Thursday, April 14, 2011

On Food Allergies

I've never been one for dieting. I like healthy foods for the most part, but I love my decadent foods too. I just strive for some balance, because if I want a juicy bacon burger, I want to have one without worrying that it will be my last meal.

I like to be able to enjoy the utter bliss of flavor without any guilt. Guilt over food is one of the worst traits of Americans, I think.  Food is a glorious experience, like sex or eating. Wait.

But, eating is not all caprice and felicity pour moi.

Have I mentioned my soy allergy? It's the bane of my existence.

It's always been a huge part of my life and I hate that. I truly do. I have always felt like it makes me high maintenance. I have.

Please don't reassure me. It's how I feel.

I don't want to have to ask a server what's in their bread or soup, or whatever. I don't want to have to check every label. I don't want to go over to dinner at a friend's house and ask to check the labels. It makes people feel badly for me. And I hate that. I'd just rather things go smoothly and not bring a shitload of attention on me and my damn allergy.

But it's in damned near everything these days. The world has soy fever and it makes my life a but perilous.

And that sucks monkey ass. I don't like being the center of attention. I don't want everyone catering their meals around me. It makes me crazy. 

I don't think I'd die from it, but who know what would happen if I ate tofu or something, pure soy. When I get a little, like from soy flour or protein in other food, I get sick as all hell. Fever. My skin starts crawling off. And I get sick to my stomach. It's misery and I always carry Benadryl with me just in case. The best way I survive it is dosing up on the pink pills and sleep it off.

And I know it could be worse. I don't have a peanut allergy where just a whiff of peanuts puts someone into anaphylactic  shock. I don't have to carry an epi pen. I'm lucky that way.

I've never had much patience with people who say they have a food allergy but eat the food anyway. I get the food intolerance people. That I understand. But I've always felt that if you have a true allergy, you'd get super sick.

I guess I just have to learn a little more tolerance. I guess there are varying degrees of allergies. Though I'd tell the people who eat those foods anyway that the more attacks you have, the worse they get each time. Just saying.

But when I find myself considering whether or not wheat is an issue for me, I'm super annoyed.

And no, I'm not going to see a doctor yet. And no, you can't talk me into it. I don't have insurance, I haven't been happy with my medical care in the past, and I don't want a bag of pills like my mother thankyouverymuch.

But I thought I'd just test my diet to see if there's anything to this, keep a diet journal, and cut down on my wheat consumption for a bit. See how I feel.

First, beer is out. No big loss there anyway and no girl wants a beer belly.

But if I thought soy was in everything, wheat is in ten million times more. That math might be a bit funky, but I'm prone to hyperbole so shut it.

Breads? Wheat.

Pastas? Wheat.

Soups? Wheat.

And microwavable meals? Forget it. They all have either soy or wheat or both.

So I went to my local Freddies and found myself in the hand dandy gluten free section, put there so the grocery store can rape you of your money with ease and convenience.

Gluten free is expensive as hell.

BUT! I want to try this out and I'll want sandwiches for lunch this week at my new job so I purchased some rice bread (which is nasty as all hell) and some quinoa pasta (which was pretty tasty) and vegetable broth (because everything Campbell's makes has wheat in it for some damned reason). $547 later (I exaggerate), I had enough food to last me a week.

I may die.

BUT! I've made a list of foods I like that don't have wheat:
  • Cadbury Eggs
  • Beans (no tortilla) (I hate corn tortillas)
  • Corn Chips
  • Potatoes (trusty potatoes)
  • Fruit
  • Cheerios! (yay for oats!)
  • Veggies
  • Oatmeal
  • Hummus
  • Nuts
  • Bloody Marys
  • Ice Cream
  • Pastrami (but what do I put it on?)
  • Cheese (glorious cheese)
  • Any number of condiments (but what do I put them on?)
  • Rice (but no soy sauce)
  • Coconut Water (nectar of life)
  • Juice
  • MEAT
Conclusion: there are many foods I can eat without wheat, but how the hell will I make yummy sandwiches? Any suggestions?  Where do you non-wheaties get breads and the like? Do I have to learn to bake my own bread from oats?

Shoot. Me. Now.

If anyone gives me advice that includes medical testing, I will punch you in the larynx.

28 comments mean you love me:

Colleen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My friend can totally empathize with you. She has so many allergies that it's insane. And she does have an epi pen in her purse. Thankfully she's never had to use it, but it's there all the same. She can't have nuts, soy, anything with yellow dye, or peanut butter. It sucks.

But because of her I have become more considerate of people with allergies. We had a bake sale at work recently, so I made gluten-free cake (I chose the white kind instead of yellow because I was like, 'what if someone is allergic to yellow dye?'). So yay.

Allergies still suck. My sister is allergic to grass pollen; I'm allergic to the bloody weather (changes in barometric pressure aka air). And I'm like you - I just take generic medicine and wait for the horror to pass.

Nicole said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Maybe see if stuff marketed as low-carb is wheat/soy free? I honestly don't know if it is or not, but when the whole atkins craze hit seems like everybody was having their hamburgers wihout the bread, or with special low-carb wraps.
And hey, you're no more high maintenance than every single wheat-grass guzzling vegan, and you have a good excuse.

