Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food Schizophrenia

You really don't understand what it's like to have to deal with food allergies until you suddenly find out you have a food allergy or condition that requires that you not eat a certain food. I'll be honest & say that I have no idea if it's as difficult being allergic to specific foods like milk, soy, nuts, corn & other allergies as it is not being able to eat gluten. I would assume that it would be a bit more difficult being allergic to milk & corn than the other foods but I really don't know.

I can tell you that not being able to eat gluten is a real challenge. You have to watch out for EVERYTHING that crosses your lips, that you touch & that touches your food. I feel like I have food schizophrenia. I'm constantly paranoid that I'm going to get cross contaminated. I wash my hands so many times a day because my house is not completely gluten free. Jon & Keegan both eat regular bread, crackers, cookies & other snacks that I cannot eat. Even Piglet's cereal has wheat in it.

When we cook a family meal generally the entire meal is gluten free though sometimes the boys might have some bread that is not. Then if we're doing butter on the bread I have to watch out for that as well. Since I usually feed Keegan breakfast & make lunch for him & Jon every day I go back & forth washing my hands over & over between different steps of making lunch. I pull out the bread with one hand, open the squeeze mayo with the other hand & squirt it on, then once I've spread the mayo on the pieces of bread I go wash my hands again before I start taking the lunch meat out. You can bet by the end of the day my poor hands burn under the water.

My paranoia is so bad that I usually won't even kiss one of them on the lips after they've been eating a sandwich or cookies or whatnot. Keegan always wants some of my food but depending on what I'm eating I can't even share with him because I just know that some of his gluten will get on my food & make me sick. He's also obsessed with lip chap (thanks Granny) & always wants to put mine on & I let him sometimes but most of the time I don't because he was just eating crackers or something.

I realize this may seem pretty extreme but I have a very good reason for being so paranoid about it. During the first month or so that I was gluten free Jon & I were at In & Out & I accidentally took a drink from his soda. About an hour to two hours later I could tell that I had gotten glutened. We're talking miniscule particles here but it was enough to cause a slight problem. I believe I even posted about it back then.

For all the people that are out there cursed with multiple food allergies I feel for you. I can't imagine what it'd be like to have to watch out for not only 1 problem food but multiple. I actually have a friend who is allergic to a few things. She's gluten free but there are a lot of gluten free foods that she still can't eat because she's allergic to corn as well. I am not sure I would be able to survive that one because I LOVE me some tacos & it was bad enough having to give up flour tortillas. I'm not sure what I'd do without corn tortillas.

For those people who do not have food allergies. I know there is no real way that you can completely understand what it is like. If you have a close friend or loved one who has food allergies then you have a good idea. The rest of you have no clue. I'm often given looks like I'm nuts, or just being so extreme, can't I compromise here or there? Why am I so afraid to try something that might, should be or probably is gluten free? Or even to take someone's word for it without seeing a food label for myself? I may not have a food allergy so extreme as some people to where they may go into anaphylactic shock & die but I do get sick. It could be something as minor as a headache, just feeling terrible all over, to as extreme as severe stomach issues including stomach pain so bad that you're crying & screaming because it feels like someone is carving you up from the inside with a knife.

Symptoms aside, people with Celiac Disease are at a much higher risk of dying at a younger than average age due to complications resulting from Celiac Disease. Complications such as pneumonia, which I have had once every year for the last several years (hopefully I skip it this year). Being completely gluten free as early as possible is the best deterrant to not being one of those statistics but it's not a guarantee. And every single time that you get just the tiniest trace of gluten into your system raises the chances. Even if you don't have a reaction or a severe reaction you are damaging your body, even as it tries to heal itself from the years of damage already done to it before you had the slightest idea.

I'll be honest. I'm not perfect. I have cheated. Mostly here & there throughout my pregnancy when I just couldn't take the smell & watching my husband sit there & eat something that I loved & wanted soo bad. I believe I actually told him at one point to hand over the McDonald's fries or I would stab him with my fork haha. It is really hard to be strong & not give in & not compromise. I hate that I fall into the statistic of being one of those people that has purposefully cheated. Perhaps that's why I am so much more paranoid & dutiful about cross contamination. I let myself have painful reminders from time to time of why I eat gluten free. I guess we all fall off the wagon sometimes. I mean, I know someone who's allergic to avacados but every time I make avacado dip she can't resist eating a ton of it & then popping pills after haha.

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