The Return of an Allergic Foodie

How difficult can it be to write a blog post once a week? After all, I LOVE to write. I enjoy helping others with food allergies and celiac disease. I don’t mind sharing embarrassing details about my life with complete strangers.

So why haven’t I written anything these past weeks . . .  uh, months. I’d like to tell you I found a cure to my food woes and have been travelling around the world teaching others how they, too, can cure their leaky gut. I’d like to tell you I discovered a magic pill to make my and my son’s celiac disease disappear. I’d like to tell you I’ve been out promoting a book that remedies food allergies within weeks.

Of course, none of these things are true. The truth is I haven’t felt like focusing on my health issues.

I got SICK of being SICK.

When I was first diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I was told I could stop my leaky gut by eliminating offending foods. Once my gut was healed, I could slowly re-introduce those foods.

Didn’t happen. I am STILL allergic to soy, dairy, corn, capers, asparagus, vanilla, nutmeg. I know this because every so often some waiter or a well-meaning friend poisons me with one of these foods.

I recently began Weight Watchers. Yes, even though I cannot eat anything, I am fat. I sit in those meetings listening to the leader say how I can eat ANYTHING if I just keep track of those points. Pizza. Cake. Cookies. Nothing is off limits.

Uh, she hasn’t met anyone with severe food allergies or celiac disease or eosinophilic esophagitis, has she?

Having so many food restrictions as well as a broken metabolism just doesn’t seem fair. At least if I have to eat fish without butter sauce, or ribs without barbecue sauce, or rice noodles without teriyaki sauce, let me look good in a bathing suit!

In addition to getting sick of being sick, I also started a pity party.

Without making any sort of formal decision, I took a break from blogging. Rather than read the latest allergy studies, I went to the golf range. I stopped writing and began a new boutique business. I read fiction instead of allergy-free cookbooks. I helped a foster care mom with her foster kids and took over my elderly mother’s finances.

Doing all these things rejuvenated me. I may have a lousy autoimmune system, but I can still swing a golf club. I can build an entire business from the ground floor. I can make a difference in other people’s lives.

What I discovered while taking a break is this: My illness is a part of me, but it does not define me.

Though I hadn’t written anything new in months, people continued to read my old posts and comment. They emailed me their food allergy stories. They told me I helped them.

And this is why I am returning to blogging–to help. In return, you always help me.

I’d love to hear how your food restrictions don’t hold you back from living life to the fullest.

The Return of an Allergic Foodie” first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie

New Book–The Food Babe Way–Can Help Those with Food Allergies

The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list last week. This says a lot about how our country feels about the food industry. If you haven’t heard about Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe, you will.  She’s the lady who decided several years ago that she was sick and tired–literally–from eating crappy food, so she took on the momentous task of telling food companies to stop contaminating our food with chemicals and additives. With the help of millions of like-minded folks–which she calls the Food Babe Army–and in less than three years (three years!) she’s succeeded in getting companies like Chipotle and Kraft and Subway to eliminate controversial ingredients and be more transparent in labeling.

Vani Hari Grocery Store - Credit Kwaku Alston

I began following the Food Babe on social media and joined her activist army soon after I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and celiac disease. I didn’t need a PhD in nutrition to figure out if my body was rejecting food, there must be something wrong with the food I was eating. Vani Hari’s blog shed light on the toxins I’d been unwittingly putting into my body for decades. Add these to the multiple rounds of antibiotics and painkillers I consumed for several years for a chronic health problem, it’s no wonder my gut sprang a leak. More importantly, Hari’s blog taught me what I should eat.

When her book came out this month, I was slightly worried that it would be another diet book by someone who was probably always slender. I mean she’s called the Food Babe and she is tall and thin and beautiful as the book cover clearly shows. Watch this video and you’ll see she struggled with weight like most of us. She is also smart–and a bit sassy which I like. Within the first few pages, I was underlining facts and figures, jotting down notes, and starting her 21-day program. Warning: Your significant other will not appreciate being told the same chemical used to make Silly Putty is most likely in the fastfood French fries he’s popping into his mouth.

About halfway through the book, I experienced an epiphany. Many of the good food and good habits that Hari outlines, I was already doing–because of my celiac and allergies! My body had rejected soy and corn and gluten and dairy, so I no longer eat GMO-infested processed foods. I eat organic as much as I can. I buy additive-free and antibiotic-free meats and wild fish. I cut back on soda and alcohol. I don’t eat fastfood.

The Food Babe Way

I often tell people the positive side of my celiac and food allergies is that I eat better foods and I cook more. But what if I’d done this long ago? In my teens and twenties, I thought the low-fat food I ate and the diet soda I drank were good for me; now I know I was swallowing fistfuls of chemicals and additives. When I was a tired mother, I was convinced it was faster to feed my family Taco Bell between hockey practices than make a homemade meal. When I went out to restaurants, I never questioned what was in the food I ordered. I snacked on whatever was available in airports and hotels.

