An Allergic Foodie Is Back!

My life story has recently been rewritten.

About sixteen months ago I learned I was adopted. My elderly mother with dementia could no longer keep the secret she kept for 50-plus years. Sadly, I learned the truth the very same week my only sibling, my older brother Eric, passed away.

Not a day goes by when I don’t look into the mirror and wonder who I am. DNA has helped me track both maternal and paternal sides, but unfortunately my biological mother died in her forties. She never revealed who my father is in my adoption papers. I only know he is one of four brothers. I have very few photos. So I don’t know if I resemble my mother or father and I can’t ask them for their medical histories.

I have found dozens of cousins on both sides with various autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease and food allergies. I remember my adoptive mother acting like my illnesses were “all in my head.”  She often said, “No one in our family has such food issues as you.”  She didn’t understand why I couldn’t eat at McDonald’s.

Ha! Perhaps that should have been a red flag.

I’ll write more about genetics later.  Today I just wanted to share a little about why I disappeared.  I’ve missed blogging and the support of all of you who share a food-restricted life.

And now for some exciting news. This week I will be traveling to Scotland with my family to see where my biological mum and grandparents came from. I thought this adventure will be the perfect opportunity for me to resume Adventures of an Allergic Foodie. I hope you’ll join me.

To Eat or Not to Eat

My  husband, He Who Eats Everything, and I searched the aisles of Harris Teeter for something easy to eat before catching a plane. So many options for him: a pre-made sandwich from the deli, prepackaged tuna and crackers, fried chicken and chips (okay, I didn’t say healthful options). I wanted more than a coconut-milk yogurt or slices of gluten-free lunch meat. I wanted to be full and not tempted to eat the fattening potato chips on the plane.

This chicken curry stared at me from the prepared food section in the refrigerated  deli section:
1238589.jpg.png

I flipped the package over to read the ingredients. Surely there’d be at least one allergen likely more. Soy lecithin? Wheat? Corn (unidentified maltodextrin)? Milk slipped into the coconut milk?

Nothing. I couldn’t find one of my allergens! And there was no warning of contamination either.

There was no “certified gluten-free” label either.

Unknown.pngUnknown.jpegUnknown-1.jpeg

The curry and rice looked so good–and filling. I put it into my cart.

As we looked for something for Eater of Everything (he was having trouble making a decision!), I kept hearing a voice in my head: “Don’t eat anything that isn’t labeled certified gluten-free.” How many times have I told my celiac son the same thing?

I also kept thinking about that plane ride–and those tiny airplane bathrooms. Anyone who’s ever experienced a GI reaction on a plane–especially during takeoff and landing–never forgets it.

Damn voice. I put the chicken curry back. I bought ingredients for a salad and Applegate lunch meat and a So Delicious yogurt.

Better to be safe than sorry.

For more info on labeling, see What the FDA says .

To Eat or Not to Eat” originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

New Book–The Food Babe Way–Can Help Those with Food Allergies

The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list last week. This says a lot about how our country feels about the food industry. If you haven’t heard about Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe, you will.  She’s the lady who decided several years ago that she was sick and tired–literally–from eating crappy food, so she took on the momentous task of telling food companies to stop contaminating our food with chemicals and additives. With the help of millions of like-minded folks–which she calls the Food Babe Army–and in less than three years (three years!) she’s succeeded in getting companies like Chipotle and Kraft and Subway to eliminate controversial ingredients and be more transparent in labeling.

Vani Hari Grocery Store - Credit Kwaku Alston

I began following the Food Babe on social media and joined her activist army soon after I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and celiac disease. I didn’t need a PhD in nutrition to figure out if my body was rejecting food, there must be something wrong with the food I was eating. Vani Hari’s blog shed light on the toxins I’d been unwittingly putting into my body for decades. Add these to the multiple rounds of antibiotics and painkillers I consumed for several years for a chronic health problem, it’s no wonder my gut sprang a leak. More importantly, Hari’s blog taught me what I should eat.

When her book came out this month, I was slightly worried that it would be another diet book by someone who was probably always slender. I mean she’s called the Food Babe and she is tall and thin and beautiful as the book cover clearly shows. Watch this video and you’ll see she struggled with weight like most of us. She is also smart–and a bit sassy which I like. Within the first few pages, I was underlining facts and figures, jotting down notes, and starting her 21-day program. Warning: Your significant other will not appreciate being told the same chemical used to make Silly Putty is most likely in the fastfood French fries he’s popping into his mouth.

About halfway through the book, I experienced an epiphany. Many of the good food and good habits that Hari outlines, I was already doing–because of my celiac and allergies! My body had rejected soy and corn and gluten and dairy, so I no longer eat GMO-infested processed foods. I eat organic as much as I can. I buy additive-free and antibiotic-free meats and wild fish. I cut back on soda and alcohol. I don’t eat fastfood.

The Food Babe Way

I often tell people the positive side of my celiac and food allergies is that I eat better foods and I cook more. But what if I’d done this long ago? In my teens and twenties, I thought the low-fat food I ate and the diet soda I drank were good for me; now I know I was swallowing fistfuls of chemicals and additives. When I was a tired mother, I was convinced it was faster to feed my family Taco Bell between hockey practices than make a homemade meal. When I went out to restaurants, I never questioned what was in the food I ordered. I snacked on whatever was available in airports and hotels.

All of these bad habits and bad food choices resulted in serious health consequences. I believe if I’d followed the 21-steps in The Food Babe Way in my younger days, I wouldn’t be facing the health issues I am today.  Of course, it’s never too late for any of us to make changes in our dietary habit and to start letting the suppliers of our food know we want accountability. It’s certainly not to late to teach our children good eating habits.

Here’s the other cool thing about Hari’s book–most of her advice for eating and cooking and shopping and traveling are fit for allergic foodies. So go get a copy of The Food Baby Way today and let me know what you think.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books A Million
Indie Bound (find your local store)

The Food Babe Way Can Help Those with Food Allergies first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.