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How common are food allergies and aversions- really?

I keep seeing posts about accomodating people with food allergies- it seems to be incredibly common that any given person will have loads of friends that cannot eat this or that.

More posts than that are about unadventurous eaters- folks who's palates are so limited that it veritably holds their dining companions hostage.

Don't get me wrong, I freely acknowledge that real allergies exist, but..... I can't tell you how many patrons I've had that are "allergic" to one thing or another- a favorite was the customer allergic to casein, so can only eat sheep's milk cheese. Well, sheep's milk is highest in casein compared to cow and goats milk (cow's milk: 2.9-3.5%, goat's milk: ~3.75%, sheep's milk: 5.6-6%). She was a charming woman, and I happily accomodated her delusion. I really wanted to share the above info with her, but did not for fear of making her feel silly. I don't doubt that most people believe these things, but sometimes it's just not credible.

Do all of you know people that have, for lack of a better term "food issues"? I ask because in my personal life, other than one friend in another state that is gluten intolerant, I never even think about this when putting a menu together, and I've had numerous dinner guests, and made all sorts of foods. When I invite people over, I never ask guests what I'm allowed to make, and I've never put in requests to hosts.

So, how common is this really? How many people in your close circle do you have to accomodate because of food issues? And not to leave out the other side- if you have an allergy or aversion, how do you deal with it?

This is not meant to be hard on people with real problems, please don't see it as such- I'm only trying to figure out how common it really is, seeing as it essentially doesn't exist with people that I actually know and socialize with. All my friends are ultimate omnivores.

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  1. My daughter has odd nut allergies, only to pistachios, cashews (severely), walnuts, pecans, macadamias, pine nuts less so, and to red dye #40, fine with all other dyes. In the beginning I'd go into details if people asked but it was often too confusing so now I'll just say she's allergic to nuts and dye with casual acquaintances. No one in my family or my husband's has food allergies to anything. It is challenging to deal with because most people don't understand how severe the reaction can be. My mom doesn't think twice about quickly rinsing out a large cashew jar and filling it w/ rice and that could cause an anaphylactic reaction.

    When my daughter was younger, she also had seafood allergies. We were invited to a chinese banquet where every course had seafood and they didn't serve rice (which is usually my backup plan). It was really awkward when the hosts found out she couldn't eat anything because they felt bad (though I think they were kind of doubtful about the whole thing). I still don't know when or if to mention her allergies when we're invited somewhere. I think it's too bad that people pretend to have allergies which makes others discount any allergies.

    1. at the age of 50 i developed an allergy to all nuts (notpeanuts). prior to that i would eat every cashew in site, pile my plate with chestnut stuffing and have every nut in chocolate dessert imaginable. Then THUMP after a half a can of almonds I broke out in a HUUUUGE rash at dinner, drove myself to CVS and guzzled 4 benedryls. How do i deal with it? I deal with it. I tell servers aboutthe allergy and hope nothingslips through, i avoid nuts totally and stare at hershey with almonds and cadbury bars and eat more fruit and cremes.

      I do not impose on others when i go to their houses and always ask guests if they have allergies since my antennae are more tuned. it's very easy and very polite to ask to be a gracious host.

      It's all a matter of awareness and consideration.

      What bothers those of us with real allergies are all the people who tell restos they have allergies when they don't like an ingredient. Their insensitivity to a true medical issue puts those of us with allergies at risk. i wish thy would stop. If they do not like something just say it, don;t hide behind those of us who would go to the ER if the restos lower the standards.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        While I feel for your food allergies... I gotta ask...Whats with the first person? I'm completely thrown off!!!

        Truly, the people who fake allergies really make it tough for people who really have them. All servers (or at least those who care about their jobs) want you to be as safe as possible and want you to enjoy your meal. If you don't like something please let me know and I will do my level best to seethat you don/t get it. Don't lie to me!!

      2. I've had life-threatening sea-food allergies since infancy (lungs swell shut, breathing stops, body suffocates, death ensues). I had a friend in university say it was all in my head. On the one hand, people without allergies don't understand those that do. On the other, even I have a bit of measured doubt as to some of the claimed allergies these days.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          My shell fish allergy only reared it's ugly head after my 30th birthday. I break out in hives and get other nasty reactions.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            Mine began when I was pregnant with our first son. Since then it has gotten steadily worse. I carry an EPI pen and when traveling in places where I may be mis-understood, I carry Benedryl as well and Mr CF is my taster. He says its a tough job but somebodys gotta do it.

            I wish I could have a freshly shucked oyster.

        2. Between my parents and in-laws, there is one that is allergic to beef, (and sensitive to nitrates and sulfates), one to wheat, and one to scallops. Plus 2 of them can't tolerate spicy food. I hope this is not a sign of growing old!

          1. I know three people with actual allergies: one to scallops, one to strawberries, and one to butter and cheese.

            I know 5 diabetics in my immediate friends and family circle, so I know their real food issues. One of those has IBS, so I have to be aware.

            FEW of these people ever make a fuss, and if they do, with pretty good reason (in restaurants).

            I am lactose intolerant (along with most adults in the world, acording to data I've seen but cannot cite off the cuff). I am also hypoglycemic, with puts me at odds with the high sugar desserts pushed by others in my family.

            I also know scores of pople with food aversions, otherwise known as "dislikes." Reasons vary. In my anecdotal reportage, MOST of these people make fusses.

            Allergies, sensitivies and aversions are all real, but how individuals deal with them are - wow - so varied. If a friend requests no strawberries as a garnish for her lunch plate and the kitchen disregards this, to her allergic peril, I think of that as a bigger issue than if another friend gets bent out of shape because the hostess served BBQ wings instead of Chinese wings and the bent person *doesn't like* BBQ. I personally deal with lactose intolerance very quietly, by eating only small amounts of dairy and then only those that work for me. I deal with hypoglycemia by avoiding sweets, and trying to be gracious with the dessert pushers.

            There's a big difference between "cannot eat" and "does not like." Both are valid, but the fuss levels need to be somewhat appropriate. Yes, I know there are all kinds of passive aggressive idiots who know their mother-in-law hates liver and so serve liver all the time - that's not what I'm talking about. Those with real food allergies and sensitivities sometimes get lumped in with all those who, say, just don't like garlic. And sometimes those who just don't like cucumbers piggyback on the allergy issues for convenience.

            Most of the people I feed and eat with are reasonable about both their allergies or their dislikes and (usually) it's not a pain. I just really, really hate it when a dislike is couched as an allergy.

            1. as a former restaurant owner I had nothing but respect for people who took the time and trouble to ask about the kitchen and how food was prepared and what was safe for them (nut and wheat allergies for example).

              I had nothing but disrespect for people who ordered their meal and then decided that they were 'allergic' to an ingredient clearly stated on the menu or mentioned by the server in the specials for some reason only known to them (they preferred the look of their companions meals maybe or because they wanted a modifier and didnt want to pay for a different ingredient). They then expected me to remove their meal and bring them something entirely different thereby throwing out perfectly good food.

              I particularly remember a man, one evening, tell his waiter he didnt want either the soup (carrot and tomato) or the salad which came with the meal because he was allergic to carrots and tomatoes and onions and would just like cucumber and green peppers. When the waitress said she would order him a side he did not want to pay for it, I went over to find out what the problem was and explained what the side salad contained and said I could bring him just lettuce and cucumber if he wanted all the other items excluded. He said that wasnt acceptable and after all the back and forth he said just bring the regular side salad and he ate the lot (carrots onions and tomatoes were in there).

              1. I didn't realize there were ANY adults who pass off their dislikes of food as "allergies". I do recall a child who told me she was allergic to chocolate ice cream or perhaps it was vanilla, & when I asked her mom about it she told me it was just a dislike. So, I can understand this coming from a child, but an adult???!!.

                I became allergic to all shellfish at age 35 (had an anaphylactic reaction). Actually, until then, I didn't even know what anaphylaxis was! Consequently, I tread carefully in dim sum, Thai, sushi and other Asian restaurants where shrimp/crab is common. Both of my daughters, ages 11 and 8, have allergies but not necessarily to same items nor to the same extent (one is allergic to tuna, clams, & various nuts & the other is allergic to shellfish). DH proudly proclaims he is not allergic to anything:-) I do have friends/family with allergies to fish, eggplant, sesame seeds, and dairy.

                I saw a special on CNN once saying that allergies have increased in the developed countries because our bodies here are so free of life threatening germs, our immune system creates new ones in common foods. However, in third world countries where the environment is not as clean as it is here, bodies are busy fighting off malaria and other such infectious diseases.

                7 Replies
                1. re: ceekskat

                  When I first read about them in 2004, phthalates, a common ingredient in plastics, were linked to allergies. They haven't been general news in a few years. Here are a few more recent links:


                  And here's another interesting link. The denials in the media center and blog highlight the severe and increasing number of ill-effects linked to phthalates.


                  1. re: cookie_eater

                    I don't know where you live, cookie eater, but phthalates have very much been in the news in California. On October 14th, Governor Schwarzenegger banned phthalates in the use of some children's toys. Unfortunately, phthalates are found in all sorts of foods, and many other products often found in workplaces and households -- cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and insecticides -- and getting rid of them in those products will be much more difficult. Doing away with PVC pipe alone seems insurmountable.

                    While you raise an excellent point, and while I certainly don't agree with the content on the Phthalates PR site, the studies you cite aren't good ones to prove your point.

                    The first study you cite tested mice not humans, and the second and third studies are the same. In that study, the research found both "associations, as well as absence of associations" with Swedish children's allergies and phthalates. The association between allergies and phthalates was attributed more to "self-reported water leakage in the home, and...buildings constructed before 1960." Interestingly, the same concentrations of phthalates were also found in buildings with neither PVC flooring nor wall covering, meaning the study was inconclusive. Moreover, subsequent studies have attributed human body concentrations of phthalates directly related more to the consumption of food -- our subject here on Chowhound -- and to the use of the consumer products mentioned above. More studies are on PubMed, the source of the second article that you mention.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      This is a late reply, I didn't see that you had replied to my post before now.

                      They haven't been in the news where I live unfortunately.

                      My point was that there are other explanations and studies about allergies unrelated to the myth about allergies increasing due to lack of germs. People keep repeating that myth, especially with peanuts it is wrong.

                      Mice are commonly used as test subjects. Follow up studies on people could be the next step once a link in mice is shown. Having mice in a study does not invalidate a study.

                      The last 2 links are not the same, one is a follow-up to the first study. The same concentrations were not found in the study. Buildings WITH PVC FLOORING constructed before 1960 were found to have higher concentrations. That was NOT comparing buildings with and without pvc flooring and finding that any building built before 1960 had higher concentrations.

                      The researchers speculate on why increased water leakage is associated with increased levels of BBzP found in the home. They had no clear explanation but suggested that it was due to the degradation of pvc flooring due to water damage. Another follow-up study could clarify things.

                      Which studies are you referring to? I'd like to find them.

                      1. re: cookie_eater

                        Your point is well-taken, that it's not merely the "lack of germs" in the lives of children that may give rise to the increasing number of allergies, but other things too. So I agree with you.

                        Where I disagree with you is your statement that phthalates are linked to allergies and the studies that you say prove that.

                        The last two studies are by the same authors, several months apart, and deal with the same issue. The first study found a slightly higher amount of phthalates dust in the homes of children who were existing allergy sufferers than in the homes of children who did not suffer from allergies.

                        But the study didn’t find that phthalates CAUSE allergy symptoms. Nor were the phthalates isolated, meaning, other allegens in the home that directly cause allergic symptoms were not measured. Things like mold, cat and dog dander, mites, etc. To say that phthalates caused allergy symptoms when the other substances were not measured at all is lousy science, if it can be called science at all.

                        The second study merely correlated phthalates dust with the use of PVC in the home. In the mice study, the phthalates didn't cause the allergic symptoms, only made the skin sores caused by another allergy worse. The conclusion of that study was that phthalates may cause dermatitis, nothing more.

                        So no correlation between allergies and phthalates were found in the three studies you cite.

