Coping with garlic allergy may be hard for most people because garlic is one of the most common ingredients in many dishes. Unfortunately—because garlic is so widely used—not a lot of people allergic to it are aware that it’s causing them digestive problems.
Now before we list down how to cope with garlic allergy, it’s important to determine if you are intolerant or allergic to it. There is a fine line between allergy and intolerance.
A food allergy is the body’s immune system response to irritants. When the body mistakes certain types of food as harmful, it releases antibodies to fight the irritants. Typical symptoms of food allergy include hive breakout, swelling, nausea, diarrhea, asthma, and itchiness all over the body. Severe allergic reaction will require immediate medical attention and complete avoidance of food that caused the reaction.
On the other hand, food intolerance is the digestive system’s response to irritants. This condition occurs when a person ate something that irritates the digestive tract. Food intolerance also occurs when the food ingested cannot be broken down properly because of enzyme or chemical deficiency. Although food intolerance is not life threatening, it could cause discomforts and symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, headaches, bloating, and stomachache. Severe occurrences of food intolerance would cause the symptoms to last for days.
To determine if you are indeed allergic or intolerant, it’s best to consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
How to Cope With Garlic Allergy or Intolerance
If say, you are dining out and you want to make sure your food is garlic-free, don’t be afraid to ask questions. When booking a reservation, ask the chef if he can accommodate a garlic-free meal for you. Ask what other options you have and let him know about your condition.
Once you are in the restaurant, ask for service meal options that are garlic-free, let servers know about your condition, and only order dishes on the menu are free from garlic. If the server couldn’t answer most of your questions, it’s best to look for another place to eat.
Choose Your Meals Wisely
Again, because garlic is such a common food ingredient, most dishes do contain garlic. After all, garlic is widely used in the US, Europe, and Asia. However, there are certain cuisines that do not have garlic at all, such as Japanese cuisine. Italian cuisine is not heavy on garlic so that’s a great option too.
Do Your Own Cooking
If you’re not keen on the idea of asking a million questions about garlic content on a restaurant’s menu when you dine out, opt to prepare your own food. No one knows your sensitivity more than you do. By prepping your own food, you don’t have to worry about the consequences because you know the dishes are prepared to accommodate your condition.
Read the Labels
Watch out for food with hidden garlic content! If you have severe garlic allergy, make it a habit to read the labels of store-bought or pre-packaged foods. Most manufacturers do not list garlic as an ingredient, it’s left unnamed as “spices.” If your case is extremely severe, we recommend shopping in specialty stores or prepare your food from scratch.
Go for Steamed or Grilled Dishes
Most grilled dishes contain very little ingredients. This makes it a great choice when you’re living with garlic allergy. Grilled steaks, as well as steamed or grilled fish, are usually cooked with just salt, pepper, and a little butter. That said, if you’re dining out, make sure to instruct your server and chef to leave garlic out. Always have the sauce served on the side or completely off.
Adjust Your Cooking
Find different ways to adjust your cooking to accommodate your condition. For example, if you’re intolerant to garlic, sauté the garlic until golden brown before adding other ingredients. Don’t mince the garlic; just roughly crush it to make it easier to pick out later. In traditional Italian cooking, garlic is used but later removed from the dish to make the flavor light.
On the other hand, if you’re allergic to the stuff, don’t take chances. Not a lot of people regard garlic allergy as a real medical condition but it is. It’s important to remove any trace of garlic in all dishes if you are allergic to it. Most store-bought sauces, dips, and seasonings do contain traces of garlic so make sure you tick all these off your shopping list.
Cross contamination is also an issue when trying to eliminate certain foods from your diet. When preparing food, make sure you are using utensils with “garlic-free” plating.