• Sara Hantgan

Reintroducing Previous Food Allergens Into My Diet

For as long as I can remember, I have had a long laundry list of foods that I am allergic to. Now, at seventeen years old, that list is changing, and it is honestly the strangest, but most exciting, experience.

After my recent allergist appointment in December, my allergist determined that it was safe for me to introduce some foods that I have been allergic to at home. While I have to continue strict avoidance of milk, sesame, and mustard, I am allowed to try cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds, and eggplant at home. My results were borderline for banana, avocado, and almonds, so I will be participating in food challenges to try those as well. Hearing this news was utterly shocking. Don't get me wrong, I was unbelievably excited about my new opportunities, but it was also terrifying. I have avoided these foods for my entire life and now I might not be allergic to them anymore. Once, they were poisonous for my body, and now they aren't. My entire world as I grew up is changing before my eyes, but for the better.

The first nut I tried w as cashews. I stood in my home kitchen staring at the daunting nut in front of me. Although I followed all of the safety precautions my doctor gave me (a certain brand to try, double washing them, have medicine with me, etc), for a while, I couldn't bring myself to actually eat the nut. But, eventually, I brought up the courage and finally tried it. I took the smallest bite, waited 10 minutes, took another bite, waited 10 minutes, and did this until I finished one full nut. Luckily, I did not experience any reaction. Since my first bite of a cashew, I have also tried pistachios, poppy seeds, and eggplant with good results for all.

While this may seem simple, trying something new or reintroducing a food into a food allergic individual's diet is a big deal. It opens a whole new selection of foods to eat and makes one's life so much easier. Which is exactly what happened to me. Ever since I tried cashews, I can now have so many dairy free alternative products that I couldn't have before. I can also be a little less worrisome when I enter a bagel shop, and am able to have many quick, on-the-go snacks that I couldn't have before. I still have many foods to try (although I have stopped until the pandemic is over, or close to over), but even reintroducing 3 foods into my diet has changed my life for the better.

While everyone's experience is different, and some may not ever be able to reintroduce foods, this is just some insight about my experience. I hope that other food allergic teens can experience something similar in their life!

*Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor before trying any food allergens outside of a doctors office*

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