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Food Allergies/Food Phobias


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Does it belittle an actual food allergy when someone says they have an allergy but are really just sensetive to a food?

Why would it? They are both sensitivities that can have mild to severe effects. Most people get the word "allergy", and most people with other problems would rather leave it at that than get into their medical history.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Does it belittle an actual food allergy when someone says they have an allergy but are really just sensetive to a food?

Why would it? They are both sensitivities that can have mild to severe effects. Most people get the word "allergy", and most people with other problems would rather leave it at that than get into their medical history.

Yeah, and some people at the table would rather hear the word "allergy" than some description of their digestive functions while they are trying to eat. Some people would really rather not hear discussions of e.g. gas or diarrhea at the dinner table.

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Does it belittle an actual food allergy when someone says they have an allergy but are really just sensetive to a food?

Yes.

I believe it does.

Allergy and "sensitivity" very different things. If a person becomes physically ill exhibiting symptoms it is one thing. If a particular food item or ingredient doesn't "agree" with someone that's quite different.

(I'm sure someone really qualified here-maybe DocSconz could step in and help sort this out)

:shock:

Actually, an allergy is a subset of "sensitivity." People who are photosensitive effectively have an allergy to light, breaking out in hives. The body's immune system reacts inappropriately.

Take it from scleroderma girl here. I have a deep itch with my autoimmune disease, which is the result of histimine being deposited in my flesh.

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While I understand the exasperation some people feel with so-called allergies popping up everywhere, when you have a problem you really hope people don't try to change your mind.

I have an allergy to casein (milk protien), diagnosed by an allergy test. I don't bother to tell anyone, unless they try to feed me a full dairy dinner. As someone else stated it involes a stuffy nose and wheezing. I can deal with it with OTC and Rx medication and LOVE my cheese.

OTOH, I have a severe problem with scallops, not any other seafood, just scallops. I am not allergic but with in 30 minuts of ingesting them, let's just say the exit my body in a violent manner. I would not call it a "tummy problem". I don't really care for the taste and texture of scallops anyway, see the body does try to tell you.

Because I can eat dairy without a noticable reaction but not scallops, I say have an scallop allergy only. Nobody wants to hear any details after that.

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Does it belittle an actual food allergy when someone says they have an allergy but are really just sensetive to a food?

Definitely not. An allergy is a sensitivity to an antigen (Oxford definition: "Med. Altered reactivity of the body towards an antigen; esp. hypersensitivity towards a particular foreign substance such as a type of food, pollen, or micro-organism.") So how is that different from being sensitive to certain foods? Also, allergies have different degrees of consequences, whether life-threatening or mild.

That's like saying, does it belittle those with serious life-threatening allergies when someone says they have a less serious allergy?

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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To call what many people get with Crohn's an "upset tummy" is, shall we say, somewhat of an understatement.

I was not equating Crohn's disease with an upset tummy at all; I was talking about 2 entirely different scenarios, and yes, Crohn's disease is incredibly serious. Sorry you misunderstood.

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Folks, another reminder. This is not a thread about diseases but about food allergies and dislikes. Period.

Please stick to the subject at hand -- and, as you do, keep in mind that for many members matters of health and well-being can be tricky indeed. Thanks in advance.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've never been diagnosed with a food allergy, but bananas, black walnuts, canteloupe and raw carrots make my mouth itch like crazy! I eat them all anyway, despite frequent castigations from family (hi mom!) about how I'm playing russian roulette with my health.

It really bothers me that people claim to be "allergic" to things they are truly not, either foods or scents. I sympathize if you don't want to explain the particulars of your specific less-heard-of medical condition, but people who merely are seeking to avoid a food they don't like/doesn't agree with them shouldn't claim to be "allergic." It makes it harder for people with TRUE allergies to get their requests taken seriously, ESPECIALLY in restaurants.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I am scrupulous about keeping track of friends' food preferences and dietary restrictions because I want to eat out/in with them and don't want them to think I'm an unpleasant co-diner/cook because I'm judging them for being difficult, whiny little babies.

