My Allergy to Life: A Food-Lover’s Testimony

Hello, World.
The time has come to have a serious discussion about the fact that I am allergic to life. Yes, while you get to enjoy focaccia bread, cheese pizza, and normal lattes, I have to order gluten-free, dairy-free everything. The joys of eating a delicious meal are rarely experienced by yours truly. Last March I took a blood test that indicates what does not react well with your body. Initially, I took it because I was beginning to believe I was lactose intolerant, but wasn’t sure. Now, something you should understand about this test is that it is not the test where the put a bunch of things on your back, and it swells and all that stuff. This test simply indicates what reacts negatively to your body within a 24-hour period after consumption. So, my results? I am allergic to everything I used to eat. I am allergic to gluten, yeast, asparagus, dairy, malt, oregano, lemon, orange, olives, grapes, salmon, tuna, and oats. The test, though, gives you stars based on severity of allergy. Gluten and Dairy each has the maximum amount of stars, with the other foods having one or two stars.
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(I am a huge desert person, but as most you probably realize, 90% of good deserts contain either gluten or dairy!)
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For the first few months following receiving my test results, I had a difficult time finding out what to eat. Luckily I live in the Bay Area, so there are a lot of gluten free options (way more than in Chico, where gluten-free is some kind of foreign term). Still, it was hard to be in college, with a meal plan, and finding things to eat. The dining hall, for example, had almost nothing that was both gluten-free and dairy-free. I felt like I was inadvertently anorexic because finding things I could actually eat was so hard, and I was always busy with classes and meetings and a social life. Also, something else that really stressed me out was people’s general lack of understanding. A lot of people, when I order gluten-free or dairy-free, assume I’m on some kind of diet, and while I am restricted in what I can eat, it isn’t necessarily a choice. Cutting out all the things that don’t react well with my body makes it so I actually feel good all the time. As someone who struggled with feeling groggy, uneasy, tired, and nervous I was going to feel sick when out to dinner with friends, my new diet is something I appreciate.
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One of the perks of being gluten free dairy free? I lost twenty pounds. As someone who has always struggled with losing weight, and always felt too big, the weight loss was something that made the transition in diet easier. But again: I am not choosing this diet because I want to lose weigh. I’m choosing it because it makes me feel better, and I feel much more confident 20 pounds lighter. I have been insecure about my weight since about seventh grade, when I started gaining weight and when I moved schools and was a good foot taller than most people. I felt like a giant in every way imaginable, and I never felt good because I ate things that didn’t sit well with me. If only I had known about my allergies then, I wouldn’t feel so bloated all the time. One of the major effects of gluten is bloating, which is one of the reasons people who do choose to diet cut gluten out of their daily intake. I really like being gluten free, dairy free, but sometimes it’s difficult. Like when I go to coffee with a friend and the barista accidentally makes my latte with regular milk instead of soy. Or when I’m out with friends and everyone wants Italian, but the only Italian place close to us doesn’t have gluten free options and I feel famished and really don’t want to just get salad. Or when, perhaps more relevant, when it’s Thanksgiving and my favorite side dishes are green bean casserole and stuffing. Those dishes are definitely NOT gluten free dairy free. But they can be, and most people don’t realize that. So, in the next few weeks I would like to share some recipes that are holiday appropriate that are both gluten free and dairy free. I know that gluten intolerance is being found in more and more people, so it’s nice to discover gluten free food that actually tastes great too. Also, I have biology major as a friend, and he said that most people develop acute lactose intolerance as they age because our bodies naturally have a harder time breaking down lactose as we age. So, maybe going dairy free sometimes wouldn’t be such a bad thing for most people (and cutting down on dairy intake heightens weight loss if you’re interested in that). Anyway, I wanted to share my experience with finding out I needed to completely alter my daily eating, and offer a pre-cursor for all the gluten free dairy free recipes coming you way.

Truly,

Callie Leigh

Note: The food pictures are from my Pinterest, and are not all gluten-free dairy-free, but are meals or deserts that i would like to transform into diet-acceptable foods for myself. The photos of me are a little grainy, but my computer crashed last year so I lost a lot of my good before pictures! 

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