Tag Archives: dairy free

Ounce by Ounce: Allergies & Intolerances


Experts draw a fine line between food allergies & food intolerances:

  • Allergies always create a reaction within the immune system.
  • Intolerances, or sensitivies, create symptoms, but leave your immune system unperturbed.

Some folks are allergic to dairy, for example, while others are lactose intolerant. Others are sugar intolerant or caffeine intolerant, but we will save those 2 particular poisons for another day.

For our purposes, howevergetting real value from the food we’re carryingwe can address food allergies and food sensitivies as the same problem: these are foods that boobytrap our backpacking!

Most of us know if we are allergic to peanuts, shrimp or tree nuts and we usually notice the obvious signs of food allergies — tingling mouth, hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, trouble breathing, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea — if the reaction happens closely enough to our food consumption. Some intolerances can create similar symptoms and we quickly learn to avoid the foods that make us overtly uncomfortable.

But how many of us are aware of the more subtle signs of food allergies or intolerances? Minor disturbances that may not seem at all food-related? Common symptoms such as anxiety, distraction, moodiness, fatigue, headaches, insomnia/sleep disorders, bloating, “brain fog,” muscle or joint aches or pains?*

In 1994, 50 million Americans had diagnosed food allergies, with the numbers expected to increase. Indeed, just 5 years later, the American College of Allergy, Ashma & Immuniology reported that “38% of Americans suffer from allergies, twice as many as experts previously thought.” Not all of those folks suffer from food allergies, but many of us do & never even notice! And these numbers do not include food sensitivies and intolerances. Did you take a look at the top-20 allergen list in the previous blog? Did you notice yourself thinking “I couldn’t be allergic to that?!” It’s possible, in fact, that you are.

Next blog, more about uncovering food intolerances & what you can do about them.

*More on That: In addition to the short-term symptoms associated with food intolerance, many folks have linked delayed-onset food allergies & intolerances with long-term medical difficulties such as arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, celiac disease, colitis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It’s worth noting, however, that food intolerance could be another symptom of the underlying causes of these diseases & not the cause. A stong immune system, well-fortified with antioxidents, probiotics, omega-3s and all the other nutrients available in a healthy vegetable- centric diet, is still our best bet for energy & health. Notice how very few fruits & vegetables showed up on the top-20 allergen list? Hmmm …

Green Food Bars: Easy Veggies on the Trail

Although I planned to comment on the bins of abandoned backpacking food donated by JMT thru-hikers at the re-supply sites of Red’s Meadow, Vermillion andMuir Ranch, that must wait. Because today I grocery shopped for the first time since coming home (how grateful we are for the abundant garden!) & discovered a “new” food bar at the Davis Food Co-op. Yes, I’ve since discovered that the Organic Food Bar company started in 2001, but I have missed out! I bought the Active Green version & ate it in the grocery aisle, pleased with the fresh flavor & chewy texture and not at all adverse to the dark green color. I bet it would take even better while actually backpacking!

OFB Active Green tastes remarkably like our longtime favorite food bar, Rebar, a bar made entirely & completely of raw, organic fruits & veggies. Nothing else added. While OFB is also a green bar, it includes some seeds, nuts and sprouts, as well as agave nectar (3d ingredient in the list). Rebar also makes a nut/seed bar, but since it contains soy, we haven’t been able to add it to our repertoire.

Both of these bars are free of gluten, soy, dairy & egg.

The bars have similar amounts of carbohydrates (38/34), sugars (20/22) & fiber (7/6). OFB, however, provides 10 extra grams of protein (12) with the added bonus of 13 g of fat to Rebar’s none, thanks to the almond butter listed as the first ingredient. OFB is also a bigger bar at 68 grams to Rebar’s 50.

The calories/ounce ratio (important to consider when planning one’s backpacking menu) looks like this:

  • OFB = 125 calories per oz
  • RB = 91.4 calories per oz

Since getting the “hungries” on the JMT trip (more on that another day), I’m interested in adding more fat to my food. Whether the OFB is the answer, or whether I’d be just as well off to throw another handful of nuts into my gorp and keep eating the 8-servings-of-veggies Rebar, is a question to explore. Wonder how many servings of veggies the OFB contains with all those sprouts?

After all, fat is easy to add on a backpack (nuts, anyone?). Fresh veggies on the trail? Not so much.