Disclaimer: The author of this article is NOT a doctor. The content of this article does not substitute sound medical advice. Neither the author nor SurvivalSullivan.com are responsible for any negative effects resulting from applying the information in this article.Stockpiling food is a big part of survival planning for most preppers. If you’ve done any kind of prepping at all or even read about prepping, you’ve seen the oodles of supply lists that recommend what kind of food and supplies you should hoard. But if you’re a prepper with allergies or have a family member in this situation, you have to add some things to your survival planning.
One thing that many of those standard stockpile lists of common foods may not take into account is that people have different allergies to foods that would make some items actually dangerous. Grocery store shelves will be emptied of any food quickly, leaving you with very limited choices anyway which is then further limited if food remaining are ones you or a family member are allergic to.
Preppers with allergies can’t rely on the government agencies like Red Cross or FEMA for food during a natural disaster or post-SHTF event because ingredients in these government provided meals may not be accurately labeled and there is greater risk for cross contamination during the chaos following a disaster.
Following a natural disaster or in a post-SHTF scenario, you and your family members should avoid eating any foods that you have never eaten before. Your emergency stockpiles should only include foods and brands of food that you have already eaten on a regular basis. The last thing you need is to introduce a new food to your toddler that causes them to experience anaphylaxis without the guaranteed availability of expert medical help.
Things to Include in Your Survival Planning:
- Epi-pens or Epi-pen Jr as prescribed by your physician. Talk to him/her in advance and request an extra prescription to be filled and stored for emergencies.
- It’s a good practice to keep a list of your food allergies in your bug out bag and have a medical alert bracelet as part of the EDC kit for anyone who has food allergies.
- If you are stockpiling MREs, the person with a food allergy should successfully test each type of food for an allergic reaction. Better to find out now when expert medical help is on hand then after a disaster when no medical help or other food choices are available.
- Consider having a comprehensive allergy test done on yourself and each family member to pre-identify any potential food allergies that you may be unaware of.
- Any other medicines used to treat and/or prevent your allergy
- Allergy free snacks
Types of Reactions
Anaphylaxis is the most severe type of allergic reaction. It can come on very quickly after eating or coming into contact with an allergen and if not treated, it can be fatal.
Anaphylaxis can occur after contact with any allergen but most commonly the following foods: Shellfish, Peanuts, Fish, treenuts, eggs, soy, wheat, cow’s milk, and in some cases sesame
Make sure that you know the symptoms of anaphylaxis and talk with your doctor about how your specific allergy should be treated. If you are prone to an allergic reaction that is a reaction to a specific food, you should always carry an epi-pen.
Allergic reactions can become more severe with each exposure to the allergen so just because you always only get temporary itchy hives doesn’t mean it won’t be more severe the next time.
Urticaria is more commonly known as hives. Hives can occur as a result of a food allergy. They are usually swollen or raised patches, welts, or bumps that itch, sting, or burn. They can appear anywhere on the body and can be all different shapes and sizes. Hives can persist from a couple hours to several days before they fade away.
Angioedema is similar to hives except swelling happens underneath the skin and not visibly on the surface. It many cases swelling will be severe around the lips and eyes or sometimes the feet, hands, or even genitals. Angioedema typically is longer lasting than Urticaria but the swelling will fade in 24 hours or less. Angioedema of the tongue, throat, or lungs can cause difficulty breathing and become fatal if it blocks the airway.
Types of Allergy Treatments
The primary method to treat anaphylaxis brought on by an allergic reaction is by injecting epinephrine, otherwise known as an Epi-Pen. You can get these through your healthcare professional or pharmacy. It is injected into the middle of the upper leg. Follow up with immediate medical attention.
Over the counter antihistamines can be given for minor allergic reactions that involve hives. Oral antihistamines work to relieve symptoms. For most people this would be over the counter Benadryl, or its generic forms. Zyrtec is sometimes also used. It’s important to talk to your doctor now about using antihistamines to treat your allergic reactions as he/she may not be accessible in a post-SHTF scenario.
Corticosteroids or Biologic Drugs
The most common in this category would be Prednisone, an oral steroid which can be prescribed for severe systemic reaction to an allergen. Prednisone is known to reduce swelling and other allergic-type reactions.
Tips for Managing Allergic Hives and Swelling
- Bathe with mild soap, preferably non-scented and undyed in lukewarm or cool water, not hot.
- Lavender oil in bath water can soothe hives and relieve itching temporarily.
- Wear comfortable, non-constrictive clothing
- Reduce the temperature in the room, make it cooler until hives or swelling goes down.
- Use cold cloth or compress on the affected areas.
Seek Medical Attention if Available for These Symptoms:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Tight feeling in the chest or lungs
- Facial swelling especially the tongue, lips, or throat
- Dizziness or feeling faint
How to Avoid Food Allergens
The best treatment for an allergic reaction is to do what you can to take precautions that prevent your food allergy from being triggered. There are several things that you can do to make it less likely that you will be exposed to your specific allergen.
- Read Food Labels—Food labels can be tricky as some manufacturers will use less common names or will leave a trigger food off the ingredient list completely. If you are at a restaurant or friends’ home for dinner, take the time to notify them about your allergy and ask about ingredients. Pay particular attention to ingredients if you are stockpiling MRE’s.
- Watch for Cross-Contamination—One common way that people with allergic reactions might be unknowingly exposed is through cross contamination. This means that even though the food you are eating may not have been made using your specific allergen in the recipe, it could be that the manufacturer of that product also produces other products that do use an allergy trigger food.
