Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO/My pepper peeves

Marjorie Spitz Rento1 Comment
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Allow me to vent: please stop putting peppers in everything. Yes, they are colorful and both glorious and funny looking. Yes, they are nutritious. 

However, my body hates them and they are like poison in my system. All of them and derivatives thereof: bell, shishito, paprika, chili, and lately jalapeno (which I love).

Food reactions or allergies express themselves differently in each of us. What is your “pepper peeve,” and what foods is your body imploring you to avoid?

It’s important to take notice of your body’s reactions to food, which will change as we age. Something you ate without concern 10 years ago may not work for you now. The good news is our bodies are designed to heal, so if you are reactive to something now, you may be able to reintroduce it once you’ve avoided it for 3 months to a year.

Thankfully my allergy is not life threatening. However, I experience immediate indigestion, wake up the following day with puffy eyes, and get constipated. All from a seemingly innocuous pepper.

You may think peppers easy to avoid, but try it for a day: dressings, soups, sauces, condiments, and snacks often incorporate them. Even store-bought hummus is frequently sprinkled with paprika. Sigh!


Restaurant menus commonly neglect to list peppers as a dish ingredient and I am oft disappointed to see a dish arrive peppered with them (pun intended).

I hate having to ask waiters if there are peppers in the preparation, or to breathe away from someone consuming a dish latent with them (yes, even the smell causes my body to react).

And, NO, I cannot just pick them out – once the pepper “contaminates” the rest of the dish, it’s all over for me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told (sometimes compassionately and sometimes condescendingly) that they’re easy to pick out. Would you tell a child intollerant to peanuts to just scrape it off their PB&J sandwich? I think not.

You can tell I’m passionate about this, not just for me, but for YOU. “Healthy” foods are interpreted by your particular body, not news articles telling you what to eat. Salmon may be a great dish for me, but for you it may cause inflammation, a leading cause of disease. Compound that by eating it multiple times per week, and you are doing your health a true disservice.

As a health coach, it breaks my heart when I see my clients working hard to engage in healthy habits which are clearly are causing reactions. Pay attention to how your body responds, and adjust. Food logging while noting how you feel after eating for as short as a week is very revealing.

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A food reaction usually takes the form of your body’s weak point. It may show up as digestive discomfort, a skin irritation, mouth swelling or soreness, congestion in the throat, head or nose, a headache or sleep disruption (among other things). Wherever it appears, do not ignore it. Your body is smart and is communicating with you. If the meteorologist told you a category 5 hurricane approaching, would you go on as usual?

Listen to your inner meteorologist and create a sunny and vibrant environment for your body.

Peppered with love,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

P.S. Boo! Wishing you a healthful and happy Halloween!