MSG Allergy : Always Eat Carefully

Do you think you have an MSG allergy? Going out to eat is always a challenge because typically you don’t know what is in the food you are eating. Whether you think its a food intolerance, an allergy or an adverse reaction you don’t want to be on the other end. MSG otherwise known as monosodium glutamate is used in more food than the average American thinks.

Monosodium glutamate is a chemical used by food manufacturers as well as Asian cooks. It is used to enhance the flavor of food. It does even more than this in that it and other chemicals are used in food to make them appear more abundant and nutritious than they are. It also makes people feel full faster. An MSG allergy is hard to manage when eating out because usually you can’t tell what the spices or chemicals are that may have been added to the food. You actually have to try asking the waiter and they sometimes are reluctant to give the full lists in their recipes.

MSG is thought to usually be found in ethnic foods, such as those cooked in Chinese restaurants but the reality is that the actual chemical monosodium glutamate is used in everyday things such as certain chip type snacks and instant soups. Even a well known fast food chicken restaurant is said to use it. If you have an MSG allergy, particularly if your reactions are severe, you should pick what you eat very carefully.

You may be asking what are the symptoms for MSG allergies?

Typical food allergies upset the stomach but it appears that those with an MSG allergy are usually plagued by headaches, some throbbing and severe. They can experience dizziness, tightening of the jaw and/or throat. If you suspect you are having an adverse reaction to msg check with and allergist who can provide you with a more comprehensive list.

So how do you prevent your MSG allergy?

  • Ask for ingredient lists when you go out to a restaurant. Thought this still is a little difficult it is getting better as the US is passing laws aimed at getting restaurants to provide healthier foods. The banning of trans fats in some cities is a good example of this. Fast food restaurants in particular are attempting to provide some nutritional information. You just need to understand how complete it is though.
  • Ask for a dish to be prepared without monosodium glutamate if at all possible. In theory this can be done the issue is whether the restaurant will be able or willing to accommodate you.
  • Inform anyone cooking for you, even at home about your MSG sensitivity so they are looking at the ingredient list of anything they use in their cooking.

Reactions to MSG can be severe to the point of requiring immediate medical attention. An MSG allergy can best be identified by an allergist. Be sure to keep your primary care physician involved as well to make sure that your allergy is not something potentially more life threatening. The allergist has a better idea of the full range of foods that have MSG and therefore he will be able to help you identify which ones better.

As with any food allergy the key is to avoid it once you know what it is. An MSG allergy does not have to ruin your appreciation for food. You can still enjoy Chinese food. Just make sure to ask questions everywhere you eat food, the danger is in more places than you think.

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