ahrendt says it’s worth it.
She found out about her soy allergy 20 years ago, and now makes sure she’s prepared ahead of time.
“Oh I have a list and hope I bring it, remember to bring it with me,” Ahrendt said.
For more information about the big allergies, click here.