When Benadryl Won't Cut It: Common Food Allergies

Categories: Top Five

Tama Leaver
A fine vintage to go with your shellfish pad thai.
I have a friend who, for whatever reason, recently grew out of her lifelong food allergies to citrus, nuts, berries and shellfish.

Realizing this, she immediately went to a Thai restaurant and had shrimp Pad Thai, something she'd previously been unable to eat due to life-threatening allergies to almost every ingredient. She still had an EpiPen in her purse, just in case, but all went well and she had a hell of a time, I'm happy to report.

It made me reflect on how lucky I am that I don't have to have detailed conversations with my waiter on what, exactly, is in my food, and that I don't have to carry around a shot of epinephrine to stop my throat from closing in case of anaphylaxis due to accidental ingestion of allergens in my food.

Common food allergies vary throughout the world's regions. While I can say I could live with a few of them -- eggs, for example -- there are others that would just really throw a wrench into the gears of my life. Here are five food allergies that I would find especially terrible:

5- Berries

Strawberries and raspberries are two of my favorite fruits, so this one would be tough. Strawberry allergies are the most common of the berry family of allergies, but people can also be allergic to blueberries, blackberries, etc., although allergies to certain types of berries don't fall into the list of the top eight most common -- milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat. Regardless, not being able to have fresh strawberries in yogurt with granola or smoothies or pie would not be fun.

4- Nuts

While many children who have allergies to tree nuts do grow out of them, being allergic to nuts puts a severe hamper on the variety of cuisines you can ingest. Again, my friend who used to be allergic to basically everything but air simply couldn't eat Thai food -- one pan with a remnant of peanut oil on it would be enough to have made her allergic head explode.

Cafeterias in public schools now have a total ban on any peanut product in their lunch lines, just in case a student has an undiagnosed peanut allergy. Lawsuit, anybody?

Allergic reactions to nuts can be some of the most violent, so not only would I not want this one because of my love for cashews, trail mix and peanut butter, but also for the potentially fatal reaction if consumed.

3- Soy

So many food products have soy in them, and if you are allergic to it, it can really be a headache looking at what you can and cannot eat.

That would really be the main thing making a soy allergy such a nightmare: soy products, along with corn products, are in so many of our foods, and we don't even realize it.

Also, I love tofu. All the way around, this one would be a real clusterfuck to contain.

2- Shellfish

In my top five favorite foods, both shrimp and scallops make an appearance. To be honest, lobster is great, but I can take it or leave it -- though it's usually left just because of the ridiculous price of market lobster.

Nothing better.
Not being able to have a buttery, seared-on-the-outside-almost-raw-inside scallop dissipate across my palate in all of its heavenly, bivalve-d goodness just sounds miserable.

My mom used to be heavily allergic to scallops. She didn't give two shits, though, and would routinely get hives on her arms and let her legs and feet swell up just to be able to eat them.

Maybe a little excessive, but scallops sure are good.

1- Gluten

No pizza. No bread. No beer.

Imagine this sign, but for your mouth.
No beer?! I just couldn't do it.

Gluten sensitivity can include any number of adverse reactions to wheat, including celiac disease and wheat allergy, but they are similar in that the only treatment is a gluten-free diet.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity in all of these conditions can range from diarrhea to weight loss, malnutrition and stomach/intestinal pains, among others.

Seriously, though. No beer? Couldn't do it. I'd have to resort to taking shots of Imodium between beers.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Ehhh.  My dad is a certified crop advisor, so he deals with pests for a living.  When I told him that corn smut was a delicacy in Latin America, he just shook his head.  To each his own, I say.  :)


Uh chief; if she has a soy allergy the last place she should be eating would be an Asian restaurant. Seriously that's simple common sense.


Whoops, spell check folks sorry.

Dani O.
Dani O.

Yea Sam! I only need to worry about 2 out of the 5 now! GO ME!


Celiac is a disease.  Celeriac is a root vegetable.


My wife is allergic to soy and swells up like a puffer fish 6-8 hours after ingesting it, gets hives, has to take Prednisone for a week. Beautiful stuff, good times.    All anyone with allergies is asking is that restaurants and cooks be HONEST about what they are putting into food.  Is that really olive oil in the salad dressing, or is it vegetable oil, aka soybean oil.  Is that really butter in that little dish or is it soybean oil-based margarine.  Yes there are some people who confuse fad diets and food dislikes with allergies, but there are people with REAL allergies and there are people really going to the hospital, really missing work, and really dying because someone doesn't want to be honest about what goes into food. We never ask for special treatment, just honesty about the ingredients.  But if a restaurant is going to offer a gluten free alternative, then they need to follow through on the Promise they made to the consumer to not use gluten. And no, we don't eat a Pei Wei, nor will we ever. And thank your friend for me, the one who knowingly is putting the lives of (some of) his customers at risk.


Given the clientele and location, they'll complain if there isn't enough rice included, I seriously doubt there were any issues in fact they being open for almost 10 years have never have a food born related illness or issue  -- but this of course is care of word of mouth. You can be as contrary as you like but in reality most people's so called allergies are more than likely personal phobias, likely not diagnosed by any Physician, and catering to that mindset is only fear mongering and giving them more reasons/rationalizations to be a neurotic wuss. I hate celery, bu I'm not allergic to it, and in soup it's fine. There have been several studies that have proven this assertion true as well, it's probably mental more often than not.


 Some food allergies have slow reaction times (non-anaphylaxic) and the symptoms (hives, swelling, gastrointestinal distress) don't show up until a few hours after ingestion. Wheat, soy and milk tend to have these slower reaction times than peanuts.  Sneaking flour into a dish might not have resulted in an immediate reaction (Call 9-1-1!) but that does not mean "not one time was there ever a complaint or problem."  It just means that some customers won't be going back to Pei Wei because your cook friend made them sick AFTER they specifically asked not to be fed poison.  Nice. 


 Mmm moldy corn is pretty darn good eats too.

Now Trending

From the Vault