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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finding My Way: Living with Food Allergies

I see a specialist for my Asthma and seasonal allergies.  I recently got tested for Food Allergies and received some interesting results.  I knew the tests existed because I had an environmental trigger test done a couple of years ago.  I have no idea why I delayed getting this food allergy test done, but finally decided to go through with it after 2 years of trying to lose weight and talking to every doctor, my trainer, my WW leader, friends family & my massage therapist.  No one knew why my body was acting the way it did, why I couldn't lose weight at a normal rate and why I felt uncomfortable all of the time. 

I ALWAYS knew something was not right.  Now I finally have some definite answers and I am trying to find my way to deal with this new information.

In the world of food allergies there are what specialists refer to as the Top 8: Wheat, Soy, Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish & Fish.

My test consisted of 75 different foods ranging from the Top 8 to popular fruits, peas, vegetables, other types of bread such as rye, spices, condiments, meats & even a few drinks such as coffee.

These tests are not cheap, but in the long run they can save you some doctor bills and a lot of pain or discomfort.  For years I thought there was something wrong my my digestive system and never understood why my asthma would act up after lunch or dinner usually.  I knew I hadn't over-eaten to be uncomfortable, yet I was.  My mid-section would always swell up like I was preggo & there would be a lot of pressure and water retention.

I found out that I am allergic to: Wheat (which includes flour products), Soybeans, Peanuts, Shellfish, Chocolate, Coconut & as puzzling as it peas.  I also have a milk intolerance & was using soy milk and that had to stop.

Basically my Husband asked me what all I could eat now & followed up with "Salad?"  Well, yes dear that seems like the safest choice, but even if you get a salad you have to watch for allergens! You can't have the crutons, most salad dressings have soybean oil in them, caesar dressing is usually made with anchovies (seafood allergy no no) & you can't have blue cheese that cuts out blue cheese crumbles or blue cheese dressing. 

It gets very complicated and stressful sometimes.

So lets take a look at my allergens...

1. Wheat - in everything except Corn, Rice or Potato products. I now have to use Corn Tortillas, Corn or Spinach Pasta, Rice or Potato flour for baking, Gluten Free Bread, Gluten Free Pizza Crust (oh & btw...Dominos is the only pizza joint locally that has joined the Gluten Free revolution)

2. Soybeans - This immediately cuts out Edamame...which is healthy and I like it.  Most liquid products such as Ranch dressing will have soybean oil.  Even products like chewing gum or Crystal Light contain some version of Soy, such as the oil or Soy Lecithin.  Some fast food places will cook with a Soybean Oil or a blend oil of Cottonseed & Soybeans.

3. Peanuts - Peanuts are in almost every form of granola bar or candy bar. They are also used as peanut butter in so many products such as candy, cookies, ice cream, cakes and of course PB&J sandwiches.  Peanut oil is becoming less popular, but some restaurants such as Cheeburger Cheeburger very openly disclose that EVERYTHING they fry is done in peanut oil.  This one I actually don't understand since Peanuts are one of the top Allergens to cause a severe reaction such as Anaphalaxis Shock.

4. Chocolate - Yep...chocolate.  Every where you turn at a gas station, grocery store, holidays, etc. For the most part I am ok with this because it had already been phased out for the most part, but a few things I hate to give up such as ice cream or brownies.  I can't even have my Weight Watchers ice cream anymore.

5. Coconut - this is the one that actually made me go get tested.  I bought coconut milk to use in a smoothie and it physically made me ill.  I had to pour the entire jug down the drain - knowing it wasn't expired or anything.  I am quite alright doing without this one.  Of course I enjoyed a nice slice of Coconut Pie every now and then, but no one made it besides my Memaw.  I'll leave this one as a memory.

6. Shellfish - As us Southerners say when it is something we disagree with "Awww Hell No".  That is about the way I feel on this one.  So you are telling a girl born and raised in Louisiana - Bayou Country - The Cajun State - that I can't have Shrimp, Crawfish, Crab or Lobster anymore....hahahahahha.  I truly have the hardest time with this one, but don't worry...I have prepared a portable allergy kit for when I frequent annual Crawfish Boils...LOL

7. Black-eyed peas - yet again a Southern staple & this one even puzzled my doctor..LOL.  I am alright though...there are easy alternatives to this one.  I can throw some Down Home Sausage in any peas or beans and it would still be good!

So what have I done to help with my new food allergens.  Well first I started with my house and cleaned out my spice cabinet and removed any spices I couldn't have.  Then I moved to the condiments and realized that mainly my ranch dressing was a problem, but one that could easily be fixed by buying a gluten free/soy free brand.  I boxed up some stuff I couldn't have and distributed to a few friends.  I still have some things that are canned goods such as soups that I am saving for a Thanksgiving food bank drive.  I also had to clean out my "snack cabinet" at work and get rid of granola bars, Weight Watchers pop chips & restock with popcorn.

It literally made me sick to have to get rid of so much food, snacks and spices.  But, I am slowly stocking up on things I can have and searching for recipes that I can fix that my Husband and I can eat together.

It is hard, but will be worth it in the long run.  I will be healthier and will no longer be causing my body to react to my diet on such a negative level.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this has me considering having the food allergy test done. I think I am going to talk to the doc about that when we get all of these other tests out of the way. I feel a lot of the discomforts you mention here which is what had her tell me to see the dietitian, who led me to the OB, who all said - get off the carbs. I just can't imagine having the shellfish allergy. I know many do. I have been reading a lot of low-carb sites and have a lot of alternatives for the things you are allergic to. I have even switched to a lot of gluten free things just because I like them, they are healthier, and they dont make me feel yucky. It's hard to switch your diet around when it's things you've grown accustomed to having your whole life. It can be even worse when trying to budget or when you have a spouse that still wants those things in the house. I look forward to more posts, photos, recipes, and weight loss check-ins!