(I secretly do, but nobody has to know but us chickens!)

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It really bothers me that people claim to be "allergic" to things they are truly not, either foods or scents.  I sympathize if you don't want to explain the particulars of your specific less-heard-of medical condition, but people who merely are seeking to avoid a food they don't like/doesn't agree with them shouldn't claim to be "allergic."  It makes it harder for people with TRUE allergies to get their requests taken seriously, ESPECIALLY in restaurants.

This really bothers me as well. I deeply dislike fish of all kinds, though I keep trying, hoping to find the one dish that might be different. Hasn't happened yet. I would never say I was allergic to fish, though that would certainly make things easier. I simply explain that I don't like it and will graciously try some in most instsances if needed. Though I also take great offense at the thought of someone trying to "fool" me or get me to like fish. Cooking, to me, is about sharing something joyful with others and not about dictating what they should enjoy.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I've never been diagnosed with a food allergy, but bananas, black walnuts, canteloupe and raw carrots make my mouth itch like crazy!  I eat them all anyway, despite frequent castigations from family (hi mom!) about how I'm playing russian roulette with my health.

It really bothers me that people claim to be "allergic" to things they are truly not, either foods or scents.  I sympathize if you don't want to explain the particulars of your specific less-heard-of medical condition, but people who merely are seeking to avoid a food they don't like/doesn't agree with them shouldn't claim to be "allergic."  It makes it harder for people with TRUE allergies to get their requests taken seriously, ESPECIALLY in restaurants.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I am scrupulous about keeping track of friends' food preferences and dietary restrictions because I want to eat out/in with them and don't want them to think I'm an unpleasant co-diner/cook because I'm judging them for being difficult, whiny little babies. 

(I secretly do, but nobody has to know but us chickens!)

Im right there with you. I dont want to injure anyone at the dinner table but it does upset me when those without allergies use that and make it harder for those with serioius allergies. I guess im learning from this little discussion is that there really are all kinds. And ones perception is ones reality so its a tough spot for the caring food preparer to be put in.

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I've never been diagnosed with a food allergy, but bananas, black walnuts, canteloupe and raw carrots make my mouth itch like crazy!  I eat them all anyway, despite frequent castigations from family (hi mom!) about how I'm playing russian roulette with my health.

It really bothers me that people claim to be "allergic" to things they are truly not, either foods or scents.  I sympathize if you don't want to explain the particulars of your specific less-heard-of medical condition, but people who merely are seeking to avoid a food they don't like/doesn't agree with them shouldn't claim to be "allergic."  It makes it harder for people with TRUE allergies to get their requests taken seriously, ESPECIALLY in restaurants.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I am scrupulous about keeping track of friends' food preferences and dietary restrictions because I want to eat out/in with them and don't want them to think I'm an unpleasant co-diner/cook because I'm judging them for being difficult, whiny little babies. 

(I secretly do, but nobody has to know but us chickens!)

Im right there with you. I dont want to injure anyone at the dinner table but it does upset me when those without allergies use that and make it harder for those with serioius allergies. I guess im learning from this little discussion is that there really are all kinds. And ones perception is ones reality so its a tough spot for the caring food preparer to be put in.

Well, you never really know what another person is going through. Sometimes, I know that I take things personally when they are really not directed at me. I call it being human.

Do the best you can. That is all that anyone can ask.

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To move away from the allergy theme here a bit...

When this thread first started up, I thought to myself "Oh, I never do that. How perfectly horrid to try and fool those at your table. Pfffft."

AND THEN I DID JUST THAT TONIGHT AT DINNER.

Oh, I am such a fraud! :blink:

Since the Spouse was going out tonight, I cooked a chevon (goat) leg roast (made a paste of garlic, salt, lemon zest, and herbes de Provence and basted occasionally with olive oil :wub: ) for the Spawn and me.

I didn't quite tell her that it was lamb but I called it "Lambie" (like a term of endearment) as I was carving it. So she started calling it Lambie.

