Today’s interview is with Tracy B. Tracy’s son has numerous food allergies including dairy, eggs, peanut butter and watermelon. Tracy herself suffers from an intolerance to gluten, dairy and yeast. She shares their story of discovery and how their lives have changed over the last few years. Thanks for sharing Tracy!
How did you find out about your/your family member’s allergies and intolerances?
When my son was a baby, he was always very colicky and gassy. He didn’t sleep through the night for at least a year. We found out about his allergy to uncooked dairy after giving him some baby yogurt – he immediately got hives on his face. This was followed by eggs as well as peanut butter.
Luckily, I was super cautious and had only given him a tiny amount of whatever he tried so it could have been a lot worse. Three summers ago, we found out about his watermelon allergy when he began trying to clear his throat, his voice changed and I saw a look of panic in his eyes that I had never seen before. We have also noticed that gluten worsen’s his seasonal allergies and also affect him behaviorally.
My own intolerances were a two and a half year, mini saga – they were difficult to diagnose, even harder to be understood by most mainstream physicians and downright expensive. I went through multiple tests and doctors until I found the right support system.
In time, I came to find out that my body reacts to gluten, dairy and foods that contain yeast. They are not life threatening, but I now understand which foods will cause specific symptoms.
What major changes have you had to make?
The foods my family were already eating were pretty much along the right path so it was more of a revamping of foods rather than a major change. I do buy a ton less already-prepared items now, but I look at that as something that our family was meant to do anyway. This was just a life event that pushed us to embrace it faster.
What’s your favorite “allergy friendly” meal?
Burritos – I could truly eat them every single day of my life! I love protein, I love spicy foods and I love avocado so this will always be my number one. Luckily, this is also a meal that the rest of my family loves as well so it’s a weekly meal for all of us.
What can’t you keep in the house, that you miss the most?
I can’t keep regular, crusty Italian bread because if it’s there, I know I will eat some of it. I know if I eat it, I won’t feel so well afterward.
My willpower is good, but we all have times when we just can’t help ourselves. I would much rather keep what I can eat so that I don’t have an urge to go buy something that is completely out of the question.
What’s been most challenging about managing these allergies/intolerances?
Finding foods that do not contain yeast – it’s in everything! I do pack safe foods as much as I can, but there have been times when I was traveling and I didn’t have many protein options. These are the times that I notice my energy levels go down, my thinking gets foggy and my blood sugar levels get spastic.
Occasionally, I will try a few chips or a food with yeast in it and I wind up feeling cruddy for days afterward. Because of this, I eat less and less of it (which is what I’m supposed to do anyway).
What would you tell someone newly diagnosed?
I would tell them that no matter what you feel, it will be okay! Food allergies and intolerances can be completely overwhelming but in the end, you will learn just how much support is available to you and how many products are around now.
It’s all about focusing on the foods that you can eat as opposed to the foods that you need to avoid. There is an abundance of food out there that we still haven’t tried yet and so many things that we can do with those foods.
It’s YOUR kitchen, there are no rules. You are not limited by your foods – only your knowledge on how to use them.
Anything you’d like to share with those not affected?
Try to stay open-minded, even if you may not agree about someone’s food choices. There has been a lot of information floating around trying to dismiss food allergies and intolerances as something that is not real; that it’s just a fad or a lifestyle.
I don’t need scientific proof to prove that there are specific foods that could kill my child or cause him to be hyper and unfocused. I can’t hand you a test that states why dairy and gluten affect my muscles, my thinking, even my energy – I know what it is and I don’t need anyone else to understand it. Simply accept my foods and I will accept yours.
Tell me the most frustrating experience you’ve had since finding out about your allergy/intolerance?
The way a few doctors look at me when I explain that I have intolerances and adrenal fatigue. I have watched a neurologist roll his eyes at me, I have had a doctor tell me that I was “stressed” and that I was causing these symptoms and I have had doctors begin to argue with me about supplements that they don’t understand while they could not even tell me the reason for my appointment with them without leaving the room to go look it up on the computer. I never tell doctors what I think is wrong with me so it’s upsetting that when I explain what actually makes me feel healthier, they question why I won’t take what they want to give me instead.
Has anyone made you feel uncomfortable/reacted badly?
Yes. Several doctors that I visited were politely crossed off my return for visit list after they tried to tell me they knew better. When I finally found out what needed to be treated, how to treat it and what to avoid, I found it irritating when other doctors tried to scold me.
I realized that they are my doctors and I pay them for their care – if they don’t have my best interest at heart, I find a doctor that does. It’s that simple.
On the flip side, tell us how someone went out of their way to prepare something special for you?
For my birthday, I requested breakfast (because I cook a lot!). My daughter asked me a lot of questions and took notes so she and my husband could make something that was what I wanted and what I could eat.
Have you found any community in your allergy/intolerance thus far?
I am happy to say that because of everything that has happened with my son’s food allergies and my own I have found my true passion in life. I consult with people who need help, I write articles, I get to try allergy-friendly products and come up with new recipes for other people – I love it!
Every single day is a new day that I connect with other people – not only those that I can help but other support networks that can help my family too. I have connected with so many allergy-friendly companies that truly care about their consumers and want nothing more than to help us eat healthier and safer.
“The food allergy community is like an endless online family and I am grateful for every single person that I come in contact with.”
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