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glowdart
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« Reply #105 on: April 14, 2012, 11:58:49 AM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."

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punchnpie
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« Reply #106 on: April 14, 2012, 11:59:15 AM »

Once on a plane I wasn't allowed to have nuts because someone 3 rows away had a nut allergy.  Hmm.

I haven't seen nuts on a plane in years. Usually you get a pack of pretzels.

Re the lactose intolerance in Africa, as much as I enjoy Chris Rock's work, he probably doesn't realize that there's not much use of milk in that area (the Masai are the only exception I can think of, and maybe they've developed a tolerance). As they get older, most people of color (including moi) lose the enzyme that digests milk. If one is lactose intolerant, it becomes painfully obvious. For me, it has gotten worse over time, so that I have to eat cheap ice cream (more air, less cream) and can't put milk in my tea anymore.

anakin - How would citric acid get on pizza? Or MSG? Just curious why the person would even bring it up.

And as to gluten intolerance, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Many doctors don't think to test for it, they just treat the symptom and unless the problem develops into full blown celiac disease, people just deal with the symptoms because they don't know the cause.

Apparently there's some connection between gluten issues and other diseases, which is why I got tested. (http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/) I agree that many people will latch on to something that they heard for 30 seconds on the news and now all of a sudden they stop eating something they've eaten for years. Few people actually go to the extent of being tested to see if they are actually allergic.
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corny
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« Reply #107 on: April 14, 2012, 12:18:15 PM »

Once on a plane I wasn't allowed to have nuts because someone 3 rows away had a nut allergy.  Hmm.

I haven't seen nuts on a plane in years. Usually you get a pack of pretzels.

Southwest is the exception to this - they pass out little bags of peanuts on all their flights. I always worry that there's some peanut-toxic kid on my flight who's going to die from the fumes. I was once, however, on a SW flight that went peanut-free because a passenger had an allergy (and had warned them in advance). The flight had already been delayed for something like two hours because of a combative passenger on the inbound flight who had to be led off the plane in handcuffs. When they finally had us almost ready to board, they said, "We have to tell you one more thing, unfortunately..." (pause as we all contemplate what else could POSSIBLY go wrong) "..this is going to be a peanut-free flight." The line of passengers then erupted into weird, hysterical laughter. (It still seems like there would be too much peanut residue on any Southwest plane to make it truly safe, since I've gotten the impression that some of those with peanut allergies really do swell up if there's even a particle nearby, but...whatever.)

/derail
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secundem_artem
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« Reply #108 on: April 14, 2012, 12:30:40 PM »

Once on a plane I wasn't allowed to have nuts because someone 3 rows away had a nut allergy.  Hmm.

I haven't seen nuts on a plane in years. Usually you get a pack of pretzels.

Southwest is the exception to this - they pass out little bags of peanuts on all their flights. I always worry that there's some peanut-toxic kid on my flight who's going to die from the fumes. I was once, however, on a SW flight that went peanut-free because a passenger had an allergy (and had warned them in advance). The flight had already been delayed for something like two hours because of a combative passenger on the inbound flight who had to be led off the plane in handcuffs. When they finally had us almost ready to board, they said, "We have to tell you one more thing, unfortunately..." (pause as we all contemplate what else could POSSIBLY go wrong) "..this is going to be a peanut-free flight." The line of passengers then erupted into weird, hysterical laughter. (It still seems like there would be too much peanut residue on any Southwest plane to make it truly safe, since I've gotten the impression that some of those with peanut allergies really do swell up if there's even a particle nearby, but...whatever.)

/derail

My only experience of peanuts on a Southwest flight was the disclaimer ON A BAG OF PEANUTS that "this product was processed in a facility that also handles peanuts."  Food paranoia in America (and the lawyers that get rich on it) has no equal anywhere else in the world.  [rant off]
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In my opinion, Secundem_artem is precisely correct. 

I think secundem_artem, rather, has hit the nail on the head.
wet_blanket
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« Reply #109 on: April 14, 2012, 1:10:26 PM »

I'm with you on the nut thing. I'm sure somebody will post that their kid will drop dead if they get within 6 feet of a nut, but in 50+ years on the planet, I've yet to meet anyone (or anyone's kid) with a nut allergy. Yet we're all supposed to worry about nuts and some kid exploding. The gluten thing is very real. I know people like to self-diagnosis, but it's easy enough to be tested for it (I have). People aren't making up celiac disease.