Lambie visited her plate twice...

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My mother has a very strange reaction to beef and anything acidic. She has rheumatoid arthritis and if she eats any of those things her joints will become sore and ache painfully. ...

I have severe rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, and the accompaniying 'allergies'. Besically, if it tastes good, I can't eat it without a reaction of some sort. PM me if you need ANY commiseration.

More Than Salt

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For some reason, I kept thinking about this thread and couldn't figure out what was bothering me. Then I realized that it was the violation of trust that was inherent in tricking people into eating things that they have said that they don't eat.

I remember when I was around 10, my mom tricked me into eating squirrel. Then when I was around 22, my sister tricked me into eating venison. I had never said that I hated these things, I didn't eat them as a matter of personal principle. But they felt that it was OK to violate my principles because they felt that they knew better than me. To this day, I will not eat any meat at my sister's house unless I see the original packaging. I will only eat chicken at mom's when I can easily identify it as chicken. It's not the the squirrel and venison were bad, but I felt I could no longer trust them.

Food is a very basic need and if you can't trust the person preparing the food that will nurture you, then that is a person I do not want to know.

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Maybe this will help sort things out.

First--

Trickery. I suppose that parents trying to "trick" child into eating something new etc is between the parents and their children. In extreme cases --I guess parents can risk losing their credibility and traumatize the kid. Not so ggod.

Classic French cuisine is in large part a matter of a kind of trickery-- they managed to make me actually enjoy veal kidneys (what a sauce!).

As for foods that produce real allergic symptoms and foods that people just don't like and everything in between:

people know what they like and don't like and what foods bother them.

Hosts of dinner parties etc try to prepare what they think will be good to eat--it is up to them if they want to open a potential pandora's box by asking potential guests for input.

Otherwise--people should just be gracious and leave anything that they don't want to eat--for any reason at all on their plate and eat what they are ok with.

If you don't eat red meat then leave it and eat the sides and the salad etc. Or just take a small bite whatever you are comfortable with.

Hosts should be gracious and never ask why a guest didn't eat something.

as for people who have concerns about ingredients that will make them sick--they should discreetly ask the host: "did you use any peanut products in you great looking dishes?" and note they have an allergy.

fair enough?

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A restuarant which I used to work at often had guests with allergies (real, implied or imagined). What always struck me was the small contingent of people who would bring in laminated 3x5 printed notecards with their dietary restrictions and substitutions that could be made.

How brilliant! The kitchen would not mess around and play "I am the French chef and I know better than you", the cooks were extra careful about cross contamination and the guest could enjoy their multicourse meal without having to be questioned before the presentation of each dish.

People who have genuine allergies have every right to be accomodated. However, in a restaurant setting you hear of so many "allergies" that it becomes a bit like the boy who cried wolf (allergic to wolf?). My favorite is the man who had a gluten allergy and needed his bread heated so he would be able to eat it. Arrgh!

My question is for those of you with serious allergies is how do you cope with eating out? What strategies have been most effective in terms of keeping yourself reaction free? How do you approach eating at a new place? Have you ever refused dishes because you were concerned about how they were prepared?

Please share...

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I don't like pinto beans or raw tomatoes. And I have never liked them. I LOVE things made with tomatoes, but just to eat a tomato raw? EW! I can't tolerate that squish factor. I haven't liked either one of those things since I was a little kid, but that STILL doesn't stop people in my family from hounding me about it and I'm almost thirty!! It's incredibly annoying. I just don't like them, ok! Lay off!

When people try to belittle or force foods on others who don't like them, I find it incredibly rude and annoying. On the other hand, I also find people who won't even try certain things and make up fake "allergies" incredibly rude and annoying as well, so I think it's important to find a balance.

