My Allergic Reaction to Huel

So, as the old timers here will know, I was an early adopter of Huel, starting back in August 2015 when it was v1.0 of the powder. I really liked Huel, but eventually decided to take a break from it because I felt like I was having some kind of a reaction to it.

Recently I decided to test it out again. I am now pretty certain it is indeed an allergic reaction to one or more of the ingredients.

No, it’s not dehydration (I wee loads throughout the day and it’s usually pale colour) and it’s not lack of salt (I add salt to my Huel because I prefer the taste). I’m also pretty sure it’s not a lack of or too much of a particular nutrient, because the reaction happens so quickly. I start to feel the reaction within the first few sips.

The main reaction is just a mild headache, and it really is very mild most of the time, and tends to pass quite soon. However, the last few days I’ve had a bunch of mouth ulcers, and these days I don’t normally get mouth ulcers at all. Could be a coincidence, I don’t know, but it’s well known that food intollerances can cause mouth ulcers.

So, what am I reacting to in Huel?

It’s difficult to say, but I suspect it might be the sunflower oil, because several years ago I did a food intolerance blood test that revealed a sensitivity to sunflower. And recently I had some cashew nut butter that had sunflower oil added to it and I got a slight headache after eating that.

It’s not the gluten, because I’ve tried the gluten-free. It’s not the sweetener because I’ve tried the U&U version. It’s unlikely to be the oats or the protein powders because I have in the recent past made my own basic version using oat flour and protein powders and not had the same reaction.

So, now the question for me is whether I feel that the reaction is bad enough for me to stop Huel again. I’m not quite sure. I feel torn because I love the concept of Huel, I like the taste, I love the convenience, and I’m poor so it saves me money.

If I was rich, I would probably pay James to custom make me a version that I didn’t react to, for example without the sunflower oil. But I’m not, so I can’t.

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Wow, sad to hear that.

So you think it is not the pea protein? You could try out most of these ingredients in isolation (kind of like what you have done) and see the results.

In all honesty, if it doesn’t improve I wouldn’t push it. I would look for an alternative without sunflower oil if that really is the issue.

Out of Huel’s products I’m not sure which one has the least sunflower. Granola has seeds, and the bars have some sunflower oil

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Thank you for your reply @Latestfuels, I appreciate it.

It’s really tricky because I seem to react to a lot of foods, so there is a feeling of wanting to find the foods I react to the least, rather than necessarily aiming for perfection. Over recent years I have tried various other meal drinks and complete food products, but I seem to react to all of them in some way (usually headaches to varying degrees). I’ve tried Jimmy Joy, Saturo, Feed, Satislent, and various others. There was one called Nutberg I didn’t seem to react to, but it didn’t taste too good and I don’t think it was actually fully nutritionally complete.

Last spring I got into doing a very slapdash approach where I sould just mix some ingredients together without measuring them too accurately or calculating anything. I would mix oat flour, protein powders, flaxseed oil, some supergreens powder, sometimes some fruit powder, and also have some supplements. For a while I felt great on that, but then a few months back started to feel weird, like dizzy and nauseous, so I started trying to calculate it more accurately using the website (used to be called DIY Soylent), which I have done before (in fact, I started with that before I started on Huel in 2015). But I couldn’t quite get the mixture right and didn’t feel great on it, that’s when I recently decided to experiment with Huel again.

I might go back to trying to create my own custom blend, because at least then I’ll have full control over individual ingredients. The problem is the time it takes to faff around with altering the recipe, as well as any money wasted on ingredients I later decide not to use.

One really interesting thing I noticed was if I blended almond and cashew nut butter into my own meal drink, I got a really noticeable feeling of wellbeing a while afterwards (probably due to the calcium, magnesium and tryptophan). So it’s really interesting to me how different foods can make you feel either good or bad.

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Sounds rough reacting to many different kinds of food and trying to find the least troublesome. If the headaches go away quick or with pain pills then that would at least be manageable, but the ulcers are harder to ignore in my experience.

Could it be the season or a cold making you more sensitive right now, or did you notice the same thing before when you tried Huel? Have you tried drinking it through a straw rather far back towards the throat, to get the least amount of direct contact with the mouth? What happens if you take anti-histamines or some other allergy medication 30-60 minutes before eating?

I hope you find a good solution to your food sensitivity to get great nutriotion and good quality of life, with or without Huel.

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Strange because huel advertises itself as allergen free.
I wouldn’t stick to it if it’s causing headaches, it’s not worth it. I would try and find out what exactly your allergic to.
Maybe drink a bit of sunflower oil or eat some sunflower seeds or something like that just to confirm if that’s it.

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@Tottiroo It’s been a few years, but my impression is that I used to get mouth ulcers more back when I was consuming Huel. I think I hardly got any mouth ulcurs during my time away from Huel.

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@Berserker Yes, good advice. I could see if I could pick up a cheap bottle of sunflower oil and quickly down some with some water.

No worries, I hope you find what you need!

From the top of my mind Satislent is the only one there without sunflower oil. It has olive oil.

Yes, sadly the stopped recently. Technically not a nutritionally complete product since it lacked the vitamins and minerals. Plus it was quite rich in saturated fats. Definitely was an interesting one though.

Really sounds like you have been trying hard.:frowning: Sad to see that none of the approaches work.

Kind of shows how personal nutrition can be. I agree that the trial and error process can be arduous, time consuming and expensive. probably why I left research.

Honestly, I wish I could give you more pointers but it seems that you know your body fairly well. I think DIY might be your best option for now, unfortunately.

The only one that comes to mind is Nuts Mania from Powdermatter. Kind of similar to nutberg in terms of using many nuts on the mix (almonds, hazelnut etc). That´s my best pointer for now


:+1: let us know how it goes, shame huel doesn’t agree with you

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I find that I can tolerate some foods in small amounts but go over that amount and wham! You have my sympathy @Marcus. Fortunately, my digestive system seems to be more on an even keel since starting Huel last year. I still have to be a bit careful with certain other foods but, in the main, I am reacting far less than I did. Agree with @Latestfuels, the trial and error process can be a real pain (literally in my case and no doubt in yours @Marcus )


Yes, unfortunately it has soy, which I also seem to have a problem with. It’s annoying how so many meal drinks contain soy. And it’s daft considering soy is known to be a common allergen. Seems like soy is used so much simply because it’s a cheap complete vegan protein source.

Yes. It’s lucky that I’m interested in nutrition and have an analytical mind that enjoys solving problems. I like taking a scientific approach with things. So, if anyone is suited to custom making their own complete food product, it’s probably me :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for the suggestion. It looks good, except it contains soy


that makes sense.:sweat_smile:

Just thought I’d post an update.

I finally tried Soylent for the first time today. It kind of tastes how I thought it would - bland but sweet. Definitely drinkable but also not all that delicious really. Huel definitely tastes better.

I’ve mostly only had Soylent today, apart from a few chips off someone’s plate at lunch time plus some almonds this evening to make up the calories, and some extra calcium and magnesium because that tends to help me sleep better.

Soylent seems to give me a bit of a headache, but other than that I feel fine on it, kind of like Huel really.

My own mixture doesn’t tend to give me a headache, but it tends to make me feel a bit lightheaded/dizzy. But at least I can tinker with the ingredients with that.

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