Should you eat chestnuts if you have a peanut or tree nut allergy? I’ve researched and written about this before and chestnuts aren’t really nuts in the true sense so could be alright for some people with nut allergies, but as we all know, it’s never that simple.

I’ve eaten chestnut before, by mistake, a couple of times and had no reaction. I’ve eating a pie cooked with chicken and chestnuts (thank you Nicola :)) and most recently I ate most of a chocolate sponge made with chestnut flour with no problems what so ever. Greedy? Moi? I did share the cake, honest I did, with Mum, Catherine, Ken, Karen and Julia and they all loved it to. You can ask them.

This was the cake we all ate, made at The Perfect Retreat in Chesham last month.

Nut, gluten, wheat, dairy, soya free chocolate sponge

Nut, gluten, wheat, dairy, soya free chocolate sponge

I ate some in London with my Mum and sister and raced across London to make my way home on the underground. I do not walk slowly, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I walk at warp speed and always take stairs if I can to get some exercise in.

So what happened a few weekends ago when I took a slice to the pub with me? It was a glorious day, we sat outside in the sunshine in the pub garden at The Plough in Cadsden enjoying a pint of Marlow Rebellion real ale which is wheat free. He had crisps and I had a piece of this cake.

After which we duly hiked up the hill on our way home and that’s when it all started going wrong.

I felt quite nauseous. I actually thought I was going to be sick at one point and had to stop for a rest. Not normal for Mrs Warpspeed.

This is not something which usually happens when I have an allergic reaction so I put it down to eating a big slice of very rich cake and washing it down with a pint of beer.

My stomach was making some incredible noises. Mr What Allergy could hear them as we walked along. I thought I just had indigestion and we slowed our pace. Irritable bowel syndrome is something I am very familiar with so I didn’t really pay much attention to the stomach flips and churning. Eventually though I was doubled over massaging my stomach. Things were not looking so good.

I then became very dizzy, felt really uneasy and lost the power or sensible decision making. My head was alive, covered in hives and I was tearing at my skin. I felt hot, I felt itchy, I was getting worried.

The first thing I did was use my inhaler as a precaution since my breathing was fine and also too three anti-histamines.

Mr WhatAllergy took control. We stopped. We got out the adrenaline and looked at them for a bit. My breathing was fine but something wasn’t right. My heart was racing. I was completely unable to decide what to do.

Should we have injected the adrenaline? Should we have called an ambulance? We had, by chance, arrived at the main road, so we rested there for about half an hour waiting to see if things progressed. They didn’t. I began to feel calmer. My stomach was aching but I could breathe fine and perhaps it was foolish, but we decided to begin walking home, slowly. VERY slowly. Mr What Allergy didn’t want to leave me to get the car and I didn’t want to visit A&E unless I abcolutely had to.

We snailed our way home and I got slowly better and better. I’m not sure quite what happened, but I have deduced that for me, chestnuts are now totally off the menu.

But how confusing is that? I can eat chestnut one day. Literally the day before I had some.
Forward 12 hours and THAT happens. What is that all about?

Is alcohol the factor?
Or is it exercise? I know that I do get anaphylaxis if I eat any of my allergens and exercise and a far milder reaction if I am calm, sit still and stuff anti-histamines.

Or have I become sensitised to chestnuts?

I know some advise avoiding chestnuts if you have a nut allergy but I really genuinely thought I was OK with them.

What would you have done? Used the adrenaline? The reason I didn’t was because none of the throat swelling and horrendous hayfever type mucous production happened. It was just my stomach and my scalp, oh and my poor brain which short circuited in a big way.

By the time we got home I was fine. Totally exhausted which got me off cooking and earned me a night in front of the fire with my feet up and a rather handsome waiter attending to my every need. But really, was it worth it?

Well I did have a very lovely relaxing evening but it wasn’t worth the risk.

Has this happened to anyone else with a nut allergy?
The other interesting thing to note is that chestnut allergy can cross react with latex allergy, which I definitely do have.


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