MeredithDuck said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I've severely cut back on my wheat intake and I must say I feel a million times better when I keep at it. Sometimes I slip up and eat a cheeseburger (which isn't all that often - but when I do, oh man its good) but really its not all that difficult. I find that I snack less, and when I do it's healthier choices.

If you have a Trader Joe's near you their fussili (corkscrew) rice pasta is really good. The penne isn't quite so much. Also they have these GREAT rice crackers (they're small little circles) that aren't bad for you at all and taste so good.

But I must say, the first few weeks are HORRIBLE and you crave bread like no other. I actually read somewhere that bread is like drugs and your brain goes through withdrawls. It really feels true when you catch a whif at a bakery during that first month.

Good luck!

Bibbity Bobbity Boo said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Soy and wheat are the too worst to be allergic too!

I have ceoliac disease and it costs £1432345432 a month just to buy bread! They do do some softer bread now if you aren't allergic to eggs but I'm not sure on the soy content!

I'm also vegan as I can't have dairy or eggs either so thought might as well! lol

I have a lot of allergies though. So I can sympathise how impossible it makes eating out...I also can't have citrus, raw tomatoes, beetroot, mushy peas with the toxic green colour, fake sugar...

I think lactose intollerant is more common with people with celiac disease.

FYI to person above ROFL hardly any vegans I know (I know a lot, like wheat-grass...who does! It is rank!! haha)

Megan (Best of Fates) said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

There is totally wheat-free bread. I have a friend who can't eat gluten and she travels for work a lot and I know she always carries a loaf of bread and cereal with her because they can be tough to find on the road. I've also been in a hotel restaurant with her where they had gluten-free bread and pasta available, so it's definitely out there, you just have to search! And in the modern days of the Internet, at the worst you can just order it online!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Colleen yeah. I could totally have it worse. still sucks. :)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Nicole generally those foods still have some flour (wheat or soy or both) and are expensive as hell. *sigh* thanks.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@MeredithDuck I accidentally ate wheat yesterday and I did feel worse. *sigh* but I don't think I'll ever completely give it up. no burgers? no pizza? ack!

I've been eating a lot of rice and beans and potatoes.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Bibbity Bobbity Boo yeah you totally have it worse off. it just sucks to have to be high maintenance. oh well. thank goodness I'm not lactose intolerant!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Megan (Best of Fates) yeah I know. just the ones I've found are all nasty. I'm hoping someone can point me to one they like so I don't spend a ton of money on breads I don't like.

for pasta, I'm really liking quinoa pasta, but it is kinda pricey. but yum!

Skye said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. While this sucks, and my allergies are pretty severe, I do find these foods fairly easy to avoid (even in most restaurants). I can't imagine trying to avoid soy and wheat! I think it's a great idea to try this elimination diet, though. Sorry I don't have any great advice. Maybe you could try baking bready things with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flours? (or other brands... I actually think their gf flour tastes a bit too much like garbanzo beans, but I think it's a widely available brand.) Oh, and watch out because not all oats are gluten-free. I don't understand why... but I know they do sell specifically gf oats.

OK, so this is medical, but sometime in the future (maybe if you get insurance) I would recommend getting an Epi-Pen to carry with you... just in case. As you said, allergies get worse over time and it would be awful to need one and not have one!

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Stick to meat, spuds and Bloody Mary's? Sounds like a great combo to me :)

Sorry, don't really have any useful advice to give in regards to allergies. I'd say testing and excluding one thing etc will probably give you a much better hint than any medical test. Unless you happen to be prone to anaphylactic shocks...

Lindsey said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have yet to find any satisfactory substitute for bread. Everything else is just nasty! Sometimes I put peanut butter and jelly on top of a rice cake... it makes the rice cake better.

As for varying degrees of allergies: I'm allergic to potatoes, but I don't have a reaction, so I'm allowed to eat potatoes up to three times a week. Anything more than that can worsen the symptoms... so there's your answer to that. Even more weird... different forms of it react differently. For example, I can eat wheat pasta up to three times a week because I didn't have a reaction, but no bread for at least 6 months because I had a bad reaction. Allergies make no goddamn sense.

Deirdre said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm gluten free as I get horrible tummy craps and other various poopy problems (TMI?) and I must say it isn't that hard to not eat gluten. You do have to watch what you are buying for the first couple of months, but after a while you do find the things that work and are GF and then you're golden. Restaurants are still a pain sometimes, but it sounds like you already have to deal with that with your soy allergy. There are awesome quinoa pastas, and rice pastas are not bad either. I made my own GF bread last weekend and it was good for two days, then super crumbly. It was made with millet, potato starch, and sorghum flour and zanthan gum (among other things). Also, Pamela's brand makes some tasty mixes for pancakes, pizza dough, breads, brownies, etc. There are a ton of resources online that are very helpful. Good luck to you, and listen to your body!

meleah rebeccah said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I can COMPLETELY sympathize with you. My food allergies are OUT OF CONTROL. I live on benadryl, and I cannot leave the house without an Epi-Pen.

