Allergen Sneaky Hiding Places: Gluten & Wheat

Allergen Sneaky Hiding Places: Gluten & Wheat

I’ve compiled a handy list of foods containing gluten to help you know where some sneaky gluten invaders that could be lurking. 

Use this to help you do your food shopping and avoid being glutened again.

Don’t Get Glutened! List of Foods You Would Never Know Contained Gluten

  • Wholegrains (oats are often bulked with wheat or grown in a field next to wheat, spelt, couscous)
  • Deli Meats (sliced ham, beef, chicken, salami and other dried meats)
  • Burgers and Sausages
  • Marinaded Meat, Fish and Vegetables
  • Dry Roast Nuts
  • Sushi (Barley)
  • Crisps (such as Doritos, Cheese and Onion flavour, etc)
  • Chips (cross contamination through fryer or coating)
  • Mashed Potato
  • Soups
  • Ground Spices (wheat flour could be used as an anti-caking agent)
  • Stock Cubes
  • Pickles (malt vinegar, made barley, is often used to pickled eggs or vegetables)
  • Salad Dressings (often the thick creamy dressings can use wheat flour as a thickener. Vinegarettes are usually ok, but still check the ingredients label.)
  • Dips (Taramasalata and other dips could have wheat flour as a thickening agent)
  • Mint Sauce (barley malt vinegar can be used)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mustard (such as English mustard can often contain wheat flour)
  • Mustard powder (can often contain wheat flour)
  • Asfoetida (used in Indian cooking and can often contain wheat flour as a bulking agent)
  • Icing Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Quick Action Yeast
  • Baking Powder
  • Beer and Ale
  • Medicine – Check your calpol, contraceptive pill, vitamins and mineral pills

 

Have you found gluten or wheat lurking in other products? Leave a comment below and let me know where else we should be aware of.

How to Decipher Allergen Warning Labels

How to Decipher Allergen Warning Labels

Every day I am checking ingredients labels. With a nut allergy it’s just part of my food habits. I don’t think about it that much any more, because as I said it’s one of my habits to double and triple check.

But how do you figure out which warning label is ok and what’s not? I get asked this question a lot and recently I’ve been finding some funny product labelling. So I decided it was time I wrote up how I think about this stuff.

Disclaimer: This post is what I do and how I decide. You must continue to use your discretion and common sense when you check ingredients labels! If in doubt don’t eat the food. If you have further query call the company and ask for their product allergen specification sheet. You are responsible for your food choices because you are responsible for you allergy safety.

How do I actually decide which foods I’m willing to eat?

To be honest it comes down to a few things: what the warning label says, the company and my mood. I’m talk about these is reverse order and show you how I come to a decision.

My Mood

Although this might sound strange, how I feel really does shape how I decide on whether to eat a food or not. I mean we all have that but mine, having a severe food allergy, could have further reaching consequences. So I acknowledge and make sure I know when my mood is having more of an influence on my decision.

Let’s talk about when I’m in a good, energetic mood when my work is going well and I’m at the shops looking for a snack. At this time I’m less likely to eat something with a warning. This is because I can think past the hunger, the food isn’t going to make me feel anything different or more than what I’m already feeling. So I am more willing to feel like I am “giving something up,” and that’s exactly it. When I’m happy I feel like I’m not missing out on anything.

Now what about if I’m sad, stressed and or tired. I can tell you straight away I’m a comfort eater. Any or a combination of the afore mentioned emotions, I feel like I want sugar and carbs usually in the form of biscuits. Unfortunately for me if I want gluten and nut free biscuits there are only a few brands I can have which don’t have nut warnings (Schar being the most widely accessible at the supermarkets). When I am in a mood I am far more willing to risk a warning for that satisfaction of sugar. It is not rational. It is emotionally fuelled. But knowing this and accepting it as my choice, is important for owning my allergy. For taking responsibility of my allergy and accepting the risk.