One common example is a chocolate bar that was made in a factory that also makes products or candy with peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc. If proper care was not taken by the manufacturer to avoid cross contamination, your chocolate bar could have traces of peanuts or treenuts in it.
Another common cross contamination is foods at Chinese restaurants may be cooked in peanut or sesame oil. Even though you may ask for your food to be without peanuts, the chef may cook in the same pan which previously had sesame oil or may use utensils that were also used to stir other dishes that did contain your allergen.
- Know Alternative Ingredient Names–Peanuts are sometimes listed on food labels as beer nuts, monkey nuts, or ground nuts. Other food allergens may also have alternative names that are used in labeling. It’s important to know these alternate names for your specific food allergy.
- Avoid freeze dried or dehydrated foods. Almost all if not all of the freeze dried and dehydrated foods contain some type of food allergy trigger. Avoid these types of foods unless you prepare them yourself or can locate a manufacturer that can guarantee allergy free recipes and no cross-contamination.
- Be Cautious with Edible Plants—Many preppers may be planning to include edible wild plants as part of their post-SHTF food planning. If you are prone to allergies and especially if you have experienced allergic reactions to things like pollen, grass, and weeds, make sure you get tested pre-SHTF to ensure that ingesting wild edibles like dandelions, cattails, and other foraged plants won’t trigger an allergic reaction.
Common Allergies or Food Issues
Diabetes–Limit high refined carbs like pasta, rice, and white bread and white potatoes (including mashed potatoes and fries) as well as candy, snack foods, soda, and packaged meals. Avoid foods such as doughnuts, muffins, sugary cereals, candy, and granola bars as well as sugary beverages such as sports drinks, energy drinks, soda, and coffee. Limit packaged foods that have hidden sugars. Eat whole grain carbs which are a great fiber source and are slow to digest which keeps sugar levels more even. High in nutrients, low sugar and fat, moderate calories.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Caused when a person’s body produces too much insulin upon an influx of glucose. Too much insulin causes blood sugar to drop suddenly and can cause a number of problems including headaches, weakness, confusion and mental dullness, fainting and shakiness.
Hypoglycemia can also be brought on by not eating enough food or skipping meals, so it’s crucial for preppers with this ailment to plan well. Avoid foods such as sugar, soda, candy, and fruit juices that are high in sugar. To help prevent blood sugar swings, eat foods that slow carbohydrate absorption such as those high in soluble dietary fiber.
Treenut allergies are triggered by ingredients like almond, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and sometimes coconuts. Make sure that you check labels carefully for these and similar ingredients.
Peanut allergies–Peanuts are not actually a nut but are part of the bean (legume) can sometimes be used in margarines and cooking oils. Get tested before an emergency situation hits to ensure that you are not allergic to other foods in the bean (legume) family. Many people who are not allergic to peanuts can be allergic to treenuts.
A new study by LEAP (Learning About Peanut Allergy) indicates that feeding peanuts to those who are “at risk” of developing a peanut allergy may actually decrease their risk of developing a full-fledged peanut allergy. Risk level for peanut allergy to recruit patients for the study was done using skin testing. Always consult your physician before making diet changes. Do not attempt if you already have a known peanut allergy.
Cow’s Milk/Dairy Allergy—a systemic allergy to the protein in milk and milk products that can be life threatening. Symptoms can include itching, rash, swelling, hives or even anaphylaxis. Reactions vary widely for each person. Individuals with milk allergies must avoid milk in all forms including powdered, condensed, dry, evaporated, milk from other animals, any dairy products. Carefully read ingredients and inquire about baking practices to ensure a milk free diet.
An allergy to milk should not be confused with lactose intolerance which is a less severe reaction that can include uncomfortable symptoms such as cramps, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea but is not life threatening.
Celiac or Coeliac disease—those with this disease are allergic or sensitive to gluten, a kind of protein that helps to hold food together. Consumption of foods with gluten causes an autoimmune system reaction that is not normal and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, fatigue and other symptoms. Those who are sensitive or allergic to gluten should avoid ingredients found in wheat (farina, spelt, durum, farro, eingorn, and emmer), barley, oats, triticale, and rye.
Soy—member of the legume family that is often found in baby formulas. Most children will outgrow a soy allergy. Those with soy allergies may experience symptoms that include wheezing, runny or stuffy nose, itching or hives in the mouth and face, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. Avoid soy milk and soy sauce. Soy is common in Asian foods, low-fat peanut butter, alternative nut butters, and vodka.
Fish—Be cautious if you have experienced an allergy to fish because being allergic to one type of finned fish such as salmon or tuna means you will likely have a reaction to other finned fish. Reactions to fish can be systemic, are usually severe and can even be fatal.
Avoid Caesar salad and Caesar salad dressing as well as Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauces that could contain Worcestershire sauce as well as shopping or cooking fish as even contact with fish can trigger a reaction. Be particularly cautious of cross-contamination if others in the family are eating and cooking fish.
Shellfish—People who are allergic to shellfish should avoid shrimp, crab, lobster, etc. Typically, fish that have fins are not from the same family as shellfish and should be okay as long as the person does not have a dual allergy to shellfish and fish.
Sesame—people allergic to sesame can experience a wide range of symptoms from hives to severe anaphylaxis. Sesame is also an ingredient that can be found in not so obvious places such as spices and “natural flavors”. Sesame oil is used in cooking and can also be found in some beauty products.