Navigating Food Allergies

Posted on October 16th, 2017
So, what are food allergies exactly and are they the same as an intolerance? While these two terms can be confusing; a food allergy is caused by a reaction from the immune system that has the potential to be life threatening while a food intolerance, like lactose intolerance, is a sensitivity to a certain food product and not considered life threatening. It is vital that not only parents of children with food allergies take caution in the foods included in their diet, but for others involved in that child’s life to be well informed and mindful of their allergy, as reactions to food allergies send a child to the hospital every 3 minutes. The diagnosis of food allergies is on the rise, about a 50% increase from 1997 to 2011, effecting one in every 13 children. So what are some of the most common allergens?

Common Food Allergens Include:

  1. Gluten
  2. Wheat
  3. Dairy
  4. Soy
  5. Peanuts
  6. Tree nuts
  7. Eggs
  8. Fish
  9. Shellfish
Here is a quick review of the three of the most common food allergens your Reasor’s Registered Dietitians hear most commonly about in stores.



Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley (malt). It is important to read the entire food label for any gluten containing ingredients, as gluten is not currently considered a common allergen and not required to be declared on a food label. If a product is indicated to be wheat-free it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is gluten free. An easy way to tell if a product is gluten free is by looking for the label on the packaging.
Foods that are inherently free from gluten can include: brown, white or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, almond meal flour. Oats are naturally gluten free but can frequently be cross contaminated with gluten, so it is advised you consult with your doctor before consuming oats that are not certified gluten free.
Potentially hidden sources can include: marinades, seasonings, soy sauce, soups, and makeup
See the gluten free label and more about food labeling for gluten free products here.



Dairy is commonly thought of as milk, yogurt, ice cream, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and cheese but can only be found in casein, whey, kefir, and even ghee. If a food product contains any dairy this will be declared under the ingredients list in bold lettering.
Luckily, there are several dairy free brands out in the store these days that are based from soy, rice, coconut, hemp seeds, flax seeds, almonds, and even vegetable oils.

Potentially hidden sources can include: chocolate, luncheon meat, popcorn (butter)


Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens triggering anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction. Peanuts can include sources like arachide, beer nuts, ground nuts, kernels, peanut butter, and even nut based meats. Tree nuts like pecans, pine nuts, and almonds are not the same as peanuts. While a child may have an allergy to tree nuts, they may have no reaction to peanuts or vice-versa. If a food product contains any peanuts this will be declared under the ingredients list in bold lettering. There should also be an indication of whether the product has been processed in a facility that contains peanuts. Each individual’s sensitivity to an allergen is unique, however children with severe reactions to peanuts absolutely should avoid any foods processed in a facility with peanuts due to the potential of cross contamination. Due to the potential of cross contamination is also recommend individuals with peanut allergies avoid bulk bins, salad bars, and coffee grinders.
There are a lot of delicious substitutes for peanuts like SunButter Sunflower Butter made just from sunflower seeds! We offer a variety of their products at Reasor’s and you can learn more about their product here.
Potentially hidden sources can include: non-peanut products manufactured in facilities that also produce peanut products.

Additional Tips:

  • For more detailed information about all different types of food allergies, check out Enjoy Life Foods handy survival guide here:…
  • If you are unsure or a label doesn’t clearly indicate the absence of the food allergen, we recommended calling the food manufacturer for the details.
Once again, your Reasor’s Dietitians are happy to offer Teal Pumpkins this spooky season (available all stores)! A teal pumpkin placed outside of your house lets families know you are providing non-food treats or allergy friendly foods for trick-or-treaters with food allergies. Your Reasor’s Registered Dietitians want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

About the Bloggers:

Heather Steele, RD/LD is a Registered Dietitian and is a board eligible Certified Specialist in Pediatrics. She has an allergy to coconut and is passionate about helping others with food allergies navigate the grocery aisles. Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and also covers the 101st & Elm location for all of your food & nutrition needs.


Bradyn Powell is a Master’s student and Dietetic Intern at Oklahoma State University. She enjoys attending OSU sporting events and spending time with her husband and dog. She hopes to work with the pediatric population when she becomes a Registered Dietitian.

Additional Resources:

Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.