Grocery shopping can be a time consuming process on the best of days. If you are new to shopping for someone with a food allergy, that process just became much more difficult. Try these tips to make shopping day less of a hassle.
• Plan ahead – The days of wandering the aisles looking for foods that look interesting are gone. Diet restrictions mean you need to plan your menu and know exactly what foods you are looking for, or more specifically, exactly what ingredients you have to avoid. This means researching your allergens to know all the ingredient names that can include the allergen so you will know what to watch out for. Make a list of all the names your allergen may be listed under as well as the hidden ingredients such as “spices” that could cause a problem.
• Allow lots of time – Reading labels is a time consuming process if you are doing it correctly. Be sure to give yourself at least 2 hours at the store if you are new to shopping to avoid food allergens.
• Don’t take the kids – You need to be able to concentrate on reading labels and thinking about what you need to buy. If at all possible, leave the kids at home or with a sitter so you can put all your efforts into finding foods that are safe and allergen free.
• Be safe – If you can’t be sure from the ingredient list whether or not a food is allergen free, don’t buy it. It is not worth having a possibly unsafe food in your home. Be sure to have a notepad with you so you can write down the product name, company phone number, and UPC number for any food you question. Call the customer support number and have them send you a complete list of ingredients so you can determine whether or not the food is safe before you bring it home.
• Keep a record –Don’t depend on your memory to keep track of which brands or products you have purchased in the past. Make an on-going list of the products that you are convinced are safe and that you’ll want to buy again.
• Keep reading labels – Once you find a product that is safe, you can’t count on it being safe forever.