A Food Challenge Success Story
When I was a year old, I had a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter. Following that reaction, my family and I vigilantly avoided anything containing peanuts so that I could stay healthy and safe.
I was extremely careful never to come in contact with peanuts! During the last 15 years, the rules were instilled in me: always check labels, and if the wrapper says “may contain” or even “made in a plant that processes nuts,” never eat the food. As I became a teenager, I started to look at those foods that “may contain peanuts” and think how delicious they looked. But unfortunately, I just couldn’t eat the stuff I wanted.
When I turned 16, I started to find myself in situations where peanuts were in the air around me and surprisingly, I was fine. About six months later, I went to my allergist for my yearly visit. I told him, almost jokingly, that I thought I wasn’t allergic to peanuts anymore since I had smelled it and had no reaction. And he told me with all seriousness, that I just might be right, and that some people can outgrow their allergies! I was astounded. He said that although I probably didn’t have an airborne allergy anymore, I still must be very careful not to have any contact with peanuts. After getting a blood test, which confirmed that my IgE levels were very low, my doctor suggested I have a food challenge where they would give me a little bit of peanut and monitor me closely to see if I react.
Recently I had this food challenge. I was really anxious because I had never gone near peanuts. I had always trained myself to keep away from nuts so that I would stay safe. And now I was going to actually consume the food I had refrained from eating my whole life!
At my test, the doctor gave me one little chocolate-covered peanut candy in a cup and told me to eat it. I ate it, and nothing happened. Nothing. I was still alive and breathing! After about 10 minutes, I ate some pudding with peanut powder mixed in (I didn’t like the Reese’s pieces). Ten minutes later I ate a chocolate-covered peanut butter cup (that tasted pretty nasty also). And after I had eaten peanut products six times without a reaction, the doctor declared that I was no longer allergic to peanuts!
It is exciting that now, at 17 years old, I don’t have to worry about foods having unsafe allergens in them. But having allergies has taught me so much over the years, including how to look out for myself and how to deal with being different. Even though I don’t have allergies anymore, all that I have learned is all to my benefit.