Is An Allergy to E Numbers My Problem?

I think that I have finally uncovered the mystery of why I have been having strange symptoms for the last few years. I can go days without any symptoms and then suddenly get all the symptoms at one. My symptoms have include rashes covering large parts of my body, bowel problems, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and swelling. At one point I was seeing a rheumatologist, a dermatologist, an oncologist and a haematologist.

Nobody could find out what was wrong with me but they did find several other problems. For example, I had a severe vitamin D deficiency and moderate levels of lupus anticoagulant in my blood along with raised red and white blood cells. However, none of this explained my symptoms. 

I began to wonder if my diet was having any impact on the symptoms as several doctors said that my rash looked like an allergic reaction to something. I have racked my brains to think what I have eaten that has triggered the symptoms and was even keeping a food diary at one point. 

Over the past few weeks, I have not had many of the symptoms and then this week, I have had two bad flare-ups. The first was after visiting my local Indian restaurant (for which a review will follow). I have eaten take away food from there on several occasions and usually order the madras.  The night I visited the restaurant was a special promotional event where they were giving away free food on a set food menu. We had a selection of dishes including a tikka masala, a rogan josh, and a vegetable curry. When I got home, my skin was in a terrible state, covered in hives. My bottom lip was so swollen that it felt solid.

The second flare up was this morning. Over the past few weeks, I have made several diet and lifestyle changes and this may be why I have not had many of the symptoms. One thing I have given up is fizzy drinks. At the shop this morning, I decided to treat myself to a bottle of fizzy pop that was on offer. I am not sure if I should name the brand on my blog, but it is bright orange and associated with Scotland. I will let you guess. Within minutes of drinking a glass of this beverage, I was itching all over and had huge hives all up my arms. 

I Googled the name of the drink along with the word allergies and thousands of results came up stating that people are commonly allergic to this beverage because it contains a coloring called E214, also known as cochineal. This made me think about the tikka masala I had eaten. Food coloring is often used in this dish to achieve the bright red color. 

The more I have looked into E numbers in food today, the more convinced I am that this may have caused my health problems. For the most part, I cook all the food in the house using fresh produce and use very little canned or pre-prepared food that is likely to contain additives, such as flavourings, preservatives, colourings and stabilisers. Anything that I have included in my diet in the past that would contain such things has been beverages, such as fizzy drinks and wine. As these are things I have avoided over the past few weeks, it makes sense that this is potentially the cause of the problems. 

I also found an interesting chart that identifies the most harmful E numbers, the alternative names for them, what they are used for, and the symptoms they are known to cause. If you are interested in this subject, you can read this here.

I think that it is also important that I add a DISCLAIMER at this point. This article is not intended as dietary or health advice. The information included is based on my personal experiences and not on any proven medical studies. My degree is in education and not in medicine or nutrition!

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Progress with My Healthier Lifestyle

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A few months ago I posted that I was embarking on a healthier lifestyle and I was hopeful that I would lose weight in the process. The great news is that I have already lost 16 pounds!

I haven’t started a strict fitness regime or started a restricted diet; I have simply made a few changes to my lifestyle and eating habits. Here are the changes I have made to achieve this weight loss:

  • Cut out fizzy drinks
  • Cut down on wine intake
  • Walk back from the school run every morning
  • Stopped eating snacks in bed

Something that has helped is the sugar tax being implemented in the UK. I disagreed with this initially but it has prompted me to stop buying fizzy drinks and to drink water instead. 

If I continue with these few simple lifestyle changes, I am hoping that I will continue to lose weight and lose another 16 pounds before my birthday in November. Wish me luck!

RECIPE: Cinnamon Apple Crisps

cinnamon apple crisps

My children love eating fruit and I am always looking for interesting ways to include fruit in their diet other than simply allowing them to help themselves out of the fruit bowl. They also love to help out in the kitchen and I believe that it is important that children learn how to cook. One simple snack that we have been making together recently is cinnamon apple crisps. Not only is this a really simple recipe, it is also a healthy and delicious snack. I have really enjoyed eating these while I have been trying to lose weight. Here is how to make cinnamon apple crisps. 

Ingredients for Cinnamon Apple Crisps

  • 4 apples
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • (Optional sugar if you do not want a healthy snack)

How to Make Cinnamon Apple Crisps

  1. Preheat the oven to 110C.
  2. Decore the apples- see tips’
  3. Thinly slice the apples so the slices measure approximately 5mm thickness.
  4. Lie the slices of apples on baking trays.
  5. Sprinkle over the cinnamon. If you prefer the apples sweeter and you are not concerned about this being a healthy snack, you can also sprinkle over a little sugar.
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before eating. 

