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Food Allergies: When Were You Diagnosed?

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Cybele shares her lifelong personal experience with food allergies, suffering for years before receiving an official medical diagnosis.

I had rashes and hive my entire childhood. I had my parents, my dad is a doctor. They took me to a dermatologist and this is in Massachusetts. I had hives all over my body, okay? This is before there was awareness about food allergies. No one thought about these things.

So they used to put like this carry ointment, this ointment on me and wrap me in Saran™ Wrap at night, and I had to sleep, this is crazy, it’s like torture, I had to be sleeping wrapped in ointment and Saran™ Wrap by the dermatologist. No one ever thought, “Oh gosh, maybe this child is having an allergy to something they are eating,” because that wasn’t on the radar when I was growing up. No one thought about these things.

So years of hives, years of reactions to things, my entire life I lived this way, not knowing what was going on with me and feeling sick for most of my life from eating things, okay?

Hives from going out to an Italian restaurant and eating shellfish, again, I never put it together that I had a food allergy. It wasn’t until my son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and they said, “Oh, children who are born to parents with allergies have a 50% higher chance of having them themselves,” and so the allergist who diagnosed my son with these multiple food allergies was sort of like, “Well do you or your husband have reactions to certain things that you eat? Is it possible that you too have food allergies?”

So through my son being diagnosed, my husband and I both realized that we had lived our entire lives also with food allergies and so we got tested and lo and behold we also had all these food allergies.

So, I was able to remove those offending foods from my diet and I felt better. I all of a sudden didn’t have all of these reactions and I also sort of have cured myself through eliminating these foods and I don’t have these hives anymore. I don’t feel sick anymore.

I have already been diagnosed with food allergies. You also sometimes develop more food allergies as you get older. They can come on at any time in your life. You don’t have to get them at two-months old. They may happen to you as a grown up.

So here I am, I am a food allergy expert, I am a cookbook author for people with food allergies, I have two children with food allergies, my husband has food allergies and I didn’t pay attention to signs and myself even though I knew I had certain things going on to other foods like I already knew about the shellfish; I already knew about fish; I knew about these things. So I go out to lunch with this friend of mine and I get this chicken salad with walnuts, right? I eat this chicken salad with walnuts; within half an hour I have hives under my eyes. I still didn’t really pay attention. I thought, “Gosh, maybe I am developing some kind of mild allergy to these nuts,” right?

But I didn’t pay attention to it as much as I should have and a few months later it was Thanksgiving and I made a cranberry sauce and I had walnuts in it and I ate one walnut and my entire body just broke out and total body hives.

My eyes swelled shut; my mouth was swelling shut. Thankfully I have a really great doctor who I could call the night before Thanksgiving who immediately prescribed steroids and was like, “You must, must, must go immediately and get these steroids,” and I was… so anyway, my point is to pay attention to these things in yourself. If you eat something like a salad with walnuts and you all of a sudden break out in hives under your hives, chances are pretty good that you are having an allergic reaction to something. So just make a note, you know, and mention it to your doctor.

About Cybele Pascal:
Cybele Pascal is an award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook". When her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies in 2001, Cybele learned about allergen-free cooking and made it a priority to transform this cuisine into a delicacy. In addition to recipes she learned to prepare from her family, she spent fifteen years working in restaurants.

Visit Cybele Pascal at her website

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

thanks for the info. Good things to keep in mind

July 16, 2010 - 5:55pm
EmpowHER Guest


You spoke very well. Thank you for the work you do. I just want to point out something I think you know but with those symptoms most doctors would recommend giving yourself the epi and calling 911 and going to the ER for 4-6 + hours.

July 16, 2010 - 5:24pm
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