                        Which is not to say that phthalates are benign compounds. Only that they don’t cause allergies. At least that's what science says now.

                        But phthalates do disrupt the endocrine and reproductive systems, according to a number of recent studies available at the National Library of Medicine website. Other studies indicate that that phthalates are found everywhere in our environment and that their main entry into our body is probably through food. There was a single study that phthalates might be an allergy aggravator, but no other study corroborated that so a conclusion cannot be drawn. Phthalates have been found in a few instances -- certainly not all – to have a harmful effect.

                        Unfortunately, phthalates are merely one of an incredibly huge number of irritants and toxic chemicals in our environment that we unwittingly ingest every day and that may cause disease and harm. A possible explanation for allergy attacks is that they occur when the body is also fighting other irritants, meaning the body has an allergen threshold. For example, a person may have an allergy to dander, ragweed and milk, but when milk is eliminated from the diet, the other allergies stay dormant. The cumulative effect of toxins in our body may possibly cause allergies to express more often, and with greater severity.

                        Yes, rodents and other animals can aid science in discoveries. But it is inaccurate to say that what a rodent experiences a human being will experience as well.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          It's true, a link is not evidence of a causal relationship. I implied it in responding to the poster with those links. Phthalates may be linked to allergies as a marker indicating an increased presence of known allergens without being an allergen itself.

                          Which studies are you referring specifically? I would be interested in reading more.

                  2. re: ceekskat

                    You'd be surprised. In my waitressing career I've found more than a few adults who are not 'adult enough' to admit their dislikes and instead call them 'allergies'. Unfortuantley, it starts to delude even the most patient waitress!

                    1. re: aussiewonder

                      "In my waitressing career I've found more than a few adults who are not 'adult enough' to admit their dislikes and instead call them 'allergies'"

                      How did you find out?

                  3. In my personal life I know 1 w/ carageenan, 2 w/ sesame, 4 w/ seafood. In past professional dealings with customers at natural foods store it seemed as though 1 in 3 had a food allergy! Granted, this type biz will draw many people with food related health issues, but this just seemed very high. When assisting those who were dealing with wheat allergies I would ask if it was wheat only or gluten that they could not eat. This garnered many blank looks. Asking what their allergist recommended would result in sheepishly saying that their friend thought this was the reason they had such and such problems. It seemed there was a bit of self diagnosis and a healthy serving of "disease du jour". Happy to help if you do have dietary issues, glad to point your way to resources if you suspect you have them, but got tired of extreme demands just to please the whim of the moment.

                    1. I've had an egg allergy since infancy, I don't find it very difficult to get around. The only problem is at brunch, and with a lot of desserts. If only a place would break out and all bacon breakfast menu. I had an issue last year with a restaurant putting eggs into a dish without listing it in the ingredients, I didn't think to ask the server and as a result I spent the rest of the night with a rash, severe headache and breathing difficulties. Not very fun.
                      I work in a restaurant and have encountered people who are apparently allergic to everything, including one woman who had nut, strawberry, banana and wheat allergies - sometimes I wonder how some people can leave their home without dying. If it's a real allergy we're prepared to be extra careful, but if it's something someone just doesn't like, maybe they could just pick it off the plate. If someone is that fussy, they should be eating at home.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kiwiFRUIT

                        Kiwi's are linked to a tree Allergen, believe it or not. (same protein).
                        Eat enough, and you get the reaction.

                      2. One of our friends is allergic to avocados and bananas, and my mother is allergic to scallops. As far as preferences go, my husband does not eat any red meat, but will happily suck down his body weight in raw fish. People here in Nebraska call him a vegetarian, oy.

                        1. In my wine business I see something along the line of <5% of people who say they are allergic to red wine. This goes beyond not liking it or getting headaches from it. They say they break out in hives, rashes, and sometimes have trouble breathing. It seems logical that there would be a higher % in the general population since people with wine allergies are less likely to come in to a wine shop.

                          25 Replies
                          1. re: Midlife

                            I know three people who are super-sensitive/allergic to alcohol (but white wine has less of an effect than red...) Two are from Hong Kong and the third is my aunt. All three have similar symptoms - the most visible one is that they go bright red if they have more than half a glass of wine. They said it gives them an extreme hangover effect, like that half glass was equivelant to a whole bottle!

                            1. re: Kajikit

                              That's interesting because many researchers believe the most common allergy is to sulfites in wine and whites generally have higher levels of sulfites. If the 'hangover' is manifested by headache that symptom is now less often associated with sulfites.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                Sulfites don't cause a wine reaction. That's a very common misconception.

                                Dried fruits and lunchmeat contain far more sulfites than wine. It's not the sulfites in wine that are causing the reaction, unless that person also has the same reaction to dried fruit, packaged fruit juices, lunchmeat and sulfa drugs.

                                I don't know who you mean by "researchers," Midlife, but I re-checked my research this morning. Multiple double-blind medical studies (all listed on the National Library of Medicine website) determined that sulfites only cause problems to those humans already suffering from asthma, and only when their exposure to sulfites is great (300 ppm, much more than would be found in wine.)

                                Histamines were also proven to not cause a wine reaction. Some other components found in wine -- even the plain ole ethyl alcohol -- are causing the reactions that are so often attributed to allergies, sulfites or histamines.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Could you give some specific reference link on the sulfite issue? The things I've seen have said that sulfites are no longer seen as the cause of HEADACHES from wine but that there ARE people who have allergic-type reactions to sulfites in wine (causes rashes, difficulty breathing). I wish I had specific sources but I recall it came from UC Davis. If that reaction is only in people who have asthma is is important to know. I get people asking about headaches and allergies from wine all the time.

                                  The last I read (also from UC Davis) still leaned toward histamines causing headaches and have not seen anything to negate that completely, so would be interested in all this source material. Have also read of links to tannins and some chemical I can't recall the name of.

                                  I guess, too, I don't see the logic in saying that sulfites don't cause a wine reaction UNLESS people are also reactive to dried fruit, etc.. On it's surface that statement seems to say that those people ARE reacting to sulfites. May be my anal side but aren't they sensitive to all those things INCLUDING the sulfites?

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Found this reference. It seems to link a sulfite sensitivity to lack of a specific enzyme. What's your take on this?

                                    1. re: Midlife

                                      Midlife, last graf of your first post first: Only folks with existing asthma had a sulfites reaction to wine. For folks without asthma claiming a sulfites reaction, the litmus test is if eating dried fruit and lunchmeat don't cause a sulfites reaction, then wine won't cause one either.

                                      Your post just above, also on sulfites: Yes, this is called sulfite oxidase deficiency, but it occurs rarely -- in less than 200, 000 people in the US.
                                      Of course, the number of drinkers inaccurately claiming sulfite "allergies" by far outnumbers the people actually lacking the sulfite enzyme (1%) or having asthma (5%). (As an aside, the studies cited in the UC-Davis link above are more than 20 years old, a millennium in medical research.)

                                      Histamines: I read the results of several recent clinical trials in which people who were histamine sufferers were given wines doctored wtih various levels of histamines (including none), and the wines did not cause a reaction. More research needs to be done on histamines, however, and tyramines. But taking antihistamines before imbibing doesn't work.

                                      Tannins, especially the large amounts of tannins in red wine, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, create a serotonin rush, which then causes the Red Wine Headache. But it's not the wine or the tannins that cause the headache, it's the large amount of serotonin hitting the brain.

                                      Alcohol Dehydration and Processing: In addition, the presence of alcohol in the body may also cause a headache because of simple dehydration. But that's a hangover. Of course, the longer the liver takes to process the alcohol, the longer the uncomfortable post-drinking effects will linger. Obviously, this is also related to how much alcohol is imbibed and the amount of time/dehydrogenase needed to process it.

                                      I will spend a little time digging into the hives, rash and breathing difficulty you mention some folks have. Will report back as soon as I am able. All my research came from the National Library of Medicine -- simply Google it to access the search window for the database.

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        One more thing:

                                        If the wine is filtered (actually, "fined") to remove cloudiness or particulate using casein, egg white, or isinglass (derived from sturgeon bladder, among other fish sources), those would all cause a reaction in those drinkers with an allergy to milk, eggs, and fish, respectively. There are three reasons for hives right there.
                                        Who woulda thunk it?

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          Great material. Thanks for your help.

                                          Restricting this to the headache issue for a moment.......

                                          The vast majority of the 'wine reaction' issues I'm asked about have to do with headaches people say they get from New World wine (drunk in the US) but they seem able to drink lots more in France or Italy with no headache. Most of what I've concluded on this has to do with a combination of factors when they're in Europe including lower alcohol %, lower sulfite % (supposedly no stabilizers in France at all), longer meals w/ probably more healthy ingredients than at home, and also the fact that people are usually on a pleasant vacation and have left headache-causing tensions at home.

                                          Any thoughts on that analysis?

                                          1. re: Midlife

                                            Your last paragraph is an insightful one, though my thinking is that you must eliminate sulfites as a culprit completely (unless you are speaking of an individual with asthma or SOD). IIRC, a glass of wine contains about 30 mg of sulfite, but the human body itself produces about 1000 mg/day. So sulfites aren't at all a factor.

                                            Oak barrels (and tannins from them) are a big factor...a lot of oak aging in Europe is done in neutral oak (>more than 3 years old, or Slavonian oak) or Euro wine spends less time in oak than in the US. So, less tannins and fewer headaches from that alone. And a much lower percentage of alcohol, as you say.

                                            The other thing to consider is the type of the wine. Cabernet and some wines in the south of France inherently have enormous amounts of tannin before any oak aging. Other factors are the age of the wine and whether or not it has been filtered.

                                            Also, think about what else is being consumed along with wine...aged cheeses, meats/salumi, and other foods contain loads of tyramines, just like wine. Whereas one tyramine-laden foodstuff may be OK for an individual, several may be enough to create a headache. A Chianti may be fine, but a few glasses of Chianti and an antipasto platter may not be. Preservatives in food are also a likely factor. Coffee, too -- did they drink too much that day? If a person is a daily coffee drinker, did he drink too little to ward off a caffeine headache, and then also drink wine?

                                            Then, there is the factor of where /when the wine is being consumed. Wine headaches can happen *more* often on vacation. Folks may be drinking less water, or different water, or dealing with a different set of microorganisms than in their regular environment. Are they consuming more wine or alcohol than usual when on a vacation? Have they recently been on a plane or not had enough sleep? Certainly enough of these factors could combine with wine to form a headache. In those cases, it's not the wine per se -- wine is just one of many factors that cause the headache.

                                            So stress factors are important. Or, the lack of stress. When do the headaches happen? Is the reason for the lack of headache the lower-alcohol, less-oaked European wine, or that it is consumed in a relaxing environment on vacation or at home, or both?

                                            Lifestyle factors, too. Is the wine headache-prone person habitually under-hydrated, and so a small amount of alcohol puts them over the edge into headache-dom? Do they exercise a great deal and lose a lot of water through perspiration, and then not replace it? Generally, what is the condition of their osmotic balance (kidneys, pituitary function, electrolytes/minerals)? It may sound crazy but all are factors.

                                            There are so many factors involved that sometimes it's impossible to pinpoint a single factor that causes the headache. That's why controlled medical studies are important.

                                            My guess is that a wine alone does not cause the headache, but is a single important factor along with *many* minor ones.

                                            And finally, I am differentiating all these headache factors from the hangover headache that results simply from being, uh, over-served.

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Melanie Wong has said this about an immediate "flush"/reddening after drinking. I'll check into this further, but usually Melanie is spot on:

                                              "Actually the flush comes from the build up of excess amounts of acetaldehyde. It's not a lack of enzymes to convert alcohol to the more toxic acetaldehyde, but instead a super-efficient ability to make this transformation. The imbalance of this reaction with the speed of the subsequent breakdown of acetaldehyde to acetic acid is the problem. Some gastroenterologists I've talked to have alluded to the possiblity that the enzymes might be inducible, meaning that your liver can be "trained" to produce an appropriate amount if you have small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis."