Although I know my mood dictates some of how I choose a warning label, it is not the whole story. Although I may be fuelled emotionally, I still always look at the packets, the ingredients and make a calculation of the risk. Although the driving force behind some decisions may be emotional, I want the risk to be calculated.

How I make a quick risk assessment of product packets for allergens

The company is one factor when I decide what to eat. It comes down to how well do these companies understand and follow the rules for food production?

To the best of my understanding large food companies have stricter rules within their factories for food production. As such I am more likely to trust big company on what they say their factory processes are on the packet than a small packet.

On the other hand, small businesses are exactly that, small. This isn’t to say that all are bad. I just find with some small business, perhaps they are bakeries or home businesses, that unless they have experience dealing with allergies I don’t always trust them. This is because they are making lots of different things in one place. If there are nuts or peanuts in the kitchen, how do I know for sure that they haven’t been contaminated. How do I know that machinery has been cleaned properly. Do they have the same structures in place as a big factory? Being a small business may mean no protocols and procedures or they think they understand the seriousness of allergies but in their newness to the food business their naivety could make them think they understand when they don’t.

Some small businesses are great on the other hand. Being small means that you can often talk to the people who make the product because you are buying directly from them at a market. When it comes to this, it comes down to your allergy sense and you have to make your own decision of whether to trust them or not.

There’s no hard and fast rule about this, you have to trust your gut in many of these situations.

Searching the Ingredients List For Allergens

Every product in Europe is required by law to list their ingredients. There is a specific way in which they are supposed to be listed and according to the current regulations, allergens are required to be highlighted in bold.

Every food I want to consume from, I check. This includes the ingredients of drinks as well by the way (and to justify this I recently found a peanut butter drink while on holiday in the Caribbean and it was at the supermarket…). If I see one of my allergens listed on the label, this is an obvious no. I am not going to eat something that could make me sick or potentially kill me, that would be stupid.

If the ingredients list does not contain my allergens I next scower the packet for allergen warnings and any free from claims.

Now before I go on I must say I am seeing an increasing number of companies claiming “free from [insert allergen] and then putting a may contain warning on the back of the pack too. I even saw it on an entrant to the Free From Food Awards when I was judging in January 2018. It infuriates me because it is so misleading, and untrue. However, as there are no formal agreements on what constitutes free from, it is currently up to a companies judgement and common sense, which is sometimes lacking. So be careful and always check the packet.

So now what if there is an allergy warning?

how to decipher allergen ingredients labelling eat allergy safe

How Do I Understand Allergen Warning Labels?

Well for me, it depends on what the warning says. I will not go near one that specifically mentions peanuts. This was an unconscious decision at first but I’ve realised I do this because I had a severe reaction to peanuts (read my reaction story here) and ever since I have been incredibly careful. A warning label of any kind specifically saying “may contain….,” “made on a line using…,” “made in a factory handling…,” or anything else with ‘peanuts’ I stay well clear. It stresses me out too much and because I know I react within 5 minutes I just don’t want to take that risk.

When it comes to tree nuts on the other hand I am not so strict. I have a feeling it is because I’ve never had a reaction to tree nuts before, and my tests when I was a kid told my parents that peanuts and Brazil nuts were my most sensitive allergies. The rest of the tree nuts I couldn’t have but weren’t as bad.

So here is where the other factors come into play; how I’m feeling, the company and what the warning says.

As I may have mentioned, there isn’t a hard and fast rule for what is a good warning and what’s a bad warning. They are all food allergen warning labels and must be given their due amount of caution at all times.

That said here is how I interpret what allergen warning labels might mean.

“Made in a factory using…”

This warning could mean a number of things. One thing is for sure is this product was made in a factory that uses any of the allergens they list. Where and how it is handled is unknown. It could be made is a separate part of the factory floor with a partition. It could be made in a totally separate part of the factory with a door as the only connector between the allergen free side and the contaminated side. Or, it could be made right next to or on the same line as the allergen containing product.

