I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I have a (tree) nut allergy, but I’ve never gone into specifics. I thought it would be helpful to share my story and also share what it’s like to have a major allergy.
How I Found Out I Had a Nut Allergy
I found out when I was in 7th grade. I was with some friends getting milk shakes at Ben and Jerry’s (I’ve always been a milkshake lover)! Unknowingly, I ordered the Chunky Monkey, which is made with walnuts. Shortly after sipping on it, I started experiencing a weird feeling in my mouth. My throat was closing and I was itchy. Fortunately, we were with one of my friend’s older sisters, who was a nurse, and she determined I was probably allergic to something in the milkshake. My reaction didn’t get much worse that day because I had so little, but it definitely opened my eyes.
I had a few other similar reactions in college. One was at a gathering with the softball team. We were having pesto (made with pine nuts), and again, after having it, I had those same weird feelings. Also, a separate time when having a granola mix that must have had almond slivers or something in it.
I remember getting allergy testing done years ago and it turned out that walnuts and hazelnuts were the worst for me. Almonds were mild but not that bad. Peanuts, of course, are okay because they are a legume (Thank god, because I live off of peanut butter). I’ve learned that I can actually handle almond butter – it may have to do with the fact that the nut shells have been ground down? I don’t risk it often though and especially not before exercise.
Some of my worst reactions have actually come after exercise, meaning exercise has either sped up the allergic reaction or amplified it. I remember having pasta at a friend’s house (later found out she cooked with a nut oil) and going for a run hours later. Not thinking anything about what I’d eaten earlier that day, I had to stop my run as a result of the worst itchiness and swelling of my life, throat closing, and the feeling of my skin sagging. Ed and I stabbed me with my epipen and he took me to the hospital, where I eventually got a shot to help the symptoms. That was an expensive trip.
There was another instance where I experienced similar symptoms after running after eating at a buffet earlier in the day (where I didn’t know how things were prepared). Quite the dangerous situation for a person with allergies.
So, those lessons have obviously taught me that I have to be SUPER careful when it comes to ingredients and reading labels. Especially if I plan on running later, I have to be in complete control of what I’ve eaten hours before. Bars can be especially tricky for me. I love having bars on hand for busy days and on the go snacks, but often times, a main source of protein and healthy fats in the bars is nuts. Since there can be a chance of contamination, I tend to stay away from bars with nuts, even peanuts. I’ll stick to the familiar bars for what works, rather than branching out and trying new ones that may be dangerous for me.
When I was at FNCE in October, one of the brands I was introduced to was 88 Acres. Their bars are completely nut free, and instead, are made with seeds. They also have granola and seed butters. I grabbed a few samples and have been thriving on these bars ever since. Their founders’ story was similar to mine. He was out to dinner and suffered a reaction after eating something that was cross contaminated with nuts. And they’ve set out to create a safe product for those with food allergies.
The bars are also gluten free (their bakery is gluten free certified), and are also free of milk, soy and GMO’s. They use wholesome, locally sources ingredients like:
Gluten Free oats
Vermont maple syrup
unsulphured raisins, organic apples, organic dark chocolate
You can see more about their ingredients in each bar here.
They also have great flavors, like triple berry, apple and ginger, and chocolate and sea salt. In addition, they make seed butter flavors like vanilla spice and chocolate sunflower seed butter. They act as the perfect afternoon pick me up, or I love them as a post workout snack also!
I’m so happy I’ve found a bar brand (with protein and quality taste) that I like and can enjoy before/after exercise without any consequences. Since these bars are gluten free and free of the top 8 allergens, they may be great for many of you too!
So, I’m happy to be teaming up with 88 Acres for a giveaway for you all, to give you a chance to try these delicious new bars! I completely stand by this product, and as someone with food allergies, I have so much respect for the intricate process they go through to keep their products free of the top 8 food allergens.
Have you ever had to use an epipen or had a scary allergy reaction?