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I love food. LOVE it. I have always been a good eater. When I was a teenager, I could eat with the best of the teenage boys I knew. I once won a pizza eating competition in grade 7 English class (why we were doing that in an English class I cannot remember). The only reason I didn’t beat the boy who ate the most pizza was I ran out of Coke-hard to keep eating when you don’t have anything to wash it down with! As a teenager, my mom used to joke I had a hollow leg because I was lucky enough to have one of those metabolisms that meant I could eat as much as I wanted and not get tubby. My metabolism is slowing down now that I’m 30 but I’m still pretty lucky-thank you Dad’s side of the family!

When I was younger, I used to assume I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). My GP agreed with my assumption based on descriptive symptoms rather than clinical tests. When I was studying physio, the morning of an exam, my tummy would rebel for an hour or so then settle. I thought it was mainly stress. If I had cereal for breakfast, my tummy would rebel. I joked I was lactose intolerant in the mornings only. Funny thing because I used to come home from school and drink about a litre of milk in one go. I love creamy sauces, I love a cold glass of milk, I love cheese. I LOVE cheese. I never thought I could be intolerant or allergic to dairy.

ImageMmmmmmm cheese…..

Last year I finally got sick of dealing with my tummy. I could not detect a pattern to it (except it only hit in the morning) and it was driving me nuts. I decided to see a naturopath. This lovely teeny tiny woman was a bundle of energy and information. After describing my “IBS” to her, she said it sounded more like allergy symptoms and wanted me to get tested. A simple, if expensive, blood test that would take a month to be processed as it had to be sent down to Sydney. In the meantime, she put me on a specific, dairy free diet and I was to keep a food diary.

The allergy results came back a month later and had some interesting conclusions. They had a scale of 0-4 for how affected I was by each food item. The worst ones for me on a score of 4: cow’s milk and meta bisulphites. Cow’s milk? Nooooooo! Meta bisulphites-WTF? Turns out it basically means sulphites which are in HEAPS of things, among them corn starch, fructose, wine, salad dressings, prawns, pizza, sausages, some dried fruits and fruit juices. Seriously?! Bugger!

The next worst ones on a score of 3: brewer’s yeast, capsicum (or bell peppers), shrimp/prawns, erythrosine, soy bean and cocoa. COCOA?! That’s a worst thing than cow’s milk! My life is now over-I cannot have chocolate, milk, wine or prawns! Brewer’s yeast is in beer, which is easily avoidable as I’m not a beer person. I hated capsicum as a child but love it now. I absolutely adore prawns-ask anyone who’s ever seen me eat at Red Lobster. Erythrosine is a food additive, a red food colour dye. No more red velvet cakes :(. Soy bean-crap I’d been drinking soy milk instead of cow’s milk-there goes that out the window! Cocoa…..there are no words to say what I felt like when I saw that. I’m a chocoholic….TO THE MAX! Randomly, I also had a score of 2 for beef. Weird. Everything else was good. Thank god I’m not coeliac-I couldn’t live with giving up gluten as well!

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So thankfully the naturopath had some good news. I could still have some of these things, just in moderation. Since I don’t have a “traditional” allergy reaction of rashes, hives, throat closing etc, I can still eat them. It’s just how much I’ll pay for it the next morning! Hmm maybe I should buy shares in Immodium! Haha too much information-sorry! So my new diet:

-Avoid chocolate for 3 months, max once a week (unlikely to happen really)

-Cow’s milk-avoid except for special occasions (this combined with above means no milk chocolate)

-Avoid beer and soy but occasional soy sauce okay

-No wine-WHAT?! At the time, utterly impossible as I was just about to head to France!

-Beef 1-2/wk okay; capsicum okay as incidental veggie and prawns on special occasions only.

So basically, if I have everything I shouldn’t on a special occasion, I can delude myself into thinking it’s just a bad hangover 🙂 She did tell me I can have chocolate because I said I would not be willing to give that up unless I was anaphalactic-even then I would consider investing in a ton of Epi-pens! She just said to have dark chocolate and avoid milk chocolate. Easy enough and now I love having a piece of dark Lindt for dessert now and again.

Hardest to give up has been milk. I adore milk. Plenty of recipes in my repertoire consists of milk or cream sauces. I have started using coconut milk or cream as long as it won’t affect the recipe taste. I have goat’s cheese in the fridge at all times. I can’t have cereal or a glass of milk anymore though unless it’s flavoured coconut milk. Almond milk is too sweet to drink straight and rice milk is hideous. I found chocolate hazelnut milk recently but that’s a treat. I occasionally use normal cream if it’s a small amount; same for milk.

On the wine note, I’ve found Pure Wine (http://www.purewine.com.au/). One drop into a glass neutralizes the sulphites and allows me to have wine without the consequences (provided I drink in moderation of course!). Even my mother, a devoted red wine drinker, remarked that she didn’t have the wine headache the next day.

Whoever thought you could develop allergies as an adult? One of my patients has suggested perhaps it’s how Australia processes their milk compared to Canada-one can dream! It’s been hard changing how I cook and what I eat but I’m getting better.I think living in Australia has made things a bit harder-things are much more accessible in North America.

How do you deal with food intolerances or allergies? Have you grown out of or acquired a new allergy as an adult?

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