How My Leaky Gut Changed My Life

Before the holidays, my family was in a funk. My oldest son, who graduated from college last May, still hadn’t found a real job. My youngest son, in college, wasn’t getting any responses to dozens of internship applications he sent out. My husband and I were spending our holiday family time fighting with the City of Colorado Springs over a cell tower being erected in the center of our mountain view.

We were all out of sorts.

Then, as the new year approached, I started saying “2014 is going to be a good year.”  I said it over and over again.

And you know what happened?  Oldest got a job on December 31st, in Denver where he wanted to  be.  A week later, youngest got an internship with a big concert promoter in Nashville. Even the cell phone tower has been stopped for now.

The power of positive thinking. I’m no Pollyanna, but I do believe attitude makes a difference.

How My Leaky Gut Changed My Life

Occasionally I’ll get an email from a reader thanking me for my positive take on food allergies and celiac disease. This means a lot to me. You see my upbeat outlook didn’t come overnight. Before diagnoses, I was in a lot of physical pain. Looking back now, I realize I was also depressed, and with each medical procedure and doctor’s visit, my attitude got worse. I don’t think you would have liked me much back then.

The day I was told I had multiple food allergies along with celiac disease was the happiest day I’d had in a few years. How weird does that sound? But it’s true. I finally knew what was wrong with me. If I changed my diet, I would feel like my old self.

Of course, when I realized how many foods contain dairy, soy and gluten, a lot of tears were shed, even a tantrum or two. I’m not going to pretend it was easy. But today, I feel like my leaky gut changed my life for the better.  Here are a few reasons why:

• When my youngest started getting sick from gluten and my oldest started reacting severely to dairy, I knew exactly how to help them.

• I’m a good cook. Not Cybele Pascal caliber, but I can find my way around a kitchen now. No more meals from boxes (except for Amy’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free mac and cheese!).

• I avoid fast-food like it’s the flu. Oh how I wish I could take back those Taco Bell meals between hockey practices. What was I thinking?

• I buy mostly organic and shop the outside aisles of grocery stores (with an occasional trip down the gluten-free aisle).

• If it weren’t for food allergies and celiac disease, I’d never had tasted quinoa, or thickened a sauce with rice flour, or discovered coconut yogurt, or drank almond milk, or splurged on 25-year-old balsamic, or made noodles out of zucchini.

• I found my voice. When my kids were little, I authored two parenting/healthcare books, but I’d been struggling for years to find another topic to write about. Enter food allergies and celiac disease and I can’t stop writing.

• Finally, I met you. Before blogging, I thought I was the only person in the universe who developed food allergies as an adult. Boy was I wrong. Because of you, my dear readers, I never feel alone. I hope you feel the same.

How have food allergies or celiac disease positively impacted your life?

Should Allergies and Intolerances be linked together?

Angry Dude Fires Back About Food Allergy/Intolerance Term

When I recently posted about what restaurants did wrong in 2013, folks in the allergy/celiac community flooded my inbox with their own horror stories.

Did I hear from anyone in the food industry? Nope. Not a peep.

However, Dine Aware, a company that trains and certifies restaurants in understanding and addressing special dietary needs, sent me their new video. Thrilled to see a company making a difference for those of us with food allergies, intolerances, celiac disease and other eating issues, I tweeted this last Saturday evening:

Within minutes I got an unexpected response from an angry dude in the UK.

Tell me that FAI doesn’t stand for Food Allergy Intolerance . . . not  to get on my high horse but shit like that is the reason people don’t take allergies seriously.

Huh? It took me a while to figure out what Angry Dude was so worked up about. (Words of wisdom: Do not debate on Twitter when you are cooking dinner and late for a hockey game.)

Apparently, Angry Dude doesn’t like Dine Aware’s use of the term FAI.

Referring to allergies and intolerances as one and the same makes me angry, which I assume fai stands 4 . . . I think making up dodgy acronyms for anything just sounds a bit twee/lame :-/  . . . what’s going to get a sterner message across to the food/service industry?   . . . “You can kill me” or “you might make me feel rough for 3 or 4 days”?

Yikes! According to Angry Dude, we have to tell restaurants we will die to get them to leave off the cheese or the breadcrumbs or the __________ (fill in your allergy or intolerance here).

