HOME > Chowhound > Special Diets >


So many food allergies....need suggestions

I need some assistance with substituting foods that i am allergic to for ones I can actually eat. I am allergic to a lot of food....wheat, milk, soy, carrots, rice, eggs, nuts, bananas, cantaloupe, whole grain, cherries, tuna, salmon are some of the main ones. I have more but these are the foods that cause hives, non-stop coughing, breathing problems and swelling/bloating. I know that it is a lot and I am very tired of trying to figure out what to eat without a reaction. I was diagnosed with food allergies after my second son was born and for years I have been just eating a lot of salads, yogurt and chicken and some fish. I stay away from bread and pastas because it sets off a coughing spell where I have to grab my inhaler. I try to follow new diet plans but everyone has wheat/whole grain, tuna, salmon, carrots and nuts. I really need some help trying to figure out what I can eat in substitution of these foods and still lose weight. Any suggestions or help is greatly appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have a lot of, but not quite as many of the same restrictions as you. It's hard, I know. I can eat wheat and rice (for now, anyway) so that makes up a big bulk of my diet, along with meat. I can't do dairy, soy, or almond, though, so I have recently made the switch to coconut milk-based products. So Delicious (http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/) makes coconut milk yogurt that is actually pretty good and works well in recipes that call for yogurt.

    I have made baked goods with it, and also this lamb recipe that turned out fantastic: http://video.about.com/mideastfood/Sh...
    We had it with pita bread like in the video, but you could serve it over greens as a salad, or with some other kind of grains that you can eat (couscous? bulgar?


    I find that pre-set diet plans don't really work in cases like ours, since we have so many restrictions. You can look at them for inspiration and maybe find a recipe or two to try, or tweak, but in the end you will need to come up with your own diet plan. I have a list of recipe that I have made that I know my husband and I both really like, and that I can handle well with my food restrictions. I do try new recipes as well and when I find ones that meet both of those criteria, they go on the list. Read food blogs and recipe sites; they don't have to be specifically gluten free or dairy free or allergy friendly sites. Just start browsing in your spare time and when you see a recipe that looks good and doesn't have any bad ingredients for you in it, bookmark it and make a note to get the ingredients next week so you can try it. That's basically what I do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maggiethecat

      Thank you for the suggestions....I stay although I love coconut, I stay away from it (causes coughing spells). I eat Greek yogurt and use 1% milk, but NOT everyday (stomach issues). I have a spastic colon (Colitis) that I have had for years. I will try some of the links that you suggested. Thanks again.

    2. sounds like you could do paleo fairly easily. if it was me, i'd "think" paleo when trying to decide what to eat, but it looks like you can add coconut and potatoes according to your list. stay away from anything in a jar or box - a lot of soy and wheat are hidden in processed foods. you said you are allergic to milk, but have been eating yogurt - curious if it's a goats or sheeps milk yogurt you've been able to tolerate? that might lead to some openings... also, try daiya products for alternatives to dairy. you can make your own coconut milk at home easily for regular milk substitute, and you can try hemp or other seeds for milks as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rmarisco

        Thanks! I will have to look at the Paleo diet and see what "tweaking" I can make. I don't eat coconut due to sets off my coughing. I have Colitis and have to watch out for reactions from foods I chose to eat. I will check into some of the suggestions you gave me. Thanks again!

      2. Start by making a list of what you can eat .
        It looks like most meats and fish are ok for instance.

        1 Reply
        1. Salads can be a great meal, maybe you just need to change up the ingredients. Some ideas would be: roasted sweet potatoes/beets/onions/ brussel sprouts etc, beans or lentils, sliced apple/pear/oranges, cooked quinoa, bake chilled polenta as cubes for "croutons", sliced avocado, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
          Avoid store bought salad dressings and make your own quick vinegrette.

          There are lots of recipes and ways to use beans and lentils that should work, this recipe is great, just swap olive oil for the butter:

          In this pumpkin chili you can use quinoa instead of bulgar:

          For this chili just omit the carrots:

          Popcorn made stovetop and then flavored with spices and salt can be a great whole grain snack.

          Millet, amaranath, teff, and quinoa are all gluten free non-rice alternatives.

          I feel you should shift your focus on what it is that you can eat and research recipes from those choices. There are many blogs for gluten free vegan cooking which would be a good starting point since there would not be gluten, dairy, or eggs. This site has a huge number of recipes and all are carefully labeled re:nuts and soy as well:

          14 Replies
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            Thanks! I will check into the suggestions you gave me and look at the links. I love salads but after awhile my body doesn't respond to losing weight since I eat so light and it thinks I am starving it. So far the only seeds I can do is sunflower seeds without any reaction. I haven't tried pumpkin seeds in a long time but will think about trying them in the near future. I love popcorn but I am really not supposed to eat it but I do. Thanks again.