                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  As a person that has no problem with preserved meats, white wine, or other alcohols, by process of elimination I assumed with red wine it was the tannins. I don't drink red wine often now because of past experiences, and my reaction doesn't always happen, but it happened regularly before I identified the culpret. I've had bad reactions to red wine, and that only. My instances had nothing to do with over-drinking. I'm talking migraine-like symptoms, within an hour (or two) of consuming the wine in question (not waking up the next day, feeling sick). I've been avoiding red wine for about 10 years now after several documented encounters. And it hasn't happened again, to me at least when I've avoided red wine.

                                                2. re: Midlife

                                                  I've noticed that wine in Europe doesnt give me headaches as wine in US and Australia. And my eating habits are the same everywhere so I ruled out larger and slower meals. Also ruled out the vacation explanation as Australian wines there produced intense headaches immediately (< 1 minute) upon drinking. Also ruled out ethanol, sulfites, histamines and tannins. My allergy skin tests only came up with dust mite allergy ... no food or mold.

                                                  1. re: tom porc

                                                    I'm "allergic" to California white wines, but not to European white wines. Don't know about Australian. Actually, it's not the wine I'm allergic to. It's the plastic tubing they use in California wineries in the bottling process. I suspect I would have the same problem with European whites from new or "updated" winderies. If you have any plastics allergies at all, there's a good chance the plastic tubing is your problem too.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      There are many things that may cause your reaction to wine...some substances in the alcohol, some substances created during fermentation, perhaps, even as you say, the tubing, though any wine that went through the tubing would cause the same reaction. I don't know at this time if the tubing used in racking wine or bottling is made of the same substances in Europe as it is here. Sorry to hear you have a problem drinking wine.

                                                3. re: maria lorraine

                                                  hmm. my husband is allergic to eggs and fish. Perhaps when he's been calling some wines "unfit to drink" and "tastes kinda poisonous".... it's been allergic symptoms.

                                                  Not just poorly cleaned equipment.

                                        2. re: Kajikit

                                          some asians (estimates are 50%) lack a necessary enzyme in the liver that helps break down alcohol. that leads to the *flush* you describe.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            :o) I know about that from many Asian friends and business associate, but I noticed it doesn't seem to get in their way much. From beer, to scotch, to Shaoshing, to Moutai.... they put up with the flush and consistantly drink me under the table.

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              The enzyme is dehydrogenase, and yes, Asians have less of it than Caucasians, and women less than men, just to provide a comparison.

                                              The lack of dehydrogenase doesn't cause the "flush." A reddish flush is a common vascular response to wine. Less dehydrogenase will cause a person to break down alcohol more slowly than those folks with more of the enzyme, though.

                                            2. re: Kajikit

                                              "super-sensitive/allergic to alcohol (but white wine has less of an effect than red)"

                                              You realize of course that this means that they are not in fact "super-sensitive/allergic to alcohol"?

                                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                                If you really want to be picky, it's some chemical substance present in the alcoholic beverages. If you blindfolded them and gave them wine mixed in with some other food to cover up the taste, they'd still be adversely physically affected by VERY small doses. When she was once persuaded to try it at a party, one glass of garden-variety beer had my aunt in the bathroom for three hours and flat on her back for the whole of the next day! Red wine turned her face bright red... when we went to lunch with them she'd sip on a half-glass of white wine (and usually only drink half of that) and have a quarter-glass of port because that's all she said she could handle. I very much doubt she was just imagining it!

                                                1. re: Kajikit

                                                  The flushing (red face and sometimes red chest) sounds like the common vascular response some folks get immediately drinking alcohol -- it's simply due to the dilation of blood vessels.

                                                  The flushing is probably unrelated to your aunt's other symptoms?

                                                  And what exactly were her other symptoms? You don't describe what "in the bathroom" after drinking beer means...vomiting? And what does "flat on her back" mean? Tired, fatigued, hungover? Or hives and and diffculty breathing?

                                                  If your aunt is Asian, Kajikit, her liver may just take a very long time to process alcohol. Being out of it for a day or so, and some flushing immediately after drinking, would be perfectly normal reactions for her in that case -- and nothing related to an allergy or sensitivity.

                                            3. re: Midlife

                                              If a bottle has been opened yesterday and left out on the counter, I can't drink it without a bad reaction. Freshly opened wine and refrigerated leftovers I'm OK with. Haven't come across an explanation of why this should be so.

                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                I've had bad reactions to red wine. I have no problem with white or other alcohol. I always assumed it was the tannins in red.

                                                1. re: DanaB

                                                  Some of the latest medical studies have shown that the tannins in red wine (in far greater quantities in red than in white wine) cause a rapid increase in serotonin, and THAT causes the headache, not the red wine or tannins per se.

                                                  And I'll keep checking for more of the latest of the scientific/medical studies on wine.

                                              2. I've read that it's estimated about 6-8% of American children, and about 4% of Am. adults have food allergies. This is of the 50 million Americans who have more general allergic disease. That's a lot of people, and I'd guess most people know someone with food allergies.

                                                There are also a lot of people who explain their preferences and choices in terms of allergies. I think some people do it because they want to be taken seriously, which is a mistake, IMO. Perhaps they've had some experiences which warrant this misinformation? People are quirky, but food allergies are no quirk!

                                                1. When I was a child, I was allergic to Peanuts, Chocolate, tomatoes, and oranges. (the peanut one was tough as a child in the 70s cause EVERYONE brought PB&J for lunch BUT me!) However, none of these allergies would have killed me---they were all rash-related. I grew out of all of them when I was about 10.

                                                  Fast forward to when I was 27. I had gone my entire life eating strawberries. I made a bowl at that time and if it wasn't for Benadryl, probably would have passed out cause my throat closed. Attemped them a few more times and realized that it was not worth risking death (what is interesting is I also was the same with penniclin, could take it as a child, and later developed a SEVERE allergy to it).

                                                  When I go out to eat, I can usually avoid strawberries but what is a bit annoying is when I get dessert and there is a strawberry cut in half, sitting on the top of my cake. I am sensitive enuf that even it touching the food will affect me. I feel like a Loser with a capital "L" when I have to send it back.

                                                  Now, I don't like the taste of beef, but I would never send back a dish if I did not notice that it contained beef and ordered it. I would eat around it and/or give the beef to my SO.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: L_W

                                                    "Attemped them a few more times and realized that it was not worth risking death"

                                                    I too tried eating one or two shrimp after my tongue swelling experience & emergency room visit and I also "realized that it was not worth risking death". It was so hard to give it up at first; but of course now I don't even miss it.

                                                  2. My father isn't allergic to anything (that I know of). Nor is my brother.
                                                    My mother has always been very allergic to capsicums and for the last decade she's been sensitive to onions unless they're in very small quantities and cooked very well. And she can't eat raw pineapple or custard apples (nor can I.)
                                                    I'm lactose-intolerant and sensitive to MSG. I have many food dislikes that I don't bother to tell people about because they're not actually allergies - I just don't knowingly eat foods with those ingredients.
                                                    DH is deathly allergic to seafood and he has a lot of medication sensitivities.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                                      I have the utmost respect for true bona fide allergies, and although I do not have any food allergies, I know many who do, including a nephew allergic to peanuts and his younger brother who is allergic to wool (he doesnt eat it, of course, but can't wear it either). The no-peanut boy (age 12) can and does order for himself in a restaurant and his mother doesn't even get involved -- he just quietly asks the waiter which, if any, entrees are prepared with peanuts or peanut oil. No one makes a big deal out of it.

                                                      On the other hand, I have a sister-in-law whose list of things she just doesnt like is long and tediously recited at every restaurant meal we eat together. LIstening to her order a meal is agony. Last year I overheard her telling a very young (6 year old) cousin, who didn't like something common (parsley, I think) to "just tell the waitress you're allergic to it -- they dont want you to get sick in their restaurant, so if you tell them you're allergic, they won't put it in your food."

                                                      1. re: Cheflambo

                                                        Ooh, that drives me crazy. I developed an allergy to peaches and nectarines in my late 20's, much to my dismay, but I find waitstaff very cooperative in helping me avoid any - I once had a waitress nearly panic when she found out the kitchen had put peaches in a salsa that she had thought was mango! So for someone to make a server go insane with worry just so they don't have to push aside a vegetable really steams me.

                                                    2. Our daughter has a Peanut allergy, and for the last almost 2 years we have not taken her out to eat, granted she is only 4 yrs old, but we just cant get ourselves to put the trust into restaurants yet. Can any of the chefs that read this instill some confidence in me that food allergies are taken seriously, especially with regard to peanuts, because of cross contamination issues.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: daveg227

                                                        You have to be careful what you ask... a woman asked if a dish was prepared with peanuts and was told "no" so she ordered and ate it. Unfortunately, her family later learned that it was made with peanut oil.

                                                      2. While genuine food allergies are actually fairly common, most of them are not life-threatening, thankfully. For those who are in danger of anaphylactic shock from eating a verboten food, you have my utmost sympathies. My SO is highly allergic to shellfish, and so I do know how allergies can cause difficulties when attempting to avoid the problem foods.

                                                        That being said, there are all too many people who trivialize the entire issue by stating that they are allergic to something when in reality they merely dislike something. And, that trivialization makes it more difficult for those with real food allergies to be taken seriously.

                                                        A good example of this was a friend (now deceased), who would tell waiters that he was "allergic to all vegetables". I finally told him that this was totally illogical, and that it was highly unlikely that anyone could be allergic to ALL vegetables. At that point, he admitted that this was his way of dealing with his dislike of vegetables.

                                                        Little by little, I got him to try a few vegetables, and he had to admit that they weren't all terrible. And, before he died, he actually did begin to develop adult eating habits!

                                                        So--yes there are many people with food allergies, but I am confident that there are even more people who use the term "allergic" without any valid basis.

                                                        15 Replies
                                                        1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                          "while food allergies are actually fairly common"...

                                                          in fact, they are not. http://www.acaai.org/public/advice/fo...

                                                          2% of american adults and 2-5% of children have true food allergies. 60-80% of the children will outgrow their allergies between ages 6 and 10. an adverse reaction or intolerance is not an allergy.

                                                          i am sympathetic. i have a friend who is deathly allergic to shellfish, and carries an epi-pen with him at all times.

                                                          working in restaurants over the years i have encountered numerous fake allergies, as well as people who forget to tell you peanuts will kill them.

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            Good point. I think there are many out there who suffer from horrible food related allergies and my heart goes out to them. And I think there are a lot of whiny people who aren't happy unless something is "wrong" with them. "I have an allergy, or disease of the day." Ugh.

                                                            There is a difference between an allergy and something that causes you indigestion or discomfort. I have had many friends who claim that have been diagnosed with a "wheat allergy". A few weeks without their favorite foods and voila...allergy gone and never mentioned again. Starving people rarely seem to have food allergies.

                                                            On the other hand, I was once with a friend who had an allergic reaction to shellfish in the middle of a company holiday party. She had asked about the dish and told there was not any seafood in it. She had to inject herself with her epi-pen and be rushed to the hospital. Scary, scary stuff.

                                                          2. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                            "That being said, there are all too many people who trivialize the entire issue by stating that they are allergic to something when in reality they merely dislike something. "

                                                            If people's desires were taken seriously, they wouldn't need to lie and say they had food allergies to get restaurants or food preparers to do as they ask. People don't lie about having allergies to undermine the seriousness of allergies for everyone. They do it because the risk of a lawsuit from feeding someone a food they allergic to that results in hospitalization or death is a greater incentive to do as the customer asks than the risks associated with dissatisfying a customer and losing his business. In the end, the fault lies with food preparers who don't take people seriously unless they say they will become ill if they eat certain foods because they are either indifferent to the customer's wishes or think they know how food tastes best and second-guess what the customer should eat based on arrogant assumption.

