Denise

I’m a 40-something, married with no children, professional.  I work full-time, and enjoy cooking but have difficultly managing anything spectacular during the week.  My husband often works very late nights and it is often just me for dinner.  I like to make huge vats of soups, stews, chili, or casseroles, or thing that can be frozen in a single serving container and then nuked for lunch or dinner.  And I love(d) to eat out.  About twelve years ago, I was having a great deal of difficulty with my asthma.  I was having attacks that I could not trace to my normal allergic triggers (every freaking animal with fur, perfume, smoke, pollen, etc.), so I was tested for food allergies.  At that time, they found that I was allergic to hazelnuts, scallops and milk.  Hazelnuts I could deal with.  Who cares if you never have another hazelnut?  Scallops and milk products were another story.  Through trial and error, not to mention being a stubborn idiot, I realized that as long as I didn’t eat milk and scallops in the same week, and as long as I didn’t have more than a cup or two of milk a week, I wouldn’t have an asthma attack. So I kept eating dairy and scallops but just planned it well.  Or so I thought.

Fast forward ten years.  I was exhausted.  I had joint and muscle pain, flu-like symptoms, swelling in my face and feet, inexplicable rashes, severe intestinal and digestive distress, and my mind was foggy.  After a few months of this (yes, I know, but I was hoping it would just go away) I went to the doctor.  I was tested for Lyme disease, lupus, leukemia, tuberculosis, etc., but they didn’t find anything.  I was told that it might be a virus and just to go home and wait a month.  Yeah.  Right.  In discussing what I should do next with a friend, she suggested that some of the reactions sounded like a food allergy.  I looked up food allergies on WebMD and it sounded like a possible fit.  The article discussed doing an elimination diet and then adding things back in slowly.  Again, being an idiot, doing an elimination diet sounded like too much freaking hassle.  So I decided to just test the food allergy theory by cutting out things that I had already tested positive for way back in 2000. Now I had cut the hazelnuts out back in 2000, and I didn’t eat scallops enough for them to be the cause of the continuous problem I was having, so I picked dairy.  I cut all dairy from my diet and I was fine in a week. Again, being stubborn, I tried eating an ice cream at the end of the second week. My face and feet swelled up within an hour and my face and hands turned blotchy red. Six hours later, I had severe intestinal distress, and the next day I was exhausted and felt like I had the flu. Needless to say, I was ticked off.  I didn’t want to give up dairy, but after that, I didn’t really feel like I had a choice if I wanted my normal life back. So I went on the dairy free wagon.

Fast forward another year. I started noticing that I was having some symptoms that were similar to my milk allergy reactions, when I knew that I hadn’t had a milk exposure. So I decided to get allergy testing (the scratch test) which resulted in my testing positive for milk, eggs, almonds, coconut, hazelnuts, crabs, scallops, and clams. I was not too freaking happy about this, since I’d been using almond milk as my milk replacement and coconut milk creamer as my half & half replacement for my coffee.  And the coconut milk ice cream was so much better than the soy. I did a challenge for the eggs to see if I could tolerate them in baked goods, but no, of course not. And then, I tried to use flax seed as an egg replacement and had a huge reaction to it. Although I have not tested positive for flax, I don’t need someone to tell me I’m allergic to avoid it at this point.

So now I’ve been forced to learn to cook without the things I love, and figure out how to eat out without eating things that will make me ill.

Edited to Add:  Due to recent developments (see my post on Visit to the Allergist, that’s a bad, crazy day), I’ve confirmed three more allergies through elimination and challenges:

  • corn
  • wheat
  • chicken

I passed the challenges for the following, so I don’t believe that I’m allergic, but will continue to keep an eye on them:

  • onion
  • celery
  • potatoes
  • lobster

Since posting the above, I had a serious reaction to sunflower oil on October 8, 2013. I’m pretty sure it was the sunflower oil, as that was the only new variable in the food I ate. It was a really bad reaction, enough so that I probably should have epi-ed myself and gone to the hospital. Again, do not follow my idiot example. In any case, it was bad enough that I’m adding to the allergic list with no further verification or challenge. I just don’t dare to eat it again.

Since posting the above again, I’ve had a couple of suspicious reactions in the last two months (hives, minor facial swelling, and some minor digestive distress) after eating sesame. Last night (May 2, 2014) I screwed up and forgot about the sesame seeds on the outside of the sushi. After my mouth getting tingly and itchy and feeling like my lips and tongue got a bit swollen, and how swollen my face was this morning, I’m ready to suck it up and call it. Hello, food allergy number 14.

Since posting the above again, I challenged turkey and duck. I failed turkey, but passed duck.  Apparently turkey is either cross reactive with chicken or too closely related to chicken, as chicken and turkey are both in the Phasianidae family. Since I passed duck, I tried goose, since they are both in the Anatidae family. Although it didn’t seem to bother me much, goose does not taste very good, and I’ll stick with duck.

Also since posting the above, on June 9, 2015, I had an anaphylactic reaction to what turned out to be eggplant. I had to use my Epi-pen, and the paramedics had to be called, and I had to be taken out of my job on a stretcher. Yay. I had made the dish myself, as the previous summer I had eaten ten pounds of eggplant and I had been fine, but I hadn’t eaten any since last summer. Since there were tomatoes, onions, celery, zucchini, summer squash and red pepper flakes in the dish, I needed to verify that none of those caused the reaction. The reaction was bad–from first bite to collapsing in the hall trying to meet the paramedics in the lobby was about ten minutes. Now that I’ve verified that none of the other ingredients of the dish were a problem, I’m adding eggplant to the list. I’m not going to do a further challenge, because it’s just not worth the risk given the severity of the reaction and the minimal place eggplant has in my diet.  Hello, food allergy number 15.

