Food hypersensitivity (FHS) is the umbrella term used for food allergies that involve the immune system and food intolerances that do not involve the immune system. FHS has a huge impact on quality of life and any dietary advice given should aim to minimise this effect. Despite many advances made in diagnosing and managing patients with FHS, the cornerstone of management still remains avoidance of the relevant food. However, a commonly-presenting dilemma in clinical practice is deciding to what extent the food(s) should be avoided. The level of avoidance required is currently based on the type of FHS the patient has, characteristics of the particular food protein and the natural history of the particular FHS. In addition to management of other FHS, management of cow's milk allergy requires the healthcare professional to choose the appropriate formula. Information required by the patient also includes understanding food labels and issues surrounding cross-contamination. In order to ensure that the diet is nutritionally sound, advice should be given about suitable food choices and following a healthy balanced diet, whilst taking into account the dietary restrictions. Practical issues that need to be addressed include going on holiday, travelling and eating away from home. The dietitian plays a crucial role in this process. At present, there are no standardised documents or protocols for the management of FHS and practices differ within and between countries. If adrenaline auto-injectors are prescribed, correct administration should be demonstrated and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
(Online publication December 15 2009)