Maintaining a Healthy Diet with Food Allergies: Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD

cherylpic littleWhen you have food allergies, it’s often a challenge to find foods that are safe, tasty, and nutritious all at the same time. Worrying about hidden allergens, reading labels multiple times, and the caution you have to take with every meal can make it difficult to find a balanced diet. As a dietician, Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD aims to help people, especially those with food allergies or celiac disease, find ways to live and eat well. She will be speaking on the topic at FARE’s Food Allergy Conference in Arlington, VA on May 18.

We asked Cheryl to tell us a bit about her session and her experience at our conferences in the past.

You’ve been to a conference before – what was your favorite part?

FARE always does a great job. I think we’re so very lucky to have Dr. Wood in our backyard, and it’s so gracious of him to present every year. I mean, how great is it to have a Q&A with one of the go-to allergy experts in the country? It’s quite a privilege to get the latest and greatest in the allergy world directly from the source. I’m also really looking forward to the session on managing emotional issues with food allergies because that is so critical, and it’s an area that often gets too little attention.

What will you be covering in your session?

We’ll be covering a range of topics, from nutritional potholes and how to avoid them to tips and tricks that help make life more wonderful. Obviously the first step is strictly avoiding the allergen, but the second step is supporting yourself or your child to ensure a balanced, nutritious, and varied diet.

What challenges do people with food allergies typically face from a nutritional standpoint?

Oh, that’s the hardest one to sum up briefly, because it totally depends on what the problematic food and the child’s age. Every allergy has its own nutritional impact, and of course, the more severe the allergy, the harder it is, especially for people who can only use foods from a dedicated allergen-free facility. Not surprisingly, research studies have shown that children with multiple allergies and/or milk protein allergies are much more likely to be underweight or malnourished.

Food allergies inevitably change the whole family’s relationship with food. Many toddlers are picky in the best of times. Not surprisingly, young children who have learned that food can lead to a trip to the ER are often much more reluctant to try new foods, and who can blame them? It adds an extra layer of hurdles for parents.

There’s still time to register for one of our upcoming conferences, being held in Arlington, VA (May 18); and Anaheim, CA (June 1). Register today on our website: www.foodallergy.org/conferences

Read more about Cheryl on her website www.harriswholehealth.com