What’s Your Story?

I haven’t been very good about posting new content here. Hopefully a reader can help kickstart things. Laurens wrote in with his story about his oat allergy:

Good Morning,

I just started researching this issue and came upon your site while searching “oat allergy”. It did not surface when I searched “oat sensitivity”.

Here’s my story. I’m a healthy 46 year old male. As far as I know I’ve never been allergic or sensitive to any food or anything to that matter. I’ve always eaten a widely varied diet – usually very healthy, whole-grains non-fat this and that, the occasional double cheeseburger as well.

I used to eat processed breakfast cereal until about 7 years ago, when I started eating cooked crushed 9 grain cereal from the health food store bin. A couple years ago I ran out of this a few times and had my wife’s Quaker Oatmeal Squares. Of course at first I didn’t notice the correlation, but it soon became clear that when I ate this for breakfast, at about noon I would start having diarrhea, which would last for several hours. Finally I realized the connection and just stopped eating this cereal.

A few months later I was visiting some friends who ate Cheerios, and had the same effect. After this I stopped eating any whole oat cereal and have not suffered again, even though my cooked cereal contains some oats.

Yesterday my wife bough Life cereal on sale. I suspected trouble, but tried them anyway as an experiment – one that cost me a good nights sleep. The diarrhea returned.

So, I know what to do to stay feeling good – don’t eat a whole oat only product. But, I’ve never even heard of this type of sensitivity and most of the web links are for babies and children. Nothing so far about such a problem being acquired at middle age.

Note: Until I started my crushed grain cereal regimen I ate the processed all-oat cereal products with no deleterious effects.

That’ my story. Thanks for being here.

So, please share your story in the comments. How did you diagnose the allergy? How long ago was it? What are you finding helps you deal with it?

Laurens, thanks for sharing!

Taco Bell Uses Oats as a Preservative

I just received this email from a reader named Shauna today. She had a terrible reaction after eating at Taco Bell.

I am 31 years old and highly allergic to oats. I ate at Taco Bell and wound up with a reaction so bad that I wound up in the emergency room after giving myself an epi-pen injection and had to have several breathing treatments. Turns out that Taco Bell uses oats in their meat to make it go further. I just wanted to warn you and others with oat allergies.

Thanks for the note, Shauna. One actual advantage of eating fast food (probably the only one, besides convenience) is that the chains tend to list their ingredients online. I skipped over to tacobell.com and looked up their ingredients list (direct link to PDF here). Quite a bit of oats in there.

Seasoned Beef Beef, Water, Seasoning [Isolated Oat Product, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Oats, Soy Lecithin, Toasted Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Soybean Oil (Anti-Dusting Agent), Black Pepper, Oregano, Cumin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Lactic Acid, Natural Flavors, Natural Smoke Flavor, Modified Corn Starch], Salt, Sodium Phosphate. CONTAINS SOYBEAN, GLUTEN 

Furthermore, I saw oats and oat product in the chili and oat fiber in the taco shell.We rarely eat out for this very issue, but we certainly gravitate towards establishments that publish their ingredients online.

Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our daughter just had her third birthday party this past weekend. She has grown out of her oat allergy but still has dairy and peanut allergies. For her first birthday, we tried to please everyone. We had dairy-free foods for our daughter and a wide variety of foods for everyone else. The problem with that is you need to make sure she isn’t touched by hands with ice cream, isn’t handed a piece of the wrong cake, etc. For her second birthday, we went all dairy-free. Unfortunately, serving the average kid Tofutti ice cream results in more than a few scrunched faces.

This year we just went simple. We didn’t bother with ice cream. We made dairy-free cupcakes and cookies. We had a veggie spread (with Italian dressing because we have not found a dairy-free Ranch dip), chips and salsa, and fruit. And nobody noticed that it was completely dairy free.

The chocolate chip cookies, in particular, were quite tasty. We figured we’d share the recipe below.

Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened Willow Run soybean margarine
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 10 oz package of Sunspire Tropical Source Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
    • (Dairy free and gluten free, though this recipe is NOT gluten-free)

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes until edges are golden brown. Makes five dozen cookies.

The chocolate chips taste so much like regular chocolate chips that nobody noticed they were dairy free. In fact, we received many positive comments on the cookies.

Have recipes of your own to share? Please send them to oatallergy@gmail.com.

Welcome to OatAllergy.com

A year ago, I purchased the domain name “oatallergy.com” for a few reasons. Our daughter was diagnosed with milk, peanut, and oat allergies at ten months old. While her milk and peanut allergies were far more severe than her oat allergy, the problem we ran into was how little information and accommodation there is for oat allergies.

Most product nutritional labels follow up the ingredients with a bold line saying something like “Contains Milk, Peanuts, and Eggs”. This is very handy for the milk and peanut allergies, but oat ingredients are not explicitly stated like this. So, parents dealing with oat allergies have to be very careful with what they buy, especially since oats can be listed in many different ways (such as rolled oats, oat flour, hydrolyzed oats, and avena sativa).

A while ago, a friend of mine posted on his blog that he was working with Whole Foods and was looking for tips on what information they could serve to online customers. I recommended providing more information about rare allergies, such as oats. A couple months later, I received an email from someone that saw that comment and was trying to find more information about oat allergies for a friend of hers.

I ended up posting about the email discussion on my own blog. That post yielded dozens of comments of parents looking for more information about oat allergies—because there was nothing out there.

So, the time has come to start a resource for all of us to share our experiences.

While this site is called OatAllergy.com, other allergies will be covered. This is both to cater to parents of children with a wide variety of allergies as well as the fact that many allergy-related experiences (what to do about birthday parties, for example) are really relevant to all types of allergies.

What this site does need is your comments and input. So please, share your experiences, research, recipes, problems, and solutions. If you have ideas for blog posts of your own, please feel free to contact me at oatallergy@gmail.com.