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Nightshades, soy, citrus allergies that manifest as skin rash

WOW! First! I think this is an important board and I do hope to gain valuable information from others who may share some secrets on good substitutes or alternatives for foods that I cannot (should not is a better phrase as I do splurge) eat.

I notice that when I eat members of the nightshade family, my skin itches a few hours later. I do have severe eczema of the hands and feet, and thats where the itch/hotness occurs. My allergist confirmed the food allergy with testing but my dermatologist does not support a connection between skin issues and food intake.

If you do not know what the nightshades are, well they include: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes (not 100% sure on this one).

If you must avoid, either due to allergy or by choice, the nightshades, what do you use as alternatives to them?


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  1. potatoes are definately nightshades - latin name for potatoes is Solanum tuberosum and the Latin name for the nightshade family is Solanaceae. You can stick any vege into wikipedia and find out what plant family it's in.

    I don't really like potatoes and often substitute either sweet potato (morning glory family Convolvulaceae) or cauliflower (mustard family, Brassicaceae) for it, depending on the recipe.

    Tomatos and peppers are a bit harder though...

    1. mushrooms - particularly crimini & portobello - and zucchini are great stand-ins for eggplant.

      sweet potatoes actually don't contain the same problematic alkaloids that most people react to in nightshades, so you should be okay eating them.

      good substitutes for potatoes: celery root, turnip/rutabaga, cassava, taro, and, if you don't have gastric sensitivity to them, sunchokes.

      an unexpected but useful substitute for raw tomato: green papaya or green mango.

      miso paste or tamarind (or a combination of the two) can often substitute quite well for tomato paste if the recipe doesn't require a large amount, and you can combine them with a bit of pureed squash or pumpkin to mellow the flavor.

      oh, and i'd suggest finding a dermatologist who actually knows what they're talking about, because the contention that there's no connection between skin issues and food is preposterous.

      4 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        "oh, and i'd suggest finding a dermatologist who actually knows what they're talking about, because the contention that there's no connection between skin issues and food is preposterous."

        I echo this 1000%.

        Skin issues are a very common response to allergies. I've experienced hives due to drug and food allergies.

        1. re: meatn3

          "oh, and i'd suggest finding a dermatologist who actually knows what they're talking about, because the contention that there's no connection between skin issues and food is preposterous."

          i second this 1000% as well. every time my son has an allergic reaction it's been accompanied by a rash. sometimes it's eczema and often when it's an acute allergy it's dots all over. i'm allergic to peaches and nectarines and my skin bubbles around my lips when i eat them.

          i cannot think of any substitute for tomato. i just don't think there is one aside from red peppers which is obviously off the table in this instance. if i were to be asked to substitute tomato right now, i would probably boil some carrots and puree them down. i'd then sautee garlic and veggies and then add the carrot sauce and a touch of sugar.

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Great suggestions, I got some new ideas!

          Watch the sodium in miso paste. 46% RDA for the "low sodium" variety I bought without reading the label closely enough. Yikes!

          1. re: isamack

            depends on the color - sweet white (shiro) miso is lower in sodium than yellow or red. also, some brands list a serving as 1 Tbsp, others 1 tsp. i personally find a teaspoon to be a more reasonable amount to use anyway, because the flavor is so potent you don't really need more than that.

            i'm actually a low-sodium cook, and i find plenty of room in my repertoire for miso when used sparingly.

        3. Maybe sweet potato instead of potato? Maybe squash rather than eggplant. No great substitute for tomatoes. I love tomatoes. I had to stop eating them for a while too and I didn't like it. Maybe a plum would work in some instances?

          1. Here's one more sneaky nightshade: Soy!

            American-grown soy is hybridized with petunias to be pesticide (Round-Up) resistant. Thank you Monsanto!

            Organic soy sauce/tamari is safe. You can find it in any asian market and some bigger mainstream grocers.

            Good luck! I am still "learning to cook" all over again and my diagnosis was 2 years ago. I really miss tomatoes...

            1. your dermatologist is crazy. my best friend's husband is allergic to soy, coconut, and about a billion other foods - gets terrible eczema on his hands - to the point he has to wear gloves!

              I've noticed lately that really ripe tomatoes make my mouth hurt a little. Unless the reaction gets worse, I'm going to keep eating tomatoes tho, because I love 'em!

              1. I am allergic to the bell pepper family (red, yellow, green, orange) but can eat other peppers (jalapeno, habanero etc). If I eat the offending pepper, I get gastro-intestinal distress within 30 minutes (and it's not pretty). if I handle them, I get a rash. I'm not allergic to tomatoes, eggplant or potatoes, which is just odd (must do more research on my allergy!!).

                When cooking, the substitution varies. It's easy to sub carrots for bell peppers in cajun cooking. I make gumbo, ettouffe and jambalaya without bell peppers. I don't have a sub for tomatoes or potatoes. I agree with others that mushrooms could sub for eggplant.

                1. Sorry I don't have more good subs but I do have one. My nephew is a *very* picky eater and will not eat a tomato in any form. No allergies, just hates them---won't even eat ketchup. He does, however, love salsa, so I make a decent mango salsa that is good. You can always freshen the taste with lemon or apple cider vinegar, and various herbs.

                  1. Your dermatologist is a dope. I used to get giant hives after eating shellfish, along with a swollen lip, and itchy skin. I get skin itching from eating unfresh poultry and I used to get it in response to eating tomatoes or other foods high in salicylates. Itching and skin rashes either from eating or from contact with certain food skins is common.

                    1. Soy also aggravates my skin. I didn't realize it was a nightshade. Thanks everyone for your posts.

                      1. Too many tomatoes make me itch, especially in the summer when the really big beefsteak tomatoes are available. I eat tomatoes in moderation anyway, because I follow a low carb diet. I've not noticed an allergic reaction to green peppers (thank goodness!) or the others.

                        Too much citrus causes me to have mouth ulcers, so I don't eat a lot of citrus either. This isn't very hard to manage around. I just eat an orange a few times a year--never juice.

                        I also have probs with eczema, usually in the winter. How I deal with that is with care of the skin. Your dermatologist is weird. Find another. Of course food affects our skin. Plenty of people get rashes from eating strawberries, for Pete's sake.

                        How I handle my reactions is I don't eat too many tomatoes at one time or for consecutive days, and I seldom eat citrus. When my eczema starts to act up, I make sure to keep my skin moisturized. When that doesn't work, I have powerful steroidal creams to use. I try never to have to use them though.