Stop the Itch

It starts with an itch. Or perhaps, it begins with a tummy ache. The first time it happens, it's just a minor annoyance. But then, it happens again the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. It's obvious. You're allergic to something. But what? More often than not, it's something you ate. 

According to the CDC, four out of every 100 children have a food allergy. That equates to 4% of all children. And the number of food allergies is on the rise. 

Why? No one knows. But the most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shell fish. The problem is trying to figure out which one set off your particular reaction.

The good news is you don't always have to go to the doctor and have your skin tested for 40 common allergies, unless of course you had a serious reaction. Then, you should quit reading immediately and proceed to the nearest emergency room. But for the rest of you, please carry on.

So, think back. Do you remember what you ate in the last 7 days? Great! Write that down. One of those items is the most likely culprit behind your new food allergy, even if you've eaten one of those items all your life. Now, just follow the steps below. Fair warning: it's time consuming, and it involves eating rice. Good luck! 

  1. Start by making out a grocery list using the items from everything you've consumed in the last 7 days. Add a box of instant white rice (or instant brown rice if you prefer) and a box of bottled water (or use water from your filtered tap in the kitchen). 
  2. Day 1: Eat the instant rice. Yes, all day. You can add salt and pepper for taste. I know, it's awful. But it has to be better than having your skin scratched 40 times, right? And only drink water. 
  3. Day 2: Add 1 ingredient from your shopping list to your instant rice meal plan. Yes, only one. And stick with your water regimen. (Unless your one ingredient was a beverage from your shopping list.)
  4. Day 3: Add another ingredient from your shopping list to your instant rice meal plan. I know, it seems like this will take forever. But have faith. There's a method to this madness. 
  5. Keep adding an ingredient from your shopping list each day until that familiar itch or stomachache returns. When it does, you've successfully identified what you're allergic to.

And presto, you're done!

How does it work? Simple. The majority of people aren't allergic to rice. In fact, it's called an "uncommon" allergy. And if you're experiencing the tummy trouble allergy, like a wheat or gluten allergy, eating rice for a few days will calm the digestive tract. Trust us, rice is a friendly grain, especially for those of us that experience food allergies.  

As for missing out on the food you've acquired an allergy to? Well, that's a touchy subject. There are quite a few compelling arguments that support the idea around food allergies being a result of new processing and growing techniques in food. Especially when one considers that food allergies didn't actually hit the scene until the last 50 years or so when those food processing and growing techniques really took root commercially. Yet, there are just as many compelling arguments about the lack of data to support whether or not people actually had food allergies or were in fact misdiagnosed with other ailments. 

Generally, when two ideas compete, the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

Here's what we know. The allergic reaction is caused by a protein in the food. For some reason, the body doesn't recognize the protein as a protein but rather as a germ. This causes the reaction. But, that protein is found in all foods, organic and processed. So, if you're allergic, you're allergic to either. 

The most likely rise of food allergies is probably tied to another issue altogether — germ warfare. As a society, we aren't fond of bugs. We don't like them on our plants, in our homes, or on our bodies. Things like pesticides, antibiotics, and antibacterials have cleansed our world but weakened our immune system. So when a natural protein once associated with good health, like casein in milk, enters our bodies, our immune system thinks it's a germ and attacks it. 

Our advice? If you're allergic, avoid it. And invest in probiotics. Your immune system will thank you.