I am also allergic to soy, like you - are along with MANY other items. It's extremely frustrating.

I also DO NOT eat out at restaurants, because I HATE having to request such specific ingredients.

Thankfully, I can still go out to my local country club, where I am friends with everyone and they all know about my food allergies, so it's not a problem when I have to place a crazy order.

Deirdre said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

tummy *cramps

Spenc said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have the impression that beer was a big contributor to your problem. If this is the case quite a few beers do not contain wheat. The majority of imported beers are made from barley. If you are having problems with beer made from barley this would imply a gluten intolerance, and not a wheat allergy. That being said you mentioned you are not having problems with oats which would imply you do not have a gluten intolerance. I know you said you don't have insurance and don't want to see a doctor about this, but your symptoms seem to be conflicting and it might be something else. - Spencer

Bitter Betty said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

First of all, you don't need medical attention if you are seeing results by making small changes in your diet, that's all a dr would tell you to do anyhow as most GI issues are directly linked to diet.
Keep trying different things until you seem to get your body on the right track or close enough to be comfortable. I know it's going to suck and it really is expensive but if you feel better it should be worth it.
Also,it's really, really common for women our age to experience IBS, so pretty much anything you eat may or may not cause you to get the rumbles. I think what you are doing by eliminating wheat for now is good.
Keep the faith my friend, there is so much more available now than there has ever been. And look at all of the other people who are in the GF boat too, that's a great resource for you! Loves ya :)

Carina said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

There are gluten free tortilla style wraps, so you could always make sandwich wraps. The rice bread isn't as good, but it works. You might also look into spring rolls wraps. I think they're rice and they bake up nicely (stuff with anything you like, roll and bake under the broiler for a few minutes - voila, a beautiful taquito of happiness that fits in a lunch box).

alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I work with a woman whose children are all deathly allergic to eggs and peanuts. She carries like 25 epi pens at all times. Which, I think, works out in my favor if I ever go into shock at work. She'll just stab me in the leg and I'll keep on truckin'.

homotoper said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My mom has learned how to cook all sorts of gluten-free things for her partner who has Celiac disease. It would seem there are gluten-free options for most things but a lot of them are labor intensive. But I do have access to good ideas.

Ley said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I had to do the gluten-free thing for three months to see if that was what was causing my issues.

Wheat-free is one thing, but to go entirely gluten-free? It's really hard. There are a bunch of compounds that you have to avoid that aren't even called wheat (although buckwheat noodles are tasty and totally ok for G-free diets).

I used the multitude of Celiac websites to get an idea of what I had to avoid, should maybe avoid, and would be totally ok. Then I made lists in a pocket notebook for each (just of my favourites, I didn't bother adding the foods that I don't like or knew I wouldn't eat). Until I got used to it, I just carried it around with me. It's a bit of a hassel, but at least that way it's pretty cut and dry.

Big hugs Andy, this is definitely not the easiest thing to do. But I have faith in you! And you might find that you enjoy the change of pace--I'm still mostly gluten-free, but it's by choice now not by necessity.

quantumfauxpas said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You should probably seek medical attention and have some tests done.

*ducks & runs & covers larynx* ;)

Seriously, I feel for ya. I was allergic to chocolate (would break out in hives) when I was a kid, but "outgrew" it. Which, despite the size of me arse, is a wonderful thing.

Satan said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

you should be able to find gluten-free breads that don't taste like ass. i have several gluten-free friends, and while they don't eat bread as much as i do, they break it out sometimes. you just gotta taste test until you find the one you like.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thanks for the comments, guys. I'm sorry I'm not responding individually, but I'm avoiding my blog right now. don't ask.

anyway, it's clear I have lots to learn about gluten, but the fact is I don't know that's what's wrong. I'm just testing my diet to see. it's not just the barfing or the beer; it's a life long stomach issue (which is all I'll say). you guys have to know there is so much more that I don't say on the blog out of brevity or embarrassment, etc. trust I know my body and I'm doing what I can. I hope ya'll can keep letting me vent and not judge me.

thanks to everyone who gave me the advice I asked for. you guys rock. if anyone has more brands of foods you like or stores you shop? PLEASE let me know! I'd so appreciate it.

I'm never gonna give up wheat products completely but I'd like to figure out a diet that helps me feel better on a daily basis.

and Spencer? watch your larynx. I'm coming for you.

Yuliya said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have a gluten sensitivity (not an allergy but I feel SO MUCH BETTER when I don't eat it). Check out http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/ she is amazing!
Also feel free to email me for any other food ideas :)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Yuliya as of right now? that's what I feel like I have. with my soy allergy, I get SUPER sick when I have soy. this isn't the case with gluten. and I have felt better since I stopped eating it. thanks so much, love!

Chelle Nevar said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

If you decide you want to try making your own cookies and other such items, let me know, I can get some recipes from my Mom. She makes some killer gluten free chocolate chips.

She's found some good store bought gluten free bagels, I'll try to remember to look up the brand name.

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