All of these bad habits and bad food choices resulted in serious health consequences. I believe if I’d followed the 21-steps in The Food Babe Way in my younger days, I wouldn’t be facing the health issues I am today.  Of course, it’s never too late for any of us to make changes in our dietary habit and to start letting the suppliers of our food know we want accountability. It’s certainly not to late to teach our children good eating habits.

Here’s the other cool thing about Hari’s book–most of her advice for eating and cooking and shopping and traveling are fit for allergic foodies. So go get a copy of The Food Baby Way today and let me know what you think.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books A Million
Indie Bound (find your local store)

The Food Babe Way Can Help Those with Food Allergies first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

From an Allergic Foodie

To Eaters of Everything from an Allergic Foodie

Dear Eaters of Everything,

I remember what it was like to be you.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I sipped my Starbucks soy latte while nibbling on a blueberry muffin, waiting for my kids to finish their guitar lessons. On shopping excursions, I picked up a fast-food salad without worrying about the croutons or the shredded cheese or the dressing with soy oil.  During football games, I ate deep-fried chicken wings not once considering what else had been fried in the fryer.  At movies, I shared buttered popcorn with my husband.  I even munched on prepackaged cookies–without reading the label!

From an Allergic Foodie

Some people can eat whatever they want.

Once upon a time, not so long ago,  I was also intolerant of people with “food issues.”

(Please don’t hate me my dear readers who have very real food issues, but it’s time I come clean.)

I, An Allergic Foodie, once rolled my eyes when my girlfriend passed on the bacon-wrapped melon appetizer because melon made her “tongue feel funny.” I believed people who were lactose intolerant just didn’t like the taste of milk. I thought my sister-in-law who ate only organic veggies and fruits and grass-fed meats was a pain in the neck.  I thought my friend who was constantly running to one doctor after another for stomach pain was a little bit of a hypochondriac.

Payback is hell.

Dear Eaters of Everything, while I certainly don’t wish you any harm, someday your stomach may betray you just as mine did.  I was well into my life when I developed multiple food allergies, celiac disease, and eosinophilic esophagitis. On top of that, my youngest son also developed celiac disease and my oldest son started reacting severely to dairy.

I had to learn a whole new way of grocery shopping, preparing foods, ordering out, reading labels.  I studied nutrition, the gastrointestinal system, and naturopathic medicine.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is tough when your allergic of wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, corn, etc. (Photo credit: Bruce A Stockwell)

As I said, payback is hell.

But as I became informed, something wonderful happened.  I became empathetic to those with food issues. And that’s why I am writing to you, Eaters of Everything.  I don’t want your lack of information to cause you to be  intolerant to those with food-related illnesses.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Please recognize and accept that some foods make some people sick.  And so, when we take ten minutes to order in restaurants, we are being picky eaters for a reason. When we eat in your homes, we are not trying to cause you extra work in the kitchen–we’re just trying to stay healthy. Sometimes, we are trying to save ourselves or a family member (or you)  a trip to the emergency room.  Don’t be afraid to ask us questions. We don’t expect you to know all the ingredients where allergens hide, or how to keep foods from being contaminated.  We don’t mind explaining our special food needs; we want–no, we need–you to understand.

Eaters of Everything, thank you for taking the time to read this.  I wish you continued good health.

Happy Eating!

An Allergic Foodie

Some of my other posts you may like:

Celiac Disease Wasn’t a Part of the College Plan

I’m a Picky Eater. And Proud of It!

Living Life with Food Challenges

To Eaters of Everything from An Allergic Foodie originally appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Will This Cell Phone Hurt My Family’s Health?

They are putting a cell tower in front of my house.

towerWhile researching how I could fight it, I came across this article about environmental conditions that impact our health.  I thought you’d find it as interesting–and alarming–as I did.

 

Truth11

Why Do Smells Make Some People Sick?  Jan. 22, 2012 — Science Daily

Do you get a headache from the perfume of the lady next to you at the table? Do cleaning solutions at work make your nose itch? If you have symptoms prompted by everyday smells, it does not necessarily mean you are allergic but rather that you suffer from chemical intolerance. According to Linus Andersson at Umeå University, this hypersensitivity can be the result of an inability to get used to smells.


Normally your smell perceptions diminish rapidly, as when you enter a friend’s apartment. Even though you clearly notice smells just inside the door, you don’t think about them for long. For people with chemical intolerance, on the other hand, smells seem always to be present. Psychology researcher Linus Andersson has exposed both intolerant and non-intolerant individuals to smells and compared their reactions.

“The hypersensitive individuals felt that…

View original post 4,063 more words

Aside

A Rash Decision

Yesterday I decided to take care of this annoying rash on my face and neck that’s been plaguing me for quite some time.  Why now?  Well, I’ll be attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference this weekend and I didn’t want to look like I’d forgotten to take off my Halloween mask.

The ironic thing is this conference is full of people with ALLERGIES.  A rash looks perfectly normal to them.  But you know, a girl likes to look good.

Went to the doctor’s and got a prescription. First pharmacy didn’t have the ointment in stock so had to drive across town to another pharmacy and wait an hour.

Then the lady at the counter looked me in the eye and said, “Did your doctor tell you how much this was going to cost?”  Never a good sign.