“Made on a line handling…”

What you have to know about this is “how does the equipment get cleaned and how thoroughly?” As we all know using the same equipment is risky business when it comes to cross contamination. The smallest amount could cause a really severe reaction. For this reason I usually stay clear of these warnings. They are there for a reason and I’d much rather not take that risk.

A general “may contain…”

These “may contain…” warnings I am never sure whether a company actually means it or whether they’re putting it on to cover the their legal butts. Most times I’ve been in contact with a company the may contain is something along the lines of “there are no nuts in the recipe but we can’t guarantee its nut free.” Usually meaning they can’t be bothered to check their supply line, don’t know or just want to put a warning just in case.

It’s an allergen filled world and there is no getting away from it. Click To Tweet

So how do you know whether you can eat it or not?

As I mentioned before, I won’t go near a may contain peanuts. The memory of my reaction will always be far too vivid. When it comes to a general may contain nuts, it depends on the company and the other products they make in their range. If the company makes other products which contain nuts I will be more wary because I assume they are made in the same factory that could mean greater risk of cross contamination. I also avoid “made on the same line as…” warning because I can’t trust someone would clean down the equipment as well as I would.

Also a quick side note before I wrap this up. When it comes to factory or wrapped fresh food, I usually go for the factory packed. This is because I personally trust the protocols put in place by large companies over something wrapped but some random person working in a bakery or on a deli counter. Especially when my allergens are present in that small space.

For every food consumption decision, I try to make sure my logical brain rather than emotions (or hungry stomach) make the final decision. In the end it all comes down to what are you comfortable with. I wish I could tell you there is a hard and fast rule, but there isn’t.

It’s an allergen filled world and there is no getting away from it. When it comes to deciding which allergen warnings are ok for you, I view it as a calculated risk. I personally choose as much as possible based on the way the warning is worded, what I know about the company, and what other products they make. These logical factors coupled with how I’m feeling usually are the way I come to a decision. But it all comes down to “am I willing to risk it?” And only you can make that decision for you own allergy.

Do you eat foods with warnings? If so, how do you decide which ones to go for? Leave a comment below and share your views.

 

Allergen Sneaky Hiding Place List: Nuts & Peanuts

Allergen Sneaky Hiding Place List: Nuts & Peanuts

… Foods You Wouldn’t Know Had Tree Nuts & Peanuts In Them

  • Nougat
  • Praline
  • Marzipan
  • Chocolate Bars
    • Beware of orange chocolate, it often contains almonds
  • Pick ’n’ Mix
    • Be aware of chocolate covered almond, Brazil nuts, peanuts etc
  • Pesto
    • Can contain pine nuts, cashews or almonds
  • Alcohol
    • Bombay Sapphire Gin is made with almonds
    • Ameretto (such as the brand Diserrano) is made from almonds
    • Ratafia 
  • Hand Creams (almond oil is a common addition)
  • Bars of Soap (Pears soap used to use nut oils)
  • Face Scrub often can use walnuts kernels as the scrub
  • Massage oil
  • Manicure cuticle softener often contains almonds, macadamia nut oil, or Brazil nut oil
  • Oils used to fry or cook foods (Indian, Chinese, France have been know to cook chips in peanut oil)
  • Salads can be topped with walnuts, almonds for example or have a nut oil on top
  • Curry pastes, dishes and sauces (jars and at restaurants)
  • Thai food
  • Chinese food
  • Jelly Beans (American brand have a peanut flavour with peanut extract!)
  • Extracts (peanut extract, almond extract, pistachio)
  • Gluten free breads, cakes, brownies, biscuits, snack bars
  • Granola 
  • Veggie and Vegan Foods: Stuffing, burgers, vegan cheese
  • Deli cheese and meats (I’ve found packets of sliced ham with a nut warning!)
  • Gourmet foods often garnish with nuts or use nuts oils
  • Baklava is Turkish pastry dessert which contains pistachio
  • Contraceptive pill can have nut warnings too!

These are the various places I’ve found nuts lurking, if you have other places leave a note in the comments below and let me know so I can add it to the list!

