Eggnog Emergency: The Start of My Food Allergy Journey

Last updated: October 2022

Picture the scene: it was a warm summer in 1988, and my brothers and I had just come inside from playing football. My mum had lovingly prepared us a nice refreshing eggnog treat.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with this drink, it consists of eggs, egg yolk, milk or cream, and some vanilla extract. I had never had this drink before and was unaware of its effect on me. But drink it, I did! Within a few minutes, my throat started to swell.

An immediate allergic reaction to eggnog

I panicked, and so did my mum. My tongue felt like it was swelling too. It was such a frightening and weird experience. I felt like an ingredient in the eggnog had seriously restricted my breathing, and I was also worried about my asthma coming on. Thankfully, it did not.

Mum immediately got me to our local hospital's emergency department, and I was treated quickly. The doctor confirmed that I had an allergic reaction to the raw egg in the eggnog.

The doctor gave me some antihistamines, and that was that. Panic over. I have not eaten raw egg yolk since. From that day on, mum always kept an emergency supply of antihistamines in the medicine cupboard in case this sort of thing ever happened again.

The start of exploring my food allergies

When I think back to this incident, I always feel a little sad for my mum because she felt so guilty about making me that eggnog. But she wasn't aware I would've had an allergic reaction to it. This experience of drinking eggnog led us on the path to getting more allergy tests done around food allergies, especially because I had terrible eczema and asthma.

Trying a restrictive diet

Not long after "eggnog gate," my primary carer investigated what was causing my allergies and put me on a diet of rice cakes and honey. This was to replace bread. My doctor wanted me to avoid bread, potatoes, pasta, and Marmite for a month (I practically lived on Marmite, so I found this very difficult to give up). Sadly, after the month's trial, I saw no change. Perhaps I was a little less itchy due to sodium reduction in my diet but not much change at all.

Being careful about the food I consume

This was just the beginning of my journey into investigating food allergies. What I put into my body directly impacts my health and well-being. Today I am incredibly cautious about what foods I eat. Gone are the days of consuming sugary soda drinks, chips, fast food, and anything from the nightshade family. If I eat a well-balanced diet with lots of plants and fish, omega's 3,6, and 9, and seeds that add to my EFA's (essential fatty acids), my body can somewhat limit the damage.

Having allergies is more distressing than people realize. I never stop trying to heal my body in any way I can. We have to hope that we have better days ahead. And we can do that by constantly researching and trying new things to better our conditions and overall health.

What was it like when you discovered your food allergies?

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