Though Angry Dude said he has food intolerances himself, I got the impression he didn’t think intolerances were on an even playing field as life-threatening allergies. I’ve run into people like him before. And not to get on my high horse, but . . . even though my allergies and my kids’ intolerances won’t kill us, we deserve to eat in restaurants and in campus cafeterias without getting sick! My oldest son’s intolerance to dairy won’t kill him, but a reaction will make him horribly sick and he’ll probably miss a day of work. Eating a smidgen of soy will cause my esophagus to painfully constrict, making me feel like I’m choking. A couple croutons in a salad won’t kill my youngest son or me, but gluten will wreak havoc on our bodies and can cause serious consequences, possibly death, in the longterm.

I told Angry Dude as much.

He held his ground. The term FAI watered down the message to restaurants and would be sneered at, he claimed.

Giving myself a few days to calm down, I re-watched the video this morning. Three woman–a young professional whose social life is impacted because she can’t eat out, one who lost a daughter to anaphylaxis, another who feels anxious to eat in restaurants–speak eloquently and clearly. Those of us with dietary restrictions worry when we eat out; a Dine Aware “seal of approval” would give us the confidence to frequent restaurants. Good for the food industry, good for the consumer.

The acronym FAI doesn’t make the message less effective.  I hold my ground, Angry Dude.

Angry Dude Fires Back About Food Allergy/Intolerance Term originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

An Allergic Foodie: What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

An Allergic Foodie’s Top-Ten List

Whittling down my worst restaurant experiences in 2013 wasn’t easy. This says a lot about the restaurant industry not meeting the needs of those of us who require extra help ordering off a menu and some special food prep back in the kitchen.  Here’s hoping 2014 will bring more attentiveness from wait staff, restaurant owners and managers, and chefs!

Drumroll, please . . . 

10.  Halfway through eating our gluten-free meals, the waiter says to my son and me, “The stewed peaches were cooked with flour—that’s why we served them on the side.”   —Urban Grub, Nashville, TN

9.  After clearly explaining my allergies—no gluten, dairy, soy, corn—the waitress returns to the table and says, “Is it okay to cook in butter?” (To be fair, the chef did come to my table later to confirm my allergies.)  —Craftwood Inn, Manitou Springs, CO

8.  The “gluten-free” oysters are delivered with saltines on top. When I explain I cannot have any wheat touching any food due to extreme sensitivity, the waitress says, “We’ll just take them off then.” (The oysters came back from the kitchen way too fast so I didn’t eat them.) The Famous, Colorado Springs, CO

An Allergic Foodie: What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

 7.  I order a salad sans the cheese, croutons and candied walnuts and ask to substitute veggies for all the ingredients I can’t eat. I am charged extra for the veggies. –Every Panera Bread I’ve eaten in and most chain restaurants

6.  I order an Iced Coffee at McDonald’s. I explain I have allergies and therefore do not want cream or flavoring. The cashier charges me for an Iced Latte. I ask her to charge me for a regular coffee because that is what I get–a regular coffee with ice. The manager says they can’t do that. –-A McDonald’s somewhere on the highway between Kansas and Georgia

5.  After ordering a dairy-free sauce, I rave over the delicious gluten-free pasta and veggies. “It’s the cream that makes it taste good,” says the waiter.Eden Inn, Positano, Italy (This really happened in 2012, but it still haunts me!)

4.  The waitress, who says she has extensive allergies herself, arrives with my salad topped with cheese. I tell her the kitchen made a mistake and send it back. She leaves, turns back, and says, “Well, the dressing has cheese in it, too. Does that mean you don’t want the dressing?” Walter’s Bistro, Colorado Springs, CO

3.  Finding ordering difficult and not confident in the waiter’s understanding, I ask to speak to the chef. I am told the chef is too busy to leave the kitchen. Too many restaurants to list

Restaurants and Food Allergies

2.   During the last bite of my gluten-free and diary-free salad, I bite into a big chunk of blue cheese.  Seasons 52, Kansas City, MO

 1.  Watching a basketball game with my husband at a local sports bar, I’m excited when the bartender hands me a large gluten-free menu. I ask about the first item on the menu: Buffalo chicken wings. “Oh, you don’t want those,” she says. “They’re cooked with all the other fried foods.”  Then why are they on the gluten-free menu? “Some people just like to think they’re eating gluten-free.” Flatirons American Bar and Grill, Colorado Springs, CO

Related Posts from An Allergic Foodie

Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

Get Rid of Tipping? Those with Food Allergies Will Suffer

Food Allergies: Don’t Let Your Guard Down

What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013: An Allergic Foodie’s Top-Ten List originally appeared at www.adventruresofanallergicfoodie.com.