Many years ago (18+ years ago) I had to attend a hospital to undertake patch tests to understand what exactly I was allergic to.
The main issues for me were Cinnamon, Vanilla and Benzoate, (E210-E219) and advised to follow the Cinnamon & Benzoate free diet. Luckily I did not have a problem with chocolate, many other sufferers do.
I was suffering from OFG – Orofacial granulomatosis.
Orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) is a condition which affects mainly the mouth and lips. Swelling and redness are the most common symptoms but other symptoms such as mouth ulcers and cracked lips can occur too.
To be honest at the time, I was handed a bundle of photocopied sheets of papers telling me all the things that I could NOT eat, not really a diet list with recipes for the things that I could eat.
There was a few things that I could tell the nurses as a starting point, I couldn’t use coloured toothpaste, (it burned my mouth), I had a problem with oranges, fresh tomatoes and coffee.
Once I had taken in all the things in the sheets, I headed off to the supermarket to do my weekly shopping.
This was a real eye opener as the majority of the foods that I had previously bought, (3 hours in the supermarket and £10 spent) I could no longer eat/use. I also had to be very careful of cleaning materials, shampoo, shower gel, moisturisers, make-up etc.
The main culprit Sodium Benzoate (E211) is added to bottles, jars and cans to preserve the colour or not as the case maybe, this includes fizzy drinks.
There a number of lists available from various organisations that you can have a look at if you need more information. I have started to compile a more comprehensive list as you will see for yourself that the lists are quite general and when you need to understand the details, it is easier to have a comprehensive list to help you move forward and find foods that you can eat, rather than just a big list of things that you can’t.
Cork University Dental School & Hospital
Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
There is a facebook page Benzoate Intolerance Support Group, managed by a sufferer and has lots of very useful information.
Although Benzoate is a preservative and clinically generated, it is also naturally produced in a number of foods and hence the reason for so many fresh foods that you need to avoid as part of the Cinnamon & Benzoate free diet.
I have over the years developed lots of recipes for my own use, primarily because I want to eat nice, good food.
I cut out all of the foods at the beginning, which you really need to do as to ensure you cleanse your system and then gradually and systematically I re-intorduced things to see what the impact was, you need to start testing the extent of your allergy as I found there was various things that caused a knock on effect, but on their own I could tolerate.
Once I had cleared my system of cinnamon (which I had had a bit of an overload of, breakfast cereals, toasts, etc) I found that over time, I could re-introduce citrus fruits and fresh tomatoes with minimal effect.
I know that I can not eat, spicy things, things with chilies and the majority of sauces/pastes in jars.
I have to read the ingredients list on every label on every jar/bottle/can/packet at every visit to the supermarket, as products that were safe last week, the manufacturer may have changed the ingredients.
I have found that the majority of the time the supermarkets own brands do not have benzoate in them and I can use their shampoo and shower gels, not what you usually expect.