                                                            1. re: Orchid64

                                                              Yeah, I agree with your viewpoint. I understand everyone hear calling the fakers pathetic, and obnoxious, but I also understand why people do this. Clearly, they've had experiences where their wishes were not respected. It's sad to me that service people and kitchens are so dismissive of diners' wishes. Yes, there are people who are just pains in the arse, but most people just have a simple request, surely. Dressing on the side, no garnish, substitute another vegetable or carb side that's already on the menu, how truly hard is that, unless the kitchen's on autopilot? Especially if one is polite about it, and tips well. Unfortunately, its the rude "overrequesters" who are remembered, and make a bad reputation for anyone making a special request.

                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                some kitchens are on autopilot. During season in Florida where restaurants are churning out meals and the line for tables is out the door with an hour's wait, kitchens are banging out meals. Some restaurants here refuse to do substitutions during winter for that reason. The tickets keep on coming and the cooks and line cooks don't have time to stop and substitute or they miss the request causing a backup when a server comes back to the window to complain that the diner didn't get his requested changes.

                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                  You're citing a specific situation, a rush of tourists in a particular desination, in which case it makes sense to rule out substitutions. I have no problem with that if the menu states it, as I can see there are reasons to make such rules. Yes, those kitchens are on autopilot, which is exactly what I was saying. Unless a kitchen is accustomed to making every dish the exact same way because of such policies, it should be part of their operation to accomodate requests. I think the distinction is usually clear,and we're not in disagreement. Many restaurants can make substitutions and honor basic requests like leaving off this or that. It's not unreasonable to expect this, unless the menu states otherwise. I suspect that the fakers have encountered a problem with such restaurants, and that's why they've adopted this behavior of pretending to have allergies.

                                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                                    some chefs who have created a specific dish or recipes for their own restaurant don't want to substitute or leave out ingredients because now the dish they created is no longer the same thing. They care about the flavours and the combination. Why can't a customer order something else? Some dishes are suited to removal or substitutions and others are not.

                                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                                      I have played this game you describe at restaurants, sending the server back to see if the chef will make a dish they way I can eat it without risking an asthma attack or worse. I have been put in the position of sending the server back more than once after being told, no, it can't be made without such and such, etc. This, after calling ahead of time and listing my needs, and being told I could be accomodated. Yes, we found something I could eat, but the process was a real pain. The food was good but I will never forget how humiliating it was to put the server through such paces, and have everyone in my party sit and wait while I took up so much attention. It was awful, and it need not have been, could the chef have not been so precious with his recipes.

                                                                      I think that's a great example of why the customer can't order something else, to answer your question.

                                                                      1. re: amyzan

                                                                        I hear you amy but sometimes customers want ingredients taken out of a casserole which obviously they can't have, or ask for no garlic in their marinara, again this is not possible as the red sauce is premade. Well trained servers will know which dishes can be adjusted and which can't.

                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                          Obviously, I'm not talking about unreasonable requests like these, but I think there is a happy medium. Again, I don't think we disagree on accomodations, but perhaps have different attitudes toward customer requests. I just think most kitchens can make accomodations, but don't want to, in which case the menu should say so and the hostess taking res' on the phone should know that, too. I'm a cook, so I understand when items or even just elements of a dish have been prepared already, and I ask questions, but this can get quite complicated depending on the cuisine. I am lucky that the server in the aforementioned restaurant was informed about my needs ahead of time, because I called, so that helped, but she still wasn't able to answer all my queries without consulting the kitchen. To be perfectly honest, I put the majority of the responsibility for that situation on the person in our party who insisted we eat there. She knew of my allergies but stood firm that I could find something to eat. I did. but not without effort, and I also ended up with an appetizer plate while everyone else had entrees. These situations aren't cut and dried unless the kitchen makes a no substitutions rule.

                                                            2. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                              I have seen someone vomit on camera from eating raw green pepper. Apparently (he's a friend of a friend) he will do this with any raw vegetable.

                                                              I don't think it's an allergy...

                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                It's hard to know if it's a sentivity or begining of allergy just from throw up. If it's just throw up more likely sentivity bu he would need to be tested to know for sure.

                                                                1. re: majormanfemale

                                                                  I don't think its either, honestly. Taste aversion, or possibly purely psychosomatic.
                                                                  [he eats taco bell just fine.]

                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                    And how much raw green pepper does Taco Bell serve? If his reaction is in response to raw green bell peppers, that food is known to cause respiratory problems for some people with allergies when it is raw, but not when cooked. I had this problem as a child and it should be taken seriously.

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      his reaction is to all vegetables. If it was just bell pepper, sure, you probably have the right of it.

                                                                      I don't think he's claiming it as an allergy or anything, either.

                                                            3. My colleague at work has severe food allergies to corn and citrus--that includes anything with high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and to some extent citric acid. The citric acid thing she can't really avoid since most canned things (tomatoes esp) contain some bit of citric acid in packaging, but she's able to tolerate small amounts even though she still gets a bit ill from this (if citric acid is not in the top 3 ingredients on the label, she's okay). Her allergies developed when she was a child, but didn't realize she had them until she was an adult; she would be ill all the time and never knew why until a doctor confirmed it. I can see how her allergies might be miscontrued as just "not liking" corn or citrus since it's a pretty unusual allergy to have. But apparently she is not alone--something about baby formulas in the post-ww2 era triggering these allergies in some people.

                                                              She's able to cope really well. When shopping, she carefully inspects food lables and has developed a good knack for quickly scanning for and recognizing ingredients that are derivitives of corn and citrus. And at restaurants, she can pretty much always find something to eat--even at mexican food restos, which seem to rely on corn and citrus as menu mainstays! She asks lots of questions of the servers, and very rarely has she encountered places that dismissed her inquiries or failed to accommodate in some way.

                                                              And like most workplaces, we often have potlucks and such, but most people know about her allergies and try to accommodate. Granted, there are those who don't but, as with restaurants, she asks questions and figures out what's safe and what's not safe. Or she'll ask me or someone else to taste something before she does to check for sure. But she always finds something to eat, and often brings a sandwich for herself as a backup.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: tachis

                                                                Tachis ... these are, indeed, serious food allergies, and what a huge range of things to have to exclude from her diet! You co-worker has quite a challenge there, and it is nice to know that others observe this. HFCS is everywhere! I try to avoid it too, only because I know its not good for me, but for it to actually make her sick is really a hassle. She has my total sympathy.

                                                                1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                  Yes, she's a real trooper! It amazes me how well she does considering. On the plus side though, avoiding the HFCS is probably a good thing! She's probably, on the whole, healthier than a lot of folks because of her diet restrictions. Definitely more conscious of what food she does eat, and also appreciates good food more than others might.

                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                    I know first hand how hard a corn allergy is- it really limits my diet a lot since its used in so many things in the US that you wouldn't even expect. The list of ingredient items that can be from corn is humongous, but if I've been very careful about what I've been eating & have been eating 'clean' for some time, I can get away with a minor exposure occasionally. I don't eat out a lot, or if I do, I try to eat very simple, basics things and pre-medicate all I can..and cross my fingers that I won't have too bad of a reaction. I try to eat before I go places or even if I haven't, I'll fib & say I have- and I try to always have a safe drink & snack from home, just in case. Most of my close friends are use to my allergy by now, though it is hard in that most of them just don't offer me food or drink any more...its hard enough for me to find 'safe' foods and they've seen me make enough mistakes that have cause major reactions that I understand them not wanting to take a chance, but it would be nice sometimes for one of them to at least try.

                                                                    1. re: anniemax

                                                                      I have a corn allergy too. Drives me crazy! However, I've discovered that food made without corn syrup generally tastes better anyway (ketchup for example). I did want to share something though. I read on an allergist's website that if you take buffered Vitamin C as soon as you start having a reaction to food, it will stop the reaction. I was doubtful, but it worked! I had some corn sneak in to a chicken strip breading, and I started having a reaction. I chewed a Vitamin C tablet and it stopped. I wouldn't try it for one of those "will cause death" allergies, but for those like me that it just causes you to cough and wheeze, you might try it.

                                                                      1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                        Most Vit C in the US is either made from corn or corn makes up a substantial part of the inactive ingredients. My allergy has progressed to the point its life threatening now- I'm still on a Prednisone burst from my last slip up 2 1/2 weeks from a product that listed sugar when it was corn based sugar, and I'm still suffering from the effects of the reaction.

                                                                        1. re: anniemax

                                                                          I'm sorry to hear you're suffering, and I sympathize because I'm sensitive to corn. It's derivatives are in SO many foods, it's tricky to avoid. You really have to be a sleuth. I wanted to let you know that Twinlab makes many vitamins suitable for chemically sesnitive and allergic people. I don't know about the whole buffered vitamin C after accidnetal ingestion warding off a reaction, but I wanted to let you know about this brand. This is getting very tangential as to chowish food, but it might be useful info?

                                                                2. How common?

                                                                  In my world very rare or non-existant. My wife is allergic to chocolate, and other than that I dont know of any of my friends or family that are allergic to anything. Those who claim to have an allergy when they simply do not like a food/ingredient are pretty pathetic.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                                                    Um, "rare or non-existent" except for the fact that your wife is allergic to one of the most commonly-used ingredients in desserts in the world? That sounds pretty "existing" in your world to me.

                                                                    Food allergies come and go with many people. Just because someone doesn't have one now, it doesn't mean they won't have one as they age and just because a child has one now it doesn't mean she will have it forever but it's unlikely someone who has one will "test" whether it still endures for the sake of enjoying a particular food. Also, the symptoms of food allergies can vary from having an "itchy mouth" to having your throat swell up. People may have allergies that they don't even recognize because the discomfort isn't severe enough to notice or mimics some other physiological problem. If they don't know they have an allergy, you wouldn't know either.

                                                                    1. re: Orchid64

                                                                      Um, one person out of the people I know well, that has a minor allergy to an ingredient that is very easily avoided, is rare or non-existant in my world. Hence me using the word the word "rare" in my post.

                                                                      It does not effect my life or hers since we can both take or leave chocolate(its not like its water or something, & alot of people would probably be better off if they were allergic to chocolate). As for deserts in general I can take it or leave them as well, and there is always cheesecake, carrot cake, etc if we feel the need for sweets. Not a major obstacle to overcome.

                                                                      Sorry you disagree.

                                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                                        I'm with you jim! I can live without chocolate or desserts. Rarely I crave dark chocolate, but as far as milk chocolate, if I do indulge (I am a sucker for snicker bars) I have a tendency to break out. Not necessarily pimples but little red bumps. Don't know if this is an allergy or not, but I limit myself and only have a tiny bit every couple months.

                                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                                          my wife just breaks out a little kind of like you do from what you mentioned, and would rather not eat it than be uncomfortable for a day or so.

                                                                          I do not dispute their are life threatening allergies out there, or others that have serious consequences from their allergies, I just luckily do not know anyone who has any of these. I didnt think I was making light of the situation.

                                                                  2. My poor brother developed an allergy to something in spicy food in his early 20s. He can eat it without getting sick but the next day he'll turn bright red all over and itch all day. It sucks because he used to love spicy food and we'd go do the typical macho guy thing of eating ridiculously spicy food with beer but now he won't touch any of it and you can tell he misses it.

                                                                    1. My husband is allergic to peanuts. He can eat tree nuts, but has developed a "better safe than sorry" attitude and avoids those as well. His allergy was seen as very uncommon when he was growing up, but nowadays it seems like peanut-allergic kids are everywhere- has there really been a huge increase, or are moms just raising a bigger fuss these days?

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: whirlygirly

                                                                        The good news for your husband and others like him is that a genetically engineered vaccine that will prevent his reaction to peanuts (or at least damp down the allergic reaction to non-life threatening levels) is making good progress and will eventually be available as a Rx drug.

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          In what sense genetically engineered? Some arthropod's or mammal's or plant's resistance to peanut allergy put into a vaccine? What organisms have peanut allergy resistance? Meaning, first, which have peanut allergies that they've overcome?

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              Ah, the vaccine uses an antibody that is genetically engineered.

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            Oh, that would be nice- he doesn't have a lot of trouble avoiding peanut products in his food, but he's had reactions to airborne particles (e.g. people opening peanut packets on airplanes). That's a bit harder to control.

