Posts filed under Food

Hidden Ingredients: Those Dirty Little Scoundrels

In my pre-allergy / eczema diagnosis, I didn't care a whole lot about ingredient labels. I wasn't big on processed foods, but when I did consume them I didn't think much about the ingredient label. But OH how life is different now! I'm that person who will read ingredient labels of things I don't even intend on eating... just because I'm curious. On top of the fact that there are a bunch of questionable man-made chemicals on ingredient labels... 

Companies aren't required to disclose all of the ingredients!

What the hell?

Why is that considered ok?

Don't we deserve to know what we're?

We are the gatekeepers of our own bodies and it really only makes sense to have the option of knowing exactly what we're putting into/onto them. So, this whole thing is kinda messed up and wrong. The first time I learned about hidden ingredients was at the doctor's office when I was being given my propylene glycol allergy diagnosis.

The doctor told me a story about hidden pg in extracts. He had been creating some sort of beauty cream or serum (or something along those lines) and got a call one day. As it turns out, one of the extracts was coming all the way from the middle east. Between the heat and the delivery time needed, the item would have spoiled. They told the doctor that it could be dissolved in propylene glycol to help preserve it. Then they asked him this question: would you like us to add propylene glycol to the ingredient list? He said something like, "Don't you have to?" And their answer was no. The reason?

It was an extract and extracts are only required to say "extract"... no matter what the extract is actually dissolved into. This means that many of those lovely botanical products out there are full of hidden ingredients!


In an effort to avoid hidden ingredients, it's best to stick with making your own meals with organic meats, vegetables and grains. Using herbs, oils and other pantry items can really zazz up those basic and nutritious ingredients. It's actually my favorite way to cook!

Since it's not always possible to cook or make everything from scratch that touches our bodies, we end up having to buy stuff at the store. Arming yourself with a little bit of knowledge can go a long way when it comes to ingredient labels. As a general rule, if you don't recognize the ingredient... it's probably best to stay away. If there's a chemical or preservative you don't know much about, give it a Google!

Here are some other things that contain unlisted ingredients which you'll find on ingredient labels:

  • food coloring
  • artificial flavors
  • natural flavors
  • modified food starches
  • fragrance

Got anything to add? Post in the comments!

How Not to Let Wheat Allergy Ruin Your Life

"Unfortunately, my sister suffers from celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergy, which is the most problematic issue of the three for her. These three condition are often confused with one another, when, obviously that should not be the case. Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction of the immune system to foods containing wheat. So, the allergic reaction can be caused by eating wheat or by accidentally inhaling wheat flour.

But, I absolutely did not want to let this allergy control and potentially ruin my sister’s life, as symptoms range from hives or rash, irritation of the mouth and throat, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, eye irritation, troubles with breathing to anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and demands immediate medical attention.

So, I decided to do some research and figure out how to help my sister fight this allergy and lead a normal, healthy life.

Avoid Foods That Contain Wheat    

You should, as my sister does, completely avoid foods that contain wheat. The list is long: bread crumbs, bulgur, cereal extract, club wheat, couscous, cracker meal, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, flour, hydrolyzed wheat protein, kamut, matzoh, pasta, seitan, semolina, spelt, sprouted wheat, triticale, vital wheat gluten, wheat, wheat bran hydrolysate, wheat germ oil, wheat grass, wheat protein isolate and  whole wheat berries. Wheat can be found sometimes in glucose syrup, surimi, say sauce and starch. I collected this information from SCD Lifestyle, which is a site that I stumbled upon when I started researching a wheat-free diet.

So, my sister’s obsession has become reading food labels. You should do that also, because food manufacturers are required to list all ingredients on food labels. Instead of wheat you can eat corn, rice, quinoa, barley, rye and oats, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and unpackaged meats. You can replace traditional flour for flour made from soy, rice, corn, sorghum, tapioca, potato or coconut.

Always Carry Your Auto-Injector

If you suffer from wheat allergy your doctor will give you a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. Epinephrine is a steroid that is used to treat anaphylaxis, which is the most serious symptom of the wheat allergy. My sister never leaves the house without her auto-injector, and she usually keeps it on her body, instead of her purse or bag which can easily get lost.  

To treat other symptoms of wheat allergy you can use antihistamines and corticosteroids.

Inform Your Friends about Your Allergy

Your friends should be very informed on your allergy, so that they can act accordingly in case you fall into the anaphylactic shock. You should teach them how to use your auto-injector, and you should also always have someone beside you who is aware of your allergy. This can be a life saver if you drink a little too much at a party, for example, as you can easily fall into the trap of eating something that contains wheat.

Also, if your friend know about your allergy, they will prepare food, especially for you, so that you do not feel excluded or hungry at parties and other gatherings.

