Coconut Allergy - Challenge Accepted
Last updated: January 2023
After enjoying nearly 2 decades of my life thoroughly enjoying all things coconut – macaroons, Asian desserts, the water itself, and more – developing a coconut allergy has proven to be not only the most challenging but also the most unforeseen. It was almost as though it happened overnight. One evening, I was enjoying an Asian coconut dessert drink with sago pearls; the next morning, I was suffocating after eating a coconut cookie and coconut water for breakfast. And while avoiding the food itself can be difficult during times in which the health benefits of coconut are not only well known but possibly overused and trendy, avoiding it everywhere else is far worse.
Learning to read labels
As consumers, we do not often read labels very well if at all, and what I was learning quickly was that my skin was suffering from the coconut allergy as well. Lotions, makeup, and even filtered water can contain coconut! (If you have not yet heard, all carbon filters for water are made from coconut husks – for nearly a decade, I thought I simply had a husky wrestling announcer’s voice, and I was wrong.) Cheap sudsers and fillers are made with coconut derivatives that are not that good for people. And so with this information, it was mind-blowing to even begin navigating through self-care products.
Finding coconut-free cosmetic products
There are very few coconut-free body care and cosmetic products out there. With the exception of a few, such as Kiss My Face soaps, Gabriel Cosmetic’s Clean Kids line, and Kiss Freely’s makeup line, I’ve had to gather ingredients and make things myself for cost efficiency. To those that may be a bit more privileged, these items although limited, are readily available. But imagine living below the median income and having this kind of allergy. For five or more years, I had been washing with concoctions of grapeseed oil, vinegar, and baking soda. Fast forward a few years later, and I now have my own little-known line of lotion bars, but that’s just the beginning. Makeup is also even more difficult to acquire with a coconut allergy, so I have had to learn about oxide pigments and formulate my own. It is not too difficult, but these items are made fresh each time, and mornings of full-faced makeup have become fewer due to time consumption.
And we cannot take for granted other little things, such as water filters, oil, detergent, cooking sprays, and even hand sanitizer. Almost all brands of those items have coconut derivatives in them. I keep a list handy of chemical names for them, but at this point, I’ve now nearly memorized them all. Imagine having to remember the other names for coconut! As if my other 25 food allergies were already not enough.
Coconut as an allergy is perhaps one of the most challenging endeavors. However, I am thankful because it has opened my eyes to chemicals and food additives that are not as healthy as projected to consumers.
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?