                                                                        2. I share an office with an extremely thin woman who I am beginning to believe actually suffers from an eating disorder. The list of things she is allergic to is enormous. From dairy to most leafy greens, to chocolate. It gives her an excuse to say no to anything we offer each other in our department and she never goes to lunch with us.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                                            I had a roommate who used to do that, but she didn't actually claim she was allergic to things...she just said she didn't like them, and that she was a very picky eater. I might have believed her, except that among the things she didn't like were pizza, cookies, ice cream, all salad dressings, any meat except chicken, etc. It was just too much stuff for someone over the age of six not to like. What she did "like" was lettuce, edamame, berries, coffee drinks and lots of sunflower seeds. She would also bake for the rest of us roommates on a regular basis and not eat any of it...there was obviously more to her eating than regular taste aversions but it never became a serious problem thank goodness. Hmm, maybe I should start a separate thread on this...

                                                                          2. S.O. is allergic to some nuts but not others, and I have two acquaintances, a colleague and a friend, who have coeliac disease so they can't have gluten. I once had a bizarre reaction to bluefish (my mouth got all tingly and I actually turned red--really red--from head to about midsection). But I heard that that might be because the fish was old.

                                                                            Working in a sandwich shop a few years back, when the Atkins thing became trendy, I had lots of customers every day claiming to be allergic to bread. This didn't stop them from buying bags of pretzels, though. I never understood why they felt they had to explain at all, let alone lie about it.

                                                                            1. I dated a guy who was allergic to legumes, my dad is allergic to grapefruit due to a medication he's taking, and my boyfriend's mom is allergic to shellfish.

                                                                              When I was younger, I was allergic to pineapple--we discovered that when I ate a piece of "Hawaiian" pizza and broke out in hives. My allergy to MSG started when I was 21, so no Doritos or other kinds of mainstream chips for me. Sad, because I love Funyons...

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: riceflour

                                                                                Your dad isn't allergic to grapefruit just because it interferes with his med. I think it's BP meds that you're not supposed to eat grapefruit while on, right? They interfere with the drug's effectiveness but they don't cause an allergic reaction, you're just not supposed to eat them when on the meds because they won't work right if you do.

                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                  Grapefruit can affect quite a few med's, more commonly "increasing" the effects of ones normal dose and less commonly "decreasing" the effects. You should always speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a Rx medicine before consuming grapefruit or other types of orange juice.


                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    As was said, this is NOT an allergy to Grapefruit, but instead is a recognized problem with an enzyme in grapefruit which causes some medications (NOT just blood pressure medications, but also including many cholesterol medications and other types of meds also) to be absorbed at a faster rate than they would normally be absorbed.

                                                                                    Once again, the term "allergic" is being mis-used.

                                                                                    1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                      Ah, now I see. My mom is the one who told me he had developed an allergy to grapefruit due to the medication, but the above explanations make more sense to me. Thanks for clearing it up, everyone! :)

                                                                              2. Strangely, about 10-ish years ago, I developed an allergy to cantaloupe mellon....had an anaphalictic reaction which frightened me enormously. Had lived quite a few years till that point blithely eating the mellon without any trouble at all...now I'm scared witless to even look at one.

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  It might interest everyone to know that some melons (or mellons, if you wish) are related to the dreaded Ragweed. For years, I assumed that my sore throat symptoms after eating Prosciutto and Honeydew melon was a result of the salt or something else in the Prosciutto. Then, I found out that Honeydew (and Cantaloupe, and Watermelon) are genetically related to Ragweed.

                                                                                  Translation: If you suffer from seasonal rhinitis, which frequently is the result of Ragweed allergy, you will also develop allergic symptoms from eating some types of melons.

                                                                                  1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                    Ted, do you know which types? Is it the whole cucumber/melon family that's related to ragweed, or is it some other type of melon not in the cuke family?

                                                                                    1. re: amyzan

                                                                                      I am a hayfever sufferer and some years back went to see an allergist. He said I was in the same group as many he had seen, during hayfever season we are also mildly allergic to melons, peaches, plums, pears, walnuts, hazelnuts - all make my throat itchy. Thankfully my hayfever has abated as I have got older.

                                                                                      1. re: amyzan

                                                                                        To the best of my knowledge, only Honeydew, Cantaloupe and Watermelon are related to Ragweed. However, this list could be incomplete, so I would suggest that you try to research this topic in more depth. I have dealt with my allergies by simply avoiding those particular melons, and I have not had those "sore throat" symptoms again.

                                                                                      2. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                        Thank you for that Ted - BTW: I *thought* I misspelled melon....
                                                                                        The only food that I seem to be allergic to is that Cantaloupe. Not walnuts, not cucumbers nor any of the fruits others have mentioned. Doesn't upset me though, I can have prosciutto wrapped around fresh figs.... even better in my mind.

                                                                                        1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                          That called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)- there are several fruits/veges that you can react to, usually worse during hay fever season. It only affects when the food is raw, if its cooked, it doesn't cause a reaction if you have OAS. You can do a search on line and find a lot about it.

                                                                                          1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                            WOW! That is really interesting. I am terribly allergic to ragweed, so I avoid chamomile teas, but I didn't know about the melon connection. My 25 yr. old daughter recently complained that when she eats watermelon she gets an "itch" in her throat and it feels like it swells up a bit. She has eaten watermelon her entire life and this just started in the last year or so. Yet it doesn't affect me at all, but then I don't normally eat it during the ragweed season, just early in summer. I guess you have to be very aware of the seasons to know when you can or cannot eat something, or if your allergies are kicking up, avoid them entirely.

                                                                                            1. re: danhole

                                                                                              I also can't drink chamomile tea for the same reasons.

                                                                                            2. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                              Now I have a REALLY good excuse not to eat melon! lol I thought I had an irrational fear :P I'm allergic to grass pollen, and there's some mysterious substance floating around in the Florida air that occasionally gets in my eyes and makes them itch insanely and swell up like I've been punched in the face! First I wondered if it was a food allergy, or an irritation from rubbing my eyes after I'd been cutting onion, but it's happened too many times now to have a random cause.

                                                                                              1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                                                I am not at all sure that melons and cucumbers cause a reaction because they are members of the Ragweed family.

                                                                                                More likely, the irritating agent in green melon and cucumber is cucumisin.
                                                                                                The best intro is found at:


                                                                                                If you wish, please also see these scientific articles about melon sensitivity or allergy at


                                                                                            3. Ya know, growing up I never had any food allergies so I wasn't aware of how drastic others' allergies were. A friend of mine recently developed an allergy to essentially all food. Her body reacts with hives and a temperature increase whenever she eats, but now she takes daily medicine that supresses her symptoms. So sad!

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Chew on That


                                                                                                she's allergic to all food? i'm sorry, this cannot be correct.

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  I was wondering about the same thing. How could one be allergic to "all foods"?

                                                                                                  If a doctor told me something along those lines, I think that I would check into the Mayo Clinic, since that diagnosis would seem to make it impossible to survive without "all foods".

                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                    jfood just saw a commercial on NBC where Nightline is featuring a story on a child who has such a rare and unfortunate disease. seems he feeds himself intra.

                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                      He's on a feeding tube, supplementing what little he can eat orally. Ironically I ended up on a feeding several years ago due to a stomach disorder and I trusted the doctors, dietitians, enteral tube feeding formula manufactures that I wouldn't have a problem with the corn maltodextrin used in them even though I'm allergic to corn. Somehow my body didn't get the message, though it took several years to sort it all out- that the formula that was keeping me alive was causing body wide angioedema & other issues. I have ankles again...at least if I avoid corn & everything made from it, not an easy task at all in the US (they are currently 'hiding' again because I ate something by mistake). It feels as if I am allergic to all foods- at least 90%+ of the stuff in most grocery stores.

                                                                                                      1. re: anniemax

                                                                                                        I'm allergic to corn, though not as severely as you at present. I sympathize, as corn and its derivatives are in seemingly everything. We have federal subsidies to think for that, but the new farm bill may help somewhat, as it allows help for growers of fruits and vegetables, too. I think the cheap corn products are here to stay, though. Natural foods stores are better than conventional groceries, as there are crackers, breads, etc. without corn derivatives. I still have to read labels carefully. Good luck to you!

                                                                                                2. My father is allergic to shellfish. His allergy developed as he got older. It took two trips to the ER to convince him to stop eating crab. Because food allergies may be hereditary, my brother stopped eating crab after swelling and I've cut back my crab intake.

                                                                                                  Both my brother and I are lactose intolerant, but as we've gotten older it has gotten better.

                                                                                                  My one roommate in college on the other hand is so lactose intolerant that she had to take lactaid pills just to eat a bite of pizza.

                                                                                                  Another roommate claimed to be allergic to nuts so she avoided them (and all foods with the nut warning) when possible.

                                                                                                  My BF's father is either allergic or intolerant to garlic, I'm not certain which.

                                                                                                  My mother has problems with most red wines. Some she can have a full glass of and feel fine and others she can have only a sip before feeling ill.

                                                                                                  And finally one of my korean friends can't tolerate any alcohol. Just one sip of a rum and coke will put her down for the night.

                                                                                                  Actually I've found that it's easier to accomodate the shellfish allergy and the garlic allergy/intolerance that to accomodate my vegetarian SIL.

                                                                                                  1. In defense of some people without a specific allergy who are reluctant to admit the reason they won't eat certain foods I will say that after a certain procedure, ahem, a certain person was diagnosed with Diverticulosis (the flare-up is -itis) and was advised not to drink milk, and not to eat seeds or nuts. Sooooo, being a good girl, this person is following Doctor's orders.

                                                                                                    1. I don't know how common it is, but I know my F-I-L has always claimed to be allergic to seafood, but my M-I-L says that's the way he avoids having to say he doesn't want to eat seafood. He's strictly a meat-and-potatoes guy. Every now and then, my M-I-L will sneak some seafood into a meal (I know...big time issues for another thread), and he's never had a problem.

                                                                                                      1. I'm an odd duck, because I have had severe reactions to the oddest things very randomly. When I was a child I went into anapyhalactic (sp?) shock because of allergy shots they were giving me. I was allergic to whatever the base mixture they used for the shots, so they had to develop a special mix for me. It is a scary thing to go through. But until I was an adult food didn't seem to be an issue, but that changed around 30.

                                                                                                        I know I am sensitive to cheese/dairy products, but I wouldn't call it an allergy. Sometimes eggs cause me problems and other times they don't. My mom was so allergic to shrimp that when she ate it her face would swell up, but she ate it. That made me avoid it for years. Then I had some at a japanese restaurant, and I was fine. A few years later I tried lobster for the first time and within 10 minutes I was covered in a rash from my face down to my belly, but no swelling or throat closing. So I thought I should avoid shellfish. Then I tried crawfish and I had no reaction. But, and this is weird, I ate some Buttered Popcorn Mike 'n Ike candy one day, and I had a terrible reaction. I ended up with a swollen face, hives, and trouble breathing. Now I am not sure what is okay and what isn't and the Dr. isn't sure either, but I carry an epipen. The Dr. says to try things (i.e. shellfish) and if I have a reaction use the pen, if not, scratch that off the list!

                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                                                                          Has your Dr. even tested you for common allergens instead of having you play Russian roulette with your food?

                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                            As a child I was tested for 50 different thing, and came out allergic to 48, mostly environmental components, pollen, mold, mildew, dust, ragweed, grass, insect stings, etc. I think eggs were on the list also, but that has been a long time ago.. and my parents are both dead, and I have no records of the list.

                                                                                                            This Dr is a lazy man, when it comes to a woman. If my DH complained he would be all over it, but when I say something he blows me off. I asked for a simple blood test to check, so I can relax, and he said there wasn't one. Then he said Eat it and if you swell up we'll know for sure! I really need a new Dr,!

                                                                                                            1. re: danhole

                                                                                                              This is an allergist taking this approach?!? I'm bewildered. Allergies are life threatening, and you've already had a reaction that warrants careful monitoring by an allergist. I am like you in that I have accidentally ingested foods I previously tested allergic to, and had no reaction. Likewise, I have tested allergic (RAST) to foods which have never given me a reaction. It's very confusing, but that doesn't mean your doctor should let you be a guinea pig. His approach is dangerous and unprofessional. Next time you may end up in the hospital, or God forbid, worse.