I have a friend who I have been close to for a long time. She is genuinely allergic to tomatoes. If she eats them, or anything made with them, the inside of her mouth breaks out in these huge, painful, open sores. And that still doesn't stop her friends and housemates from trying to "sneak" them into her food. They think it's all in her head, and the physical reaction is all psychological. Rude, rude, rudeness. I've also noticed that with another housemate, who is allergic to peanuts - a far more "socially acceptable" allergy than tomatoes - great lengths are taken to keep peanuts out of the house and away from him. Why is one allergy more important than the other (well, except perhaps for the death part)? But why should his allergy be respected and treated with care and hers treated as if it's a psychological condition? I don't understand people sometimes.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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My question is for those of you with serious allergies is how do you cope with eating out?  What strategies have been most effective in terms of keeping yourself reaction free?  How do you approach eating at a new place?  Have you ever refused dishes because you were concerned about how they were prepared?

Please share...

I've been lurking on this thread for a while now... I have a serious allergy to fish, and in particular whitefish. It doesn't always make sense - for example, anchovies don't bother me at all. But I am 100% sure that I don't want to be near whitefish. When I eat out, I always ask questions if I'm eating anything that could be cross-contaminated - for example, some restaurants fry their fries in the same oil as their cod. I regularly ask waitresses to go back and ask the chef, rather than guessing. I won't eat crab cakes at a restaurant, because you never know what they threw in there besides crab. And "Krab" is the absolute worst - it's made from whitefish. I am never shy about just not eating when I'm not sure. One example of an uncomfortable experience was when I went to the home of some of my husband's Chinese colleagues for dinner. I had never eaten in a traditional Chinese home before, and did not realize before we sat down that chopsticks would go into the fish, and then into everything else. After I surmised the situation, I just stuck to my non-polluted bowl of rice, which upset the hosts, because they thought I didn't like their food.

For many years, my husband didn't believe me about the seriousness of my allergy. Then he saw me go into anaphylactic shock at a wedding because I ate what had been described as a crab cake, and it was really a whitefish cake. Ever since, he is as vigilant as I am in making sure that things are safe, and if we're invited somewhere and he's doing the communicating with the hosts, he's very straightforward about it. He knows where to find the epipen and how to use it.

One final story. I got married last summer. Everyone but me wanted to have fish at various points in the wedding celebration - my inlaws wanted to serve it for the rehearsal dinner, and my parents wanted to have salmon as an appetizer at the wedding. I insisted that there be no fish anywhere until after the wedding, but let them have tunafish and lox for the morning-after brunch. Sure enough, someone must have stuck the egg salad spoon in the tunafish bowl, because I broke out in hives. Thankfully tuna is nowhere near as serious of a problem as whitefish, but I definitely proved my point.

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My husband is under the impression that he's allergic/sensitive to cumin, that it makes him constipated. I've pointed out that he's never had cumin all by itself so it'd be difficult to know whether cumin was indeed the culprit, but he remains unswayed. So, okay: I'm highly skeptical, but I'm not about to trick him to prove a point--besides, what if he's right? Why would I deliberately risk the possibility of him feeling physically uncomfortable? There is, after all, the whole trust issue. So I either omit cumin, or prepare a separate cumin-y batch for myself.

But a couple of weeks ago I had a severe hankering for black bean soup. He doesn't really like beans to begin with and since I had made 2 or 3 other items for him, it didn't occur to me to mention that the soup was thoroughly cumin-laced. --Until I went to the kitchen and found him eating it. I quickly decided to keep mum because if he really had a problem, the damage was done (and we're talking constipation here, not anaphylactic shock), and if he didn't actually have a problem, I didn't want the cumin anxiety kicking in.

He loved the soup and had quite a bit over the next few days with no ill effects, and I still haven't decided whether to mention the secret ingredient. I certainly didn't set out to trick him and I'm thrilled that nothing untoward happened after he ate it (as I happen to love the stuff), but....I don't know. It's a bit of a conundrum.

Edited by Philanthrophobe (log)

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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My husband is under the impression that he's allergic/sensitive to cumin, that it makes him constipated. I've pointed out that he's never had cumin all by itself so it'd be difficult to know whether cumin was indeed the culprit, but he remains unswayed. So, okay: I'm highly skeptical, but I'm not about to trick him to prove a point--besides, what if he's right? Why would I deliberately risk the possibility of him feeling physically uncomfortable? There is, after all, the whole trust issue. So I either omit cumin, or prepare a separate cumin-y batch for myself.

