It’s been a while since I posted about my food allergies.
I mention them briefly when posting recipes because I inevitably end up subbing something out for an allergy. Otherwise, I don’t talk much about my allergies.
I’ve learned to live with my food allergies, and — more exciting — I’m not as allergic to things as I used to be.
Here’s a quick recap of my food allergy journey.
- Back in 2013 when I was diagnosed with food allergies, the allergist gave me a laundry list of things that make my immune system go crazy.
- I tried to eat allergy-free as much as I could because there is a school of thought that says that allergies go away if you cycle them out.
- After a few months of eating completely allergy free, I added my most mild allergens back into my diet.
- After a few years of going mostly allergy-free, I couldn’t stand avoiding my favorite foods anymore, and conceded to try adding my bigger allergens back into my diet.
Basically, I gave my system an ultimatum, “Hey, you, digest this and don’t complain.” Fortunately for me, I don’t have any life-threatening food allergies (except maybe quinoa, but I don’t plan to eat that ever again). So I can pop a few Benedryl if I begin having reactions and I’m usually okay. If I have a bad reaction (even with the Benedryl) my body feels hungover the next day, so I try to avoid those.
Here’s where I’m at now.
- I’m still avoiding tomatoes and quinoa completely.
- I avoid almonds because I don’t particularly like them anyway and they still give me pretty big reactions (and yes, I’m allergic to almond milk, which is surprisingly a question I get often).*
- I’m also avoiding raw onion (cooking helps break it down) and have used shallots instead of onion because that works for me.**
- I avoid eating large quantities of allergens in raw form (mainly carrot and celery).
- I’ve eaten most of my mild allergens (nuts, corn, peas, potatoes, berries, etc.) on the regular, just not in quantities that I used to.
- I tried pineapple for the first time in three years yesterday, and I didn’t get any noticeable reaction.***
*What’s super weird is that I’m allergic to all nuts and I have bigger reactions to nut butters made from a single nut (peanut butter / almond butter) than I do to multi-nut butters, such as Nuttzo (which is, of course, $14 a jar). I am convinced that my body is allergic to cheap food because it’s secretly into high couture.
**I realize this makes no sense because they’re basically the same thing, but for whatever reason my body can deal with shallot.
*** It was dried pineapple, so I’m curious if I still react to fresh.
Overall, my reactions have gotten better.
I used to:
- Get burning horrible stomachaches that would last for hours (sometimes days) and other uncomfortable GI symptoms that nobody wants to hear about.
- Break out in hives (which presented like cystic acne) on my face, chest, and back (and sometimes other uncomfortable places).
- Itch and wake up having scratched my legs raw. Not fun.
- Have the itching and hives, but not as often as I used to.
- Get the stomachaches sometimes but usually when I’ve eaten a bunch of allergens, drank a bunch of coffee and alcohol, and done other asshole things to my GI system all at once.
- Still have pretty big reactions to onion if I’ve eaten a lot of it or if it’s raw.
My diet doesn’t suck as much as it did when I first learned about my allergies.
I miss pizza. So much. It’s not the same without red sauce no matter how much people try to convince me otherwise. I also miss bloody marys. And pasta with red sauce. Fortunately, Mark and I’ve found that tomatillos work for me (they’re not related to tomatoes — different family) and have used those frequently instead of tomatoes. We are going to try to make a green marinara now that I can have onion again. Hopefully we will succeed. I also want to try making a tomatillo bloody mary and call it a “Gang Green Gertie”.
Although I can sub tomatillos, I’m tempted to try tomato now that I had a good test run with pineapple, but I’m a little freaked out. It’s scary to try an allergy that could have either gotten better OR could have gotten worse (and can kill you). It’s also hard for me to want to schedule in trying tomato because there’s a large possibility that it will make me really sick for a few days. And that sucks. So I’m not sure if I’ll give it a go. I think if the green sauce is a failure, I’ll give tomato a try.
I am not planning on ever eating quinoa again. It’s not worth it to me. Quinoa is phasing out of popularity and it’s in less stuff than it was a few years ago. Although I like quinoa it doesn’t hinder my food choices quite like tomato does.
So there you go. That’s my food allergy update. If I try tomato and don’t react, expect a few months of tomato-heavy recipes here.