Saturday, February 6, 2010

getting all webMD in your face: food allergies

now that you all know what the title of my blog really means, a few of you have asked me some other questions.

a lot of you know that i have a few food allergies, desiree from at clemson girl and bathwater asked me what exactly my food allergies were and bathwater specifically wanted to know how i survived on marshmallows alone. 

good question since i've never really gone into any detail about it.  the answer is: i starve myself.  well, not really, but that's what i tell people when they ask me at a luncheon why i'm not eating.  actually, when i'm at a luncheon and i can't eat any of the food, women always ask me: oh my gosh, meredith!  why aren't you eating??  you're going to wither away to nothing.  you're already skinny.  i typically give them a dirty look and say: i'm not skinny, you're just overweight, so you think i'm skinny.  oh, and i'm anorexic.  'rexies don't eat, ya know.  it's irritating, to say the least.  though maybe if i had kate moss' willpower to not eat, i would go that route.  unfortunately, i don't.  i love food and i love to eat.  clearly.

anybitch, food allergies are a lot more complicated than a lot of people realize.  for example, just because i can eat something from one restaurant doesn't mean i can eat that same dish from another restaurant because each place uses different ingredients and has different preparation methods.  for instance, i can't eat apples during certain months out of the year when ragweed and mold spore counts are high.  for a couple months out of the year, eating certain fruits and vegetables when environmental allergens are high causes my mouth to break out in blisters.

so in a nutshell (no pun intended) here's what i'm allergic to.  and you should know, my food allergies weren't always like this, they've just gotten worse as i've gotten older for some reason.  apparently people can both grow out of and into food allergies, unfortunately.  so some of these are fairly new (like within the past two years), so it's taking some getting used to. 

milk
(yes, this also means ice cream, certain cheeses, yogurt, and anything creamy delicious)

soy

nuts  
(primarily almonds.  i think i may be able to eat some other kinds, but i just avoid all nuts just to be safe.)

shellfish 
(i.e. oysters, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc. - anything with a shell on it and lives in the ocean.  duh.)

certain kinds of fish

beef

avocados

mushrooms

SULFITES  
(the biggest, baddest bitch of them all)

the sulfite allergy is the most serious of them all because it is a preservative found in A LOT of different kinds of food.  here's just some of the foods that contain sulfites: wine, bottle lemon and lime juices, molasses, dried fruit, grape juice, frozen potatoes, fresh mushrooms, guacamole dip, salad dressing, vinegar, fruit topping, gravy, sauces, pickles, maple syrup, imported sausages, certain deli meats, prepackaged muffin mixes, cider, soft drinks, beer, pre-made pie crust and pizza dough, crackers, boxed cookies... the list goes on... so you kind of get the idea how it's somewhat difficult to to "grab a meal on the go." 

the reactions i have from accidentally eating foods i shouldn't have eaten can be very, very mild and not life threatening like itchiness or tingling.  The more moderate reactions include hives, stomach cramping, vomiting, and a drop in blood pressure.  The most serious reactions are include swelling of tongue, lips, and airways to straight up anaphylaxis (i.e. you can't breathe).  obviously the most life threatening reaction is an anaphylatic reaction in which your airways close completely and you are unable to breathe.  this isn't a good feeling.  it's scary and hopeless and you feel like "oh, shit, i'm going to die."  because if you can't breathe, you die.  unless you are a superhero and can breathe through your skin.  i'm not a superhero, just a superbitch so breathing through the skin doesn't work for me.  this mean that an epi-pen is my best friend.  "epi" gets to go EVERYWHERE i go.  and if i have a reaction i get stabbed by epi.


my mom is actually a medical freak when it comes to allergies. like she's been stabbed with the epi lots of times.  i am NOTHING compared to her.  she has eight different kinds of food she is able to eat without having a severe anaphylactic reaction.  part of the reason why i'm so crazy is because i am constantly worrying about her.  she is actually being studied by a lot of doctors around the u.s. and receives testing from a research hospital in denver, colorado called national jewish hospital.  my little sister also attends that research hospital for her medical issues.  unfortunately, there is no "cure" for severe food allergies, there is only awareness.  having asthma on top of food allergies typically doesn't help much either.  the food allergy and anaphylaxis network actually has a fundraiser walk each year.  you can check it out here and see when it'll be coming to your city. 

well, now that i've given you a lesson you could have received from webMD, i'll be back to talking about THE ga tomorrow.  or maybe i'll answer one of your more tantalizing questions... we'll see how i'm feeling.  if you hated this very boring, but educational post - sorrs.  if we're going to be BFF, you better know what you're getting yourself into.  (i'm talking to you, trifecta - jess and money.) 

oh, and i guess i should answer the question: what do i eat??  i eat banana bread for breakfast every single morning, pretty much.  since a lot of breads have milk and/or soy in them, i have become the betty crocker of bread baking.  seriously.  i'm kind of awesome at baking.  99% of everything i eat is organic.  i eat lots of chicken, pork, egg whites, brown rice, beans, sweet potato fries, and veggies.  i have this great pizza place i love in houston that i go to every now and then.  i just have to eat the pizza without the cheese!  for sweets, i eat rice dream (kind of like ice cream, but not) and lots of vanilla sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies.  for snacks i eat organic blue corn chips, rice cakes, baby carrots, back to nature cookies and honey graham sticks.  i can pretty much eat anything a "normal" person eats, just sometimes it has to be highly modified!  i follow a lot of recipes in a monthly magazine i receive called living without.

and don't forget to enter my first ever giveaway!!  giveaway ends this wednesday, and a winner will be announced thursday morning!!

