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Yes, that is right. I seem to have developed a wheat allergy at the age of 29. Maybe some of you know I just turned 30 last month, and I didn’t actually figure out it was wheat until about a week ago, but the allergy has been developing for the past few months now.

Let me back up. A few months ago, I started using Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid cream on my son. Sometime thereafter I noticed that I would often get itchy right before bed in a small area, like my calf or lower back or wherever it was. For a while I thought it was that I was reacting to the medication. Maybe if I got some gloves to use while I put it on, I would be better. But I never got the gloves, and I only itched for a few minutes in the evening, so I wasn’t very motivated to do anything about it.

But gradually it got worse. I started being mildly itchy during the day, and the itchy spells in the evening became more intense and widespread. I would find myself scratching off and on for half an hour while trying to go to sleep. I also had pretty much figured out that it wasn’t the Triamcinalon, because some nights he didn’t need it, and some nights Daddy put it on, and yet I was still itchy. But I wasn’t always as itchy to the same degree every night–it would vary somewhat.

I didn’t want to admit it, so I ignored it for a while, but finally it started getting too much to ignore. I was breaking out with these little bumps wherever I was itchy, and when I scratched, it would raise welts and even get hot sometimes (though that only lasted for a few minutes and disappeared as the itch died away). Finally I decided I must be allergic to something. I suspected sugar at first (I have a gargantuan sweet tooth–which is shrinking, by the way), but I still itched even when I completely avoided it. So I figured it couldn’t be that. My next suspect was wheat.

Now, you must understand something about our diet. We don’t have the typical American diet by any means. We can go anywhere from 1-3 days without eating wheat for breakfast or lunch. We don’t eat bread with every meal. In fact, bread usually only gets eaten for sandwiches or as toast for supper. And since I don’t eat supper, there were days I didn’t eat wheat at all. So I started paying attention to how much I itched every evening, and taking note of whether I had had wheat that day or not.

And I definitely noticed a pattern. The days I didn’t get any wheat I itched very little. The night I itched the worst was the day that I had biscuits for breakfast and cornbread (with wheat flour) for lunch. And thus I diagnosed my wheat allergy. Or sensitivity, or whatever it is.

So things are going to be different around here. I’m not cutting wheat out 100% just yet–with my son’s allergies and everything I’m trying to do, that just isn’t something I am ready to do yet. But like I said, we already have many wheat-free days. So I’m going to take one recipe at a time and figure out how to substitute either the recipe or the wheat in it. Last night I took my souffle recipe and used oats instead of breadcrumbs. It turned out okay, except I think I need to increase the salt slightly, or add something else, since oats have less flavor than breadcrumbs. The texture was good, though.

I am also doing an experiment with kamut, and soon will try spelt. They are both related to wheat, but some people with a wheat allergy can eat them. So today I made cornbread (we eat it every week here!), and used freshly ground kamut flour in it. They didn’t raise quite as high as they would have with pastry flour (what I usually use), but they tasted just as good. I have also made it with barley flour, but I wanted to test the kamut. I have also made biscuits with 100% kamut flour, and they turned out beautifully. I haven’t had any wheat since Saturday, and I have been less itchy every night. If I get more itchy tonight, I’ll know I can’t eat kamut either. If I don’t, then maybe I can use it in place of wheat in some things. If not, I know I can make that recipe with barley flour (my mom does it that way), so at least I will be able to continue to make this family favorite!

I got a bread machine recipe for spelt bread, and I can get spelt flour at the grocery store. So I am going to try spelt soon. If I can handle kamut and spelt, I don’t think I’ll even miss wheat. If I can’t… well, then I guess I’ll have to get more creative!

Have you ever had an allergy show up in your adulthood? Please tell me about it! I would love to know how you dealt with it, how you adjusted. And check back soon for the results of today’s kamut test!

12 Responses

  1. #1
    Karen Jackson 

    Hi Lisa,

    I too live in Oregon in the Portland area, please email me would like to connect with you and share some information.
    Here is my phone number.503-929-0376.

  2. #2

    Yep…me too. I think I have had a sensitivity to it all my life. I will blog about it sometime. I am not totally wheat free, but sure can tell the difference since I quit eating bread, pancakes, pasta….

  3. #3

    I’ve become allergic to wheat, shrimp and other things. It all started a month after my father past away. The bread thing has evolved to tortillas . Am so upset, its very hard to eat .