TIPS

The easiest way to core an apple is to use an apple corer. However, if you do not have one of these, it is not the only option. You can carefully remove the core with a sharp knife. If you are not confident about your knife skills, then you can slice the apples first and then cut the core section out of the individual slices. 

WATCH: Fun Food Hacks for Vegans

Although I am not a vegan, I am a fan of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables in my diet and trying new things. I also make a couple of meals per week that are plant-based meals and am always on the lookout for new ideas. Today, I came across this interesting video of food hacks for vegans. I thought it may interest not only vegans but also people who enjoy vegetarian food and those who are trying to reduce the amount of meat they include in their diet. 

RECIPE: Easy Bean Dip

bean dip

This easy bean dip is a tasty but low-fat option to serve on a buffet or as a snack. It is surprisingly quick and simple to make and the result is delicious considering the lack of effort required to make this dip. Here is an easy recipe for bean dip. 

Ingredients for Bean Dip

  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans. 
  • 4 heaped tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

How to Make Bean Dip

  1. Put half the beans and chickpeas into a food processor with the yoghurt, lemon juice, cumin, and garlic.
  2. Blitz into a smooth paste. 
  3. Add the remaining beans and chickpeas along with the lemon zest.
  4. Blitz only quickly to get a chunky bean dip. 
  5. Serve with crudites, flatbreads, or other dipping ingredients. 

 

 

 

I’m NOT ‘On a Diet’

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I have recently posted a few blogs about how I am trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight. It’s annoying me how many people have asked me how my diet is going or if I am struggling with being on a diet. I hate the term ‘on a diet’ and refuse to use it.
First of all, everybody has a diet, it is just that some people’s are healthier than others. A diet is simply what you eat. Second, if you refer to yourself as being ‘on a diet’, I think it gives the impression that you are depriving yourself in some way and struggling on through life. These are the reasons why I do not refer to myself as being ‘on a diet’.
I prefer to call it changing my eating habits or adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Anyway, I have hardly deprived my self of anything. I have simply made a few changes in an effort to fit back into my jeans. My biggest sacrifice, if you want to call it that, is to reduce my wine intake. Desperate times call for desperate measures! Other than that, I have replaced fizzy drinks with water, put sweeteners in my coffee, stopped eating crisps in bed and walked a bit more. That is the extent of my efforts so far.
It is already working. Making these simple changes to my eating and lifestyle habits have led to a weight loss so far of six pounds in under two weeks. Hopefully, I will have hit the half a stone mark by next week.

Catch up with my previous weight loss posts here:

My New Weight Loss Plan

A Mixed Start to My Healthy Lifestyle

 

A Mixed Start to My New Healthy Lifestyle

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I wrote a post the other day about how much weight I have put on and realizing that I need to make some drastic changes to my eating habits and my lifestyle to lose weight and improve my health. (You can read it here if you missed it). So far, I have had a fairly mixed start in my efforts to do this.

In terms of my eating, I have done well. It is not the meals that I eat that are particularly unhealthy, nor the portion sizes as I have a relatively small appetite. My problem is the late night snacking that is encouraged by my partner buying me treats. My second problem is drink rather than food. I drink lots of coffee with sugar, fizzy soda drinks, and wine. 

I have done well with removing the snacks from my diet and my partner has been good about not buying chocolate and crisps. I have cut down on wine, replaced sodas with water, and started taking sweeteners in my coffee. I even ate some new potatoes with a ham salad the other day without drowning them in butter.

My problem has been my lack of exercise. The main plan was to start walking and swimming again. My first plan was that my mum would come on the school run with a few times a week. We would take the children to school in her car and she would then drive off to conduct her own business for the day, leaving me outside the school. It is a 2.5-mile walk back from school, and this is a pleasant distance to walk. It is particularly nice if the weather is good and I often walk along the coastal path, which has excellent views across the bay and estuary. 

I have already been thwarted in my plans to do this as my work deadlines have meant that I have needed to drive straight home from school to complete work for my clients. I am not disheartened, I have planned my workload better for next week to make sure that I get to do the walk home a few times. My best effort at walking so far has been when I went on a spa day with my sister and mum and we walked a few miles around the shops. Does shopping count as exercise?

My swimming plans have also fallen by the wayside. I bought a swimming costume while I was away ready to start doing lengths at the swimming pool. I tried to go swimming with my older son on Saturday. However, by the time I had found out the opening times and he had gone to ask his friend from down the road if he wanted to come along, it wouldn’t have been worth making the drive as the pool was due to close. 

I am just making excuses now and I hope to do a lot better this week. I am certainly not planning to give up. We hope to get married this year and that is motivation enough for anyone to lose weight and not become the center of attention for all the wrong reasons on their wedding day.