Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surviving the Holidays with a Coconut Allergy

Time to be festive and eat lots of yummy things you wouldn't normally eat, right? Let's be careful and keep our epi-pens and benadryl handy just in case. Remember to read all ingredients!

Here is a summary of things to AVOID during the holiday season:

WHIPPY things- Cool whip means coconut oil. Some people make whole pies by simply mixing cool whip with other ingredients, so if you're at a pot luck, and you see a cream pie, beware unless it comes from a package and you can read the ingredients. We recently even saw some Jell-O brand mousse in a little cardboard packet that had coconut oil in it.

CHOCOLATES- Oh how I love to munch on sees candies and oh how very sick I can get even if a particular piece doesn't contain coconut. There is cross contamination aplenty in any brand of assorted chocolates. Don't play chocolate roulette.

ICE CREAM- Unless that Ben and Jerry's scoop shop that you are tempted to hit at the airport or Baskin Robbins at the mall has an allergy brochure handy, or you have the flavor ingredients memorized AND you ask them to wash the scoop before dipping yours AND scoop in a fresh spot that hasn't been touched, you may soon feel your throat closing up. . . just a reminder to not be crazy and try new flavors while on the road.

GOODIES you receive as gifts.- YES, I feel like a complete DORK when people bake for me and I have to ask them for all the ingredients to their goodies. But, no one has ever been offended. If they are gifting me something that I am allergic to, I just tell them how much my husband and kids will love them because they never get to have anything with coconut in it and it's a special treat for them.

RESTAURANT FOOD- when choosing a restaurant to visit while traveling or with friends and family, I avoid THAI food altogether because of my coconut allergy. There is coconut milk and coconut oil, etc. in practically everything there. Also, INDIAN food restaurants sometimes use coconut milk in their curries, so that can be really tricky to figure out. At other restaurants, before ordering anything fried, I like to scan the menu for things like coconut shrimp that might be fried in the same oil. It's highly unlikely that you would end up with even trace amounts of coconut in your fried food, but use good judgement if you have ever had an anaphylactic reaction to coconut. Desserts can be crazy at restaurants because they may cut you a piece of chocolate cake right after coconut cake, etc., so I am not shy about making it clear to our server that I have food allergies without making it into a hassle for anyone. Whenever I get a server who has no clue what ingredients are in anything and is reluctant to go find out, I just ask for a manager. That's what managers are for. If the manager doesn't know, well, that is a good sign that they don't make their food fresh in-house and that I am probably eating more MSG than nutrients. For great tips on eating out without feeling totally terrified and oppressed with food allergies (and for a lot of moral support) I loved reading Sloane Miller's book, Allergic Girl.

POPCORN- You know you'll pass your vacation time going to at least one movie! Movie theater popcorn contains coconut oil most of the time. Not just the extra butter you put on it. It makes my mouth develop what I call "blisters of pain and fire" within an hour of eating it and makes me feel very, very sick to my stomach. I just enjoy the smell. . . .mmmmm. . . and sneak in my own gourmet chocolate bar to eat instead. I let my husband and kids eat popcorn, and make sure I get lots of napkins and tell them "no touching mommy until you wash your hands."

COSMETICS- Oh, various types of chap stick stuff, why must you have coconut oil in you? Also, for the last few years it seems like soaps and lotions from Bath and Body works have been the go-to small gift of choice. I like to put these in my guest bathroom or just re-gift them. No big deal. As a reminder, here is a link to my (by no means complete) list of coconut-derived ingredients.

HOT COCOA MIXES- yikes. Many have coconut oil in them!

Did I leave anything out?

You may want to share Healthline's Interactive Guide on Anaphylaxis with your friends and family with whom you will be eating during the holidays.

18 comments:

aspieteacher said...

So glad you're blogging again!

I've learned to just say no to any baked goods because coconut has become so prevalent. And as much as I support my celiac buddies, I have to be especially careful around GFCF food because coconut/coconut oil/coconut sugar seems to be an increasingly popular ingredient because of the texture it gives baked goods.

Sabrina said...

Just wondering.... Did you have your gallbladder removed? Because now that I am trying to put all these new allergies that I have to good thought, I've realized most of them took place after I had mine removed, just wondering if there is any connection.

Becky said...

Yes, I did have my gall bladder removed, but that was after I knew I was allergic to coconut. After it was removed, I found out I had more allergies. I personally think the allergies maybe caused the gall bladder to be diseased, not the other way around. I didn't have any gall stones that they could find, but it was inflamed and not emptying.

Sabrina said...

That's so interesting... not too sure which happened first in my case, I think both started to appear around the same time, tricky to say, but extremely interesting!

ariannasma216 said...

