One day in 2020, a friend reached out to Alana Roshay, QPOC (queer People of Color) advocate and co-host of The Consciousness Salon Podcast, to share fresh baguettes that a restaurant had just given her.
The offer was accepted by Roshay without expecting her body to react.
I brought it home, cut it up, and ate it, and I was so congested. It was very quick. I went out to walk after 15 minutes. I wondered why I felt awful.
She woke up the next day with a lot of symptoms.
After moving in with her partner, she stopped eating bread in the house.
The bread messed up the person. When I met with a doctor, she said that if you react in a way that makes you feel better, you have your answer.
It was a sad day when she discovered her new allergy to wheat. She says she would eat bread that was out of style.
“But she adjusted. She was a person who was very frustrated by allergies. She had been diagnosed with wheat in her lifetime, and it wasn’t the first major allergy.”
“Kelly O’Shea is a clinical assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Michigan and a research assistant professor at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center.”
“The most common new onset food allergies in adults occur with shellfish or fish. However, in very rare cases, adults can get a new onset food allergy with other foods as well.”
“O’Shea says that a type of sensitization to certain meats called alpha-Gal syndrome can be a sign of a food allergy.”
“O’Shea says this presents as delayed anaphylaxis to meats.”
“O’Shea explains that some people with seasonal allergies may have a condition called pollen food allergy syndrome.”
This usually presents as mouth itching with fruits and vegetables that have been exposed to pollen. If the fruit or vegetable is cooked, there are no symptoms.
When she was a baby, she had her first allergies.
When my mom would start to feed me, my skin would break out and she would see that. Her mom had to do an elimination diet to continue to feed her baby.
As a child, tree nuts were a big issue for her and she still is a problem for many other people.
Research finds that when it comes to food-related allergies, nuts are a common allergy that can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially fatal reaction. In a 2015 and 2016 survey, 2.9 percent of adults in the United States reported having a peanut allergy.
When I was in third grade, my mom accidentally gave me something with nuts in it, and I threw up in the office. The smell of peanut butter made me sick.
She had a system for dealing with nut allergies. She says that cashews, pistachios, and pine nuts are EpiPen statuses, and that she has a less extreme reaction to peanuts.
When it comes to her nut allergies, she has an itchy throat and nausea.
She has a dairy allergy. “With dairy, my nose becomes a faucet, and I sneeze constantly.”
Egg and milk are the most common childhood food allergies that people outgrow.
“O’Shea says that peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, sesame, fish, and shellfish can also be outgrown.”
While she was allergic to bananas and shellfish in her twenties and thirties, she still has sensitivities to dairy and nuts.
“O’Shea recommends that people with food allergies get regular evaluations.”
If there is evidence that someone is outgrowing an allergy, your allergist may recommend an oral food challenge, where the patient is closely monitored in the office while they consume the food to ensure that they have truly outgrown their allergy.
It was not just the foods that made her allergic. Dogs, cats, and horses cause reactions.
I can be around puppies until this day because I am allergic to puberty. They start to produce a different type of dander.
Asthma and eczema are two childhood health conditions that seem to flare up in a combo with some of her allergies.
The wheat allergy was one of the first new food allergies that she developed as an adult. She became allergic to certain fruits in her twenties.
She says that any of the fruits with larger seeds or pits caused a reaction.
The limitations of testing and treatments have been a major frustration for living with so many allergies.
“O’Shea says that allergy testing is limited. There are no tests that can predict food sensitivities. Our testing only can evaluate for food allergy and not food sensitivities, so we can’t say that foods disagree with people.”
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, it’s important for people to understand that allergies are different from intolerances and sensitivities. While intolerances and sensitivities may be uncomfortable, allergies are an immune response that can be dangerous and even lead to a fatal reaction.
Some companies offer food IgG tests that claim to be able to diagnose food sensitivities. However, due to a lack of data and scientific studies to support their use, both the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the
“She didn’t have much luck with the treatments available when she was a child. She would get weekly immunotherapy shots, but they didn’t work for her.”
“They would inject the allergens into our skin. They would measure the reaction’s size. It would react to the size of a quarter.”
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergen immunotherapy may decrease symptoms for certain allergies by gradually increasing doses to build up a person’s tolerance for the allergen.
“I did it for a long time, and my body never took to it,” says Roshay.
“O’Shea encourages people who think they might have food allergies to get an allergist’s opinion.”
She points out that there are signs and symptoms of a food allergy.
- There are bees.
- vomiting or nausea
- There is a lot of diarrhea.
- The breath was very thin.
- The lips, tongue, mouth, or eyes are swollen.
- swallowing problems
- The voice is hoarse.
- It was faint.
If someone experiences these symptoms within the first 2 hours after eating, they should seek medical care.
Clinical history is important for food allergy. A trained allergist can perform testing if necessary. Skin testing and blood testing for food allergens are used in conjunction to predict the likelihood of a true food allergy.
“O’Shea says that the only way to manage food allergies is to avoid the foods that are causing the issues.”
People with food allergies should always have their EpiPens on them in the event of an accidental exposure.
“O’Shea thinks that the landscape of food allergies will change a lot in the next 10 years.”
One of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years for managing food allergies has been oral immunotherapy. In January 2020, the
“O’Shea says that the product is an oral treatment that must be taken every day and helps to lower the risk of an allergic reaction to peanuts from accidental ingestion.”
Food allergy research is growing fast. There is a global interest in understanding the increased incidence of food allergy and improving the treatment options for people with food allergies.
“O’Shea says that treatments for food allergy are being studied.”
In May 2021, she decided to meet with a doctor who was a board certified MD and had a background in both Western and Eastern medicine to better understand her allergies.
She says she made an agreement with herself. I told myself that I would know what was wrong with me by 40. I will be in control of my health.
After some tests, including a stool test, and discussing her experiences with the doctor, she went on a strict diet. She cut out foods that were high in histamines.
It turned out that she had to eliminate a lot of things she loved, like avocados and ferment foods, because she learned about which foods contained the histamines.
“I have never been healthier,” says Roshay. My skin was clear and my eczema went away. I was hydrated. I didn\’t have any allergies and I wasn\’t taking allergy medicine.
“It was the first time in her life that she didn’t have to take allergy medication. It all came down to what I was eating.”
“Oat milk alternative has been a game-changer in the dairy industry. The dairy industry has been made easier by the introduction of oat milk. I can have ice cream with my breakfast, they have pizza. She can’t have almond or cashews due to her nut allergies, so this gives her a new world of possibilities.”
She says it saved her life because of the alternatives to dairy.
Like many others, she has been living with allergies. She says that she has a certain amount of power around taking steps towards greater awareness of her body.
“I may not be able to completely heal it, but I have the knowledge and awareness to better navigate my allergies,” says Roshay.