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Living with Allergies

“Oh it can’t be that bad.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You won’t even notice it’s there.”

“You just don’t like it.”

All things that have been said to me by family, friends, and even restaurants when I’ve expressed that I have an allergy to Pork and Grapes.

I have very odd allergies, and to make matters worse, my husband is allergic to Mustard, and my roomie is allergic to Shellfish. This makes not only eating out difficult, but grocery shopping a chore.

We constantly have to check ingredients. We used to use Miracle Whip because it was the only Mayo we could get that was safe, with no mustard, but they recently changed their recipe, so now all we can get is Helmans, which we don’t like as much in some of our recipes.

While the Shellfish and Mustard allergies are pretty bad, they are pretty easily avoidable (as much as I love shrimp, I’m perfectly fine keeping it out of my house to ensure that Roomie lives to the next day). The big issue is my Grape allergy. Grapes are hidden in all sorts of foods, even in things you wouldn’t think Grapes would be.

Like Country Harvest Omega 3 bread. I love Country Harvest, it’s the kind my Grandma always got and it’s the kind I always ate, but now I have to check the ingredients on EVERY package because some of them use Raisin paste as a sweetener.

It’s amazing how many things have Grape in it or are made from Grapes. Here’s a small list:

Balsamic Vinagrette
Raspberry Vinagrette
A1 Sauce
Pretty much any juice blend
Raisins
Country harvest bread
Cream sauces for pasta
Wine/Champagne
Grapeseed Oil
Razors/lotions that use Grapeseed Oil

Yes, I even have to look at the ingredients on my RAZORS! I grabbed one package of high end razors a number of years ago (I actually can’t remember the brand) and used them once… I had a rash that looked like I was getting Measles due to the fact that their moisturizing strip used Grapeseed Oil.

When my allergy started when I was a child, it was minor. I ate a pack of raisins, or grapes and I would cry that they were hot or spicy in my mouth. Then I started getting hives from them. Then two weeks ago, I was at an Aloette party, and I tried a bit of lotion on my arm. Within 5 seconds of putting it on, my arm was red, swollen, and itchy. I washed it off immediately, but it was too late. about 5-10 minutes later, my chest and throat were getting tight. I took a Benadryl and rushed to the hospital. Luckily the Benadryl worked, but it was still very scary.

I rate restaurants on how well their service is in regards to my allergies. There have been a couple where they’ve shrugged off the issue, and I’ve noticed Pork in my dinner, or could smell the Wine in the sauce. Then there have been restaurants that were so wonderful that the waitstaff alerted the manager to my questions, he came out and went over the entire menu with me, then personally supervised my meal being made to ensure that I could enjoy it without fear.

There was a time in highschool that I thought people’s reactions to peanut butter was being taken too seriously (I mean, not being able to eat peanut butter for 3 days before a child goes to preschool seemed a little over the top), but as someone who has very severe reactions to foods, I can understand a little bit more now.

These allergies have necessitated me making my own food at home a lot, just to ensure that everyone in the house can eat safely. We don’t buy premade frozen Shepherd’s Pie or Lasagna, because there’s too much chance that Mustard could be used to spice something. We are very careful to check all ingredients now, even if it means our grocery shopping trips take twice as long, and this helps a bit with eating healthier, and meal planning.

When you take an hour and a half shopping just to make sure your food is safe to eat, you tend to plan meals so that you don’t go shopping as often.

Unfortunately for us, there isn’t much that can be done to “cure” allergies, it’s something we just have to live with. At least in this day and age it’s more acknowledged, and restaurants are more able to accomodate these requests.

I just ask, as a person who has lived with allergies for the bulk of her life, please, don’t ever try to tell a person that they just don’t like a food or it’s all in their head, and please, for the love of EVERYTHING, don’t hide what they’re allergic to in whatever you’re cooking for them, just to prove the allergy isn’t there. That’s a perfect way to having your friend/relative in the hospital, and VERY upset at you.

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