EAS 041: The Real Causes of Allergies, Eczema and Asthma with Peter Alderman and Dr Thomas Bohner [plus GIVEAWAY]

EAS 041: The Real Causes of Allergies, Eczema and Asthma with Peter Alderman and Dr Thomas Bohner [plus GIVEAWAY]

Today’s Guest:

Peter Alderman & Dr Thomas Bohner

WEBSITE: My Allergy Free Blog

TWITTER: @peterfalderman 

Today’s episode was recorded live at the Allergy & Free From Show in London with Peter Alderman and Dr Thomas Bohner authors of “The Real Causes of Allergies, Eczema and Asthma.” We’re are talking about what we can do to cure our own environmental allergies, asthma and eczema. I also ask about what role food takes in causing our atopic diseases and whether there are practical steps we can take in our every day life. Plus, I have a stack of books to GIVEAWAY! Listen until the end to find out how you can win one!

EAS 041: This is a practical guide so that everyone can find their personal causes of allergies and the actions to do so. Click To Tweet

What You’ll Learn:

Peter Alderman started the journey to write The Real Causes of Allergies, Eczema and Asthma from a personal discovery. He cured is own hay fever for a week! Even when there was lots of pollen around. This peaked his interest. Why had this happened? How did this happen?

It is from this point that Peter started on the journey writing this book. Peter found Thomas Bohner’s work via Google but didn’t get to meet him until 12 years later!

Thomas Bohner suffered from allergic asthma and eczema. From his personal experience his scientific interest was peaked. He wanted to find a logical solution to his own problem and the problems of others. He

After many years of research Peter and Thomas have put together their personal experience and scientific research into a practical guide.

We also talk about the big gap between the medical world and the scientific world. Sometimes this isn’t good for allergy sufferers, but Peter and Thomas tell us how we allergy sufferers can bridge this gap and not miss out!

Allergy sufferers are their own best Sherlock Holmes Click To Tweet

BOOK GIVEAWAY!! – closed

You could win your very own copy of The Real Causes of Allergies! How?

Simply listen to this episode, right to the end because we are asking you a question…..Listen to the question then write your answer below in the comments section. Make sure you leave us your email so we can contact you. (We never share your information with a third party, nor is it made public!)

Resources:

Thomas’ Article “The True Causes of Allergies” in Free From Heaven Magazine

 

 

Buy on Amazon

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And lastly, if you have any questions, thoughts, or guests you want to see on the show, please contact me via the contact page.

Eczema Survival Guide: 9 Things That Make the WORLD of a Difference

Eczema Survival Guide: 9 Things That Make the WORLD of a Difference

The second instalment of the Eczema Survival Guide. In this article Ali White from allergymums.co.uk shares the 9 things she’s discovered over the years of dealing with urticaria that makes such a huge difference in her day to day life. 

1

Apply any steroid cream you have BEFORE moisturising.

2

Always moisturise after a bath and shower to lock the water in. If the moisturiser feels tacky just let in sink in.

3

Always moisturise before bed, night time is a good repair time.

4

Use the PALM of your hand to moisturise, in a downward movement. Don’t rub, or go up and down as that can irritate the hair follicles and make things worse. I’ve bolded this as it’s really important. You don’t want to further irritate your skin.

5

If your hands are bad then buy a pair of cotton gloves. Slather emolliate on your hands and wear the gloves overnight. This can make a big difference.

6

Make sure you have the right antihistamine. I went back to my GP who doubled the dose I was on. I had no idea I was on a low dose of antihistamine…taking the maximum dose has really helped my skin.

7

Cut your nails short. I scratch at night, in my sleep (argh). Do everything you can to limit the damage you’re doing to your skin.

8

Cool showers only, and limit baths to 15 minutes. Don’t soak forever, or use very hot water. It will dry out your skin.

9

Wear breathable clothing. Cotton is your friend, polyester…not so much.

Finally…your skin will always be vulnerable. This is a lifelong regime, not something you do until your eczema calms down. You need to commit to constant moisturising whether you feel you need it or not. Once your skin is dry then you are likely to suffer. Keeping it from getting dry in the first place is the best thing you can do.