I find this fascinating. In my experience, people with kids with a peanut allergy know about it either because they've been tested or because of a (massive and scary) reaction.  In contrast, only a small proportion of the people I know who claim to have gluten intolerance or allergy have been tested or have a basis for saying they're allergic that doesn't involve a magazine article or TV show.

Which isn't to dismiss the seriousness of celiac disease and other similar conditions.  It's just funny to me that you would dismiss peanut allergies while defending gluten allergies.  Gluten seems to me a far better candidate than nuts for the poster child "suddenly prevalent allergens that are mainly a problem in people's imagination."
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corny
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« Reply #110 on: April 14, 2012, 1:47:44 PM »

I'm with you on the nut thing. I'm sure somebody will post that their kid will drop dead if they get within 6 feet of a nut, but in 50+ years on the planet, I've yet to meet anyone (or anyone's kid) with a nut allergy. Yet we're all supposed to worry about nuts and some kid exploding. The gluten thing is very real. I know people like to self-diagnosis, but it's easy enough to be tested for it (I have). People aren't making up celiac disease.

I find this fascinating. In my experience, people with kids with a peanut allergy know about it either because they've been tested or because of a (massive and scary) reaction.  In contrast, only a small proportion of the people I know who claim to have gluten intolerance or allergy have been tested or have a basis for saying they're allergic that doesn't involve a magazine article or TV show.

Which isn't to dismiss the seriousness of celiac disease and other similar conditions.  It's just funny to me that you would dismiss peanut allergies while defending gluten allergies.  Gluten seems to me a far better candidate than nuts for the poster child "suddenly prevalent allergens that are mainly a problem in people's imagination."

See, this is why the fora are so helpful - because even if *I've* never met someone with x, probably someone here has.

I have only a couple of footnotes to add:

1. Peanuts are not tree nuts. People with peanut allergies (which are the life-threatening ones that we tend to hear most about these days, I think) can often eat tree nuts. On the other hand, I have a friend who develops hives and difficulty breathing when she eats tree nuts, but has no problem with peanuts. My impression is that the rise in peanut allergies is one of those Weird Things People Can't Explain and Maybe We Don't Eat Enough Dirt - but that doesn't mean they don't have pretty radical, real physical effects.

2. Celiac disease is not an allergy but an autoimmune condition, thus its effects are different and in some sense cumulative in a way that allergic reactions are not. (The more gluten a celiac person eats, the more damage is done to her intestines; as she stops eating it, her intestines heal.) Gluten intolerance is also not necessarily the same as celiac. I'm pretty sure I've developed a gluten intolerance because if I eat a lot of wheat, I have unpleasant symptoms that go away if I knock it off. But I am not anywhere near the situation of people with full-blown celiac who may have much more severe symptoms if they eat even a little bit of wheat.

3. Gluten has also now become the new weird health craze, so there are a bunch of people removing it from their diets just for funs. It doesn't help that the symptoms of celiac include things like "abdominal bloating and gas" - which, you know, everyone has from time to time - or that it's hard to test for. The major food producers' discovery that they can market stuff as gluten free! (Chex) does not really discourage this behavior either.
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zyzzx
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« Reply #111 on: April 14, 2012, 1:50:44 PM »

I've been on planes other than Southwest that served peanuts very recently - in the past four months. One of those little airlines that operates the regional jets for Delta. I was surprised, and disappointed - I much prefer the pretzels, so I am quite happy to have the peanuts sacrificed on the allergy altar.

In current country, you definitely don't hear that much about allergies. Although neither milk nor wheat are as central as they are in other cuisines, so lactose and gluten would be easier to avoid (very easy for lactose). Peanuts are lurking about in all sorts of unexpected places though, and nobody seems too concerned about it.

I think the MSG thing involves some hysteria as well. In some cuisines, the stuff is downed like crazy, and nobody is freaking out over it.
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anakin
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« Reply #112 on: April 14, 2012, 2:17:28 PM »

Once on a plane I wasn't allowed to have nuts because someone 3 rows away had a nut allergy.  Hmm.

I haven't seen nuts on a plane in years. Usually you get a pack of pretzels.

Re the lactose intolerance in Africa, as much as I enjoy Chris Rock's work, he probably doesn't realize that there's not much use of milk in that area (the Masai are the only exception I can think of, and maybe they've developed a tolerance). As they get older, most people of color (including moi) lose the enzyme that digests milk. If one is lactose intolerant, it becomes painfully obvious. For me, it has gotten worse over time, so that I have to eat cheap ice cream (more air, less cream) and can't put milk in my tea anymore.

anakin - How would citric acid get on pizza? Or MSG? Just curious why the person would even bring it up.