                                                                                                              Get thee to another allergist, and fast!

                                                                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                On no - this is NOT an allergist. This is my primary care Dr. who doesn't feel like I need an allergist. I was in an allergy clinic for 6 years as a young adult, but once I turned 18 they kicked me out and I haven't gone to one since. Didn't think I needed to but after the candy incident I am more concerned. I have been told that you grow out of many allergies, but no one told me you grew back into others!

                                                                                                                1. re: danhole

                                                                                                                  Go and see a real Allergist asap! That doctor sounds like a quack... it won't do any good for your allergies to be proved when you eat something you shouldn't have and keel over!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                    Consider NAET www.naet.com They do testing and treatment for allergies using applied kinesthesiology and acupuncture.

                                                                                                              2. re: danhole

                                                                                                                That's insane - there's a blood test that checks for something like 20+ common allergens such as milk, nuts, and soy - it's called an allergen-specific IgE antibody test.

                                                                                                            2. re: danhole

                                                                                                              There is a condition/allergy known as Angioneurotic Edema. It does not have anything to do with the heart, nor does it mean that one is neurotic. Essentially, it means that the allergy is non-specific. That is, anything can trigger a reaction...be it food, stress, environment. I jockingly say that I'm allergic to myself.
                                                                                                              It's potentially dangerous in that it can cause an instant anaphylactic shock. Benedryl in my friend and I chew oysters.

                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                I'll look into that. Thanks for the info.

                                                                                                                1. re: danhole

                                                                                                                  I hope it helps you. In my statement above I meant to say, "Benedryl is my friend."

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    Some people have bad reactions to the dye in benedryl so considering using the dye-free version.

                                                                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                  it's actually called angioedema now. it's hereditary and technically not an *allergy*.

                                                                                                                  however, to danhole: allergy skin tests are very simple, very methodical. no need for hit or miss. if your doctor is as cavalierly sexist as you say, i'd suggest changing doctors. true food allergies can kill you.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                    Well, according to the allergist and his colleagues what I speak of is non-hereditary Angioneurotic Edema and was called an allergy.

                                                                                                                3. re: danhole

                                                                                                                  Sounds like you could benefit from working with a really good allergist who does scratch tests. They're far more reliable than blood tests.

                                                                                                                  As for the eggs and dairy, it's possible that you're not allergic to either, but may be allergic to something an animal's diet. Most non-organic raised animals are regularly dosed with growth hormone and antibiotics to keep them healthy and promote profit. Try organic and see if you still have the problem.

                                                                                                                  If you sometimes have problems with meats and poultry, but not consistently, it could be the same problem. USDA regulations dictate a period prior to slaughter that animals are not allowed to have hormones or antibiotics in their food. Unfortunatley, the USDA cannot affford enough inspectors to enforce the law, so some animals reach the market with the chimicals still in their tissue. No way you can tell in the store. If you have this kind of allergy, you either buy organic or play the lottery in a regular market. More expensive either way, since you have to end up giving away or throwing away the "regular" meats if you have a reaction to them.

                                                                                                                4. In my 20s, I was allergic to California white wine, an embarassment for a native Californian. Time and careful analysis showed I was not allergic to the wine, but to the plastic tubing the wine passed through in the bottling process. When you have true allergies, it helps to be a good detective.

                                                                                                                  A decade or so later I acquired massive food allergies through blood transfusion. I recieved three units of what I have fondly come to call, "Sangre de Wino," or blood sold to blood banks by alcoholics so they can afford more alcohol. Immediateely after the tranfusions, I was allergic to all foods except white rice. My allergist did the testing with scratch tests, then I did a food challenge by eating the food. Yup. Allergic to it all. It was a difficult time to say the least. My allergist was certain the new allergies (I had a few prior to transfusion, such as a familial allergy to penicillins and the CA white wine) were from the transfusions because some of the non-food things I was reactive to were uniknown in people as young as I was at the time.

                                                                                                                  There are several ways that allergies can manifest themselves. Sneezing and possibly wheezing, as in my white wine problem. Some food allergies can push someone very quickly into anaphylactic shock, and if the allergic reaction is not interrupted immediately with informed medical attention, such allergies can result in death. Then there are systemic allergies that manifest themselves through joint and/or muscle pain from a day or so to several days after eating or drinking the food in qurstion. This type of allergy can only be treated by avoidance as there is nothing an allergist can do to control it. Well, sometimes specially formulated shots can help, but my experience hasn't been successful. When you really love a food, but know it will produce a systemic reaction, you just have to weigh whether you crave the food enough to endure the consequences..

                                                                                                                  Some food allergies, especially in adults, not so much in children, can be turned around through avoidance for seveal months or more, then reintroducing the food into your diet. Such foods should not be eaten or drunk oftener than every two weeks or so, unless you want the allergy back. In time -- a matter of several years -- I was able to expand my diet to include a whole lot more than white rice. For which I am grateful, since I'm a damn good cook.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                    The tubing the white wine went through? The red wine went through the same type of tubing. I'm sorry, that does not pass the reasonability test or the scientific one. (Former employee of five wineries.) I'm sorry you were given that explanation.

                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                      Well, scientific one, why do you think white wines and red wines would absolutely always gond with the same materials?

                                                                                                                      I don't know for a fact that I ever drank reds from the same winderies I drank whites from. I do know I reacted to Paul Mason whites, and I also know that one of the vintners at that time told me they had just finished installing the plastic tubing on the system that processed their white wines.

                                                                                                                      Whether you find it credible or not, it's a fact I have to live with.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                        I'm very sorry about your allergies, and what you must have gone (go) through.

                                                                                                                        In the production of his jug wines, Paul Masson used some harsh wine picking and manufacturing practices that can easily produce substances to which sensitive folks can react. These are in the wine, though, and a switch to wines made in a gentler, higher quality fashion usually doesn't cause the same reactions. The standard tubing in wineries is used for all the wines at a winery -- it's just flushed out when changing wines; the same is true for the bottling line. This type of tubing is used in manufacturing many beverages.

                                                                                                                        You should probably know that there are several substances created during the fermentation of wines that some people have trouble with. Different yeasts are used in the US vs Europe for the secondary fermentation of white wines called a malolactic fermentation -- it charges the harsh malic acid in wine grapes into a creamier, sometimes buttery, flavor. This is the subject of a lot of current study and if I find more info than what I've posted lately on the wine board specifically in reference to headaches, I'll let you know.

                                                                                                                        Sorry to hear you've had such a difficult time, and it is not lost on me that you're being a Chowhounder makes things exponentially more challenging!

                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                          The white wine allergy was many years ago -- 60s? -- and it was an allergy that made me sneeze. Unfortunately, I don't have any of that type of allergy any more. <sigh> But whatever the cause, it only happened with California whites, and simply avoiding them worked.

                                                                                                                          As for whether the food allergies complicate my life now, I have never thought of it that way. In fact, if anything, they are probably a bonus because in order to maximize control of my diet, I do *everything* from scratch. The short of it is that this means better quality and quality control, so it's not really a problem. Well, I shouldn't lie. I do draw the line at making my own phyllo from scratch, but except for the phyllo, I do make my own baklava and tyro/spanikopita from scratch. I've quit making my own pasta because I got tired of having to hang it all over my kitchen to get it dry enough to get al dente as I like al dente. So the pasta machine is in a box somewhere in the garage. But other than those two exceptions, it's scratch cooking!

                                                                                                                          Meats and poultry are an ongoing problem because I have systemic allergies to the anitbiotics and hormones they are fed, and if they're not withdrawn in plenty of time to clear the animals system, I may end up buying a gorgeous roast only to have to give it away. That ticks me off, but zoning restrictions prevent me from raising my own. But I have thought about raising a calf, then just telling my neighbors that my dog is hoarse. '-)

                                                                                                                          Cooking is a joy and a way to express creativity. Any dietary restrictions just up the ante on the creativity part! But thanks for the commiseration. Much appreciated!

                                                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                      Sounds like the transfusion caused some sort of immune response that produced all those hyper sensitivites.

                                                                                                                      The question remains if you really needed those 3 units of blood. The disease they caused may be worse than the original symptoms.

                                                                                                                      1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                        More a question of whether I needed *that* doctor! '-)

                                                                                                                        When we live in a country that relies on people who sell their blood to pay for their next bottle of Thunderbird,.. Well, there are worse things I could have contracted than allergies. Still, my life has never been the same since. Today, any time I need surgery, I make sure the operating room is equipped with a Cell Saver.

                                                                                                                        It's a couple of decade since I recieved those three units of what I have fondly come to call "Sangre de Wino," and I've noticed that the majority of medical questionairs today include asking if you've ever had a blood transfusion. Lots of problem-causing possibilities involved with transfusions. Since the transfusions, I've developed a rather serious disease that all of the literature says is "familial," yet there is no record of it in either of my parent's families. Makes you wonder what other people's DNA can do when it messes around with your DNA. <play Twilight Zone theme here>

                                                                                                                        With time, the food allergies have become less of a problem. The corn allergy has faded, which is a huge blessing because corn, in all of its many guises, may well be the most ubiquitous food in our diet today! I still have problems with high fructose corn syrup. And I don't like the way it changes the taste of things. I recently found out I can order Coca Cola from Mexico, where it is still made with cane sugar.

                                                                                                                        Anybody else remember what Coke made with cane sugar and sold in those small original bottles tasted like? There AIN'T no "real thing" left today!

                                                                                                                    3. I do know several people with some pretty serious allergies. But as others have noted, they seem to be more quietly careful than the folks who have some kind of aversion. I can think of a couple in my life – like the relative who is “allergic to bread” (but can eat any other wheat products, including wraps.) What about the women we know who is “allergic to soft cheeses" (but not hard cheeses, ice cream, sour cream, etc., or the guy who is “allergic to all carbohydrates”? I haven’t done research but these strike me as quite unlikely.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: meg944

                                                                                                                        The "allergic to all carbs" guy sounds like he has intolerances, not allergies. See my post below - it's actually pretty common to have intolerances to lactose, fructose, and grains - basically "all carbohydrates." As someone who has fructose intolerance, when I order in a restaurant I tend to say it's an "allergy" just so I'll be taken seriously.

                                                                                                                      2. Oh my let's see...
                                                                                                                        Personally allergic to kiwi, cantelope (in large amounts), walnuts, pecans, dairy intolerance.
                                                                                                                        MIL allergic to pork and garlic
                                                                                                                        best friend can't eat lettuce - not sure if that's an allergy or a stomach problem
                                                                                                                        other friend allergic to legumes, coffee, basically anything that's shaped like a bean... coconut...
                                                                                                                        Mother allergic to stone fruits - that is apples, pears, peaches, cherries, walnuts
                                                                                                                        sister allergic to walnuts
                                                                                                                        brother allergic to lobster, shrimp
                                                                                                                        They say it isn't hereditary... but I wonder.
                                                                                                                        needless to say, cooking for some of these folks can be a challenge. (esp the one who is allergic to legumes, since I use soy substitutes for dairy!)
                                                                                                                        And yes, several of those allergies are the swell up and die type - I carry an epi pen and benadryl at all times. We also ask discreetly about nuts when in restos, because that's the real bad one. I don't eat fruit salad if it has melon in it...etc. People who pretend to have allergies to food really are pathetic.
                                                                                                                        It is interesting that the body seems to have cycles - allergies can come and go - as with the case of kids who outgrow them. Most of my food allergies started when I was an adult. :(
                                                                                                                        great thread. thanks. the more people we can educate about allergies, the better.

                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                          "People who pretend to have allergies to food really are pathetic."

                                                                                                                          I agree and figure that karma is going to get them one day! And Juju, you are so right about the cycles. I couldn't eat cheese, or dairy, as a child, then as a teen I could. All of a sudden one day, 20 years later, I was halfway through a grilled cheese sandwich and wham! I was in severe distress. Now I have to watch it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                            Interesting that so many in your family and among your friends have allergies. According to the best allergist I've ever known (or known of), many allergies can be triggered because you live in an environment that is so polluted it pushes your immune system over the edge.

