There are a series of questions and reactions you become accustomed to when you have a potato allergy like mine: "Want a fry?", "You're WHAT?" (*face morphs to show shock, horror, then pity*), "What happens to you?", and finally, they desperately squeak, "What about sweet potatoes?".

Family and friends often forget about my allergy, simply because the concept of a potato-free life is so ludicrous. Let's face it, potatoes are a staple comfort food in America and pretty much everywhere else.         

While potato allergies are uncommon, they do have a big impact on people’s daily lives (including my own). Potatoes are a favorite worldwide due to their flavor, versatility, heartiness, and abundance. Classics like potato chips, French fries, and mashed potatoes are all out of the question for select (and unfortunate) folks.


french fries, potato, salt, ketchup
Alex Frank

Potatoes are nightshade plants, and we consume a lot of those bad boys. This includes tomatoes, okra, goji berries, eggplant, paprika, bell peppers, and tobacco. Allergies to nightshade or Solanaceae are caused by glycoalkaloids. Sounds pretty insidious right? Glycoalkaloids are useful for the plant as they fight pathogens and pests, but they can also trigger an immune response in humans. Some people are allergic to all nightshade plants, while others are affected only by a few.

So What Actually Happens?

milk, cream, dairy product, mashed potatoes, butter, dairy
Caitlin Shoemaker

Someone with a potato allergy will experience symptoms immediately after encountering potatoes (raw or cooked) either by touching or eating them. Reactions and their severity vary from person to person, but common symptoms include respiratory issues (coughing, sneezing, eye irritation), rashes such as hives or eczema, a sore throat, and itching and swelling of the mouth and throat.

But it doesn’t stop there! Potato intolerance may also manifest itself in the digestive tract as bloating, cramps, nausea, and vomiting. In rare and severe cases, potato consumption may lead to anaphylaxis.

How Do You Deal With It?

sweet potato, potato, sweet
Lena Moriarty

So, what does this mean for those plagued by a potato allergy? Mostly, we must find other forms of delicious simple carbohydrates soaked in fats and salt. My personal favorite starchy substitute is the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are another delicious tuber that resides in the morning glory family (potatoes are nightshades) that can easily be baked, boiled, mashed, fried, and ~deep fried~. Although sweet potatoes are comparable to white potatoes nutritionally, they do boast a higher vitamin A and fiber content.

Yucca root, cassava, parsnips, and unripe plantains are other starchy friends that can be prepared similarly to potatoes. I will also begrudgingly cite the option of mashed cauliflower if one was interested in a low-carb alternative. 

What Do You Look Out For?

vegetable, fish, bread
Amanda Giudice

Like all other allergy-sufferers, I have learned to read labels and be hyper-aware of what I am putting into my body. Potatoes are a common filler food because they are cheap, so they will often turn up in prepared vegetarian meat substitutes and gluten-free products (trust me, I have learned the hard way). When all else fails, a purse stocked with Benadryl is truly a girl's best friend.~