            1. re: eljones6925

              with gut issues like this, i would omit grains, seeds, nuts and legumes entirely. avoid anything that has lots of insoluble fiber.

              for now, stick with meats, wild fish, cooked vegetables, tubers and fruits that you tolerate.

              start eating oogly bits like liver.

              can you have shellfish?

              add fermented foods to help your gut. you can make kefir with water or dairy. even those who are lactose-intolerant seem to do ok with dairy kefir. (i see you eat yogurt, but not milk?) home-made pickled vegetables in small quantities.

              do some googling about paleo and primal. you need to start eating more foods that are nutrient-dense as well as healing your gut and feeding the gut flora to promote overall health.

              it will be slow-going. be kind to yourself.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Thanks for responding back to me....I will definitely have to do some more research regarding what foods I am allergic to in regards to being in the same family group. I can eat seafood except tuna and salmon. I am not sure what tubers are but will Google that. Thanks again for your suggestions.

                1. re: eljones6925

                  tubers are starchy root vegetables, like potatoes.

                  if you've been living on chicken and yogurt you are severely undernourished, regardless of what the number on the scale says. eat nutrient-dense foods and let your body start healing.

                  if there are some foods that you *tolerate* in smallish quantities, eliminate those for now too. be as strict as possible until you are better.

                  your body is broken and inflamed. your immune system is completely whacked. if your hand was burned would you keep sticking it in the fire?

                2. re: hotoynoodle

                  With my condition I cannot have whole grains or anything high in fiber, including beans/legumes or whole seeds or nuts (I'm allergic to nuts, anyway.) I have started eating Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) for the protein/fat/nutrients and I can handle that in small quantities, 1-2 tablespoons a day, since it is pureed.

                  I recently made up a batch of homemade kimchi and it is about ready to be consumed so we are going to try it with dinner tonight. I am really eager to try it and see how I can handle it and if it has any effect on my digestive issues. It was easy to make, the hardest part was tracking down the Korean red pepper flakes that are used in traditional kimchi. We found them in an Asian market but I did see them on Amazon as well, in case we couldn't find them locally. Here are some links I used for recipes/guidelines:

                  I also eat a lot of pureed vegetables, like squash and mashed potatoes (I make mine with coconut milk and olive oil, but since you can't have coconut or dairy milk...is there another milk alternative you can have? Or, if you can handle yogurt, try mixing some of that in to give it a little creaminess.) Also I try to seed most vegetables if I want to try to eat them raw, even ones you wouldn't think would cause problems, including tomatoes and cucumbers. I can handle them in small quantities this way, so I can have a few tomatoes on shredded chicken tacos, for example.

                  1. re: Maggiethecat

                    Hemp seed milk would be a good alternative to soy or almond, it has omegas as well as decent protein stats too

                    1. re: Maggiethecat

                      I am not a big fan of Kimchi and the smell of it as well as the smell that comes out of your pores and mouth is horrendous! No offense to anyone who enjoys this. I am a very picky eater since I have soooo many allergies. At times I am afraid to try new things because of the allergies. Here is an example of how sensitive my system is....I grew up on Good n Plenty, which is licorice with a hard candy shell over it. As I was eating the candy, my mouth grew twice it's size and I had blisters all on the inside of my mouth, tongue and roof of my mouth. I felt terrible and had to take emergency medicine to counteract the reaction. So now you know why I am very cautious about food. Thanks for the suggestions!

                      1. re: eljones6925

                        I totally understand about being afraid of trying new things. There are some fruits and stuff that I have never tried, because I'm not sure if I am allergic to them and I don't want to find out the hard way. We have a lot of those self-serve yogurt places around here, where you dish out your own yogurt and then choose from a huge topping buffet that usually consists of fresh fruit and various candy toppings. Some of them have lychee fruit and I have always wanted to try it, but I don't want to in case I end up having a reaction in the middle of the cafe.

                        And, just so you know, with kimchi, if you make your own, you can control pretty much everything about it; how spicy it is, how fermented it gets before you eat it, etc. So if you don't like traditional spicy, strong kimchi, you might like it better if you make it homemade and cut back on the pepper and/or only let it ferment for a day or even half a day. Just a suggestion, I know it's hard finding stuff you can eat that's healthy and safe when you've got a lot of allergies and/or other medical conditions!

                        1. re: Maggiethecat

                          I have been to one of the yogurt places like the one you describe. One thing you could do is take some home with you, that way when you try it, you will be at home. I am really careful about eating at buffets due to people not having a clue about food allergies. They mix spoons and/or drop food into other food bins. As for Kimchi, my colitis I can't eat anything spicy (another problem...lol) I have friends that like Kimchi, but just the thought of something fermenting just turns me off completely. I am prior military and I was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA and many soldiers/wives go to Korea from there or get stationed there after their tour to Korea and boy old boy does that smell get to you!! Thanks again! I can see now that I have a lot of work to do trying to figure out what I can eat and what i can't.

