Eggs three ways. Two out of three make me sick. Why?
March 7, 2017 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Over easy or hard boiled eggs sometimes make me sick, whereas scrambled eggs never do. Don't let the inconsistency fool you - eggs are always the culprit when I'm feeling this way. What gives?

More than a couple of times I've felt like felt like I had serious food poisoning - dizzy, nauseous, stomach sick, the whole bit. Comes on immediately, hits its worst in 15-20 minutes, and vanishes within 30 minutes. Whatever is in my system just has to ... leave. I've narrowed down that this happens with hard boiled or over easy eggs and never with scrambled eggs. WTH? How can science explain this? FWIW, it doesn't happen all the time, but often enough that I've connected this constellation of symptoms with over easy or hard boiled eggs.

Over easy eggs I could understand, but hard boiled eggs are completely cooked, so ... what's the connection here? I doubt it's an allergy because I can tolerate scrambled eggs and I've never had problems with non-vegan (i.e. egg containing) baked goods.

Uggh. I'm trying to lose the last 5 (especially-stubborn) pounds, so bonus points for salad-friendly protein that will keep me full and doesn't have a ton of calories or saturated fat.

Thank you, MetaFriends. It's a sad day! (And yes, I realize this is a first-world problem. Still sad.)
posted by onecircleaday to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I went through a very weird phase where eating eggs almost certainly guaranteed what seemed to be a mild-moderate gallbladder incident: bloaty feeling, kind of a stinging pain, and I needed to lay on my side and belch for 10-15 minutes to keep the nausea from being overwhelming. There were usually intestinal consequences eventually as well.

So I quit eating them for a while. Went back, and it was about 50/50. Chilled for a year or so, tried again, and it was 1 time out of 10 and eventually once a year even with serious egg-eating. Doesn't happen anymore. It was all styles of eggs though quiche was least likely to do it, now that I think about it, and is the longest-cooked eggs I can think of..

I still think it was gallbladder (this is all self-diagnosed with input from a relative who has known gb issues but still has hers). Maybe it was some kind of stone or duct blockage, maybe I was just overreactive to eggs, I never have been able to trigger it with anything else and I eat plenty of other fats. I kind of assume it'll come back one day.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:22 PM on March 7, 2017

When you have scrambled eggs, do you always add the same kinds of ingredients to them? For example, dairy? Perhaps milk or other ingredients neutralise whatever is making you sick in just-eggs, i.e., acid.

(Not a food scientist or any other kind of scientist)
posted by methroach at 5:27 PM on March 7, 2017

Protein salads: You can have tofu in salads. Chickpeas or other beans might work. My husband uses grilled chicken breast in his salads, it has some fat but not a crazy amount.
posted by foxfirefey at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe you eat scrambled eggs less often, or it just randomly hasn't happened with them yet?

Could it be related to other foods you're eating at the meal? Is there stuff you don't eat with scrambles?

Any chance it's the texture? Undercooked over-easy and overcooked hard-boiled can both induce revulsion / retching in a fair number of folks.
posted by momus_window at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2017

Scrambled eggs might dilute the egg yolk below some point, where over easy or hard boiled do not?

There is plenty of chemistry going on with eggs.
posted by nickggully at 6:09 PM on March 7, 2017

Interesting! You could be allergic to one of the proteins in egg whites when eaten in high enough concentration. (apparently egg whites cause more allergies than yolks) Maybe something about the mixing of the egg parts during cooking neutralizes the bad thing or makes it less bad for you. If it were me, I would try this test. First separate an egg. Then scramble the yolk. Then scramble the white in a different pan. Eat the yolk scramble and see if you feel sick within an hour. If not, then try the white.

If neither makes you sick, then make a hard boiled egg and try eating only the yolk. Then after 30 minutes, try the white.

Let us know what you find!
posted by oxisos at 6:17 PM on March 7, 2017 [11 favorites]

The stomach symptoms more likely signify an intolerance, rather than an allergy, which is presenting in your case something like lactose intolerance.

I'm a scientific type person and I also have weird reactions to certain things involving egg yolks (migraines) and it drives me bonkers that I can't quite figure it out. I think it might have something to do with protein denaturing and concentration. It's probably only one part or the other of the egg, and in my case it's the yolk. I can also eat eggs baked in things and omelettes never really set it off. I can tolerate a single over-hard egg as long as I'm eating enough other things, but not hard-boiled.

But yeah, either sub other proteins for now or try separating your eggs and do a controlled experiment as above with eating them. That's how I narrowed mine down.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:43 PM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have been thinking about coming back to Metafilter/Ask Mefi for almost the exact same problem, except I can eat hard-boiled eggs and drying scrambled eggs with no issues, but runny scrambled eggs, poached eggs and over eggs result in almost immediate severe cramps and diarrhea. I also feel fine about 30 minutes after the episode (or forgive the TMI, once everything has been expelled).

This happened seemingly out of the blue about a year or two ago, after years of enjoying the occasional poached or fried eggs on the weekends. The first time it happened, I just thought I'd gotten a bad 1/2 dozen of eggs, but tried again and same result. It was months before I tried another one and it happened to be a hard-boiled egg in a salad and I was fine so I thought I was over it. Next day ordered my fave breakfast out --bacon, eggs over easy and toast....let's just say it didn't end well.

I did ask a doctor about it last year and he thought that I might have developed an allergy to a protein in the yolk, but when it's fully cooked it's changed in a way that it doesn't bother me (paraphrasing from what I can remember).

And yes, in the larger scope of things. It's a small problem, but damn I miss eggs Benedict and dipping my toast in a fried egg.
posted by kaybdc at 7:21 PM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Proteins are the source of most food allergies and some other food sensitivities, and it just so happens that the membranes of the yolks of quail eggs, for example, contain a couple of proteases which are able to digest proteins of the white and the yolk; I'd guess chicken eggs are similar, and that scrambling the eggs brings the protein in eggs which is bothering you into contact with those proteases, and that they then cleave that protein into pieces you no longer react to.
posted by jamjam at 9:16 PM on March 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

Do you typically eat different sides with each type of egg? If I eat eggs in quantity alone, they make me a little nauseous, but if I eat carbs with them, I'm fine.
posted by metasarah at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2017

Everyone in my family experiences exactly this. My mother always said that you must eat rye bread with your eggs, or you will get mice in your tummy. My kids say the same. So my advice, try to have some whole rye bread with your eggs and see if that helps. Doesn't work with white bread.
posted by mumimor at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is this where we bemoan our egg intolerances? Oh goody. Several years ago I noticed a weird tummy ache after some breakfasts, and finally linked it to eggs.

I have no trouble eating eggs when baked because the length of cooking time in the oven breaks down the proteins that bother me. But sayonara to just a beautiful fried egg or even scrambled or hard boiled. Dammit, I miss them.

But your situation is a bit weird. I really wonder if it's like someone upthread said, where you may be mildly intolerant to either the whites or yolks but somehow when mixed together for scrambled eggs it either dilutes what's bothering you or mixes together in such a way that it breaks down or changes the proteins.
posted by bologna on wry at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2017

We eat the eggs, but the chickens eat different things. We had the same issue. Changed our egg supplier and now there are no more debates about whether it's worth it to have runny eggs. Maybe your issue is the result of something the chickens ate.
posted by kate4914 at 9:29 AM on March 9, 2017

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