I'm so happy to come across the blog. I'm a sufferer of coconut and palm among other seasonal allergies but those are my only food allergies and it's in everything! Just had a fiber bar and the itch began. Forget about pudding anymore too. My favorite chinese resaurant apparently uses it too. the condition has worsened over the past year and I'm finally getting some money to see an allergist for help...if any is available! The popcorn one I just discovered 2 weeks ago. It's all just such a bummer!

Becky said...

Oh, yes, GRANOLA BARS are the worse. Argh. I forgot to mention, when I travel, I bake my own goodies before I go on a trip so it's a special treat plus safe to eat.

aspieteacher said...

ariannasma- Can I ask how you found out that the chinese restaurant was using coconut/palm? Because I also have peanut/tree nut allergies and have had a hard time with dishes that they claim don't have nuts or nut oils. So I've wondered if they were lying or unaware or there was something else in the dish that I was allergic to. If they really are putting coconut and palm in things now I'm going to have to stick to the steamed dishes, not my favorite!

ZenKaiser said...

there is other things that has coconut in it. thing you wouldnt believe like ham and cheese hot pockets. cheddar cheese pringles, sour cream and oniopn pringles , gummie bears , gummie vitamins , some poweraid drinks, and alot of normal candies like baby ruths, whatamacallis , thingamajges, and even fast breaks,. i have an allgery and i look at everything ... oh ya starbucks white choclaye mocha does and all and mean all hot by chocolate excpet made by start bucks. hope this helps

Becky said...

Yes, Hot cocoa mixes, you are right, they do have coconut in them! Crazyness.

Elle said...

I just found your blog and everyone makes fun of me fr having this weird allergy.
I found the one coconut free hot chocolate was the
Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, Sensible Sweets, Diet
It is made by a company that used coconut oil in their other products so It works for me since my allergy isn't as severe at times.

Elle said...

I just found your blog and everyone makes fun of me fr having this weird allergy.
I found the one coconut free hot chocolate was the
Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, Sensible Sweets, Diet
It is made by a company that used coconut oil in their other products so It works for me since my allergy isn't as severe at times.

S. Stonebridge said...

I just discovered a new one (at least new to me). Idahoan mashed potatoes (definitely the microwavable containers, I have to check the stove-top box).

Kirsten Partanen said...

So glad to have found your blog. Although my reaction is not at the anaphylaxis stage (but I always have Benedryl in my purse. So hard to find info on this allergy rather than "coconut allergies are rare'.
In terms if holidays, I tend to bring one of the Lindt dark chocolate ones as they are safe. Another safe hot chocolate is by Cocoa Camino (fair trade)...but I'm not sure if it is in the US...I'm up in Canada.
I am sure that you are aware of this, but the hardening chocolate that DQ dipped cones are dipped in? Full of coconut oil.
I discovered the lip balm one a few years ago. Looked at my lips(after I'd wiped/washed it off...and thought "hey...cheaper than collegan treatments for my Lisa Rinna lips" :-)

Becky said...

Ha ha ha ha -- the lip swelling for me is more like planet of the apes actor than collagen treatments, but you are so funny.

But, yes, DQ chocolate dipped cones and also MAGIC SHELL that you buy at the store-- all chocolate coated stuff is so coconutty, I have learned the hard way, too. Baskin Robbins hot fudge sauce most recently.

Kelly Andrews said...

I didn't have my Gallbladder removed and this is a fairly new allergy. Developed when I was 27 and it's gotten bad. Add most Hair dyes... Anything with Sodium cocoamphodipropionate, or cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium cocoate -all made from coconut oil... Learned the hard way with intubation... :( Also avoid most bar soaps.... Also gummy vitamins. Thanks for this blog...

Amelea said...

my general rule of thumb is if the food has a shine to it, there is coconut or palm in it (like the magic shell or chocolate candy bars). Also, anything that is supposed to have dairy in it but doesn't for convenience purposes has coconut or palm in it(like the instant potatoes). I have resigned myself to baking from scratch because everything is tainted.
My allergy is mild, mostly just an itchy throat that lets me know something snuck past my nose. Usually the smell is overwhelming to me and enough of the smell will give me a migraine. I've been allergic for as long as I can remember (I'm 46) and it's gotten worse in the past few years. It's now palm oil and palm kernel oil I have to avoid, in addition to the coconut.

Pallavi said...

finally im relieved i found a person who is allergic to coconut bcoz i thot i was the only human on earth who is allergic to coconut. the worst part is im indian and belong to a state in india named kerala where everything edible has coconut in some form or the other.thankfully im not allergic to coconut oil but im allergic to coconut milk and the coconut as a whole. thanks for this blog...

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through all the comments above but I would have to say the biggest shocker to me was that Original Pam Non-Stick Spray has coconut oil in it. So now I use the Olive Oil one.