  4. #4

    Thank you for sharing your allergy information. I am going crazy searching, reading, and looking up info on allergy to wheat. My son is 9 and has exzema. He has recently been getting really really bad. The itching is out of control. He also has had stomach issues in the past . About 3 years ago I took him to a pediatric gastrointerologist and she told me based on the symptoms it sounded like celiac disease, but she tested and came back negative. That was 2 1/2 years ago. He suddenly is getting really bad exzema and stomach issues again. Friends and Family tell me he is probably allergic to wheat. I do not want to have them pricking and testing him again so I wanted to know if there was a way to self test.

  5. #5

    Yes, Tayira, you can absolutely self test! If I were you, here is what i would do: Cut out all gluten. There are plenty of resources on the Internet to help you do that, but basically read labels and learn to look for hidden gluten (such as caramel color, unless it says gluten free–that would include most vanilla and soy sauce, for instance). Whether you go GF as a family or just cook special meals for him will depend on many factors, and only you can decide what you need to do.

    Anyhow, keep him on a GF diet for 4-6 weeks. I say this because even though he did not test positive for celiac disease doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a gluten intolerance. I read somewhere that 90% of people who are sensitive to gluten don’t know it. If he improves, then try testing other grains other than wheat (oats, rye, and barley are the other glutenous grains). If he reacts, then you know he needs to be gluten free. You’ll learn to embrace things like quinoa, millet, rice, and such, and also to use other things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc, that can make delicious dishes without gluten.

    If, on the other hand, he does not improve on the GF diet, then it might be that he is allergic to something else, either in place of or in addition to the gluten. In that case, you can do an elimination diet. Find several hypoallergenic foods, as few as possible, but make sure you get a balance of basic nutrients (ie, enough protein–add olive & flax seed oils if the diet is too low in fat). Keep him on that simple diet for at least 3-4 weeks. If the symptoms disappear, then start adding in foods one at a time, 2-3 days apart, and watch for symptoms. This is very hard to do, but it is the only reliable way to test for allergies on your own. Things you should add last would be nightshade (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc), citrus, and glutenous grains.

    There is also a blood test you can do that is fairly reliable (probably not as much as the skin test, but it can help). Ask your doctor to do an IgE blood allergy test. It requires a simple blood draw, and they can test for anything you want if the doctor is willing to authorize it. He will get an IgE score–if it’s over 100, then he definitely has allergies. They test for basic things, such as grains, meat, oranges, lettuce, some nuts, and so on. About 20 things. If you suspect other things, you can ask them to add them to the list.

    Hope that gives you some ideas. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, just a mother, and it would be a good idea to run anything you do by your doctor. Also, I would suggest you check out my other blog, I know your son isn’t a baby now, but some of the information might be relevant still (such as the Renew lotion–you should look into getting some, as well as the other Renew products).

  6. #6

    So I’m 22 and have suffered with environmental allergies and chronic asthma my entire life. I’ve ate a very heavy diet of wheat all my life. But a few months ago my asthma attacks just were asthma attacks. My throat was swelling and after ruling out what we thought was acid reflux it has been confirmed by skin testing I have developed a severe allergy to wheat. I can share my insane back picture of how bad I reacted. So being 22 someone who loves sports pizza and beer I tried living in denial. Until last Saturday when I went into anaphylactic shock and needless to say me and my new friend the epi pen are ready to accept this and move on – no more denial. I just don’t even know where to start. I’m afraid to eat anything so I’m basically living of slim fast shakes and vegetables. I’m starving all the time and don’t want this new love-hate attitude towards food to cause nutritional problems. I just need some kinda for dummies app!

  7. #7

    My brother was allergic to wheat growing up. I have a few ideas that might help you.

    First, there are lots of gluten free options available now. Not that you have to avoid gluten, but if it’s gluten-free, it’s wheat-free too. Potatoes and other roots are wheat free. If you’re not a vegetarian, meat is wheat free. So are eggs and cheese. Embrace rice, millet, barley (unless you rally are allergic to gluten; barley has gluten). Oats should be okay too.

    A lot of ethnic foods are wheat free, but watch soy sauce–most soy sauce has caramel color which could be made from soy, and others actually have wheat. Learn to read labels. Cook more from scratch. Wheat-free breads leave something to be desired. But corn tortillas are find, as are almost all chips except sun chips. Get some cookbooks and learn how to cook from scratch. Bisquix has a gluten-free pancake mix, or you could experiment with using a non-wheat flour in your favorite pancake recipe; pancakes are very forgiving.

    I wish you could see my son’s list of allergies–it’s almost everything people eat every day. It would help you see how much variety you do have.

    One thing I would check is to see if you have yeast/candida. It could be a source of some of your troubles. Or not. But it wouldn’t hurt to check.

    Good luck!

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