On January 1, 2016, I lost pomegranate. The clue was it burning the roof of my mouth and the skin peeling off, and me choking repeatedly as if I had swallowed wrong.  It took it happening twice for me to clue in, and this was the day I finally got it.  Hello, food allergy 16.

On January 15, 2016, after I got hives, I figured out that the headaches, facial swelling and digestive distress that I thought was a bug was probably the result of the nectarines that I bought on Sunday after not having them for a long while.  Number 17 it is.

MY CURRENT LIST

  • dairy  (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter)
  • eggs
  • almonds
  • coconut
  • hazelnuts
  • crab
  • scallops
  • clams
  • flax
  • corn
  • wheat
  • chicken
  • sunflower
  • sesame
  • eggplant
  • pomegranate
  • nectarines

 

 

15 comments

  1. Ugh, I always feel badly for people who find out as an adult that they have food allergies, after they already fall in love with certain foods. It must be hard to do a complete lifestyle change.

    1. Yep, it’s really not fun. Seems similar to a grieving process denial (no, I’m not really allergic to that, I can still eat it), anger (what the hell, who put X in all these foods), bargaining (oh, maybe I can just have a little), and acceptance (no, I can’t really have any, because I feel better if I don’t, and I have to re-learn how to cook now).

      1. I’m here a year after this post which I randomly found on this site when looking for recipes for drunken/crazy noodles. I too have an allergy to coconut. People look at me all weird when I say that, so it helps to know there are more of us out there!

    1. Based on my experiences, I don’t believe that there’s any correlation whatsoever between my food allergies and my use of flu shots. The timelines just don’t fit at all. I think it far more likely that my allergies are genetic (given symptoms experienced by parental units), and that the medical testing available is far from perfect or even reliable, and that until they became symptomatic enough, they weren’t noticed or diagnosed. Just my humble opinion.

  2. Denise,
    I’m also a recently diagnosed Celiac. Is the Borax and Washing soda you mention in dish soap recipe Gluten-free? If so can i use it for handwashing dishes too? Thank you.

    1. It is gluten-free. However, I’m not sure I’d use the dishwasher soap recipe for hand washing dish soap. You can use this recipe for hand washing soap – http://www.savvysugar.com/Homemade-Liquid-Dish-Soap-28764389 – I can’t use distilled vinegar because it’s made with either wheat or corn, but you can leave it out, or use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. I found it to be hard on my hands without using rubber gloves, just an FYI. Also, I’m pretty sure that there are gluten-free soap options out there besides making your own. For me the problems in finding cleansing products I can use are due to my corn and coconut allergies.

  3. Hi. I just had an extensive food sensitivity test done. Can I ask why you would rather do elimination challenges instead of food sensitivity testing likt the ALCAT test at http://www.ALCAT.com? I am sensitive to so many things. I really appreciate your blog and advice. I found Kissmyface soap, and wonder if you have tried it. I am sensitive to coconut, corn, whey glueten rye barley, beef, pork, and so many things, I am making my own shampoo and own conditioner. Cranberries, macadamia nuts and honey.

    1. Yep, I’m aware of Kissmyface, and you’ll see that my shampoo recipe is based on it, although I’ve moved to making my own soap from scratch because it’s cheaper and I like the results better. With respect to the testing issue, I have straight up Ig-E allergic reactions, with potential anaphylaxis. I did skin prick testing with my allergist. However, even allergy testing with a board certified allergist is not totally reliable. An elimination challenge is the gold standard, because you can test positive for things you aren’t actually allergic to, or test negative for things that sent you to the ER in anaphylatic shock. Even my allergist stated that having a positive result on the skin prick test did not necessarily mean that I was allergic, and that I would have to verify with an elimination diet followed by a food challenge. And I do a elimination challenge, because I’m so limited that I am not cutting a food until I have evidence that my body really and truly doesn’t like it. Every food that I’ve challenged for which I’ve determined there is a problem, there was either an immediate huge effect that left no doubt in my mind, or a minor effect that I repeatedly challenged and and my body repeatedly demonstrated the same symptoms.

    2. Dianna, I agree with Denise — I had intolerance testing, too, but my practitioner recommended elimination followed by challenges based on the testing, too. Your blood is just one part of the whole system, which is I think why the challenges are a good standard. There are only a few things that I tested sensitive to that I did not react to in the challenge, but I’m glad to still have almonds around. Because of the challenges, I know what my specific reactions are to the foods I’ve eliminated — it is helpful to know which food I’ve had an accidental exposure to so I can try to figure out where. It’s also helpful to know the many ways your body reacts to its allergens, so you can maybe identify new ones as they arise.

      Sorry you needed to find us, but glad you’re here.

  4. Hi, Found your site and wanted to share that Sub Zero Ice Cream in Nashua, NH can accommodate many allergies! We have non-dairy options (soy or cashew milk), lactose free, no sugar added options in literally millions of flavor combinations with 35 mix-ins (fruits, nuts candies). You get to select and we make it to order with liquid nitrogen! We accommodate nut allergies and many others because if you have such an allergy we will take the ingredients from the original containers. Check out allergyeats.com as a resource too folks! You might just be able to eat ice cream again that’s fresh and delicious!!! We are extremely sensitive to the allergy community! Regards Rita McCabe, Owner

    1. Thanks for thinking of me, but if you’re using commercial soy or cashew milk, they aren’t safe for me because of my corn allergy. But I’m sure some of our followers should check you guys out!

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