Egg allergy is the second most common food allergy in children after cow’s milk, and it is more common in children than in adults. About 2% of children have some form of egg allergy. Sometimes a baby will show allergic reactions to eggs then grow out of that allergy by 5 years old. Breastfed babies with egg allergy can react when the mother eats eggs, as is true with other allergens, so both members of the nursing pair should avoid eggs.
I grew up until I was 5 years old on an egg farm, and I have local organic eggs delivered to my house every week. I’m a huge egg lover. I say that to make it clear that, unlike with cow’s milk allergies and wheat allergies, I have no personal experience with egg allergies. If you have experience you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.
Still, I offer a few tips I’ve gathered from others who do avoid eggs in their diets.
Egg Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms are similar to other food allergies where the body is fighting what it sees as a foreign invader: a skin reaction such as hives or rash; a respiratory reaction, including congestion and even allergic asthma; a gastrointestinal reactions, such as nausea and stomach cramps; or anaphylaxis. For some, this can be a life-threatening food allergy, but for others it causes a bit of inconvenience. The seriousness of the allergy for your child or other family member should determine how careful you are about avoiding eggs in foods.
Avoiding eggs in foods is difficult. Egg nog, egg noodles, and egg rolls may be obvious enough, but you need to watch out for mayonnaise, marshmallows, breads and crackers, glazed breads like bagels, cream pies and doughnuts, ice cream, pudding, battered foods, and more. Even some root beers and wines contain egg products.
Eggs are so commonly used that you will undoubtedly find yourself reading labels closely. Eggs are required to be listed on food labels, but they aren’t always listed as “Eggs.” Also egg-derived ingredients, such as: albumin, apovitellenin, globulin, lecithin, livetin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovoglobulin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin, ovovitellin, phosvitin, silici albuminate, simplesse, and vitellin. If the ingredient is “ov-” anything, as in ovum or egg, avoid it.
What to use in baking? Corn starch, potato starch, arrowroot powder, or soy powder can all be used as egg substitutes in baking. Usually for bread, though, it’s just as easy to find a different recipe that isn’t intended to include egg.
You could use an egg substitute, but some of them include egg whites, in which case you might ask how much of a substitute it is. Most egg substitutes are meant to lower cholesterol rather than egg proteins, so this is not an appropriate food for those with egg allergies unless it is specifically egg-free.
What to use in brownies? “Use 1½ tablespoons (22.2 milliliters) oil and 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of baking powder for each egg,” suggests KidsHealth.org.
What to use in cookies? Rather than just using your old recipes and substituting ingredients, try some of the amazing egg-free recipes at EgglessCooking.com. They have a lot of recipes for cookies and other baked desserts.
What to use in a cake? A banana or a cup or applesauce can act like a binding agent. Still wondering what to do with the zucchini from harvest (I have a freezer full of it), use it in cakes and forget the eggs. Cakes are generally more forgiving of ingredient changes than breads.
What to use in pasta? Just choose or make pasta without eggs. Most dry pastas are just wheat and water, but fresh pasta often uses eggs. Labels, labels, labels.
What to use for shampoo? Check the label. There are plenty of non-egg choices, but there are shampoos that include egg products. I even remember putting a raw egg mixture on my hair as a teenager. (It was a very long time ago, and I don’t remember why that was supposed to be a good thing.)
What to use for creams and ointments? Check the label. As with shampoo and other cosmetics, there are plenty of choices. Just find one that doesn’t include the long list of egg-derived ingredients.
Whether to give your child vaccinations should be discussed with your doctor. Flu vaccinations in particular are often cultured in eggs.
- Food allergy facts and resources on EcoBabySteps.
- More tips for wheat-free cooking and dairy-free cooking.
- Kids with Food Allergies is a national nonprofit providing support and community for families. They have a recipe database available to paid members.