Doctor: “You have a shellfish allergy.”
Patient: “So, I shouldn’t eat any shellfish?”
Doctor: “No no no, you shouldn’t eliminate an entire food group like that. It’s important to eat a balanced diet. Tell you what—here’s a bucket of EpiPens and some Benedryl. You can keep eating shellfish, just administer these immediately afterwards.”
Sounds stupid, right? The obvious answer is: no more shellfish. You’re allergic. Sorry.
Yet this is the exact same advice given to millions of those who have demonstrated one or more of the symptoms of a Carbohydate Allergy.
Now, for the purists and medical professionals: I’m not saying that people literally have an allergy to carbohydrate. From Wikipedia:
“An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.”
A Useful Model
What I’m talking about is more accurately called a “hypersensitivity,” but I will use the word “allergy” because although it’s not technically accurate it’s an extremely useful model that helps people fit the information they’re given into an already-existing framework.
A model is a way of thinking about something that may or may not accurately represent that thing in a literal sense. Like when you’re giving directions using North, South, East, and West; it might not literally be North, but if someone is going towards the sun at 4pm and turns right because of your instruction to “head North,” then “North” was a useful model to use.
Onward: If you have a shellfish, peanut, or other food allergy, you experience its symptoms following the consumption of that food. These symptoms happen to include—but are not limited to—hives, inflammation, swelling, redness, or an asthma attack. The symptoms are usually quite immediate and therefore easy to notice.
When a non-susceptible person eats these foods, there are no symptoms. Everything is normal. They do not have the allergy.
If you have a Carbohydrate Allergy, you experience its symptoms following the excessive consumption of high-carbohydrate foods. These symptoms happen to include—but are not limited to—dips in energy levels (you become “lazy”), disregulation of satiety signals (you become “hungry”), elevated blood pressure, widespread inflammation, the excessive accumulation of body fat, and eventually Type-II Diabetes. The symptoms are usually quite gradual and therefore difficult to notice.
When a non-susceptible person eats these foods, there are no symptoms. Everything is normal. They do not have the allergy. I’d note that the majority of people do not have a Carbohydrate Allergy.
Do You Have a Carbohydrate Allergy?
To help you decide for yourself, I’ve constructed this handy and impressive flow chart:
Having been told they have a shellfish allergy, no reasonable person would have a problem quickly coming to grips with the fact that unless they want to endure the symptoms of the allergy, they’re going to have to drastically reduce—maybe down to zero—their shellfish intake. And no doctor would hesitate to give them the news and recommend this reduction in intake.
Yet when it’s a Carbohydrate Allergy, the doctor behaves just like the doctor at the beginning of this article.
Even today, in 2013, the officially-recommended diet for people diagnosed with Diabetes—which is curable—includes carbohydrate, which directly exacerbates the condition.
One more time: Even today, in twenty-fucking-thirteen, the officially-recommended diet for people who are allergic to carbohydrate includes carbohydrate, THE VERY FUCKING THING TO WHICH THEY ARE ALLERGIC.
The process of gaining fat, unlike some of the acute symptoms of actual allergies, is not immediately painful or life-threatening. It’s easy to take it lightly. I know several diabetics who will have “just a slice” of cheesecake or a couple of muffins that “looked really good” at breakfast. When I point out that they “have fucking Diabetes,” they mumble something about how they “know it’s bad” but “just one or two” won’t kill them.
I see fat people, every single day, eating the allergen to which they are allergic even as they are suffering from the allergy.
Stop it. Get your shit together.
This is like our shellfish allergy sufferer sitting at Red Lobster, red-eyed, barely breathing, covered in hives, shoveling forkfuls of shrimp scampi into his puffy, swollen face.
The task of educating everyone is made harder by the Calories-In-vs.-Calories-Out proponents, who insist that the guy can still enjoy shellfish, just not so much. Guys: you’re not helping. A person who’s allergic to cats is not allergic because more snot is leaving his face than coming in; he’s sneezing like that because he’s allergic. It’s important not to mistake the real cause/effect relationship.
If you do not have excess fat and are regular-sized, there is no good reason to restrict, on purpose, your intake of carbohydrate. You do not have a Carbohydrate Allergy. Go to town.
If you have excess fat, a useful model that’s easy to understand is that you have a Carbohydrate Allergy. To reduce the symptoms, you must drastically reduce—or eliminate—your exposure to the allergen.