Living with an egg intolerance can be very challenging because of the many common egg-containing foods that many of us eat on a daily basis. To make it even more difficult, eggs can be listed on product packaging under different names. It can be a very frustrating intolerance to live with!
Here is some information on egg intolerance including its symptoms, egg substitutions, meal ideas and more to help you fully understand egg intolerance and how to best live with it.
What is Egg Intolerance?
An egg intolerance is when the body is unable to appropriately digest or it has an adverse reaction to certain portions of an egg. The majority of people who suffer from egg intolerance are intolerant only to the egg white. Being intolerant to egg yolk (foetus), while possible, is much more uncommon.
Egg intolerance affects nearly 1.5% of children, and this number may be rising. A child with an egg intolerance may see it disappear, however, they may also carry the egg sensitivity into adulthood.
Egg Intolerance Symptoms
Difficulty Breathing or Wheezing
When an Egg Intolerance is NOT an Intolerance
Egg intolerance is not the only problem you could have with eggs. You may instead be suffering from a delayed hypersensitivity or delayed allergy to eggs. A delayed allergy, also called “hidden” allergy, is the immune system’s overreaction to a food or chemical. These delayed reactions can occur 3 hours to 3 weeks after exposure to the item. If you have a delayed allergy to eggs, when you eat or are exposed to eggs, your immune system goes into action to “protect” you from what is really a harmless food. When your immune system stays in this defense mode for an extended period it becomes over-stressed and ultimately will not do what it should to protect you from real threats like viruses, bacteria, etc. Because of the delay between exposure and symptoms, a delayed allergy to eggs is almost impossible to identify without a very precise blood test called the LRA.
Chicken eggs are one of the items tested in the LRA evaluation for delayed allergies (click here to get tested for a delayed hypersensitivity or delayed allergy to eggs). You can be sensitive to egg white, egg yolk, or both.
Of course you can also have an immediate allergy to eggs. With immediate allergies, reactions occur within minutes of exposure and include symptoms like hives, itching, stomach cramps. These allergies can be severe.
If you feel like your allergy may be “immediate”, please get tested for an immediate allergy here.
10 Items you might not know that may include eggs
Cream pies & fillings
Coffee drinks like cappuccino (sometimes eggs are used to help create the foam)
Breaded and batter-fried foods
Caesar salad dressing
Wine (egg whites may be used in the process of making wine)
Other Names for Eggs
What makes living with an egg intolerance even more challenging is that often eggs are labeled differently on product packaging. Here are the terms to look out for on product labels:
- Lecithin (E322)
- Egg white
- Egg derived lysozyme (E1105)
Eggs are versatile, and are one of nature’s most perfect proteins. But for those with egg allergies, fortunately, nature has also been kind enough to provide many alternatives. Below are some substitutions for eggs if you have an egg intolerance.
Basic Egg Substitutions
Alternatives to Egg Yolks
- The best substitute for egg yolks in cooking and baking is arrowroot powder. Arrowroot is a tuber grown in the Caribbean and in North America. It is dried and powdered and looks and acts much like cornstarch. Arrowroot powder is sold in natural food stores and in many supermarkets in the spice section. Arrowroot yields the same smooth texture as egg yolk, but is thinner and tastes less rich.
- Other alternatives to egg yolks in baking are ground flax and fruit pectins, such as apricot or guava pectins.
- Many individuals allergic to chicken eggs are not allergic to duck or goose eggs and can use these to cook.
Alternatives to Egg Whites
If you are reactive to egg whites, here are three suggestions for baking without egg whites:
- Reduce the amount of space the batter needs to rise. For example, if a cake recipe calls for egg whites, make two smaller cakes, or muffins without the egg whites.
- Add two tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to the batter to raise its chemical activity, which helps make it lighter without egg whites.
- Triple the amount of baking soda or powder. Baked goods are slightly heavier without egg whites, so avoid recipes that have high egg-white content and depend on them for texture, such as souffles or angel food cake.
Egg-free Breakfast Ideas
- Fresh vegetable or fruit juice or fresh fruit with yogurt.
- Whole cooked cereals like rice, corn, barley, rye, millet, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, or amaranth. You may grind any of these grains to make a fresh creamed cereal, served with cow’s or goat’s milk, or rice, soy, almond, and or milk.
- Commercial preparations of cream of rice, rye, and barley, and corn grits.
- Cold cereals including rice or millet puffs, 100% oat cereal, corn flakes, spelt flakes, flax, Kamut, and kasha.
Egg-free Lunch and Dinner Ideas
- A basic meal of cooked low-carbohydrate vegetables, beans, or fish, chicken, turkey, beef, grain, or a root vegetable.
- Bean soups (lentils, black bean, white bean) with cooked vegetables.
- Stir-fried vegetables with meat or tofu.
- Seafood with pasta and vegetables.
- Broiled or poached fish.
- Grain casseroles, such as Indian millet or wild rice with nuts or seeds.
- Bean dishes, such as twice-cooked beans wrapped in corn tortillas, red lentil dal, or vegetarian chili.
- Poultry, such as baked, roasted, or stir-fried chicken or fresh chicken-vegetable soup.
- Egg-free sandwich made with eggless mayonnaise.
Note: Eggless mayonnaise, such as Veganaise, is widely available in health food stores.
Egg-free Snack Ideas
- Japanese rice balls filled with avocado or tuna.
- Trail mix with fresh nuts and seeds.
- Whole grain muffins or crackers (wheat-free are easier to digest).
- Baked corn or potato chips.
- Fresh fruit.
- All-natural gelatin sweetened with fruit juice.
If you think your body is not reacting well to eggs, it’s important to get tested at Better Lab Tests Now. We can test your immune system’s reaction and identify delayed hypersensitivity to eggs or an immediate allergy to eggs.
View our full menu of delayed allergy tests to find out what hidden burdens may be affecting your immune system and preventing you from feeling your best.
For more information on egg intolerance and egg allergies, click here.