But a couple of weeks ago I had a severe hankering for black bean soup. He doesn't really like beans to begin with and since I had made 2 or 3 other items for him, it didn't occur to me to mention that the soup was thoroughly cumin-laced. --Until I went to the kitchen and found him eating it. I quickly decided to keep mum because if he really had a problem, the damage was done (and we're talking constipation here, not anaphylactic shock), and if he didn't actually have a problem, I didn't want the cumin anxiety kicking in.

He loved the soup and had quite a bit over the next few days with no ill effects, and I still haven't decided whether to mention the secret ingredient. I certainly didn't set out to trick him and I'm thrilled that nothing untoward happened after he ate it (as I happen to love the stuff), but....I don't know. It's a bit of a conundrum.

That's very odd, because I once knew the girl who claimed the same "allergy" to cumin. This is the only time before or since I've heard anyone else experience the same thing. With this particular girl, I think it was a passive agressive way of making our group of friends eat where she wanted to eat, rather than the places we would have chosen. She was a remarkably picky eater, hated anthing that wasn't your basic, bland American fare, and her cumin "allergy" was a convienent way of us not being able to go eat Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, or pretty much any other ethnic cuisine when we were all together. Yet, she'd lap up Spanish rice in Mexican restaurants like it was going out of style. Mexican rice almost always is made with cumin. I pointed it out to her, and she had some explination that the rice isn't made with enough cumin to matter. Whatever.

I think sometimes people get these ideas in their heads about allergies, whether they've been tested for them or not. It might be kind of funny to casually ask your husband if he suffered any ill effects from the soup. And if not, just let him know what was in it.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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My question is for those of you with serious allergies is how do you cope with eating out?  What strategies have been most effective in terms of keeping yourself reaction free?  How do you approach eating at a new place?  Have you ever refused dishes because you were concerned about how they were prepared?

Please share...

As mentioned, my sister has a serious milk/dairy allergy (not just lactose intolerance). When dining out, she almost invariably will dine in Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese) where she can be reasonably certain that dairy products are not used in cooking. If she's unfamiliar with a dish, she'll question the waiter as to whether any milk/butter/cheese was used. She still occasionally has problems with doughs where milk or butter is "hidden."

Her friends know her food allergies and work around them when she's invited for a meal. If she's going to a strange house (rare!), she'll mention her allergy to the host or hostess beforehand and bring a dish to share that she knows she can eat, just in case.

My daughter is dangerously allergic to pine nuts. They're pretty easy to avoid on a general basis in American foods, but are commonly used in Italian, Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Korean cuisines. When in doubt, I ask the waiter to ask the chef. And I carry her Epipen at all times.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Melanger that's an excellent question, one I've been dealing with for years.

Thankfully, my last experience was dealing with someone who didn't speak very good english , not his fault, and I wound up with a shrimp eggroll, which I ate because it was a very small amount and it was ground up with the vegetables..four hours later, I was saying oh no, he didn't understand me!

I had a vendor at a fair laugh at me when I asked if the eggrolls were strictly vegetarian.

He said, " You think you're getting seafood for a dollar?"

I attempted to explain that seafood was exactly what I did NOT want.

As a result of experiences that this, I'm very, very careful about where/what I eat. I have to be. Sadly, since I can't tolorate fish or oyster sauce, this means I get to sample very little asian food, something I do regret. Any culture that eats a lot of seafood would be something I have to avoid. Eating out is not that bad, I don't mean to sound crybaby, I have no problem with italian cusine, bar grub is ok, and indian vegetarian is very kind to me.

Yes, I've refused dishes, especially if I find out the place has old oil that has had seafood fried in it. Once I had to leave a place that had had a mussel boil the day before.