41 comments:

Christy said...

Wow, I cannot imagine. No wine or ice cream?! I couldn't survive. In all seriousness though, that really has to be tough. What are your staples (aside from the marshmallows)?

The Only Girl said...

Wow Meredith - that's a lot of allergies! Poor you.

My Eldest suffered from a nasty anaphylactic milk protein allergy for his first 6 years. I'm sure you know how many foods contain milk proteins (ie casein). We were so lucky that he grew out of it. I often liken his Challenge Test Day to us winning the lottery.

Vic said...

I'm with Christy... what do you eat? That must be really tough. Though I'd kind of like the excuse of "it might kill me" to talk myself down from ice cream binges every now and then.

Amanda said...

This must be SO hard! i mean -- the cheese/milk/ice cream thing alone would be hard enough for me. Next post should definitely be what you DO eat!

Stacy said...

Yeah, that's insane! I'm curious to know what you eat in a typical day as well.

SG said...

Dude that SUCKS! Seriously, I can't imagine. But it seems like you've found ways around your allergies which is good but I can see how going out to eat could be a bitch.

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

I had no idea it was this much that you were allergic to. I'm sorry girl. It looks like you've done well to make sure you still get tasty food in your diet and food that's good for you though.

I really thought when I read you were allergic to wine that it was just wine. I have a friend that can't drink red wine but is fine with white - but she does get blisters I will warn her to keep an eye on that.

I'm happy to see you're taking care of yourself and making sure you're safe with your epi everywhere etc!!!

I'm really glad you told me all about this. It helps me know you better. If you stick to eating all the good stuff I'll pick up the slack for the ice cream and wine ok? ;)

jessalyn said...

ok so i kinda already knew you were allergic to the world, however i didn't know the deets. i did think you were a superhero though, so i am little disappointed to hear that part.
i actually kind of like it, because when we hang out IRL, i will eat good things like you and get the skinnies just by being around you. that is win win my friend. (sorry i am using your sever food allergies to benefit me, but that's just how i am)
<3

Bathwater said...

Well it does suck but it sounds like you have adjusted pretty well. you can still eat chicken, everything tastes like chicken anyway.

And you look great! I'd rather look great than be able to eat like crap any day!

jessalyn said...

um that should be severe*
also, inquiring minds want to know what kind of booze you can drink? any?

Rasha said...

I love web md... and ya that sucks, but chicken is good.

THE Stephanie said...

WOW! That's crazy! I does sound like you've adjusted well, though.

Shandal said...

You poor thing! That sounds incredibly stressful to have to worry about that all the time! :(

saltsays said...

OMG! That's insanity. I have never heard of one person having that many food allergies, but it definitely sounds like you have it under control. I don't know what I would do with myself if I couldn't eat fish/shellfish.

The only food thing I'm allergic to (to my knowledge) is bananas, so no banana bread for me. My throat started to close up once when I drank a Jamba smoothie that I requested no banana. Either they forgot or didn't clean the blender out well enough before they made it. Scary scary stuff.

Hutch said...

And here I thought my almond allergy + my inability to eat anything with iron or calcium (thyroid crap so I basically eat special k red berry waffles every morning) for breakfast was a bitch! I will never complain again. Ok, that's a lie.

foxy said...

Wow, I can't imagine being allergic to all that stuff. But I guess it's something you adjust to. Very educational and interesting post.

And I do wonder... do you drink anything? Alcoholish?

Lindsey said...

That's a lot you poor thing!

Aunt Juicebox said...

My niece and my SIL are both allergic to nuts, and my SIL is also allergic to shellfish, and so is FIL, so we've dealt with the epipens quite a bit. Luckily my niece is only mildly allergic, so the pen is just a precaution. Because of the nuts, we've gotten used to reading the labels on everything, and it's surprising sometimes to see what's in stuff. I honestly think that more people have food allergies than they realize they do, and just chalk it up to something else, or the symptoms aren't very serious so they ignore them.

Annie said...

oh my goodness! i'd say you poor girl but i'm sure growing up this way you are just used to it and accustomed to the food lifestyle you have. at least you know what you can and can't eat and you have plenty of options still. also doesn't hurt that you eat healthy foods and you are little miss betty crocker ;)
hope you had a great weekend pretty girl!!

