Monday, November 17, 2014

Food Allergies

This has been a rough year for our family. Each one of us has discovered and/or developed food allergies.

Apparently, according to my mom's specialist, when your environmental allergies are a constant extreme (for example, living on top of a den of skunks who have taken up residence under your house), or if you're under a lot of stress in your life, your body freaks out and all kinds of other allergies start to bother you. Like food allergies.

Some of these allergies could have always been there but get more extreme, while others can develop seemingly "out of the blue."

Food allergies are often genetic. So...blame your parents.

Food allergies are no fun. But they are very real.

Symptoms of food allergies often present themselves on your skin.  Your skin is your largest organ, and it's on the outside of you. So it's a great place for your body to tell you that something is not quite right on the inside.  Rashes, hives, eczema, itching, puffy eyes, mouth sores and even pimples and reacquiring breakouts can all be (usually are) the symptoms and signs of food allergies.

Intestinal reactions are also very common with food allergies. Gas, bloating, stomach ache, diarrhea, etc...

Other symptoms can be more serous and dramatic. Like your throat closing up and not being able to breath. This is called and/or leads to anaphylactic shock.

 Anaphylactic shock is defined as "an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive."

 If a person has an anaphylactic food allergy DO NOT COOK THAT FOOD AROUND THEM!

Cooking the food, or with ingredients, that someone is allergic to will make them sick. The food goes into the air and is breathed in. This is bad.
Especially if it is an anaphylactic allergy.

This list has since been added to and updated...I forgot Tuna and oysters and nuts on my mom's

At home I am usually the person who makes the meals. I often keep everyone's allergies in my head and make meals that EVERYONE can eat. Sometimes I have to resort to making separate things for each person, but I am always VERY careful not to "cross contaminate." Everything is prepared on different plates with different utensils and in different pans.

And I NEVER cook with ingredients that will cause my mom to not be able to breath. Such as cilantro or coriander.

In preparation for the baby, and in planning on not being able to make the meals for a while, I made a list of all of our allergies and put it on the refrigerator to help William keep them all straight (there are actually a couple missing in this picture. I forgot to put my mom's Tuna and Oyster allergies).

I know this list looks crazy. I know it must seem impossible to feed people with such a list of food allergies.

I know it's frustrating and even annoying to try to feed someone that is seemingly allergic to everything.

Trust me.

It's more annoying and frustrating to BE the person who is allergic to everything.

But it is SO wonderful to not feel sick all the time.  I'd rather have it this way and be healthier and happier than ignore my allergies.

My mom doesn't have the option of ignoring her allergies. For her ignoring them can be life threatening. But I don't mind. As long as we get to keep her around for a good long time.

Besides.  We all eat healthier this way. So that's good.

If you think you might have a food allergy...

(it is my personal strong opinion that most people do have at least a mild one... we just ignore them because in Western medicine we are obsessed with treating symptoms instead of causes. "oh you have a rash? well stop scratching and here's another medicine for that." instead of "let's look and see what you are already putting into your body to cause that.")

If you think you might have a food allergy the best way to figure it out is to do a food journal.  The number one, most important thing we learned from my mom's allergy specialist is that a food journal is THE most effective way to diagnose an allergy (most tests for food allergies are not accurate! (especially the one for Celiac/gluten)).

Start with the most common allergies and take them out of your diet ONE AT A TIME
(that would be soy, gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut (yes, peanut oil counts), tree nuts, eggs, shellfish).

Then pay attention when you eat them again... how does your body react?
(and don't just take them out for a couple of days... do it for a week or two).

Another really good way to figure out a food allergy is to look at your family history.  Do you have any relatives that are allergic to anything? Chances are you are too... and remember, food allergies can develop later in your life... so if you're not allergic now... you might be later. Sorry.

So there you go. Just in time for Thanksgiving! Everything you never cared about knowing for food allergies.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving meals and the people you share them with... and please be considerate and conscience of those at your table with food allergies. They are not trying to be difficult... it's just how things are.

And please remember If a person has an anaphylactic food allergy DO NOT COOK THAT FOOD AROUND THEM!

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