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Being less than diligent is dangerous particularly as it relates to a food allergy. It has been years, literally, since our son had an allergic reaction to a food. Things have gone so smoothly that it went from being foremost in my mind when he’s going out or I’m cooking and that is a dangerous thing. He started with an allergy to eggs and strawberries and grew out of both of those only to grow into a new set of allergies months later with the onset on adolescence. The new allergies were white fish, sesame, tree nuts and peanuts. The idea that we had narrowly escaped so many episodes with any one of those was enough to throw me into a bit of tailspin. Asian food was scrutinized for sesame, fishes, fish sauces were avoided and nuts, well nuts and peanuts were forbidden. The other night seizing the opportunity to make a bean soup (since my husband can’t eat beans and he was away), I grabbed the package of bean soup mix — you know the one containing the dried beans and seasoning to which I added my own onions, celery, tomato and chicken. The soup cooked all day on the stove and smelled delicious. Accompanied by some fresh homemade bread, it would be a delicious dinner.

A few mouthfuls into the meal, I noticed that my son had stopped eating. Very unlike my son and very unlike most teenage boys I know. My question was answered with another “are there lentils in this soup?” Why yes, I do believe that the package contained lentils in addition to several types of white beans. Well, within a short period of time everything went from okay to not so much okay. Benadryl was distributed. His throat was tight and he was queasy – two of his telltale allergy signs from when he was as young as 18 months (he is quickly approaching 18 years). Without giving it any thought at all, turns out I had almost done the poor kid in.

Sure enough, giving a little research I learned that peanuts, lentils, soy, peas and chickpeas are all related in the family known as legumes — damn I knew that too, but I just wasn’t thinking. A person with a peanut allergy is 80% likely to have an allergy to one of these other legumes and 60% likely to have an allergy to at least three. Legumes account for some of the most severe allergic reactions to food. Cross reactions are common with legume allergies evidently so given his peanut allergy, it is not unusual that he is also allergic to lentils and could possibly be allergic to other legumes such as chickpeas and soy. While other beans, like the white beans in the soup are also legumes, these beans and green beans are less likely to be the subject of a food allergy. Peas, now peas are another thing. He has an itchiness in his throat when he eats fresh peas or canned or frozen, so peas are on the list in this house. Now, evidently, lentils are as well.

He is fine now, although mom is scarred. In an attempt to make a nice dinner for us, I almost spent the evening in the emergency room and it could have been so much worse.  That will teach me.

So, a word of warning to other with food allergies or family members with food allergies – be diligent.

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