So what’s in an egg?
The egg is a nutrient-dense food, containing high quality protein and a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements; therefore eggs can make a significant contribution to a healthy diet. Once you start to cut foods out of your diet you are limiting the choice and variation of different stuff you can eat. I’ve recently become very concerned about the trend to cut out food for whatever reason and I’m now on a crusade to promote healthy eating; make sure you eat a balanced and varied diet, and don’t cut out foods unless you have a serious allergy.
Cutting out food – Good or Bad?
If you have already cut out lots of different kinds of foods and suspect that you have an intolerance, don’t worry, there is hope. Go and see your doctor and get them to refer you to a dietician or local allergy specialist who will be able to advise you on the best way to reintroduce foods safely. Cutting everything out is not a good idea; apart from being really hard work, you tend to find an endless list of ever growing new foods to avoid. I know this may not work for everyone but please look into it. Here is my story of how I have successfully reintroduced eggs to my diet. Buoyed by my success I am embarking on reintroducing tomatoes next.
Where did it all start?
When I was a child I had an allergy to eggs which used to make me sick. I grew out of it to some extent but I’ve always had a bit of a problem eating them; it was never a proper allergy, just an intolerant reaction causing stomach and skin irritation and I sometimes used to eat them as a treat and suffer the consequences. However, when I did this I would usually binge on eggs by having tuna with lashings of mayonnaise or runny fried eggs with my breakfast and the after effects were never pleasant.
Intolerances can turn into allergies
Since a return of my dairy allergy this year I have been very keen to understand more about my allergies: why I have them, where they come from, what causes them, can they be cured, what can I do to improve the breadth of food that I can eat? I used to be able to tolerate dairy but never liked the taste, but over the years the intolerance grew worse; I started by cutting out cows milk and trying goats and sheep milk products. This worked for a while, and I could eat natural yogurt but when I came into contact with any dairy my face would get really swollen and sore. I would wake up the next day and my skin would look like it was burnt: red and almost purple in colour, like a bruise, swollen, itchy and weepy. This made me ever more vigilant about avoiding the offending food substance and I was very good at cutting it out. However I have now had three anaphylactic attacks caused by mistaken exposure to dairy. My uncomfortable but tolerable dairy intolerance has now turned into a serious anaphylactic allergy so I now have to avoid all dairy altogether and am much more careful when eating out.
Reintroducing eggs – how to do it…
I went to see a dietician earlier this year and she urged me to experiment with reintroducing eggs. You begin with really well cooked processed eggs e.g. in shop bought meringues. I started with Marks and Spencer’s mini meringues and had just one on the first day. They are quite small so wouldn’t be exposing you to very much egg. The next day my skin and stomach were fine, so I tried two, and slowly I increased the number until I could eat a handful and wake the following day safe in the knowledge that I would have no skin problems. I was soon able to tolerate these meringues absolutely fine and they are delicious too!
I then tried other foods containing eggs such as prawn crackers, egg pasta, biscuits, and cakes. A friend gave me the recipe for Cake-in-a-mug which is just fantastic if you have a dairy allergy and can be made in 3 minutes in the microwave. Start with just a bite, or a small amount and wait to see if you get any reaction. If you do suffer a flare up, go back a step and keep at that level until you’re sure you are OK and try again.
When you eventually move on to try real eggs you should start with well cooked hard boiled eggs, then move onto softer cooked, and finally runny egg. Take it slowly and start off by just having a mouthful of cooked egg; I found that by taking this slow approach to reintroduction my body is no longer worried about me eating eggs. It’s kind of like tricking it into accepting eggs again, they aren’t harmful in themselves, it’s my body that is overreacting to them for some reason and by teaching it slowly that eggs are OK you can overcome an intolerance.
I am now able to eat mayonnaise and runny egg, although I am careful not to overdo it, and do prefer my eggs well cooked, just to be on the safe side. It really is quite liberating! Who would have thought that being able to eat such an unassuming tiny little egg would give me so much joy? Yesterday I had a bacon and runny egg sandwich (with no butter!) whilst out for lunch with a friend and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was delicious, and today I have no adverse reactions.
Please take care – seek expert advice
Before deciding to reintroduce any foods I would urge you to speak to your doctor or dietician first to make sure they think it’s a good idea. I had skin tests and blood tests to make sure I didn’t have a real allergy to eggs before I started to reintroduce them. Never experiment with eating foods you think you have a real allergy to as this could be dangerous. Please also be really careful if you also have a dairy allergy because scrambled eggs and omelettes are often made with butter, milk or cream.
So what’s next? Tomatoes…
Next on my list is tomatoes. I ate them by mistake a few weeks ago in kidney beans; the tin contained tomato and chilli sauce and I hadn’t realised, they looked just like the normal kidney beans I buy. They tasted delicious but I was awake in the night with sweats, weeping skin and welts like nettle rash all over my face and neck. Not very nice! By the morning I just had red sore looking skin on my face. When I reintroduce them I will start with a tiny amount of very well cooked tomato; foods change when they are cooked and often become much easier for the body to digest. Make sure you don’t have a special party or meeting the following day when you reintroduce food and be very very careful. If in doubt, don’t do it, and always follow the advice of your doctor, dietician or allergy specialist.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has any intolerances and would like to reintroduce them, or anyone who has successfully reintroduced foods to their diet. Let me know how you get on and please be careful.