                                                                                                                            I'm just a tad jealous of you... '-) I'm allergic to epinephrine (Adrenaline). LOL

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                              that is an interesting theory - I don't know how much the environment as a whole has to do with allegies. I've had most of mine all my life, the food ones came on later and just keep multiplying. :(

                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                I'm allergic to antihistamines, my allergist loves it as there is no worry about the tests being faulty. The er when I went into anaphylaxis was another story....

                                                                                                                                1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                                                                                                  holy moly! what do they do for you when you can't have antihistamines?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                    Steroids. Lots and lots of steroids. Then they can sometimes give me one when I stabilize but I have to stay there for 14 hours. They cause my heartrate to sky rocket so epinephrine plus antihistamines can equal death for me. Last time I had to stay in the hospital 3 days so it won't happen again. My allergist won't even do the oral test with cilantro as my skin test showed up an 18 mm welt.

                                                                                                                              2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                Do you think full-blown allergic reactions are the result of multiple sensitivites?

                                                                                                                                Meaning, if five foods are eaten that trigger a slight reaction, a large reaction will result. By eliminating three of the five offending foods, the other two sometimes don't cause a reaction at all. This came up in a hospital seminar I attended.

                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                  the best analogy I've ever gotten for a full blown allergic reaction is that of a cup running over. Your body can only take so much - so if you are in an environment where there are a lot of allergens floating around, and then eat something you shouldn't (accidentally or not)... you body freaks out so to speak. A good example of this is when I am on vacation in the Carribean - I can eat more freely there of the fruits and dairy because there's no ragweed or other pollens that I'm sensitive to. SO it takes a lot more to trigger an attack. However, I still have to avoid nuts because a tiny crumb can trigger anaphalxys.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                    I've seen this happen.
                                                                                                                                    With "moderate" allergies, you can take some allergic load, without going into systemic shock.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                    My step mother-in-law recently had a severe reaction to kiwi fruit. She had a tiny taste for the first time in her life with a life-threatening reaction. She now carries an Epi-pen and Benedryl. She's awaiting an appointment with a allergist to see if she has other allergies she's not aware of. Apparently allergies to kiwi are increasing in the UK and Germany.

                                                                                                                                    1. Nothing new, but just to add to the sample size: I know one lactose intolerant person, and, otherwise, know no one with a food allergy or sensitivity or intolerance.

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: optimal forager

                                                                                                                                        When I (only rarely) drink commercial apple juice such as Tree Top I get muscle aches. What's that about??

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                          I wonder if the juice has an artificial sweeteners...someone just sent me an article about muscle aches caused by asperteme in soda

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bite Me

                                                                                                                                            I'd call myself sensitive to aspartame. I can consume it in limited doses without effect, but if I go over about three Diet Cokes in a week I start getting nasty headaches.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                              Do you think it's the aspartame or all the carbonation/carbon dioxide? The carbon dioxide in champagne gives a nasty headache -- this is separate from any wine headache.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                It doesn't seem to be the carbonation because I can drink Classic Coke, Sprite, etc. with HFCS all day long without the same sorts of effects.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                            Leonardo, do you get the same reaction to unfiltered apple juice? Some of the agents used to filter apple juice can cause problems (chitosan, both the kind derived from shrimp shells and the fungal type). By any chance, do you have a shellfish allergy?

                                                                                                                                        2. Personally, I'm allergic to seafood in large doses- I can deal with fish sauce just fine (thank GOD) but serve me shrimps and I'll get a nasty dose of hives. My mother is hideously allergic to wheat. Neither is usually a problem, except when they forget to skip the croutons. Amusingly, the worst place ever turned out to be Sicily- I was on a school trip, and every single set menu was brimming with tentacles and scales. As a vegetarian, the other option was usually: hunks o' cheese. The waiters simply refused to believe me; apparently, they were so used to lame americans scorning octopus that they thought I was kidding. I just lived off really good pistachios for a week instead. And vegetables, as long as I could prove they weren't canoodling with the fish during cooking (harder to do than I thought.)

                                                                                                                                          1. Most of what I've read states that true food allergies are relatively uncommon - those of the peanuts-causing-anaphylactic shock variety. However, food intolerances are extremely common, particularly to carbohydrates such as lactose, fructose, and grains, which can wreak all sorts of havoc to the digestive and immune systems. A lot of people don't even know they have these intolerances, and end up misdiagnosed with IBS.

                                                                                                                                            After 30+ years of struggling with health issues, a few years back I finally was diagnosed with fructose intolerance, and it's a total PITA!! I went from omnivore to can't-eat-this, can't-eat-that, everything-on-the-side-please. Fructose is in *everything* - not just fruits, but a number of vegetables too, and then there's the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. This is a similar health issue to gluten intolerance - one drop and I'm extremely sick, and consumption of it does lead to more serious health issues.

                                                                                                                                            As for lactose intolerance, a lot of people don't know that the lactose intolerant should be able to tolerate most hard cheeses and yogurt, because neither contains much lactose.

                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                              REALLY? I could have yogurt??? I MISS yogurt. I'll have to try. ;-) Seriously, you mighta just made my day.

                                                                                                                                              I can't imagine an allergy to Fructose - total PITA - but do you feel better?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                I hope you can have yogurt - definitely try a small amount and see how it goes. I'm pretty sensitive to lactose, but have no trouble with 1/2 cup of plain full-fat whole milk yogurt. Same goes for most cheese. Ice cream, cream sauces, and soft cheeses are another story!

                                                                                                                                                As for feeling better - yes, thanks! Long story short, fructose intolerance caused everything from digestive distress to weird skin rashes to a weakened immune system for me, not to mention an enlarged liver. Now that I've got the diet down, all of those are gone, no medication needed.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                                  I know how challenging those symptoms can be... before I learned I was allergic to dairy - which my new allergist says doesn't really exist - I was sick all the time. I'll buy the hubster some yogurt and give it a try. :)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                                You are absolutely correct about the whole allergy/intolerance issue. Food allergies are rare, but food intolerances are very common. The difference between allergies and intolerances are that in allergies you will exhibit extreme symptoms immediately. Intolerances can take hours for it to take effect, and there's a wide range of symptoms. It seems that most people are versed about allergy issues (especially nuts as it seems prevalent compared to the other food allergies). But food intolerance is a topic that most don't recognize. Food intolerances are not as life threatening as food allergies, but can lead to serious problems down the road.

                                                                                                                                                Sorry to hear about your fructose intolerance -- that's pretty rough. Eating out must be difficult.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                  Well, it's all semantics, but my allergist calles what you're calling food intolerance "systemic allergies." I have a gazillion of 'em! He says he can treat the allergies that show up in an hour or two, but cannot treat allergies (his word) that take many hours to days to show up. My luck.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                    It's more than just semantics. Just didn't want to bore people with the actual mechanisms. Food intolerances are different than the whole allergy issue. In food allergies, your immune system produces IgE antibodies to fight the food, signaling the immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into your blood. Food intolerances do not involve the immune system; they involve the digestive system. The word "allergy" seems to be used to describe food intolerances because many people may not understand what an intolerance is, but it seems that everybody has an idea what allergy means. However, they are two completely different phenomena.

                                                                                                                                                    I have only one food allergy, but several intolerances as you do. When I'm out at a restaurant I find myself using the word "allergy" as opposed to "intolerance" because the waitstaff usually do not know what to make out of the latter.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                      I feel I've already disclosed far more about myself than I am comfortable with, but the information you offer above may be ballpark, but it's not dead on. My "intolerancees" *DO* involve my immune system, unless my allergists have lied to me. There are no hard, fast inflexible rules.

                                                                                                                                                      As a one-time anthropology scholar, I wondered for years why cheese was discovered/created/evolved in every part of the world except Japan, China, and parts thereabout. Then I found out that an extremely high percentage of Asians are lactose intollerant. Sooo... They "invented" tofu instead! Pretty smart! Exept I'm still not sure I'm ready for a tofu pizza...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                        Eggplant makes a good substitute for cheese on pizza.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                      Consider NAET www.naet.com (allergy testing and treatment involving acupuncture).

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                        I know one person with severe seafood allergy, his grandson has severe peanut allergy as does another person I know. A coworker recently had severe reaction to chamomile tea and my stepmother-in-law recently had a severe reaction to kiwi fruit (had to be life-flighted to a hospital with an ICU). I have been tested as having "lifetime-overload" lesser allergies to a variety of things. My husband is allergic to eggs.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                                        it is quite possible to have moderate or mild allergies to food. or even tree-allergies to food (kiwi's in pubmed).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                                          I don't really care whether you call it an allergy or an intolerance. Personally, when I need to discuss these things with strangers, I call them all allergies because to refer to some as allergies and others as intolerances would just confuse people, and that is counterproductive.

                                                                                                                                                          About intolerances being confused with IBS - that's quite possibly the case with me. Long story very short, I learned recently that I reacted to fluoride with digestive problems, so cut out all forms of fluorine and started treatment to get ride of the excess fluorine in my body. About 95% of my IBS symptoms disappeared literally overnight. So now I know that not only can I not tolerate fluoride toothpaste, I don't tolerate it well in any other form, either, and sadly, it's in a lot of stuff - salt, water, fruits and vegetables (from fertilizer), and entire classes of drugs including antibiotics and antidepressants/antianxiety medication.

                                                                                                                                                          I have many, many other allergies/intolerances/sensitivities as well, and it's a pretty weird list.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I know very few people with any food allergies / sensitivities apart from myself.

                                                                                                                                                          I have Crohn's Disease, and cannot eat MSG or other forms of strong free glutamic acid. If I do, I will experience acute severe inflammation of the small intestine and, as a result, a temporary blockage that is extraordinarily painful (far worse than when I broke my arm as a child) and necessitates a trip to the emergency room.

                                                                                                                                                          Red #40, while I'm not allergic to it, also acts strangely in my body. It makes me incredibly hyperactive and erratic in my emotions. I'll literally be bouncing off the walls crying my eyes out for no reason if I consume moe than a small quantity of it. Strange and largely unpleasant, but it seems fairly harmless.

                                                                                                                                                          The MSG sensitivity is a real pain, especially when eating at others' places since so many products have MSG, hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, etc. in them. My friends know that it's generally very difficult to cook for me, and are quite understanding that I usually won't eat much at their places. This is preferable, because accommodating an MSG sensitivity is extremely difficult, and I don't want to trouble them.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: vorpal

                                                                                                                                                            You nailed it - accommodating certain intolerances is extremely difficult, and it's preferable to not have to be in situations in which one has to be accommodated. What I find frustrating is things like workplace lunches, potlucks, etc. in which well-meaning people try to tell me that "only a little bit" won't hurt me. So, so awkward to deal with!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: garvanza girl

                                                                                                                                                              yeah - that "take a pill and get over it" mentality... people don't understand that while some food sensitivities are relatively benign, others are extremely painful or lethal!
                                                                                                                                                              I have a difficult time cooking for my best friend and her family because he's allergic to soy and i'm allergic to dairy... what do I use as a substitute?? soy. but we work around it, it just takes more thought.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Regarding the frequency (and possible contributors to...) of food allergies.... I just posted this on a different topic re: Halloween candy and peanut allergies, but perhaps it is more relevant here. Sorry for the repeat...

                                                                                                                                                            There's a really great article/review in last week's SCIENCE journal discussing the mysteries and new ideas about what causes peanut allergies.

                                                                                                                                                            Certainly the increasing frequency of peanut allergies.... and other environmental allergies/asthma/eczema.... is an area of intense interest and research in the medical community. The current recommendations from pediatricians have been to slowly introduce foods to babies/young children, avoiding ones that are thought to be "highly allergenic" (foods that a lot of people develop allergies to) until the children are older. For example, no peanuts until age 3. The rationale being that one can't become allergic to a food without being exposed to it (you have to understand a bit of immunology to explain this idea in more detail...), and that the immune systems of older children are "more mature" and can "better tolerate" the allergen.