                          1. re: eljones6925

                            you can home-ferment all sorts of foods and still get the benefits of probiotics, without the "aroma" of kimchee. :)

                            cukes, radishes, bean sprouts, etc.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Hey hotoynoodle - have you read "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet? It's my new favorite Paleo book. Reading your posts, I think you might enjoy it.

                              You've inspired me to GET GOING on home fermentation. I've been putting it off for far too long. You've mentioned the probiotic benefits, and I am also thinking of how fermentation might destroy anti-nutrients, toxins, and even allergens. Bacteria put to good use.

                              1. re: johnseberg

                                haven't read the book, but visit the site and blog often.

                                the fermenting is new for me, although i have been eating yogurt for ages. am doing water and milk kefir right now and today will go look for some books, like "nourishing traditions", at the library.

                                i think gut health really is the missing piece for a strong immune system and overall well-being, especially when people eat (or used to eat) lots of grains and processed foods.

                        2. re: eljones6925

                          oops, I was about to suggest Korean foods then saw that you don't like kimchi :-)

                          If you can eat garlic, you might still want to look at some Korean recipes - there are side dishes (panchan) for almost every vegetable. You could use fish sauce instead of soy sauce. If you can have sweet potatoes, you can get the "glass noodles' made from sweet potato starch.

                          Or check out Thai and Vietnamese recipes, those cuisines use fish sauce instead of soy. And rice, rice noodles or rice vermicelli, if you like them.

                3. i see you're allergic to soy - can you have other legumes? Daal or other lentil-based dishes are very filling and can be low in fat. I'm thinking a veggie packed lentil or split pea soup for example.
                  I have food allergies - not as many but a few - and had great success losing weight on the weight watchers program. The focus is on balance, portion control, and healthy habits.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: jujuthomas

                    I tried Weight watchers and wasn't impressed. I will have to search more food choices to see what exactly I can eat and what reactions I have to any new foods I eat.

                    Thanks for the suggestions.

                    1. re: eljones6925

                      I hope you get it figured out. :) Weight Watchers doesn't work for everyone, all I can say is it worked for me. I think it totally depends on what you need to change.

                      1. re: jujuthomas

                        Yeah, I even tried Jenny Craig. I lost 33 pounds, but you should have seen my list of foods menu. It looked like someone took red and black markers and colored all over it...lol. Problem with Jenny Craig is that they have nuts and carrots in almost every desert or entree'. I even asked about being a guinea pig for a new menu for people who have food allergies, but as you can see....they didn't bite. I will figure this out. A Dietitian and a Nutritionist couldn't even help me. Thanks!

                        1. re: eljones6925

                          you need whole, real foods. not diet portions of what people eat on what always turns out to be a short-term weight loss plan.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              went to my local library and am on the wait-list for it now.

                  2. You may want to consider seeing a registered dietitian. With such severe diagnosed food allergies, it should be covered by your insurance plan. Food allergies can be life threatening so randomly trying out new diet plans is like playing Russian roulette.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ohmyyum

                      I saw a Dietitian and Nutritionist and they couldn't help me. Said I had to figure this out on my own. I was like seriously? You went to school for what? As a registered Dietitian and Nutritionist I thought that is what you learn regarding helping people....their answer.....sorry, you have too many food allergies to narrow it down to an eating plan. You might want to do research and trace food families. I just left while shaking my head. What a waste!

                      1. re: eljones6925

                        Can you go do yourself a favor? get an epipen if you don't already have one.
                        a lot of nutritionist cannot make heads or tails out of people with food allergies. I belong to a group for parents with kids with food allergies on facebook. sadly, when I joined in 2013 it was 2k members. I looked today and we're almost at 2800 in less than a year. but back to nutritionists...many of these kids are allergic to the top 8 and then some. They go see a nutritionist and they leave teary as they are unable to create a food plan. when we went to go see a nutritionist when my baby wasn't gaining weight, she wasn't able to help and he was only allergic to soy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and dairy.

                        The other thing to do is to please go get blood and skin prick test. then you can eliminate and perhaps add on foods you didn't think of.