Image

Yep, you’re reading that right.  $166 for that tiny little tube that’s the size of cement glue!  By the way, I have “good” health insurance;  makes you wonder what I’d pay if I had “bad” health insurance.

Next I headed off to Walgreens to replace some old makeup that might be irritating my skin and to take a look at some recommended sensitive skin products. Anna at Walgreens was incredibly knowledgeable.  $100 later I was back in my car.

Image

Good news is my face is already looking better. Bad news is I spent more than the airline ticket to Las Vegas cost.

If you’ll be at the conference, please introduce yourself!  If you’re not going, I’ll be live blogging during and after the sessions … after all, I have no money left for gambling.

Related Post from An Allergic Foodie

A Tribute to Food Allergy Bloggers

“A Rash Decision” originally appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

 

An Allergic Foodie Goes to the Farmers’ Market

For the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging, beaching, biking—as well as food shopping, cooking and dining–in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, one of my favorite places in the world. If you’ve never been here, close your eyes and imagine expansive blue skies, long sandy beaches, and breathtaking sunsets.

Sunset at SPCC

Now picture yourself hopping on your beach bike–mine is bright pink–and joining me and my friend Edna as we pedal down to the local famers’ market in Sea Pines Center.

You should know by now that this allergic foodie never passes up a local farmers’ market!  Never know what you’ll discover. . . like this guy wearing the lobster hat!

lobster guy

Yes, I know, there’s wheat in those lobster rolls he’s serving, not to mention I overheard “Joe” from Joe Loves Lobster say he dribbled butter on top of the lobster. Just those two ingredients would send me to bed for a week.

However, I can guarantee you my husband will be stopping by Joe’s next Tuesday. We don’t get lobster rolls in Colorado. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can reinvent the lobster roll—free of wheat and dairy, of course.

After passing on the handcrafted goat’s milk soap (ingredients include soybean oil!), Edna and I spoke to a talented artist named Nancy Mitchell who happens to be the mother of not one but two local musicians we’ve followed for years, Steppin’ Stones and Luke Mitchell.  How about that!

Never know what you’ll discover . . .

At the end of the shopping plaza, we met Matt Frommer, the owner of Frommer’s Natural Foods.  Okay, so the cool guy in sunglasses wanted to know why this not-so-cool lady was taking photos of his booth.

Wasn’t it obvious?

Frommer's Natural Foods

I asked Matt why no gluten, expecting he or someone in his family had a wheat allergy or celiac disease.  Matt said he simply wanted to make the healthiest product he could.  (A side note:  Matt uses Bob’s Red Mill GF Oats and wasn’t aware of the recent brouhaha concerning Bob’s GF products being tested and containing gluten. He knows now.)

Matt Frommer

Matt Frommer of Frommer’s Natural Foods

Since the granola bars contained vanilla, one of my oh-so-many allergies, I set them aside for my GF son who’s coming to visit next week.  The GF Orange Agave Granola sans vanilla will probably have disappeared by then.

It’s a pleasure to meet someone like Matt, a young chef and entrepreneur with a desire to make simple healthful food. The food allergy/celiac disease community need more like him.

Never know what you’ll discover at the local farmers’ market.

I’m Obsessed with Food!

I’m always thinking about food.

In fact, you could say I’m obsessed with food.

For a woman who’s struggled with weight issues all her life, this doesn’t seem like a good thing. But when your body reacts negatively to wheat and soy and corn and dairy products, you can’t help but think about every morsel that passes through your lips.

My health depends on it.

A recent week-long trip alerted me to how food obsessed I’ve become.  Before I could even step through the airport doors, I planned what to pack in my lunchbox that would pass TSA inspection. (Last trip, they confiscated my almond yogurt and peanut butter!)  Then, the entire time I was away from home, I had to constantly think about what the host was serving and how she was preparing the food.

No, I can’t eat a croissant with butter or that sausage that isn’t labeled gluten free.  And by the way, could you not serve the fruit on the same plate as the rolls?

I didn't look this happy when I was grocery shopping for food allergy food!

I didn’t look this happy when I was grocery shopping for food allergy food!

Before I finished breakfast, I was already planning lunch and dinner. If we were eating out, I jumped online and researched the restaurants through apps like AllergyEats. I followed up with a call to the staff to review my allergies. Sometimes plans were changed. If eating in, I had to negotiate a meal that included something allergy free for me to eat.

Of course, it isn’t just when I’m travelling that I’m thinking about food.  My desk is covered with books and magazines and articles related to food and health and cooking.

Books about celiac disease and food allergies

I can never just read one book at a time.

Every morning I read blogs and tweets about celiac disease and food allergies. I belong to multiple support groups and organizations.  I try to stay up on the latest news about CD, leaky gut, and eosinophilic esophagitis. I keep this blog and associated Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I write reviews of cookbooks and restaurants and test food and products designed for allergic foodies like me.

I guess you could say food has become my passion as well as obsession.

I love meeting other allergic foodies! Please “friend” me on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter–I’ll reciprocate!