What does living with food allergies mean to me? I definitely have a different answer to this question after 15 years down the line of not eating wheat, rye, barley, oats, or dairy than when I first realized I couldn't eat these things.
At first I was overwhelmed, appalled, and frankly, fed up. I thought, what on earth am I going to eat, and it’s not fair! I loved bread, ice cream, butter, yogurt, cakes, biscuits. I thought I would never eat any of them again.
Now I choose to regard what I can’t eat as a positive. I will tell you why.
First and foremost cutting these foods out of my daily diet has done wonders for my health. I feel so much better now, and for me, it just isn't worth “being naughty” or “just having a little bit”. I get such a massive reaction now that my system is so clean that I really prefer not to eat anything that upsets my system. Frankly, for me, eating food that my system can’t cope with is like choosing to give myself food poisoning!
Also, eating like this has opened a whole new world of possibilities, and luckily I am married to an ex-professional chef. He has come up with some awesome recipes, so I can still eat cakes, biscuits, and puddings. Of course, now there are so many substitutes for dairy. I love coconut yogurt, and as an occasional treat I eat soy ice cream.
I actually like the fact that I can’t eat all the processed stuff that is around now. I can maintain my ideal weight and size much more easily. Of course, eating out is always tricky. But planning ahead and not putting as much emphasis on the actual food as concentrating on the social enjoyment of the occasion has helped me put this all into perspective.
Of course, explaining what I can and can’t eat to others can be tricky. I think it is easier now than when I first started to eat clean because it is more common. When I eat out I do get tired of explaining that no, eggs are not dairy, and I can eat them fine. I often respond, “Do they come from a cow?” A bit naughty, but hey ho! I think you have to get a bit tough and not mind if people seem not to understand as they keep offering you different versions of biscuits in the vain hope that one type will be OK. Saying no to them all can be difficult, but I am more concerned about how I feel physically than how they feel.
And even when you explain and explain, still sometimes things slip through. I remember eating at a friend’s house and we had gone over what I could and couldn't eat. She put a bowl of food in front of me (can’t remember exactly what it was) and one smell was enough for me to realize it had cream in it. I had to ask, and of course the answer was, “Yes.” It was embarrassing for all, but better that than me eat something that would make me ill for days.
This article was written by MyFoodAllergyTeam member Gina as part of the Member Spotlight Series. Gina is married, has been doing yoga for 30-plus years, and believes "You are what you eat."
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