                        so that said, here are some ideas:

                        Quinoa oatmeal with cranberries or raisins and honey
                        Beef stew with potatoes
                        Qunioa salad with beans- this one can go a long way. the last time i made it with cannellini beans, tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers, salt, pepper and lemon juice. I put feta in in mine and serve it dairy free to my husband.
                        Roasted pork loin with apples
                        Kale smoothie made in vitamix (if you have one) we do kale, chia seed, frozen mangos, apple, and lime juice. we add yogurt to it sometimes too

                        can you do baked egg? I know that when my son was allergic to egg, he tolerated the egg baked in a cake bc the protein structure changes after it's been baked at 350 for at least 10 min. If you can you can make bread with quinoa flour and egg. You'll need xanthan gum and probably tartar.

                        fermented foods are good for you too. I get mine from sauerkraut. hey! you can get sausage and sauerkraut! yum.

                        1. re: trolley

                          Thanks! I have an Epi Pen as well as had many prick skin tests (over the years and the list grows and grows). I stay away from bread of any kind since I have wheat allergies. I can't do whole grain either...sets my asthma off and I can't stop coughing. This is still a work in progress, but doable.

                          Thanks for all the suggestions.

                    2. If it were me, I'd follow the GAPS diet religiously and see it it resolved some of the allergy issues- something is causing your allergies,I would try to solve the problem instead of treating the symptoms. And lots of fermented food. Lots.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                        i'd be more inclined to think auto-immune protocol.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          What do you mean auto-immune protocol? I have been checked with many tests and they all come up okay. I even did a swallowing test to see why some foods make me go into a coughing spell and the outcome was "we can't find out why you cough, so just avoid those foods that make you cough". I was like okay, I'm done! I'll just "drink" my foods from now on.

                          1. re: eljones6925

                            gaps diet:


                            aip, or autoimmune protocol:


                            fermented foods:


                            any time you consume a food that creates a negative response it makes your immune system kick into gear. it's fighting the "attacker" to minimize the damage. this also causes inflammation, which further challenges your immune system. you have been in a constant state of inflammation for a long time now. you have not been eating nutrient-dense foods, which further weakens your defenses.

                            stop, stop, stop eating foods that cause ANY kind of bad reaction. do not even consume them in small amounts that are "kind of ok." you need to stop the inflammation and let your body heal.

                            many nutritionists and dietitians can be useless, as you've discovered. they preach about the health of whole grains and low-fat. you need to put aside the conventional wisdom and start eating meats and vegetables you tolerate.

                            with your body in a chronic state of inflammation and malnourishment you will find it very difficult to lose weight. your body is totally stressed and thinks it needs to hold onto fat to survive.

                            btw, yogurt is a fermented food.

                            please look at the links i've given you and do some research.

                            keep us posted.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              the first two links are the same ;(

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Thank you so very much.....checking the sites out now.

                              2. re: eljones6925

                                I've had the same frustration with conventional medicine. They seem ill-equipped to deal with these issues. I thought I had no alternatives, so, I just avoided the foods that bothered me. I often wonder if the lack of variety in my diet may have made matters worse. I still don't have answers, but, I'm a little better following a paleo diet, and I am hopeful most of the time. I went down this road to get to the bottom of my symptoms, and a nice weight loss was a side effect. All signs are that it was a healthy loss. I can't imagine having a rebound, since I don't have much craving for sugar.

                                1. re: eljones6925

                                  I don't know if it will help you, but a poster whose name was allergy girl or some such I met online in a forum was allergic to everything and was cured as soon as she had surgery for a pituitary tumor. Very common connection, and it is where allergic activation originates.

                              3. re: weezieduzzit

                                GAPS? What is that? I am not so sure about fermented food....remember I have colitis and can't tolerate too much.

                                1. re: eljones6925

                                  You can't tolerate much because your body is broken- you need to heal it. The allergies and colitis are the symptoms, not the cause.

                              4. vegetarian chili with black beans and corn.

                                any indian or middle eastern legume stew:
                                (i.e. chana masala, ghormeh sabzi)

                                bean soups (w/o carrots, of course)
                                lentil soups

                                peanuts, despite their name, are not nuts, they are legumes so you might give them a try.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  I can't eat anything like peanuts...I go into not being able to breathe. Thanks for responding.

                                  1. re: eljones6925

                                    Okay--so no groundnuts or treenuts. It's good you clarified.
                                    Is coconut milk okay for you? SoDelicious makes a cultured yogurt that might be good to try.

                                    If you can tolerate it, I would add fermented cold liver oil as a supplement. It comes in capsule form, and you don't get "fishy burps".

                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                      if you get "fishy burps" the oil is rancid and you shouldn't consume it.

                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                        no coconut....I know I know....so many food sensitivities/reactions/hives/coughing.....I pretty much eat salads, yogurt, fruit (some not all) and chicken, pork and some seafood. It is a work in progress and very frustrating but searching all the time for things to eat without a reaction of some sort. Thanks for the suggestions.

                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                          Fish oil lowers cortisol, which could make her worse, unless that's part of her problem.