And as to gluten intolerance, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Many doctors don't think to test for it, they just treat the symptom and unless the problem develops into full blown celiac disease, people just deal with the symptoms because they don't know the cause.

Apparently there's some connection between gluten issues and other diseases, which is why I got tested. (http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/) I agree that many people will latch on to something that they heard for 30 seconds on the news and now all of a sudden they stop eating something they've eaten for years. Few people actually go to the extent of being tested to see if they are actually allergic.

Actually, adult lactose tolerance (selected-for by the extensive use of milk) arose independently in three areas of the planet about 7,000 years ago - very recently. One of those areas was Africa.

Citric acid is often added to canned tomatoes to preserve color and impart tartness. And there've been studies that demonstrated far fewer people were "allergic" or "sensitive" to MSG than those people think.

I know a kid with a verified peanut allergy. There are some mild food allergies in both parents, so they did everything right - introducing possible allergens one at a time, slowly, after Kiddo was 2 y.o. All was well - his parents decided to save milk, eggs, and peanuts for last. Then he went to a birthday party, had Moose Tracks ice cream, and went into massive anaphylaxis. By the time they got to the ER, his fingers were blue, his lips were the size of hot dogs, and his throat was clamped shut so tight they had to do a tracheostomy. He lived - he's now 10. I saw pics of him being treated, his face and hands, and my eyes are just streaming right now remembering these pictures, these awful images - and he's not even "mine." When they did followup scratch tests a week later in the allergist's office, merely the scratch for peanuts produced repeat anaphylaxis. His mother, my friend, a most agreeable and flexible person, had to petition Kiddo's preschool and eventual school to be peanut-free zones. (She hates standing out or requesting special treatment.) When they go camping, she has to ask the people in neighboring sites not to leave peanut butter sandwich scraps around for the squirrels. Meanwhile Kiddo has been hospitalized three times for exposure and undergone four years of very careful, highly orchestrated desensitization treatments, so that if he is around peanuts (inevitable) he won't die within minutes - literally. His desensitization dosage is measured in nanograms - billionths of a gram. His sensitivity is now to the point where his allergist estimates that two, possibly three Epi-pens would save his life long enough to get to a hospital, within an hour of exposure, and he is ecstatic because this means he can finally go on the class trip to World-Renowned Zoo this spring.

So I really don't have a lot of patience for Citric-Acid-MSG-Man and "I'm not eating gluten because it's evil" people.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 2:19:27 PM by anakin » Logged

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secundem_artem
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« Reply #113 on: April 14, 2012, 2:27:46 PM »

anakin makes an excellent point.  The self-diagnosing food cranks end up sucking all the air out of the room for those relatively few individuals who are genuinely and life-threateningly allergic to something. 

So when Sancti-Mommy demands the entire class be peanut free because little Hortense once had a rash 2 days after eating a peanut, it means that anakin's peanut allergic kid's mom has just that much harder an argument to make when her child actually has a serious risk of injury or death.
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In my opinion, Secundem_artem is precisely correct. 

I think secundem_artem, rather, has hit the nail on the head.
punchnpie
Have a great rabbit!
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« Reply #114 on: April 15, 2012, 10:30:59 AM »

I'm with you on the nut thing. I'm sure somebody will post that their kid will drop dead if they get within 6 feet of a nut, but in 50+ years on the planet, I've yet to meet anyone (or anyone's kid) with a nut allergy. Yet we're all supposed to worry about nuts and some kid exploding. The gluten thing is very real. I know people like to self-diagnosis, but it's easy enough to be tested for it (I have). People aren't making up celiac disease.

I find this fascinating. In my experience, people with kids with a peanut allergy know about it either because they've been tested or because of a (massive and scary) reaction.  In contrast, only a small proportion of the people I know who claim to have gluten intolerance or allergy have been tested or have a basis for saying they're allergic that doesn't involve a magazine article or TV show.

Which isn't to dismiss the seriousness of celiac disease and other similar conditions.  It's just funny to me that you would dismiss peanut allergies while defending gluten allergies.  Gluten seems to me a far better candidate than nuts for the poster child "suddenly prevalent allergens that are mainly a problem in people's imagination."

I reserve the right to be hypocritical. Also, I've met people with diagnosed celiac and my endo frequently tests his diabetic patients for gluten intolerance, so it's something that is more real to me. I've never met anyone with a peanut allergy.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #115 on: April 15, 2012, 11:15:20 PM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."



