January 19, 2017

Sulfite Breakthrough!

Sulfite...What? If you had asked me two days ago what sulfites were, I would have given you a blank stare. Maybe it has something to do with vinegar...hmm. Well, yesterday as I was contemplating why on earth I had reacted to foods that were normally a part of my diet, when my mom suggested maybe it had something to do with sulfites (NOT sulFATE). We had eaten a meal a day prior that was smothered in balsamic vinegar and had veggies that were cooked in a white wine sauce. I was skeptical but I decided to look it up anyways. I figured a little research never hurt anyone ;) What I found was shocking!

Almost EVERY single item on my list of things I react to was ON THE LIST of high sulfite foods! I just HAD to do more research! As it turns out, almost every processed food item has some level of sulfite. The more processed, the more sulfite. It is used as an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial to keep things fresher longer and to preserve the appearances of things like dried fruit and canned goods (thankfully, the FDA has banned the use of sulfite on fresh produce!) One of the most puzzling things to me was the fact that I reacted STRONGLY to white sugar, brown sugar, and molasses, yet I could eat honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar without problems. Apparently, products derived from either sugar cane or sugar beets are high in sulfites! This kind of problem solving made me excited to learn more!

Some vegetables and fruits have naturally occurring sulphur content. Because our body sometimes process sulphur similar to sulfite, people with this allergy sometimes need to be cautious. However, this is not a huge concern as often the levels are low and rarely cause reaction. What we DO need to be concerned about, is the sulfite content in processed food. It is quite intriguing to think of yourself as being "allergic" to processed food and I am just glad that my reaction is mild!

Some foods that are high in sulfites include:

  • pre-made baked goods
  • pumpkin seeds
  • shrimp
  • soft cheeses
  • canned goods
  • alcoholic drinks
  • processed fruits and veggies
  • condiments
  • processed food in general
  • jams and jellies
  • soup and gravy mixes
  • bottled water (!)
  • grapes and raisins
  • products of sugar cane or sugar beets (sugar, molasses, corn syrup, corn syrup solids...) 
  • peanuts
  • black pepper
  • hominy
  • soy products
  • citric acid
  • "natural flavoring"
  • iodized salt (!)
This list has many things that I enjoy eating, and have tried to reintroduce into my diet, but knowing that if I have a taste, I am encouraging my body to fight against itself is motivation enough to avoid them. I am so incredibly thankful for finding new discoveries like this one-who would have thought that sulfites make me feel bad? As much as it hurts to say good bye, I am making huge progress which is more than worth the purge! And, as an added bonus, I KNOW to avoid the foods on this list! So, instead of trying to reintroduce black pepper into my diet, I can focus on other things that are more likely to be well-tolerated! Yay!

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