Pregnancy is a true new beginning: Joyful, exciting and filled with emotional up and downs. There are so many changes taking place at once. It is a time filled with questions and a heightened sense of urgency for those dealing with food allergies. I want to address the most often asked questions about food allergies and pregnancy:
I am not a licensed doctor and you should always consult your doctor(s) for medical advice.
- Can you develop or lose food allergies when you are pregnant?
- Should you avoid allergenic foods during pregnancy and if you have food allergies?
- Are there guidelines as to how you can give your unborn child a better chance of not developing food allergies?
- Are there options for the nutrients you may be missing from your diet for you and your baby?
There have been blog posts about celebrities who claim their food allergies disappeared once they became pregnant. Looking deeper into these claims most of these cases are intolerances than true food allergies.
Pregnant women can develop new food allergies or intolerances, as it is a time of great change in your body. It is best to be aware of what you eat and write down any new or change in your symptoms. If you want to eat something you are allergic to but believe that allergy no longer exists, please speak with your allergist before making any food changes.
It is important to understand the differences between a food intolerance and a food allergy especially during pregnancy. A food intolerance normally resides in the digestive system and is due to a lack of certain enzymes to properly break down a food such as milk. Symptoms are bloating, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gas and nausea. Many people can take enzymes such as a Lactaid to provide the proper enzymes to break down the lactose in the dairy product they have eaten. This is a food reaction that can be uncomfortable but it is not life threatening.
A food allergy is your immune systems’ response to a protein in a food that it misidentifies as an invader and signals the release of IgE antibodies into your system. The IgE antibodies trigger the release of histamines into your body which can cause swelling of mouth, tongue, hives, rashes, vomiting, feeling faint, passing out and trouble breathing. The allergic reactions can range from mild to most severe life- threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. An anaphylactic reaction not only affects you, but can also be life-threatening to your baby in utero. It is important that you have your emergency medications and emergency plan in place at all times. Tell your OB-GYN about your food allergies so they can best support you and your baby.
Once you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, you should avoid all foods that may contain those allergens. Also, take a look at your supplements and body products that may contain an allergen you are avoiding. I believe it is better to err on the side of safety with all products both food and personal.
If you do not have specific food allergies, it is recommended that you eat a well-balanced and varied diet for the best benefits for you and your baby. As always, with specific questions or if you would like to update your allergy testing, please speak with your allergist.
When you are avoiding one or more food groups due to a food allergy, I want to offer you some substitutions that may work for you to keep your diet filled with the key nutrients for you and your baby. Lots of nutrients and food options are important when you are pregnant. Those of us with food allergies are used to having limitations on our food. I want to help and offer some alternatives if you have to avoid one of the following food groups:
Wheat Allergy & Celiac Disease
Get the whole grains & antioxidants you need from: beans, lentils, popcorn, berries and leafy greens.
Get the calcium and vitamin D you need from: Rhubarb, spinach, kale, wild salmon* (if safe for you), fortified cereals and juices
Get the DHA and protein you need from: Wild salmon*/ fortified eggs* (if safe for you), vegetable oils, cheese, lean meat, milk or milk substitutes
Get the DHA you need from: Walnuts/ fortified eggs:* (if safe for you), fortified eggs, flaxseed oil
Get the protein you need from: Lean beef, poultry
Get the antioxidants you need from: Cherries, strawberries, broccoli, kale, asparagus
Get the protein you need from: Greek yogurt*, cottage cheese* (If it is safe for you) , poultry
Get the DHA you need from: Wild salmon *(If it is safe for you) , vegetable oils, flaxseed
Get the choline you need from: Soybeans *, cashews *(If it is safe for you), turkey
Have your team in place, keep educated and enjoy this magical time in your life!