Thursday, January 31, 2013

Allergy Girl in an Allergen World

When I went in for my physical recently, it seemed like a brilliant idea to ask to have a food allergy panel run. I was already pretty sure that I am allergic to wheat, so wouldn't it be a great idea to find out what else I'm allergic to?


No, it would not.

Because if you do this, you're likely to find out that you're allergic to things like peanuts, walnuts, and sesame seeds. You may even find out that you really are allergic to wheat (just like you thought, yay you!).

And, then.

And then you might just find out you're allergic to corn.

I Know, that sounds so easy right? Sure you've leaned heavily on Mexican-based foods since giving up wheat, and you're going to have to give up tortilla chips, and tacos, and tamales. And, yes, there's all that corn syrup that's in, like, everything. But that's not that hard, right?

OH how wrong you are.

You see, this is America, the land of milk and honey. And, by "milk and honey", we mean "corn and corn derivitives".

When I started doing some research into my food allergies, I discovered that corn is used to make all kinds of stuff. The "printable" list of corn allergens is five pages long and includes fun shit like citric acid, brown sugar, vanilla, and iodized salt.




It's not that I have any special attachment to iodized table salt, and generally prefer to buy sea salt for our home, but that one tiny thing signifies the most daunting aspect of a corn allergy: it's everywhere.

Even the most thoughtfully prepared meal can be ruined by a simple shake of salt into the boiling water.


I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself with this, because Squirrel Brain pictures all the family meals, holidays, birthdays, occassions to eat out or eat together, the long days running errands, and the late nights with no time to cook: all the times we rely on being able to grab a quick bite, or eat food someone else cooked.

I'm trying to just focus on one step at a time.

Purging my diet.

Purging my cupboards.

Purging my grocery lists.

Changing habits.

It's daunting.

Ingredients I can't eat. #fuckfoodallergies
Double sided, color coded, list of ingredients to avoid.

My main focus right now is the big things. The obvious ones. Practicing reading labels to find new things. Prioritizing whole food, home cooked eating. Planning, planning, planning.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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