In fairness, there are ways in which the EU is far more attentive to food allergies, too. I have a truly life-threatening allergy to mustard, which has gained increasing recognition as an allergen in recent years in both the EU and the US. Like a lot of others with this allergy (and is typical with true allergies in general), I spent many years suffering from gradually increasing symptoms. Now, though, after repeated exposures through the years, I go straight into anaphylaxis, with the swollen throat and everything. In the EU, mustard MUST be identified on all food labels, just as wheat, nuts, and dairy are in the US. Here, however, mustard is very often subsumed under the category of "spices" on food labels. So, yeah--I can't ever eat anything that just says "spices" on the label, unless I want an opportunity to check out whether my Epi-pen is still functioning correctly and to take a quick trip to the ER. Life would be far easier for me in the EU.
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lohai0
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« Reply #116 on: April 15, 2012, 11:42:02 PM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."



In fairness, there are ways in which the EU is far more attentive to food allergies, too. I have a truly life-threatening allergy to mustard, which has gained increasing recognition as an allergen in recent years in both the EU and the US. Like a lot of others with this allergy (and is typical with true allergies in general), I spent many years suffering from gradually increasing symptoms. Now, though, after repeated exposures through the years, I go straight into anaphylaxis, with the swollen throat and everything. In the EU, mustard MUST be identified on all food labels, just as wheat, nuts, and dairy are in the US. Here, however, mustard is very often subsumed under the category of "spices" on food labels. So, yeah--I can't ever eat anything that just says "spices" on the label, unless I want an opportunity to check out whether my Epi-pen is still functioning correctly and to take a quick trip to the ER. Life would be far easier for me in the EU.

I have 4 of the big 7: Wheat, Dairy, Fish, Shellfish. I can tolerate small amount of the first two (in the sense that cross contamination won't kill me, but I will be uncomfortable for a day or two), but the other two will kill me. Even the smell of seafood can be problematic. So at the mandatory canape event this week, everything had fish on it. I was sick for two days, bit I didn't need my epi-pen. The catering staff looked befuddled, it's just [tuna/salmon/caviar]. How could that be a problem?
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glowdart
that's a thing that I keep in the back of my head
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« Reply #117 on: April 16, 2012, 12:01:07 AM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."



In fairness, there are ways in which the EU is far more attentive to food allergies, too. I have a truly life-threatening allergy to mustard, which has gained increasing recognition as an allergen in recent years in both the EU and the US. Like a lot of others with this allergy (and is typical with true allergies in general), I spent many years suffering from gradually increasing symptoms. Now, though, after repeated exposures through the years, I go straight into anaphylaxis, with the swollen throat and everything. In the EU, mustard MUST be identified on all food labels, just as wheat, nuts, and dairy are in the US. Here, however, mustard is very often subsumed under the category of "spices" on food labels. So, yeah--I can't ever eat anything that just says "spices" on the label, unless I want an opportunity to check out whether my Epi-pen is still functioning correctly and to take a quick trip to the ER. Life would be far easier for me in the EU.

Indeed, my sense is also that Europe in general is more attentive to allergies, but that's in part because allergies & intolerance are less of a fad and more of a reality (except for the places with the death-stick baguettes, apparently.)
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anakin
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« Reply #118 on: April 16, 2012, 10:35:52 AM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."



In fairness, there are ways in which the EU is far more attentive to food allergies, too. I have a truly life-threatening allergy to mustard, which has gained increasing recognition as an allergen in recent years in both the EU and the US. Like a lot of others with this allergy (and is typical with true allergies in general), I spent many years suffering from gradually increasing symptoms. Now, though, after repeated exposures through the years, I go straight into anaphylaxis, with the swollen throat and everything. In the EU, mustard MUST be identified on all food labels, just as wheat, nuts, and dairy are in the US. Here, however, mustard is very often subsumed under the category of "spices" on food labels. So, yeah--I can't ever eat anything that just says "spices" on the label, unless I want an opportunity to check out whether my Epi-pen is still functioning correctly and to take a quick trip to the ER. Life would be far easier for me in the EU.

I have 4 of the big 7: Wheat, Dairy, Fish, Shellfish. I can tolerate small amount of the first two (in the sense that cross contamination won't kill me, but I will be uncomfortable for a day or two), but the other two will kill me. Even the smell of seafood can be problematic. So at the mandatory canape event this week, everything had fish on it. I was sick for two days, bit I didn't need my epi-pen. The catering staff looked befuddled, it's just [tuna/salmon/caviar]. How could that be a problem?