So, Take Control Of Your Life Instead of Leaving it to Your Allergy

You should definitely take this allergy seriously, and organize your life in such a way that it becomes wheat-free, which might be difficult at first but you will quickly get used to it. Otherwise, your life will become a living hell."


That's the truth. Wheat allergy is a doozy! What a good sister you are, doing all this research :-) Allergies can be a test of patience for those who have them, so to have somebody willing to do all the work you've done is incredibly ideal. You rock! Thank you for sharing all of this very useful information!



The Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Allergy

I'll never forget the moment I was told that I tested positive for lactose intolerance. I was sitting at my desk at work and my cell phone started vibrating... the doctor's office popped up on my caller i.d. They'd tested me for several things including lactose intolerance, several vitamin deficiencies and celiac disease. I was DREADING the possibility of having Celiac... I've been pasta-obsessed since childhood, after all.

I answered my cell and walked into my boss's empty office. Closing the door behind me, I nervously awaited the words the nice lady was about to deliver. She told me that the test came back negative for Celiac (sigh of relief - YES!). But lactose intolerance... that came back positive along with vitamin D deficiency. Womp, womp.

No more dairy? I mean, I was never much of a milk drinker, but CHEESE? No cheese? Come on... I'm from Chicagoland (AKA Land of Deep DIsh Pizza) and am very near the Wisconsin border... the true land of cheese. CHEESE IS SO AMAZINGLY TASTY. Did you know that a place called Mars Cheese Castle exists in Wisconsin? It does and it's a wonderful place. It even looks like a castle. 

I digress.

So, my diagnosis was sad. I literally shed a couple tears during the first family gathering involving pizza. The discipline I had to exercise was maddening. BUUUT... it's not the end of the world. About three years have passed and I probably only abandon my discipline a few times a year at this point. (YES. I said it. Sometimes I'm bad. Every once in a blue moon, I'll allow myself to be bad with certain things... not everything, though! Propylene glycol, for example, is not something I mess with.)

So, let's go over the basics. There's a very simple way to look at intolerance vs. allergy:

Intolerance = that incredibly whiny kid

Allergy = that kid throwing themself on the floor whilst kicking, screaming, crying, pulling out their hair and going ape-shit

Lactose Intolerance:

Occurs when your body (specifically the small intestine) doesn't produce enough of the correct enzyme (lactase) which allows your body to properly digest lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk.

Dairy Allergy:

A chronic reaction caused by the immune system viewing milk as an intruder. This causes white blood cells to produce antibodies which end up attaching to other cells and releasing histamine. Histamine is what makes all those nasty allergy symptoms happen.

The symptoms between the two conditions are also a little different.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance:

  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • gas

Symptoms of Dairy Allergy:

  • anaphylaxis
  • bloody stools
  • vomiting
  • indigestion
  • hives
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • wheezing
  • diarrhea
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • colic (in babies)

One other important thing to understand is that lactose can stand alone from dairy. Just because you're avoiding dairy does NOT mean lactose is out of the picture. Lactose is also found in lactoserumwheymilk solids, or modified milk ingredients. So, make sure yu read those ingredient labels carefully!

The good news is that both lactose intolerance and dairy allergy can be diagnosed through general practitioners, so it's pretty easy to get tested and well worth it!

Are you lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy? What's your biggest struggle with it?

The Health Disrupter Journal Has Arrived!

I am SOOOO incredibly excited to present my first-ever Allergista product - the Health DIsrupter Journal! :-D

Since December, I've been crushing weekend and weeknight hours as I've created this wonderful little thing. When I took a look around our allergy and eczema community, I noticed that many of us do or have done one of the same exact things: recording our daily routine in an effort to find out what's causing our skin reactions/disrupting our digestive system.

That's when it hit me: I wanted to tailor something JUST FOR US.

I thought: instead of scribbling food/activities into a spiral notebook and dealing with the difficult (and time consuming) task of reviewing all I've written and somehow drawing conclusions about what was disrupting my health... all of that extremely useful information could be funneled into an organized system!

Aw yeah.

I took my twelve years of graphic design expertise, coupled it with my six years of allergy/eczema experience and came out with something that's pretty freakin' awesome! 

The Health Disrupter Journal is for anybody who deals with:

  • Eczema that flares due to certain foods or other factors
  • Allergies
  • Food intolerances
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn's
  • any other health issue causing you to pay attention to your food and daily activities

This results-based journal allows you to track your daily environment easily and systematically. You’ll have the opportunity to view trends and draw parallels between the reactions of your body and potential disrupters.

Eliminate those potential disrupters and your health could improve vastly!

Pretty sweet, right?

For just $15, you’ll receive a seventeen page journal which will guide you through one entire month. The Health Disrupter Journal is for any month of any year - just fill in the dates and you're good to go!

Ready to pinpoint that stinkin' suspect disrupting your health?