I mentioned in our “get to know you” statements that I have some food issues. I call them food allergies. I have been taken to task for this, because people say “If you’re not anaphylactic, they aren’t truly allergies”. Fair statement, but if I don’t call these allergies, I am not taken seriously. The things which I can, at this point, never eat again are dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, eggs, avocado and strawberries. The reasons for not consuming these things ranges from full-on belly tsunamis to facial break-outs, to rashes. It almost makes me chuckle when someone asks me “So, what can’t you eat?” As I started rhyming off the list their faces go from sympathetic to horrified, and then the inevitable statement, “What DO you eat?”
One positive thing about having all these food issues is that I have really expanded my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. I still have all my old cookbooks, which I use recipes from, revising them to suit my new dietary needs. I’ve purchased new cookbooks as well, which I can just use straight up with no revisions. In fact, when we had to replace the kitchen cabinets a couple of years ago, my one caveat was that there would be built-in shelves for cookbooks. Those shelves are well on their way to being full.
Food allergies are socially isolating. My most recent experience was with a fine dining restaurant in the area. I contacted the chef ahead of time, and outlined the things I could not eat. He wrote me a lovely e-mail back, and assured me that he would cook in a designated area, keep things allergen free, etc. And the last line was “However, bring your medication in case of cross-contamination”. Seriously? So…..I did not go. Buffets and potlucks are brutal.
Here, then, are the top questions I have been asked as a person with food allergies:
- What would happen if you DID eat it? – keeping this answer simple, I will refer back to Kate’s last post on Claire in the library. (Read it if you haven’t – it’s hilarious.) I will tell you – a belly tsunami of epic proportions happens, and I am not one hundred percent for a few days afterwards. So just eating “it” would mean that I am basically saying “Yes, I would like to have the stomach flu soon, and for the next few days.”
- Is it really THAT bad? Um, yes. I am very careful, but still, some things slip through, since I have quite a list to watch for. While I am not anaphylactic, and this is not life threatening, it is quality of life threatening. It means cancelling things I have planned and subsisting on rice crackers and tea until I feel better.
- What DO you eat? I eat meat, veggies and fruit. I have even found allergen free chocolate. There is actually a lot to choose from if you, out of necessity, start looking around. There is rice pasta. There are many ways to switch up recipes to accommodate for allergies. I’m still on a learning curve. It’s a steep one, but worthwhile for my health.
In future posts I plan to share different things I have made using recipes I already had, but switching them up for my specific eating requirements. I would love your feedback!
And now watch this statement from John Pinette (a comedian who has since passed on), on what you might experience on being told you had to be gluten free.