Finding Propylene Glycol-Free Food

Since my body first forced me to realize the extent of my glycol allergies, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about food. Not only have I replaced nearly every staple in my house, but I keep looking for convenience foods that I can have around in case of needing a quick snack, or that I can take when I travel. I go out of my way to avoid any added flavours or colours, eat organic to avoid glycols in pesticides and herbicides, and avoid commercial egg and dairy. Still I come across foods that cause allergic reactions. I’m getting a bit better at it though. What do I look for?

  • No caramel, annatto, or vanilla colours or flavours
  • No “natural or artificial flavours” of any kind
  • Only 100% organic foods, to avoid the pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that could use glycols as a base/carrier/stabilizer
  • No commercial dairy or eggs. Even if the eggs are organic, they’ve been washed with chemicals that can pass through the porous shell. Even if the milk is organic, I haven’t confirmed whether the cow’s teats could have been dipped in antiseptic solution, or the cow’s udders massaged with a lotion.
  • No organic foods from China
  • I have been avoiding dried fruit because I read that people with glycol allergies could have problems with fruits preserved using the sulphite process. I had a reaction to a dish containing both organic dried raisins and non-organic spices, but those spices also caused me problems another time as well, so it’s hard to blame the raisins at this time. From all the research I have done, it looks like organic dried fruits and vegetables should be free from glycols. I will be trying organic dried fruits again as soon as my life settles down a little.
  • The shortest list of ingredients possible. That way if I have a reaction I am usually able to narrow down the source of the problem.

I’ve also been keeping track of when each symptom appears in relation to the foods I eat. I now know which symptoms will be the first to appear, within a few minutes of beginning to eat. If I am uncertain about a food, I take a small amount and then wait a little while to see if a reaction will develop. No matter how much I want to eat what’s in front of me, I stop eating at the first sign of an allergic reaction and evaluate what I’ve been eating.

By taking the above measures in my diet and eating habits, I have been able to calm my allerg
y symptoms, inside and out. My stomach has been functioning more normally, my scalp doesn’t get dry and itch, I don’t have indigestion, my eye swelling has disappeared, my skin has stopped falling off like mad in the shower, my sinuses are clearer, and even my rashes are reduced so that medication use is minimal. Some other notable side effects are that my skin looks smoother and more moisturized and I’ve lost six pounds (holding steady at the new weight). At this point, I can’t attribute it to anything other than the lack of propylene glycol in my diet. (See my posts about milk and eggs containing possible propylene glycol, with the link found in the list above, for information about cows and fat retention.) It’s really hard, and sometimes it means I end up going hungry longer than my family on the occasional road trip, but for the quality of life it’s been worth the sacrifice.

Have you seen any change to your health and allergies after eliminating propylene glycol from your diet? Comment below.

10 Responses to “Finding Propylene Glycol-Free Food”

  1. christie

    It’s so helpful to see how you manage this. I have weeks were I try really hard to eat glycol free, and then I get discouraged because I only have 2 articles of clothing that don’t contain polyester threads or elastics, so my skin is struggling daily. During those discouraging days, all I want is a conventional, store bought cookie (or 10). I know that glycol rich foods cause me brain fog, but I don’t know if they affect my skin, so it can be hard to stay on target with my diet. Also, my kids are usually fine with plain foods, but my husband is not, and it’s tricky to flavour things in this day and age without glycols. As I’m sure you know, even most soy sauces have caramel colour in them! My husband likes to marinate meat so he has had to get creative to cut out the store bought BBQ sauce. If you ever have an interest in posting some recipes you use I think that would be interesting. And, side note; I can’t wait to hear more about your clothing solutions.
    Have a great weekend.

    • I’m so sorry you and so many others are having these problems. So many things would be easier if synthetics weren’t taking over from natural products so completely in our world. And I miss being able to buy cookies (and pastries) too!

      We have an organic Kikkoman soy sauce that is produced by natural fermentation and doesn’t contain much extra. Natural soy sauces can be harder to find, but they are out there. Depending on any other allergies, organic spices might also help you with flavouring things. I’ll try to post more things as we discover them. Lots of trip-related stuff coming in the next couple of weeks as we just got back from a trip halfway across the country and back.

  2. Debby davies

    I’ve been on the same mission to remove propylene glycol from my diet and have found it quite restricting, expensive and time consuming making alternatives, a definite benefit has been weight loss. I have also bought almost everything organic, dried goods, dairy and fruit and vegetables. I find when I get a bit slacker it doesn’t go well, I seen to have a rash on my upper palate intermittently,(I’m not sure its just from glycols or propylene glycol) and still get occasional heartburn though I’ve managed to wean myself off omeprazole. Sometimes I’ve had tingly in my mouth and a sore mouth within a few minutes of eating non organic apples, grapes and nectarines.I’ve had the itchy scalp but have always put it down to something in the shampoos I use rather than something I’ve eaten. It has been worth it but there’s something I’m still reacting too.

    What reaction do you get when you eat something with PG in it?

    • I totally understand. I’ve been doing the same thing. It’s been hard to eat, but it’s getting easier since things I can’t eat are slowly not being replenished in my home, so we don’t have the ‘cool’ meals and the ‘me’ meals. A few snacks I found in my travels have also given me some ideas for making safe snacks at home.

      My reaction to glycols…I get a little bit of everything. It’s my most severe allergen from what I can tell. Within a few minutes, throat tightens like someone has their hands there (I don’t lose my breath), stomach may start to gurgle. That’s how I know to stop eating. Within 30 minutes, I may have heart palpitations. Within a day, I may have increased sinus issues or swollen lymph nodes. Within two days, eyes swell and itching of face begins. My intestines may try to move the food faster through my body, not properly digesting things. I may also get bad B.O. Within four days, I have a flaky scalp, itchy arms and shoulders, and if I ate a lot I may have cloudy urine. Hopefully by this time the throat has fully eased.

      Not everything happens every time. It’s always some combination of a few of those. The itching and at least some throat obstruction always happen. It’s still happening far more than I like – I tend to get about 3 to 7 days that are good between reactions. New products are always a risk. The good thing is that removing glycols from my diet has lessened my other reactions somewhat, reduced bloating, helped me to better digest what I do eat, reduced my menstrual cramps, and eliminated my stomach cramping. I never knew those things were related or were even something unusual that I could do something about. I thought they were normal, or just the way I was.

      I hope you can find the other factors affecting you. Glycols are in so many things, from fabrics to foods to medication and body care. They’re hard enough to avoid on their own.

  3. Debby davies

    The throat tightening sounds worrying!Don’t you think you should get an Epipen?
    I had skin prick testing today for PEG and PG and a variety of foods but no conclusive reactions but the purpose PEG and PG are not available here so the allergist just uses a bit of whatever you’ve reacted to. So frustrating!!!

  4. Debby davies

    Do you know anything about propylene glycol being used on shellfish to keep their colour? I’ve read something about it somewhere but can’t find the site now. Thanks!

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