When most people think about allergies they automatically think of Epi-pens and anaphylactic shock. While that is the reality for a good number of people living with food allergies it becomes a little more complex than that. What most people don’t know is that food allergies and intolerances can actually change over time. When my aunt was a kid she had an allergy to wheat and wheat products that she grew out of when she became an adult. When I was younger I had sensitivities to different dyes that would cause me to get really sick and vomit frequently.
Food allergies are characterized as an immune response to a allergen that has entered the body. For me, food allergies are what sets off my EOE and it’s symptoms. Unlike most normal food allergies EOE is characterized by a delayed reaction making it difficult to determine what is causing the issue. Food allergies can cause hives, swelling of the tongue or throat, vomiting, dizziness, anaphylaxis, paleness or blue coloring of skin, shortness of breath, along with other side effects.
My food allergies cause me to vomit and my throat to swell making it difficult for me to swallow. I lived with a “normal” diet for the majority of my life trying to make it through everyday even though I would be constantly sick. When I rediscovered that I was living with EOE and that this was probably the cause of my issues I immediately went to an allergist to get myself tested. We tested for the main allergens concerning food and then we tested environmental allergens as well. I showed to have a sensitivity to dairy as well as basically everything outside. I remember the nurse filling out the chart to what I was having a reaction to and she crossed off basically everything that included pollen of some sort. And I remember being so itchy I wanted to die alone in that room. Cutting out dairy from my diet was incredibly hard at first until I realized that it’s just not worth it to feel so crappy all the time. Over time it became so much easier. I’ve been dairy free for about 2 years now and I have felt SO much better. I’m still not 100% and I still slip up sometimes but it’s really hard always having to check the ingredients of every single thing you consume. My allergies aren’t life threatening so I can afford to be not as cautious as people who have severe allergies. And for that I am so so so grateful!
My main take aways from this situation? Don’t eat food that doesn’t make you feel good. And if something is wrong, listen to your body. Things aren’t always going to be easy but you are worth the time to properly be taken care of. I’ve had to learn this the hard way abusing my body through the choices I’ve made. I’ve also learned that food allergies aren’t infinite- they change and grow over time. So while I have a dairy allergy now I might be able to tolerate it in small doses someday which would be amazing so I could have pizza again! But honestly no pizza is worth feeling like I am dying on the bathroom floor. Allergies and intolerance make us unique and cause us to re-examine the ways we enjoy and consume food in our society. Next time someone asks for a substitution or asks for information about what a food contains try not to roll your eyes and remember that people are in charge of their own well being and food is such a big part of that. Information for this post was drawn from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology page regarding Food Allergies https://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergy