Monday, February 8, 2016

Soul-Crushing Allergies

For those of you who didn't know, I'm allergic to latex (it would probably be easier to make a list of things I'm not allergic to at this point).

A friend in nursing school recently posted on Facebook that if you have a latex allergy, there are certain foods you should avoid. I responded that I'm allergic to latex and eat most of those foods with no problems. But after I thought about it, maybe I am having problems and I'm ignoring them.

Here's the list of foods she said to avoid, along with how frequently I eat them:
bananas- literally almost every single morning with breakfast
avocados- several times a week, usually in the form of guacamole
chestnuts- uh, never, as far as I know
kiwi- I love kiwi, but I rarely buy/eat them...but if someone includes them in a fruit salad, I will eat a ton of them
guava- I don't know that I've ever even tried guava
hazelnuts- not too often
potatoes- I LOVE potatoes, in the form of french fries mostly, but regardless, YUM
peaches- when they're in season I'll eat a few, but they're not my favorite fruit
grapes- off and on depending on the season
apriocots- never, ew

So, I eat quite a bit of the things on that list. I did a little research after that and found the American Latex Allergy Association (really, I hate that that is even a thing). The technical term for this "phenomena" of having one allergy and having allergic reactions to foods because of it is called "cross reactive allergy". In layman's terms (as I understand it), these foods have similar properties to latex, and therefore can cause similar allergic reactions in those who ingest those specific foods. According to their website, they have a list of several foods, broken down into categories based on degree of association or prevalence of the cross reactivity:

High
banana
avocado
chestnut
kiwi

Moderate
apple
carrot
celery
papaya
potato
tomato
melons

They also have a "Low/Undetermined" section which includes 33 other foods (!!!). I won't list them all here, but I will list some that I frequently eat:
mango
sweet pepper
cayenne pepper
plum (when in season)
cherry (when in season)
wheat
shellfish (when I can afford it- ha!)
pineapple
citrus fruits (several times a week)
strawberry (all the time when in season)
soybean (I don't eat this often, but suspect I am allergic to soy also, and perhaps it's a cross-reactive allergy??)
coconut (several times a week)
peanut (stopped eating peanuts after having an allergic reaction, but again, makes me wonder if that is linked to the latex allergy)
dill
oregano (in pretty much everything I make??)
zucchini (pretty often)
nectarine (when in season)
sage

That's a lot of foods. :(

I think my next step here will be to first eliminate the foods the ALAA lists as High and see how I feel and then reintroduce those individually to see how I react. And then do the same for the Moderate foods. I also found it really interesting to see soybeans and peanuts on the list. Some of the other foods on the Low/Undetermined list I eat pretty regularly and there's no way I could cut out that many foods. So I'm going to start with the high and moderate foods to see how my body handles it and see how I feel. But, probably not until next week, because guacamole.

There are also cross-reactive food allergens for allergies like pollen, grass, mold, etc. But I can't even look at that right now without feeling totally overwhelmed. However, some of the foods on those lists, are also on the latex list (apples, potatoes, carrots, celery, bananas, etc.), so maybe cutting some of those foods will help with both.

Just when I think I've got a handle on my allergies (environmental and food), I read a soul-crushing Facebook post and I have to start over again.

I do find it funny that I had been thinking over the idea of doing another Whole30 or going Paleo again before this information slapped me in the face. Lucky for Chris, I think attempting to go Paleo or do a Whole30 while simultaneously cutting out these foods would be extremely difficult (and would probably make me crazier/moodier than usual). So I'm only going to cut the foods from this list and keep my diet relatively the same for now just to see how those foods are affecting me.

Like I said, I will probably start this next week, so I will keep you all updated on my findings!

Anyone else have experience with cross-reactive allergies?