Laura@Cowboy Boots said...

baby #4 lived on banana bread alone in my womb!!! yummo! in fact i think i need some now!

wow and some complain about simple runny nose allergies....they need to walk in ur shoes for a day!

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

Well. GodDamn. Lucky for you, you are a hot dish in the looks department because you are an effing medical nightmare. And I am allowed to speak this way to you because I am part of your trifecta. Nobody else is allowed to speak so aggressively at you or I will bang heads together.

Oh, and I have a light lactose intolerance myself. Though both times I was pregnant I could have as much as I wanted. Weird, huh? That was the best part of my pregnancies.

The Shabby Princess said...

Holy moly! And I thought I had it rough with gluten and dairy allergies (not Celiac or lactose intolerant, just very sensitive). A life without avocado dip isn't a life I could live.

Ummm, you're my hero with banana bread every morning. Yum!

bananas. said...

HOLY MOLY!!! i'm pretty sure i would hate my life if i was allergic to all that. poor you but hey at least you stay a lean, mean, fighting machine

Kinsey Michaels said...

aww I feel bad you have such horrific food allergies :( It must be such a bitch when you go out to eat. The things we deal with!!!

xo

Cee said...

That just really sucks. I would miss cheese and wine so much. You seem to have it under control and are taking care of yourself. I know too many people with food allergies that still eat whatever they want then have bad reactions!

Krista said...

I have to say that I'm crushed. As I was tattooing the list of foods that you are allergic to on my forearm, so that I will always be aware and ready when we're hanging out, you did NOT list me as being one of your future BFF's. I'm now going to go drown myself in rice milk, as I have stocked my shelves with all of your favorites, in hopes that you would stop by.

d.a.r. said...

I have ridiculous food allergies, too!!! I haven't met someone with the sulfite allergy before, crazy. I am def. allergic to them, as well, but not as severely as yours. Mine tends to manifest more in the salad dressing, dried fruits, wine, bottled lemon juice and 'shrooms. I have a laminated card that I carry with me because mine are so weird and varied and each has a different reaction. Like mushrooms? I turn into Linda Blair with my projectile vomiting. But raspberries and shellfish cause instant anaphylaxis. Interesting to read about other people's reactions...in a morbidly weird kind of way.

It definitely makes eating out interesting...

Karls said...

Woah man! I feel for you! Giving up wine and seafood would be like giving up my right arm! On the upside, you'd be super healthy and your inside would be loving you to bits!

Michelle said...

Oh my gosh, you're so tough to deal with this!

you're stupid and it makes me sad said...

Great thread. I'm allergic to sulfites too, plus a particular shade of purple pigment (crazy huh?). Because of the pigment allergy I have to be incredibly careful with candy and icing, plus most eye makeup.

JUST ME said...

Damn girl, I'm proud of you for not letting that food stuff get you down.

I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to sugar...it makes me CRAZY. And exhausted.

Erin said...

I'm sure you've gotten really good at managing it, but omg, I would never be able to figure it all out!

I sorta wish I had some food allergies so I wouldn't be able to eat certain crap. I need more willpower. Or allergies.

;-)
Kudos to you for being in the know and figuring all of this out!

Polished Sense said...

Hi new here, great blog you have. I'm sorry about your food allergies...bummer. I will be back to read more. Keep on writin' girl. You've got it!

Happy Monday :D

♡,
Jessica

Masala Chica said...

meredith. I will never pick on your skinny ass for being skinny again. damn girl. that's crazy. I know you are probably used to it by now and are enjoying lots of amazing things I don't even know about - but good for you for managing what has got to be a hard thing to adjust to.

Kiran

flip flops on lex said...

New reader here! Your post was incredible. I'm sure you are used to hearing "OMG I would DIE if I couldn't eat dairy!" In my case, that's probably true. I have worked with a lot of kids so I'm very familiar with the epi. At one giant function (with over 100 kids) I had 6 epis in my possession.

Anyway, look forward to reading more! Stop on by my blog if you wish. -M

hotpants™ said...

You can't have milk or soy? Are there dairy substitutes not made from either? I honestly don't know.

Mrs Montoya said...

no wine, guacamole or crackers - I am truly sorry. truly, truly sorry. but just a little jealous that you love to eat and you're skinny!

ScoMan said...

I saw mushrooms and mushroom related products listed a lot under allergies. I have to say you're not missing much. In fact, they make me throw up. They're disgusting.

No milk though? No yogurt? Not even soy yogurt? That's hard. I didn't know what I'd do after dinner every night without yogurt.

But then I read that you can have rice cream. I love rice cream. In fact, I want to buy some next week instead of the yogurt. You've inspired me.

Strawberryblush said...

WOW! Well I guess it keeps you super healthy and you'll probably look a whole lot better than the rest of us who junk out. HA ha

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

holy food allergies batgirl

although this would prob help me out quite a bit in the weight loss arena

damn my non-allergic self

Tracie said...

I didn't know you have so many food allergies. You have a good attitude about it.