Nut allergies are becoming a big part of the American diet, and the list of ingredients that must be used in order to get the best of both worlds is growing.
But for some people, nut allergies are actually a lot more challenging than they seem.
The Daily Beast spoke with several allergy sufferers about their journey from peanut allergy to nut allergy, what they’re working on and what it’s like to find out your nut allergy is not as serious as you think.
“It’s really hard to get to the point where I don’t have nut allergies,” says Julia, 27, a graphic designer from North Carolina.
“I’m always in the kitchen, in the grocery store, in grocery stores, in a lot of places, and I’ve never had a problem with nuts.
I think that’s really cool.”
Julia is one of the many people who say that if you look hard enough, you can find a number of products that are nut-free or nut-friendly, and they’re often in very small quantities.
“Most nut-lover’s are aware of the fact that they need to buy their own nuts.
That’s not the case for me,” she says.
Julia started using peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, and pistachio seeds in 2009 and has now used almost all of the ingredients listed on the nut allergy label, including hazelnuts, hazel seeds, flax seeds, peanut oil, and cashews.
“If you have a reaction, it’s going to be a little bit more intense, because of the oil, the oils and the fiber in the nuts, and it’s really difficult to avoid the nuts,” she explains.
Julia says she has not experienced a nut reaction.
Julie says that she and her husband, who is also a graphic design student, also find that nut allergies tend to linger in their families for quite some time.
“We have four children and I’m the only one that’s allergic to nuts, so I feel like we’re the only ones that need to worry about it,” she said.
Julia is not the only person who finds it hard to find a product that is nut- or nut-,free.
“There are so many people that are using the same nuts, the same nut products, that it really feels like it’s almost a burden,” says Melissa, 32, who works at a food truck.
“A lot of the times, I feel it’s just not worth it to get rid of those things.”
In addition to the fact the ingredients are different, the way they are processed is also different, and Julia says that it’s a lot harder to find products that meet her nutritional needs.
“You can’t just go to the grocery or a grocery store and pick up some peanut butter and say, ‘Oh, this is really good.
I’ve found this product that I’m really into,'” she explains, adding that there are many brands that are marketed as “nut-free,” but are really just not.”
The ingredients can be different, it may be in the form of nuts or seeds or oils that aren’t nut- and nut-containing,” says Melissa.
“And that can be a bit confusing for people to figure out what they are eating and why.”
Julie and Melissa are part of a small group of people who have discovered that their allergy isn’t as severe as they might think.
“At the same time, there are people who are not as comfortable with their symptoms as we are, because they don’t feel that they are having an allergic reaction, and that they aren’t having an allergy to the nuts themselves,” Melissa says.
“They’re just reacting to the environment around them.”
“You can get to a point where you just want to go back to a normal life and that’s okay, but if you do have an allergy that’s not really as severe, it can be harder to get there,” says Emily, who lives in Los Angeles and is also an avid peanut and almond eater.
Emily says that after her daughter was diagnosed with peanut allergy, she began using hazelnut oil and almond oil, but that it took a few months before she felt comfortable eating them.
“The hazel nuts and the almond oils are kind of a different animal,” she admits.
“It’s not that they’re not nut-based, it just takes time.”
Emily says she also has a difficult time understanding how a peanut allergy can be considered a medical condition.
“But there are a lot people who will be looking at me like I’m crazy, because I feel so much like I need to eat the hazel nut oil and the nut oils to keep me healthy, and then I feel that way,” she adds.
Emily says that, in addition to being allergic to peanuts, she also is allergic to the oils from hazel and almond trees.
“When I was growing up in