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I don’t have an earth shattering message for you today, or a fabulous DIY, or recipe for you. This post is a little bit of a vent, an announcement, but mostly a big allergen avoidance reminder. If you develop a new sensitivity, you MUST to go back through all your food, products, and cleaners, AGAIN!
You know the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do”. This is kinda one of those moments. But, more along the lines of don’t be a big dummy like I was.
When I was first diagnosed with a soy allergy, I went through a total overhaul of all my household and personal care products. Nothing escaped my attention from shampoo, conditioner, and face wash to girlie wash and soap. All of our household cleaning products were researched and mostly purged as they contained harsh chemicals with the potential to aggravate asthma, allergies, or disrupt our endocrine system.
I can’t even tell you how many websites I’ve viewed, or emails I sent, to companies to find out if their products contain soy. I made my own dish soap, all purpose spray, bathroom cleaner, scrub cleaner, and glass cleaner. Spent tons of time and money (that we didn’t have) trying different stuff to figure out what I could use. We threw out or gave away all the products we used before my soy allergy. It is all about allergen avoidance.
Slowly but surely, I was able to find soy free products that worked for me, that I could make myself, or I just gave them up all together (like make-up). The good news is, once I had done this big purge, most of my skin related issues calmed down and overall my allergic reactions definitely lessened.
Allergen avoidance is key
The first lesson food allergy sufferers learn, is to avoid their allergen. In fact, allergen avoidance is the advice given out to everyone by the FDA. Easier said than done though.
Navigating most food allergies is not exactly simple and straight forward. In this post, How to Research Allergens in food, personal care, and cleaning products , I give you some of my best tips on how to research and find safe ingredients and products. Many allergens like soy, corn, and dairy can be hidden under different names so you have to know what to look for. For more information on the places soy can be hiding, check out this post. Basically, to avoid your allergen you identify, remove, or reduce exposure to your allergens, and replace with safe alternatives.
Okay, so now you’ve done the research. You’ve found some great products, gotten rid of unsafe ingredients, and given away products you can no longer use. So, you’re done right?
Yeah, not necessarily. Dealing with food allergies is a life long process. The only way to remain safe and avoid your allergen, is to maintain daily vigilance.
There are two key things to keep in mind:
- Products, manufacturer’s, and ingredients can change at any time! Companies are bought out, ingredients change, and of course manufacturer’s may change ingredients as they “improve” products. Bottom line, ALWAYS read the labels.
- If your allergies change or you develop a new allergy, you must research and review all your products and ingredients, again!
So, today we are going to focus on this second point. Let me reiterate….
If you develop a new allergy, you must go through all products and ingredients again!
I’ve known and been actively dealing with the soy allergy for about a year and a half now. Throughout this time, I’ve developed (or discovered) other food sensitivities.
You know how everybody just adores coconut oil and uses it for EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Well, about a year ago, I decided to give it a try. I figured out fairly quickly that my body doesn’t love coconut oil. At the advice of my hair stylist, I tried putting coconut oil on my hair. Yeah, not fun, not only did it make my hair greasy, it dried it out! Greasy but super dry hair is REALLY weird!!! I also tried putting coconut oil on my hands before bed, but by morning they were cracking and drier than they had started out. After several different attempts at using coconut oil for various projects, I decided it was something I needed to avoid topically. No big deal, right?!? I just would use other oils in my projects. (BTW~ Lots of people have issues with coconut oil drying out their skin, so not necessarily a food sensitivity for everyone!)
New food sensitivity: Coconut
Fast forward several months, I had still been eating coconut in small amounts, like protein nut balls and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream-Yum! Then, one day I decided to make some coconut oil creamer. It was actually pretty tasty, but…. within 10 minutes my mouth was on fire, my throat was burning and scratchy, my ears and face were itchy and my lungs started wheezing! After an asthma attack, then fighting off the effects of a reaction for 4-5 days, I finally got back to my normal.
Whoops!!! After that reaction, I started having reactions (more minor) to other coconut products.
Okay, so no coconut for me, at all! No more protein nut balls or ice cream! 🙁
I’ve done really well at looking at ingredients in food to make sure I’m not eating any coconut. But, I’m still having some skin issues. Weird hive like patches, random itchiness, super dry hands, and inflamed, unhappy girlie bits (we thought this was from systemic candida overgrowth).
Anyway, I’ve been clicking along, making my own stuff, fairly secure in what I’ve been doing and making. Not worried about any of my natural products ingredients. I haven’t bought anything new, because I already have it on hand. I already researched them all. Right?!?
Yep, sure did.
Researched every blasted ingredient – for soy!
Not for coconut!
I’ve still been having problems with my hands getting super dry, cracking, and even bleeding sometimes. I figured out that it happened a lot more when I was doing lots of dishes. (When am I not doing lots of dishes? Lol!) Anyway, one day I finally stopped and looked up the ingredients in Sal Suds again. And… Sal Suds contains coconut! GRRRR!
Weeeellllll…. I kept using it. Dang it, we have to wash our dishes! I’ve been looking for other alternatives for ingredients or ready made products, but trying to find something that isn’t loaded with chemicals, contain soy, or contain coconut, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. (Please, please, please, shoot me a note if you know of any liquid dish soap that might work).
Denial is not good allergen avoidance
So, my sensitivity to coconut is not nearly as severe as my soy allergy. And….. I think I was in denial. Even through Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds contains coconut, Castile soap is made with Olive Oil, right?
Yeah, I was totally in denial. Think Ostrich burying head in sand…..
I just didn’t want to know. So, I never checked…..
Anyway, I was going to try a new recipe for a liquid hand soap. The store bought one I had been buying contains coconut, so I needed a soy free and coconut free alternative. No big deal, I’ll just make my own with some good old Castile soap.
Then, I finally engaged my brain, (and pulled up my big girl panties) and decided that I really should look at the all my ingredients before I go out of my way to make coconut free hand soap. So, I finally took another look at the ingredients in Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap.
Ummmm…. yeah! Totally contains coconut! 🙁
Argh! Coconut, coconut, everywhere is coconut!
So, coconut is huge in the world of natural food, body care products and natural cleaning products. Coconut is being used everywhere! Once I finally opened my eyes and checked, I found coconut in my shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, laundry detergent, and of course all the homemade things I was making with Sal Suds and Castile soap. No wonder my body developed a sensitivity to it, I was dosing with coconut every time I turned around.
Morale of this story
Like I said before, no mind blowing revelations, no fabulous new recipe (although I am working on some for you!), not even a solution to my Castile soap dilemma, just a big fat reminder…
- If you develop a new allergy or sensitivity, you need to go back through all your products and ingredients again to check for your triggers.
- Also, just because a product was okay for you once, doesn’t mean it will always be safe. Manufacturer’s change ingredients all the time, please ALWAYS CHECK LABELS.
Oh, and Dr Bronner’s products contain coconut! 😉
I’m off to go through all my products again, search out alternatives, and take a shower with some Allafia Black soap (coconut and soy free). Have a fabulous day!