Ali White

Ali White

Allergy sufferer, allergy mum and founder of allergy mums.co.uk

The Eczema Survival Guide: How to Deal with Eczema Flares

The Eczema Survival Guide: How to Deal with Eczema Flares

It’s not quite winter anymore, but I wanted to post this great article anyway. After our podcast chat (Episode 4 & Episode 5) Ali White from allergymums.co.uk was very kind to write up her tops tips for dealing with severe eczema and some of the tips and tricks she uses to stay sane amidst the itch. Check it out! I know you’re going to find it useful! – Nina x

Tis the season to be itching…there ought to be a song for Eczema sufferers with those lyrics. It’s winter. So the air is dryer, the temperature colder and those of us with dry skin and eczema suffer more at this time of year.

I’ve been through all sorts with my skin. Eczema that cracks and bleeds, scalp beyond itchy, chronic urticaria due to a chemical allergy which meant my face was covered with a rash for years. Fortunately a dermatologist did patch testing which showed an allergy to Tocopheryl Acetate; which is in shampoo, deodorants, makeup, lipstick, sunscreen plus loads of other stuff. So the Urticaria is gone, but I’m still dealing with cracked, sore hands and legs that flare with such intense itching that they feel hot and impossible to ignore. The rest of the time they are just dry, red and itchy.

Skin conditions are something that remain tricky to treat. The current thinking is that Eczema is caused by a defect in the skin barrier, with the eczema being triggered by allergens such as dust, or foods, or animals. Scratching just releases more histamine, which makes the reaction worse. So you might feel initially better for scratching that itch, but it will be very temporary and you really are making a bad situation worse.

Tis the season to be itching…there ought to be a song for Eczema sufferers with those lyrics. It’s winter. So the air is dryer, the temperature colder and those of us with dry skin and eczema suffer more at this time of year.

I’ve been through all sorts with my skin. Eczema that cracks and bleeds, scalp beyond itchy, chronic urticaria due to a chemical allergy which meant my face was covered with a rash for years. Fortunately a dermatologist did patch testing which showed an allergy to Tocopheryl Acetate; which is in shampoo, deodorants, makeup, lipstick, sunscreen plus loads of other stuff. So the Urticaria is gone, but I’m still dealing with cracked, sore hands and legs that flare with such intense itching that they feel hot and impossible to ignore. The rest of the time they are just dry, red and itchy.

Skin conditions are something that remain tricky to treat. The current thinking is that Eczema is caused by a defect in the skin barrier, with the eczema being triggered by allergens such as dust, or foods, or animals. Scratching just releases more histamine, which makes the reaction worse. So you might feel initially better for scratching that itch, but it will be very temporary and you really are making a bad situation worse.

So…my eczema winter survival guide:

1

Drink loads of water. Really…not tea, coffee or sugary drinks. But water. If you’re well hydrated your skin has a better chance of being well hydrated.

2

Moisturise like crazy. I moisturise 3 times a day. Morning, night and midday. Moisturise morning and night regardless of whether you feel you need it. You need to keep your skin in good condition all the time. Yes…this is a drag but better than being itchy. Really…midday? Yes. Is it easy? No. I have moisturiser with me at all times and I lock myself in the toilet and moisture my arms and legs.

3

Choosing your moisturiser: The higher the oil content the better at locking in moisture a moisturiser is. Everyone is different and likes different textures of moisturisers so do experiment. You may need to change over time if you find a moisturiser is no longer working. Go back to your GP and try something different if what you’ve been prescribed doesn’t work.

4

Keep a diary to better understand triggers – animals, food, dust, shampoo etc. can all set off eczema.

5

Don’t use soap – it’s very drying. Use a soap alternative. Don’t spend a fortune in Boots – get it from your GP. Emollients like Epaderm may be greasy but they really do help.

Ali White

Ali White

Allergy sufferer, allergy mum and founder of allergy mums.co.uk