For those of us who grew up eating PB&Js for every meal, a peanut allergy can sound like a prison sentence. Toss out other peanut-based favorites like many candy bars and cereals… you may be looking at a revolution. If you are the parent of a child with a peanut allergy, or if your child’s playdate has a peanut allergy, you may not know where to turn when lunch time comes around.
We spoke with Lisa Gonzalez, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, to get the inside scoop on the top spreadable substitutes.
“Peanut allergies can range from mild to severe,” said Gonzalez. “In fact, peanuts may not be the only culprit. Your first step should be to learn the exact nature of the allergy.”
Peanuts & Tree Nuts
Brace yourself. “A peanut is not actually a nut, botanically speaking,” Gonzalez explained. Peanuts are legumes and grow underground. Tree nuts typically come in hard shells and sprout from branches above ground. The distinction between a tree nut allergy and a peanut allergy is important, although some people may be allergic to both. Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts and more.
Your protocol should be the same when dealing with tree nut and peanut allergies – avoid exposure.
Substitutes for Peanut Allergies
The world of alternative spreads has come a long way in the past decade. These are just a few of the many delicious substitutes for people with peanut allergies. WARNING: The options on this list may still be dangerous for people with tree nut allergies.
- Almond butter
- Sunflower butter
- Soy butter
- Pea butter
- Tigernut butter
- Pecan butter with cashews
- Hazelnut butter
- Watermelon seed butter
- Pumpkin seed butter
Additional Safety Measures
Of course, you can’t be with your child all the time and they may not know better when offered food at school or with friends. Make these safe practices part of your safety plan and discuss them with your child, their teachers and other parents.
- Wear an emergency bracelet. This will list your child’s allergies and severity.
- Always carry emergency medication with you.
- Pack safe snacks for your kids so they don’t feel left out or hungry.
- Get a “chef card” for dining out. Restaurant staff can put these cards with the dish to make sure that all chefs and handlers take necessary precautions.
- Learn to read the label. Even if the list of ingredients doesn’t list peanuts, make sure to check for other warnings such as “prepared in a facility that processes peanuts.”
- Be aware of cross-contamination. Using the same knife to spread peanut butter for one child and almond butter for the next could result in an allergic reaction.
- It is very important to help your child understand their risk and teach them how to instruct others.
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