Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Attending functions

A difficult weekend at which I attended several functions - and indeed spent a couple of days at a conference.

Why is it that commercial caterers are simply incapable of offering a choice of a simple meals? I had a meal of duck and picked the meat out of a sauce. It was awkward to explain why I spurned all the vegetables - until I realised there were mange touts, which I think are okay. At a party the caterer went to some lengths to produce some plain chicken for me - except it was not that plain, rather peppered. And I have gone off whisky!

I think the signs are still of improvement. There were minor reactions to minor breaches although by the end of the weekend my left eye was weeping quite consistently.

Now this week I have flu along with the rest of my family. I suppose anti-histamines and paracetamols are as good a pill combination as anybody can take for flu.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The problem of food intolerance

Attached is today's full Englemed News report on Allergy UK's campaign to highlight food intolerance.

The campaign makes some good points. I was lucky, in a way, that when I eventually went to my GP I had very clear symptoms in my mouth and throat. I received no advice on diet from my GP.

I thought with good reason that I had a wheat allergy. Some of the headlines today refer to "pasta problems". In fact my problem was the tomatoes, herbs and olive oil - all that healthy Mediterranean food. It took months to see a consultant and longer still to get the results of IGE tests. We excluded salicylate allergy early on because I thought I took aspirin, probably soluble, when the throat and tongue swelling became an obvious problem. We then gave it another look. This allergy hardly features on anyone's radar except as aspirin allergy. My dietician said she had only previously come across the problem as a cause of eczema. And it seems as if the scientific evidence on salicylate content of foods is limited and not especially consistent. So well done to my consultant who put together my clues which amounted to pasta, pizza, tomato and beer.

The specialists don't like the way people always jump to the conclusion that wheat is what's causing the problem. I guess it would be equally disturbing if salicylate allergy became fashionable, especially because it excludes almost all foods that are generally good for you, notably the red fruits and orange vegetables. The very few specialist salicylate sites, such as foodcanmakeyouill, seem to make some sense. It may well be that this is a natural substance to which quite a few people are overexposed. If that was so however, I would have thought the medical benefits of aspirin might have been called into question before now.

Here's that news report:
  • Almost half the British population are badly affected by the food they eat - suffering a range of symptoms, campaigners claimed today.
  • Some 45 per cent of people suffer from some kind of food intolerance, according to Allergy UK.
  • This compares with just two per cent diagnosed with serious food allergies, such as nut allergy, which can be life-threatening.
  • Results of a survey of some 5,200 people reporting food problems are to be published today in a report Stolen Lives.
  • The reports shows that sufferers feel their symptoms are treated "dismissively" by health professionals.
  • Recent surveys of GPs show that 70 per cent believe most complaints are in the mind, the organisation says. Scepticism is aggravated by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, who claims to be allergic to dairy products.
  • A spokesman for Allergy UK said: "They are left without proper guidance and advice despite the very significant impact on their lives. This in turns drives them to seek alternative and clinically unproven methods of diagnosis and treatment."
  • Allergy UK chief executive Muriel Simmons said: "Around 20 million people are suffering from symptoms that impact on their daily lives and yet they are not able to get help from the NHS.
  • "We want to see more dietary advice being available and more training given to GPs so that they can recognise that food could be the trigger for some of the symptoms that they are seeing on a daily basis."
  • Ms Simmons warned that the lack of advice was driving patients to "weird and wacky" diets and towards poorly qualified alternative practitioners.
  • She said: "They start off with one problem and this is compounded by bad dietary advice."

Food allergy week

This week is Food Allergy Intolerance Week in the UK. Details to follow.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting better?

I went for a meal in a Bengali restaurant as a guest of the owner a couple of days ago. He was very understanding and sought to reduce the amount of spice and herbs on everything. However even though I picked discreetly at some of the items to get at the soft meat underneath, it was by far the best and tastiest meal I've had for a long time! As the main dish he served me king prawns and produced some plain rice and nan bread. I came away feeling filled as though I'd eaten a full Bengali meal. In spite of that - no ill effects.

So the next day I was desperate for a meal and the family served up spaghetti bolognese. A plate was put out for my nephew with minimal sauce. As he did not turn up, I ate that. No immediate ill effects.

So I went to bed with a song in my heart thinking that I might have turned the corner. The "traffic light" rash on my tummy seemed almost gone too.

However during the day yesterday my throat thickened. I seemed to react to an unripe banana I was given. And today, I'm afraid, some of the other symptoms reappeared.

There is hope!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I've always been fascinated by pomegranates, ever since I heard the story of the Persephone in Greek mythology. She was captured by the god of the underworld, Hades, who wanted her to be his wife. When her mother, the spring goddess Demeter found her she insisted she be returned. Eventually it was agreed Persephone should stay with Hades for the same number of months she had eaten pomegranate seeds. As it happened she had only eaten six seeds - so that explained why winter lasts for six months.

The story makes even less sense when you eat a pomegranate and see how many seeds it has.

I bought two from Sainsbury's last week. They were much larger than normally sold in Britain and when I sliced one it bled, blood red. I ate half and that was probably too much.

It is the only red fruit I am allowed and I would like to find a cheap and easy source of pure pomegranate juice. If you see it in the supermarkets, it tends to be mixed with something else.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

12th Night

Just about recovered from Christmas now!

Everybody tried so hard. Christmas dinner was a starter of peeled pear in papaya.

I had a special joint of turkey roasted in parsley with red and white cabbage. Then somebody produced some delicious mashed potato. Why was it delicious? Because it contained sweet potato.

I tried substituting whisky for wine. I used to like a glass of whisky but after drinking it at meals for several days, I have gone off it big time. And once the symptoms started again, I suspect the whisky aggravated them, certainly when there were bowel problems.

Today for lunch we had chicken cooked with parsley, saffron and chives - the entire range of herbs and spices I'm allowed. That was a little better. I fear I have had to chew through some very tough joints of bird meat in the last couple of weeks.

I'm going to have to refuse all processed and catered food now. I'm certainly a little way from the point at which foods can be reintroduced - every small breach seems to cause even worse symptoms.