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Kissing and Food Allergies

K-I- S- S-I-N-G is a topic that those of us with food allergies all need to be aware of especially with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching.  A kiss or the thought of one can cause butterflies in our stomachs and tingly sensations all over.  Now, those sensations take on a whole new meaning if you have food allergies. 

Can you kiss someone who has food allergies if you have eaten something they are allergic to?  When is the optimum amount of time to wait before you have a kiss?  How do you approach your date about the topic of kissing well before your first kiss.

It is important that if you have food allergies, that you are open and let your potential date know about your food allergies before you have your first date.  Present your food allergies with confidence in a clear and concise way. Let your date know exactly what you are allergic to and the precautions you will need to take based on your plans.  They should also be made aware of your emergency plan and medications.  Food allergies are a part of who you are. It is important that whoever you surround yourself with both friends and romantic partners are educated about your allergies.  You need to trust that those around you accept all of you and in the case of an emergency, such as an anaphylactic reaction will take all the necessary steps to keep you safe. 

Back to kissing: Often we don’t want to seem presumptuous about a kiss, kill the mood before it even begins or feel like a burden.  Ok, you may feel one or all of these and I have experienced all of these and more.  It is perfectly natural but we have to move past these feelings to empower ourselves and our date.

Once you have had the conversation, it will act as a built-in filter to identify those who truly do care about you and create a safe space around your food allergies.  Once you are both clear about the parameters that will keep you safe, you can focus on enjoying your time together. 

There are no hard and fast rules on how to keep safe if you have food allergies and kissing. It is subjective to your own personal food allergies and their severity.  There are guidelines that can help create your own personal safe kissing framework. 

At the FARE Teen Summit in 2017, in response to a question on timing and kissing after someone has eaten a potential allergen, they referred to a study that recommended that if your potential kissing partner has eaten something you are allergic to that they wait two to three hours, but that within that time you also brush your teeth and eat an allergen-free meal to cleanse your palate.  

Other experts advise the partner without an allergy to brush their teeth, rinse their mouths out thoroughly, and to avoid placing anything in their mouths the other person is allergic to for 16 to 24 hours – then they can probably enjoy a kiss.

Here are some statistics from a small study specifically with the presence of peanut in the mouth that Dr. Dave Stukus presented at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in 2017:

  • 87% of people had undetectable levels of peanut protein (Ara h1) in their saliva after an hour of eating a peanut butter meal.
  • 100% had undetectable levels three hours later following a subsequent peanut-free lunch.
    Immediate brushing, prolonged rinsing, and chewing gum were not effective.*
  • Best time to kiss after your partner ate a peanut meal: wait several hours and after they have eaten a peanut-free meal.
    NOTE: This did not evaluate transmission to another person, reactions, or other types of food.

One more factor to consider when kissing is, has your partner applied anything to their lips such as lipstick, gloss, lip balm or moisturizers that may contain an ingredient you are allergic to?  

Like so many other decisions we need make in terms of our food allergies, the exact time frame and protocols you devise for keeping safe when kissing are going to be unique to you and your situation.  The above information helps provide reference points and can be used in conjunction with guidance from your allergist.

You may feel embarrassed or a burden to the other person.  However, if you have a food allergy, the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction is a reality that must be accepted. Do not avoid the conversation, leave your medication behind or downplay any real symptoms if they occur. It is a much bigger deal to have to call 911 and spend your time in the ER facing a life-threatening situation than to have a pre-date discussion about your food allergies.  

Having open communication, being prepared with your medications (including your auto injectors of epinephrine) and sharing your emergency plan will give you more freedom to enjoy all aspects of your date!

Maybe you will even seal it with a kiss!

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