My Food Allergy Story

6/07/2016

Here's the thing, living with food allergies is really taxing. Food is meant to nourish your body and bring joy. When you're allergic to a lot of things, you quickly learn that food isn't so straightforward. The simple acts of grocery shopping, cooking and eating became muddled with confusion and frustration. I found out about my food allergies about two years ago. Up until that point, I'd lived my life thinking chronic headaches were my portion. That's over 20 years of pain and of eating all the wrong things!

Spring 2014 rocked my world. I was having full-blown allergies to all things New England springtime. Before then, I never really struggled allergies and enjoyed all foods. My only problem was chronic headaches. I've had migraines for as long as I can remember and no-one could explain what caused them or treat them. Since they couldn't help, I stopped seeing doctors and taking any medication. But when I suddenly started getting bad allergies, I sucked it up and sought medical attention. I went to an urgent care center and they prescribed some drugs. That didn't help, I was still feeling miserable. So I went to see a naturopathic doctor.

Naturopathy has been a blessing, I tell you! My naturopath suggested that my problems weren't just a reaction to the environment, but also to the foods I was eating. We came up with a game plan. I had some blood tests done, went on an elimination diet for about 6 weeks, and started taking some vitamins. I started paying more attention to food and how my body reacted it. I haven't had a migraine in two years and my seasonal allergies are more controlled.

Results from my blood tests revealed the culprits that were making me sick. Wheat, corn*, soy, peanuts, walnuts, shellfish, sesame. I panicked. The first four foods were staples in my diet and also happen to be key ingredients in a lot of foods. I'd been enjoying them for years. Realizing these foods were hurting me made me distraught and depressed. 

All the foods I loved and indulged in frequently - pastries, baguettes, pizza, nuts, edamame - became my enemies. I couldn't trust myself or anyone else to cook, and going out to restaurants became a hassle. Resisting the temptation became a daily test. I know how delicious all the foods on my no-list are, but I also know that they cause bloating, headaches, sluggishness and skin issues.

The last two years have been a dream! For the first time in my life, I know what living without headaches feels like. Aside from the headaches, I've always maintained a healthy lifestyle. I adapted to living with headaches so they didn't interfere with my life. I powered on and found how to cope. But when my diet and lifestyle changed, I became a new woman!

I've done some more testing and now know which foods to stay away from. I can eat corn, but am still allergic to wheat, soy, shellfish, and sesame. I'm allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts. I have to avoid them like the plague because exposure could be life-threatening. My hardest challenge right now is adapting to a new set of food restrictions and teaching myself how to cook and eat differently.

So health and a positive relationship with food are my portion. It's certainly a little harder to maintain both than it used to be, but not all foods are my enemy. There are plenty that bring joy and health.


Image sources: Unsplash, Pixabay

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