                                                                                                                                                            However, the evidence for this hypothesis is actually very minimal, but as peanut allergies can be very severe, most pediatricians just stick with this recommendation.

                                                                                                                                                            What research is starting to show is that allergies are very complicated - they reflect a combination of your genes, whether you were breast fed, and how you are exposed to the potential food allergen as a baby (ex. peanuts as a food, or how about peanut oil in a baby lotion), among other factors. And one current theory that is stirring up interest (which almost sounds like the opposite of the old lore) - is that AVOIDING potential allergens inappropriately may make you more susceptible to developing an allergy.

                                                                                                                                                            This is related to the "hygiene hypothesis" - that exposing your body to pathogens/potential allergens/even dirt! early in life, actually trains the immune system to regulate itself better (hence, fewer allergies). Isn't it funny that allergies are just exploding today, as our communities have become "cleaner" and as parents, we are more and more careful about following our pediatricians food recommendations..... (?did our mothers do that).

                                                                                                                                                            Studies several years ago were asking - why to kids in cities develop asthma far more frequently then the kids living out on the farm? Is being exposed to lots of grass/dust/cow-poop on the farms since birth actually protective in some way? Maybe.... we're too hygienic now?

                                                                                                                                                            In Israel, apparently a peanut-flavored puffed snack called Bamba is very popular, and children may start eating it when they are as young as 6 months. Guess what their frequency of peanut allergy is? 0.04%. What is our frequency of peanut allergy? 1%. Obviously, other factors (ex. genetic) could be at work here, but this is very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                            There is some consideration that babies may be exposed to miniscule doses of peanut oil via lotions that are used on their skins (which can still get absorbed into the body in very tiny amounts), while their parents are actively avoiding feeding them peanuts (which gets absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract rather then the skin, obviously). There are some questions now as to if the "mini-innoculations" via the skin may actually sensitize you more to become allergic in the future, while small samples of a potential allergen by eating it may be better for you (ie. more protective).

                                                                                                                                                            To help answer these questions, we must be scientists and design the correct "clinical trial" to see what happens if we careful control exposures to potential allergens in young children.

                                                                                                                                                            There are studies ongoing in the US and the UK following "high-risk" babies (i.e. high risk for developing allergies - maybe because others in their family have allergies?) and breaking them up into two groups - one will be given small doses of peanuts regularly as they grow-up (eg. peanut butter mixed with banana) while the others will not be exposed to any peanuts to eat. They will to follow these kids as they grow up (for up to 7 years), and see who develops peanut allergies more frequently. I look forward to seeing those results!

                                                                                                                                                            Sorry... too much information, I'm sure. Disclaimer - don't worry - I don't work in this field, or for any peanut company.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm just very intrigued as to why allergies are so frequent these days. I am allergic to everything - grasses, molds, just about every animal etc...-- except for foods (thank goodness). Fortunately, my allergies do not affect my life at all (don't rub your eyes... don't rub your eyes...). But I wonder.... is my health at all related to the fact that I was born in Chicago, grew up in an apartment building and never had a pet, but ate an incredible assortment of foods from infancy (all thrown in a blender)? Perhaps, to some degree.... although of course other variables are at play.

                                                                                                                                                            Regardless, food allergies can be really awful, and can have a very significant impact on quality of life - as anyone who has a life threatening allergy knows. Data has shown that having an anaphylactic food allergy is as detrimental to quality of life as having diabetes (another subject of huge concern for those of us who like to eat... not always so well). If we could figure out how to avoid developing these severe allergies, that would be wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: violin

                                                                                                                                                              For peanuts, this is a myth. Peanut allergies are linked to dry roasting of peanuts.


                                                                                                                                                              Feeding children more dry-roasted peanuts would increase the risk of developing an allergy to peanuts. Please don't feed your kids more dry-roasted peanuts. It is one of the worst food allergies to have. The reactions are on the severe end for food allergies. Only 20% outgrow the allergy.

                                                                                                                                                              Bamba bars may be boiled peanuts or peanuts treated at low temperatures.

                                                                                                                                                              There's all kinds of possible explanations why allergies are increasing, different ones for different allergies.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cookie_eater

                                                                                                                                                                I've read that many people with peanut allergies are actually reacting to the aflatoxin (a mold which grows on peanuts).

                                                                                                                                                            2. I have an aversion to seafood of any kind. Awful tasting stuff. I don't lie and claim it's an allergy or intolerance, though.

                                                                                                                                                              Speaking of peanut allergies, can't people with nut allergies eat nut oils? I see people with such allergies avoid oils, but my understanding is that the allergy is triggered by proteins, not fat, so the oil should be perfectly safe.

                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                You're confusing proteins on a molecular level (like DNA and RNA) -- the type that cause allergies -- with the type of foodstuff called protein, found in meat, fish and cheese, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                Proteins that cause allergies can be found in oil. Those who suffer from an allergy to peanuts will have a severe, even deadly, reaction to peanut oil.

                                                                                                                                                                Please also differentiate allergies to peanuts, which are legumes, from allerges to tree nuts. They are completely separate substances in regards to allergies. If one is allergic to tree nuts, then one is allergic to whatever form of foodstuff that contains them, whether protein, oil or carb.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, I was right. See


                                                                                                                                                                  The oil *is* non-allergenic. It's when the oil contains residual proteins i.e. is cold-pressed, "organic", etc that it becomes dangerous.

                                                                                                                                                                  If you have a peanut allergy you can fry yourself up some yummy french fries cooked in peanut oil, as long as you're using industrially-refined oil.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                    You were incorrect about the protein/allergy connection and peanut allergy being a nut allergy, but the first link you cite does say that that pure peanut oil "is GENERALLY non-allergenic, but cold pressed peanut oil or oil contaminated with peanut protein through cooking may be dangerous."

                                                                                                                                                                    The word "generally" allows too much leeway for peanut oil to be safe for consumption by peanut allergy sufferers. None of us can predict the individual threshold in others -- the amount of peanut proteins that cause an attack, shock or death. You cannot honestly recommend that peanut allergy sufferers consume peanut oil?

                                                                                                                                                                    And in the second link: "Studies show that most people allergic to peanuts can safely eat peanut oil as long as it is NOT cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil." How is the allergy sufferer to differentiate processing methods? Is this information clearly listed on the bottle?

                                                                                                                                                                    Does any perceived benefit of peanut oil (dubious when considering industrially-processed oil) make consuming it worth the risk, even a lessened risk, of shock or death? No.

                                                                                                                                                                    What you're advocating, what you're encouraging, is dangerous.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                      You have a point, which is that no one with allergies should take the advice heard on CH above that of his or her allergist or doctor. But, aynrandgirl has a point, too, in that many people with peanut allergies do not have to avoid highly refined peanut oil. My allergist told me I could safely eat fried foods at restaurants because the oil used for frying is highly refined. (That's part of what gives it a high smoke point. the only oils I need be wary of would be used at high end restaurants, and generally on salads or to finish a dish. I always ask.)

                                                                                                                                                                      People with allergies have to take responsibility for their health and gosh, their life. Any discussion at CH that gives someone with allergies pause should discuss the issues with an allergist before changing behavior. This doesn't mean we should shut down discussions, however.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                        Same goes for olive oil. I am one of a few ppl with olive allergy.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                    nope, that's why I can't "pick around" nuts in a brownie or whatever - the oils go through the entire thing. And for those of us with the severe form of these food allergies the tiniest bit can result in a deadly reaction. I once had my eyes swell shut because I was sitting near a neighbor as she shelled walnuts - oil from the shells went into the air, and into my eyes. That's why no nuts of any type come into my house. :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                      The oil is the carrier of the allergen, not the allergen itself. Refined oils are safe, but you can't be sure what's being used unless you buy it yourself. As you say, nuts in their natural form are right out.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                        yeah well, as the posters above said - it's too dangerous to screw with. If you've never experienced an anaphalyctic reaction good for you, but let me tell you it's not something I enjoy or take risks with. First my mouth starts to itch. Then my lips, tongue and sinus areas start to swell. the throat swells shut, and presto! blue juju - not my best color.
                                                                                                                                                                        even if it was an industrially pressed/refined/whatever walnut oil, I'm not touching it, and it is irresponsible to suggest than anyone should or could.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. I haven't seen anyone acknowledge this except indirectly. I've never lied and claimed a food allergy, but I've seriously considered it. Why? Because people will badger you to the ends of the earth to eat something and they will not stop. I hate it when people make a lot of comments about what I'm eating and I hate being badgered. And people always say "oh but you've never had MY okra." So now it's they've upped the ante so that it's a personal insult that I am not going to eat the okra. Oh joy.

                                                                                                                                                                    In some posts the annoying SIL was mentioned - why did she say "pretend you're allergic, then they won't put it in your food"? My first thought is that in the past merely saying that you dislike something is not enough to get the server to honor you request. Why would she say that otherwise? In a restaurant you are paying for your food and you shouldn't have to eat something you don't like, especially because some server thinks you should. It's obnoxious. And someone else said that little by little they got this guy to eat vegetables. So you badgered him for years to eat a vegetable? Why not leave him alone and respect his right to put whatever he wants in his own gastric tract?

                                                                                                                                                                    People feign allergies because otherwise their choices would not be honored and they want to save themselves lots and lots of irritation.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I just thino patron was confused casein allergy is rare unless allergic to all animal milks or so I was told when told I was sensitive to casein basically if I eat more then safe for me I feel bad. I do have food allergies their to plant foods. mulberries and olives anaphylactic to former face swelling most of time for later.

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                          I can't answer what cause I don't know what your asking what to. If shocked by anaphylactic to mulberries and allergic to olives don't be. Basically a sentivity is when your digestive sytem doesn't like a certain protien it will make you feel a little sick but a sentivity only effects the digestive system where as allergy is trouble x 12 as an allergy can kill. Hope i explained whatever what was about.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: majormanfemale

                                                                                                                                                                          Sure you have your facts right about casein?

                                                                                                                                                                        3. 1) There are the "this is normal to humans, it will make your tummy upset" acquired tastes (generally offal.) This is probably true for 75% percent of us (the rest eat offal reguarly).

                                                                                                                                                                          2) There are the "this is bad for you" things -- it's really bad for some subset of white men to eat a lot of oxalic acid at once (I think that's kidney stones? I forget...)

                                                                                                                                                                          3) Allergies are NOT always easy to tell what they are -- I know a guy who thought he was allergic to egg yolks, but it turns out he's allergic to egg whites (from being vaccinated as a baby. please continue to vaccinate, he can't have a flu shot, so please get yours!!).

                                                                                                                                                                          4) A lot of people say they're "allergic" to things that make them fart or otherwise make them unpleasant to be around. It's a "politeness" thing.

                                                                                                                                                                          5) I'd say about one in five folks have an actual allergy -- but if you're just allergic to raw apples (cooked are fine), you're probably not going to bitch, ever. They're easy enough to avoid.

                                                                                                                                                                          6) Probably 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 (allergies have been increasing) has a severe allergy, or multiple allergies that combine to give a high allergenic load (thus anything might send them into total systemic shock). These are the people who are Quite Right to tell you every single thing they're even a little allergic to. Because some days they can have a bite, and some days they Can Not.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Probably about 20% of my friends have food allergies that I take fully seriously such as full-on celiac, shell-fish or mushrooms that will stop their breathing, peppers that will put them in pain for 2 days or lactose intolerance.

                                                                                                                                                                            About 10% of my friends are vegetarian. (Some of those are included in the above group.

                                                                                                                                                                            About 75% of my friends have limitations that hamper free-rein on menu planning for a dinner party. This includes the vegetarians, allergies and the people who just won't eat such-and-such. Examples of "such-and-such" include cute animals, seafood, bitter vegetables, organ meats, high-fat, high-carbs, high-salt, non-local, nitrates, food colors

                                                                                                                                                                            I just keep a mental rolodex of what my friends eat.

                                                                                                                                                                            I have about 10-15 friends whom I can feed anything, from pate to home-made sushi. They are prized above rubies in my book.