Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kissing, Food Allergies

This post is about adults for adults. (Gosh, sounds serious doesn't it?) If you’re looking for stories about teenaged-kissing, FAAN has some info as well as fellow blogger Kids with Food Allergies.

As always, dear individually allergic friends, consult your personal allergist or physician about current research, your allergies, their severity and what is the best plan for you.

***

Before a new dude picked me up for our date, he told me he'd eaten a boatload of shellfish, a smorg of Allergic Girl no-nos. When he went in for a “Hello” kiss, I pulled back, gently.

“Didn’t you just eat shellfish?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Dude said. “Lobster, oysters...”

“I can’t kiss you. I’m allergic.”

“OK,” Dude said, recovering quickly, “What do I need to do? Drink water? Gargle? Brush my teeth?”

***

Firstly, nice!

Secondly, this is exactly the response you want from a new date/potential mate.

This is the response of someone who cares about your well being and is motivated to get their kiss on with you.

This is the kind of date who'll do what they need to do to make that kiss happen, safely.

There was no “Are you kidding me?” or “Can’t I just kiss you anyway?” or “I only ate a little shellfish” or “It was 30 minutes ago--c’mon, it can’t hurt.” Nope. None of that. No wheedling or negotiating. There was no teasing or joking or anything close to shaming.

Keep in mind too: a good date will never shame you about a medical need - once they know it's a medical need. It’s part of who you are and hey, they already like you.

A mark of a good date, or at least someone you can kiss and get to know better, is that they will want to know what they can do to be with you.

***

So what to do now that they've eaten something you're allergic to and a smooch is imminent? Here's what one study indicates.

Please note: This should not necessarily be extrapolated for all allergens as the study states: "Importantly, our data applies only to PB...Although one would assume that many food allergens behave similarly, physical characteristics of foods are different and may influence their retention in the oral cavity." However this research is a start. (Peanut allergen exposure through saliva: Assessment and interventions to reduce exposure. Jennifer M. Maloney, MD,a Martin D. Chapman, PhD,b and Scott H. Sicherer, MDa New York, NY, and Charlottesville, Va)

The abstract of the study: "Exposure to food allergens through saliva (kissing, utensils) can cause allergic reactions in food-allergic individuals; therefore, it is important for peanut-allergic individuals to be aware of the time course of peanut allergen persistence in saliva. After ingesting peanut butter and performing various interventions (such as brushing teeth, rinsing the mouth, chewing gum. and brushing the teeth after a wait period of one hour), peanut allergen concentration decreased to low levels but remained detectable in most saliva samples. Avoidance of peanut containing foods by partners of peanut allergic individuals is the most effective way to prevent allergic reactions caused by allergen in saliva. However if peanut avoidance is not possible, waiting several hours after ingestion of peanut butter and eating a peanut-free meal before engaging in kissing or other kinds of saliva exchange was determined to be the most effective method of reducing peanut allergen in saliva to undetectable levels."

Some stats: “Most (87%) subjects with detectable peanut after a meal had undetectable levels by 1 hour with no interventions. None had detectable levels several hours later after a peanut-free lunch. This result indicates (95% confidence) that 90% would have undetectable Ara h 1 in saliva under these circumstances.”

***

I happen to have that study in my head since I was just Twittering with someone about it. So, what did I say to my date after he asked what he needed to do: “We need wait a bit and eat another meal.”

Off we went to grab some food and then did lots of smooching without issue.

What's happened when I didn't really have the convo (I chickened out) and kissed a salmon-eating dude? Major hives everywhere he kissed me which I can tell you is no good on a date.

***

So get in there and have the "I have food allergies" convo *early*. Take your allergies seriously and your date will as well. Don't kiss someone who ignores your medical need. If a date tries to get you to do something you don't want to, that could potentially hurt you (like kiss a shellfish-filled mouth), don't do it! Also, take it as valuable information about who that date is and what it would be like dating them further.

***

Next installment: Show your date how to use the Epi-Pen, fun! (And yes, I'm totally serious).

5 comments:

Jenny said...

A very important discussion -- your honesty is truly appreciated!

Not a bad way to weed out the "unworthy" from your dating life. Because FA people simply can't be with people who are insensitive about allergies. And if someone is sensitive about medical needs, then they are probably a pretty decent person.

I have one question which I hope is not too personal--do some potential suitors ever say "sorry I don't want to deal?"

Allergic Girl said...

hey jenny

thx for the comment.

obviously this is a complicated and personal issue for every FA person and they will learn to handle it in their own way in time.

my way is with confidence.

i don't view myself as having food "issues"-i love food as you can see from how often i talk about eating!

i have food allergies. period.

perhaps that level of confidence clears the way for a date to say "ok, what do i need to do".

we'd have to ask the dates what they thought. :-)

as to your direct question: i've never had a potential suitor say "sorry i don't want to deal".

as i've said elsewhere on the blog, it's rarely been an issue with boyfriends either.

more often it's a case of "where can i brush my teeth" or "what shouldn't i eat?"

so sweet!

i hope that's helpful.

have your little ones started asking about that yet?

Jenny said...

My 9-year-old already likes boys, so while this exact question has not yet come up, I want to be ready when it does.

Again, thanks for your candor! I appreciate it as always.

jumpinjulia said...

Ha ha! Great post. I learnt this the hard way in 1993 by kissing my special friend who had just finished devouring a pizza with clams on it. Note that in his defence, I kissed him and he pulled back saying, "Maybe this isn't the best idea given what i ate."

To my complete surprise 20 minutes later I was semi-conscious on the floor with hives the size of loonies (Canadian $1 coins).

It all turned out OK, after an ambulance ride and some adrenaline. But still...

Carolann said...

Thank you!

I am dating a gentleman who is allergic to two of the things that I love: mushrooms and squash. I love him very much and I was hoping that I didn't have to give these things up totally but I was willing to if needed to keep him from having a severe asthmatic attack. This answers many of my questions.