Food allergies and intolerances are everywhere! In addition to having my own food allergies I have several people in my life with allergies as well. My cousin is allergic to nuts. My niece is lactose intolerant. My friend is allergic to red #5. My mom has celiac disease, therefore cannot eat gluten. Although gluten allergies are becoming better known, back when she was first diagnosed, no one had heard of it. No one even knew what a gluten was.
I was never allergic to anything… until one dreaded day my body decided it wasn’t going to do fruit anymore. I loved apples; I literally (yes literally… not figuratively-literally) ate an apple a day. Suddenly, I couldn’t eat them without feeling a burning sensation in my throat, my stomach turning in all the wrong ways, my tongue and gums swelling up to twice their normal size. Turns out I developed O.A.S. (Oral Allergy Syndrome) It was a very sad day.
1. Explaining your allergies/food intolerances over and over again is beyond tiresome.
“You’re allergic to whhhhaaaaatttttt?????” You know what an allergy/intolerance means right? And you know what fruit/gluten/dairy/peanuts/wheat/red #5/etc. is right? Ok, good! Let’s put two and two together and move on. By move on, I mean let’s talk about anything that isn’t food allergies or the Kardashian’s. Side note: I don’t keep up with the Kardashian’s and I’d like to keep it that way.
2. Going out to dinner is not really that fun.
“This place has a huge menu!” Yeah, maybe for people who don’t slash entire sections of the food pyramid from their daily diet. When you have food allergies, menu’s magically transform into an excel spreadsheet before your very eyes (a trick far worse than anything you’ll see at one of those magic shows at amusement parks…). Column One: A-OK to order and enjoy! Thanks to Murphy’s Law, this is usually the shortest list. Column Two: Maybe… if they can make it without pepper (Pierce Brosnan knows). Column Three: Nope. No way. I will die right here in this TGI Friday’s if I eat that.
3. Social gatherings.
Being invited into someone’s home for a cookout, dinner party, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, etc. is a HUGE deal! You know that person went out of their way to plan, clean (even though they’re all like “Excuse the mess! I’m sorry! It’s such a mess!”) cook and/or order take out (take out takes planning!) just for you and the other guests. When you show up and everything is covered in the thing(s) you’re allergic to. You’re like, “Wow! Everything looks so delicious! But if I eat any of it, I might die… However, the guilt and self-hatred I feel right now might just be enough to kill me anyhow, if that’s any consolation to you… But have you’re home is really clean!”
4. Suddenly you have six (or more… or less… depending upon the size of the room and group) mothers in the room.
What is it about food allergies that make people treat you like a porcelain doll? “Are you going to be ok eating that?” “Aren’t you worried about cross contamination?” Ugh! I’ve noticed that these comments usually come once I’m a bite or two into something awesome. Which also means that you’re watching me eat… Ew… Could you not? But seriously, do you think I really want to experience symptoms ranging anywhere from mild swelling, pain, irritation, stomachache, up through going into full anaphylactic shock? And maybe die? Nope. Not really. If I had serious concern about whatever I’m stuffing into my face, then I’d, well, not be stuffing it in my face. I assessed the situation before hand and felt it was safe. So, I’m eating and enjoying the hell out of it! Why are you still watching? I’M AN ADULT AND I CAN MAKE MY OWN CHOICES MOM!
5. Please don’t make me feel stupid for asking what’s in something.
Do me a favor and just answer the damn question like it’s not weird! For example, I can’t have freshly squeezed orange juice but if it’s from concentrate is usually fine. Reason being that (this goes against #1, but for those of you interested, I’ll indulge you… But just this once!) when fresh fruit is processed, cooked, canned, etc., it changes it’s molecular structure.
Which, depending on the person, may or may not trigger an allergic reaction. In my case, processed fruit does not cause me any problems. Hellooooooo! Sweet apple pie! Or cherry pie! Pick your own poison (pun completely intended). That said, please don’t give me that puzzled, annoyed look when I ask if there is pulp in the OJ or not. This is not a test. I’m not judging you or trying to trick you. I just want to know if it’ll potentially kill me or not. It’s that simple.
In conclusion, food allergies suck. Physically, emotionally, socially, astronomically, they are kind of the worst.