Mustard...interesting. I hadn't heard of it, but it makes sense to this biologist because, well, mustard is a plant defense. (So are tannins, as in teas, as well as most things we use as spices.)

I was allergic to shellfish (confirmed with a scratch test) and discovered this one memorable night out with a friend at a local four-star eatery in Tundra City. It was just after we had graduated from college, and we were "splurging" on a $35 four-course price fixe. I'd had infrequent shellfish growing up, and had just started to appreciate my grandmother's soft-shell crab cakes - never a problem. There I was at dinner with the delicious shrimp bisque - and my throat closed up. Interestingly, since I had my mini-SCT in 2007, I am no longer allergic to shrimp, and have had some amazing chocolate-chili velvet shrimp on two occasions. It was delicious, but I'm so accustomed to being scared to death of them that it took me several minutes of mindful self-talk NOT to freak out at the shrimp in my mouth and slow my pounding heart. Dunno if I'm ever going to be able fully to enjoy them, but it's nice not to worry I'm going to die if I do eat them.
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lohai0
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« Reply #119 on: April 16, 2012, 12:28:05 PM »

The French and Italians don't seem to have this problem.  Nor are they self-diagnosing gluten intolerance, latose intolerance, peanut allergies and other assorted food intolerance in record numbers.   Data on this??  I don't got it.  So if I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody will let me know.


My advisees who have studied abroad with celiac disease report that the French are ignoring it and the Italians, Germans, English and others aren't hysterical or self-diagosing because it's been widely-enough diagnosed and accepted for years as a medical condition -- the gluten-free bread in Italy is apparently sold in pharmacies; wheat-rationing during the war led to a much earlier awareness and acceptance in Europe than in the US. There's also no need for marketing campaigns to raise awareness because many restaurants in Italy just have gluten-free pasta on hand at all times and don't make food from bags sent out by the National Chain Restaurant Headquarters so they actually know what's in their dishes.  The French, one of my advisees snidely reported, "just can't live without having a damned baguette in their hands at all times. My host brother taught me many creative ways of telling them not to put their toxic sticks near my food."



In fairness, there are ways in which the EU is far more attentive to food allergies, too. I have a truly life-threatening allergy to mustard, which has gained increasing recognition as an allergen in recent years in both the EU and the US. Like a lot of others with this allergy (and is typical with true allergies in general), I spent many years suffering from gradually increasing symptoms. Now, though, after repeated exposures through the years, I go straight into anaphylaxis, with the swollen throat and everything. In the EU, mustard MUST be identified on all food labels, just as wheat, nuts, and dairy are in the US. Here, however, mustard is very often subsumed under the category of "spices" on food labels. So, yeah--I can't ever eat anything that just says "spices" on the label, unless I want an opportunity to check out whether my Epi-pen is still functioning correctly and to take a quick trip to the ER. Life would be far easier for me in the EU.

I have 4 of the big 7: Wheat, Dairy, Fish, Shellfish. I can tolerate small amount of the first two (in the sense that cross contamination won't kill me, but I will be uncomfortable for a day or two), but the other two will kill me. Even the smell of seafood can be problematic. So at the mandatory canape event this week, everything had fish on it. I was sick for two days, bit I didn't need my epi-pen. The catering staff looked befuddled, it's just [tuna/salmon/caviar]. How could that be a problem?

Mustard...interesting. I hadn't heard of it, but it makes sense to this biologist because, well, mustard is a plant defense. (So are tannins, as in teas, as well as most things we use as spices.)

I was allergic to shellfish (confirmed with a scratch test) and discovered this one memorable night out with a friend at a local four-star eatery in Tundra City. It was just after we had graduated from college, and we were "splurging" on a $35 four-course price fixe. I'd had infrequent shellfish growing up, and had just started to appreciate my grandmother's soft-shell crab cakes - never a problem. There I was at dinner with the delicious shrimp bisque - and my throat closed up. Interestingly, since I had my mini-SCT in 2007, I am no longer allergic to shrimp, and have had some amazing chocolate-chili velvet shrimp on two occasions. It was delicious, but I'm so accustomed to being scared to death of them that it took me several minutes of mindful self-talk NOT to freak out at the shrimp in my mouth and slow my pounding heart. Dunno if I'm ever going to be able fully to enjoy them, but it's nice not to worry I'm going to die if I do eat them.

Even if I stopped being allergic tomorrow, the ER trips are enough to put me off of seafood for life. You are much braver than I am.
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I hate helicopter zombie grandparents. They are the worst.
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