Even if you take supplements, a sound diet of wisely selected, nutritious food is critical to successful allergy control. First of all, if your diet is in any way limited because of food allergies, there’s simply no room remaining for nutrient-poor foods. Secondly, snacks and other processed or convenience foods are more likely to quarter hidden offenders than straightforward, wholesome fare. More broadly, however, allergies of any kind demand all the goodness and nutrition you can muster from your diet so that you bolster total health. It’s much like proper car maintenance: the best tune-up in the world won’t make your car run well if you’re still pumping low-grade petrol.
Dr Robert W. Boxer, an allergist in Chicago, told us, ‘I give everyone who walks into this office a list of foods to avoid – coffee (including decaffeinated), soft drinks, beverages with chemical additives and preservatives, chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cake, pastries, refined sugar (beet or cane), bleached white flour and some brands of ice cream. I tell them, “I don’t think these foods are good for you. They have no nutritional value – or very little – and they may hurt you. So, in my opinion, you should stay away from them. Your allergies will bother you less. You’ll have more resistance to toxins in your environment.”
‘I tell that to every patient, and I’ve been doing it for many years,’ says Dr Boxer. ‘I don’t expect them to stay off junk food totally, because they won’t be able to. But to the extent that they can, they should.’
One way to cut down on nutritionally poor food is to stop eating snacks or desserts that you don’t really want. Casual and almost constant nibbling – reaching for a food just for the sake of something to do – does more harm than an occasional full-scale binge.
You may find that cutting down on junk foods comes easily and naturally. For people who are serious about controlling their allergies, good nutrition appears to be one more solid stepping stone to total relief.