Before I bought my home, the woman who I shared a double with had a shrimp boil and I spent that night at my mom and dad's.

and, no clambakes for me, of course. So yeah, it's kind of restrictive and kind of a pain, and I'll never be the foodie who is up for anything, you know?

As far as a new place, yes, many, many times I've read the menu and left. And, the worst, (And this may be getting better) is a place that will have seafood in a dish and not disclose that in the menu. example, a place I ate on vacation in Maryland said they had Maryland sauce on a dish, which turned out to have crab meat in it.

So, I've been actidentally poisioned not too often, but enough to be super careful, as I suffer horribly for hours after and usually end up in the hospital.

Edited by christine007 (log)

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Melanger, good question. I'm genuinely allergic to scallops. When I eat out, I have to order fish in a whole and visually recognizeable state - I cannot risk eating a soup or stew in which there might be an unidentifieable piece of scallop. I cannot eat anything that might be made with a seafood broth which once contained a scallop, so seafood risottos, soups and paellas are out (even if they don't claim scallops as an ingredient on the menu). I've learned how to say, "I can't eat scallops, they make me very ill," in many different languages, and many different countries. It generally gets me past the problem, though there've been a couple of times I've had an allergic reaction when I thought I'd eaten scallop-free. Not fun.

I once read, years ago, that a little girl in my neighborhood died after eating chili at a restaurant out of town. What she and her mother didn't know (nor would they have guessed) was that the chili was thickened with peanut butter, to which she was deathly allergic.

I guess if I were a chef, I would never consider using seafood or nuts in a dish without clearly labelling it on the menu. And if I were a waitperson, I'd take anyone's claim that they were allergic to something very seriously.

That being said, there's an awful lot of fussiness out there hiding behind the guise of allergies. I've seen people claim to have allergies to foods that they merely dislike, and I've witnessed a number of people lately diagnosing themselves with a food allergy, believing it to be the culprit behind their general malaise. The latter strikes me as more a neurosis than a medical condition, but that's just MHO.

Edited by H. du Bois (log)
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I have a couple of life-threatening food allergies. The worst one is alcohol which is a rather odd allergy. I have had numerous scratch tests on my back for the numerous allergens that affect me, mostly hay fever, burning eyes, and the normal things one expects. However, with alcohol and iodine (the seafood thing) I get edema in the larynx which partially closes my airway and several times I have come very close to a tracheotomy.

I didn't always have these allergies as severe but about 40 years ago began having peculiar symptoms whenever I would drink a glass of wine or beer, a sensation of what felt like prickly heat on my face and neck, itching around my eyes, then hives.

Then I began reacting to the liquid medicine(prescription at that time, now OTC) I was taking for my allergies, hives, scratchy throat, hoarseness and finally losing my voice.

My allergist said he thought I might be allergic to yeasts. However when he did the scratch test he first used grain alcohol, diluted with purified water and I reacted strongly.

With seafood, it started with shrimp but then other ocean fish that concentrate iodine, began to bother me also but it wasn't too bad, I could tolerate it with antihistamines.

Then I had a kidney problem and had to have a special x-ray with an IV dye that contains iodine. Huge reaction, very scary. Advised to avoid seafood. However I can tolerate a limted amount of lobster and crab but not much else. Fresh water fish is no problem at all, its only the stuff that comes out of the ocean and of course that includes kelp and other sea "vegetables" ....

I can cook with them and serve them to other people but have to keep them separate from my food. And I take medications and carry an EPI pen always.

Aspartame or Nutrasweet has also been a problem, but not a conventional allergy.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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can cook with them and serve them to other people but have to keep them separate from my food. And I take medications and carry an EPI pen always

Wow. I cannot abide to cook them, the smell alone sets up a reaction that I'm sure is from past unpleasant experience.

I forgot to add, I can eat ocean fish, but not fresh water. This is the strangest allergy... I'm your opposite. I can't eat a teaspoon of crab or lobster.

And, maybe because I have a "true" allergy, I would never, under any circumstance say I was allergic to something I'm not.

I have no problem saying, "Thank you, but no, I don't care to eat that."

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