By Heather Legg
I was in Trader Joe’s few days ago and noticed a product I had been looking for last week but couldn’t find. My husband and daughter were camping and he had asked for some trail mix without the nuts she’s allergic to. I know, easier said than done. I looked around but everything seemed to have cashews, her most allergic nuts. She’s okay with peanuts and almonds, but I couldn’t seem to come across that. But there, at Trader Joe’s was Rainbow Trail Mix – raisins, candy coated chocolates, peanuts and almonds! The perfect mix. That’s why I love TJ’s.
I know shopping for food is tough enough, throw food allergies in and it becomes even tougher. I am happy to see a large gluten free section at our neighborhood Publix, both in freezer and pantry items. Trader Joe’s has a good selection for us (and most products are without artificial ingredients and contrived sweeteners, another big plus).
Here is more of a rundown of what to find where:
Warehouse stores like Sam’s and Costco:
Usually these are not the best places for allergy needs. Where they will have a selection of soy milks, lots of the snacks have nuts and there is not a whole lot of gluten free items. Though are they cost effective if they can meet your allergy needs, they don’t always have what you’re looking for.
Mainstream Supermarkets like Kroger and Publix:
Getting better all of the time. Even if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they often will get it if you speak with a manager. They are getting more healthy options of foods, and that often means gluten free options and dairy alternatives. As I mentioned above, good allergy free options for a variety of foods are both in frozen foods and pantry aisles. Because they cater to the demands and demographics of their area, speak to the managers if they don’t have what you want, they’ll usually do their best to stock it.
Specialty Markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods:
Probably your best option with a good variety of wheat and dairy alternatives, as well as products made in allergy safe facilities. You can find things like rice pasta and soy milks and yogurts.
Health Food Stores and Online Markets:
Good options for things like wheat free breads and alternate flours as well as dairy free. Be careful though, in the health food stores as nuts are often a prominent products and are often sold in bulk. Online is a great choice if you can’t find it in your area. Many of these places only make allergy safe food so there is not worry of contamination.
I think it’s getting easier, though it is still a chore. Remember, it never hurts to ask if you’re looking for something in particular, and always read your ingredients, products are always changing.