Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve been pretty blessed to have had some great food allergy advocates on our blog recently, and we’re proud to share with you our latest blog interview with Amy from Adventures of An Allergic Foodie!Amy has been diagnosed with multiple food allergies, and is in the unique position of having developed them later in life. Her blog focuses on living your life to the fullest and not letting food allergies hold you back. Her story is inspiring, and she was kind enough to share some of it in this interview.Kitchology: What was your first encounter with food allergies?
Amy: Well, I kind of have a long history with food allergies; it took me a long time to develop them. I started getting sick in 2003, and got a bunch of different diagnoses from doctors. I was 39 then, and they were saying it was fibroids, endometriosis, all kinds of things! I had a lot of procedures in my 40s, and I’m not sure if the surgeries triggered my celiac and food allergies or if they were symptoms. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with celiac disease until 2008, and after that I was diagnosed with multiple allergies.
I think that the surgeries and my food allergies are linked somehow. I had gall bladder surgery at one point, and the doctors were always saying I had reflux, but after being diagnosed with celiac disease and cutting out gluten, I have no reflux! Also before I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, food kept getting stuck in my throat. It was painful– I was choking, couldn’t breathe. But that also turned out to be from food allergies!
I’ve been dealing with a lot of these symptoms since 2008, but once I took wheat out of my diet it all stops.
Kitchology: Well it’s really good that you found out what it was!
Amy: It took a long time! I share the history because I always thought deep down inside my problems were being caused by something else. I felt bad after each surgery, had the same problems I had before, and knew deep down inside it was something else. So I just kept persevering until I figured out what it was.
I think a lot of women get gallbladder disease in their 40s. I remember my doctor once told me to go to a fast food restaurant and eat fried food to see if I would react. I knew I would react! I did do it, and I did get a reaction, but I’m allergic to dairy, gluten and soy, so either way I would have gotten sick. So these problems, they can be food allergy related and you wouldn’t necessarily know.
I always thought you had celiac all your life, but I found out that some things trigger it. I like to share this with other woman because they may think they need a surgery, like gall bladder surgery or a hysterectomy, but it might be celiac disease or food allergies causing similar symptoms. I had all these procedures and surgeries but the gastrointestinal symptoms and the stomach pain continued; no healthcare practitioner ever mentioned celiac disease or food allergies as a possibility.
Kitchology: How have you dealt with being diagnosed with multiple food allergies? What are the biggest changes you’ve had to make?
You know it’s funny, I came across these notes from when I was first diagnosed. I’m allergic to dairy, soy, gluten, I can’t have corn and a lot of other ones, and I was trying to learn the different names for processed foods that would have corn, dairy, etc. So I made these lists of all the different technical names for these food items, and I just recently found them again.
Some people might have one allergy, and that’s difficult, but having all these allergies, and figuring out all the foods, is overwhelming! At first I thought I could eat some processed foods but I eventually realized I had to avoid processed food and go paleo/caveman. That was hard for me because I grew up not being a very good cook. I had kids and was busy.
Honestly, the most positive thing from having food allergies is that I’m now feeding my family better. We’re eating better, buying organic, because of my food allergies. My husband jokes we go to better restaurants because the better restaurants cater to allergies!
The other positive thing is that I am now better able to help others who have food allergies. I just blogged about this; when my son started having stomach pain, right away I knew how to help him with taking gluten out of his diet. My older son has symptoms of dairy or lactose intolerance which have been getting worse and worse, and I knew exactly how to help them. It stinks that they have the allergies, but at least I know what to do about them instead of having to put my sons through tons of tests and surgeries.
Kitchology: What motivated you to start blogging?
Amy: Well I think I started a blog before AA; I did one called allergy free eating, but it was so overwhelming. I started it to figure out what I could eat. The thing is, I’m not really a chef– I’m a pretty good cook but not someone who can develop recipes. So it took me awhile to find my voice, to figure out what I wanted to write about.
With the kids off to college, and the hubby and I starting to travel, I didn’t want my celiac and allergies to hold me back from doing all these things I had planned. I’d finally gotten healthy after being sick for 10 years! So I decided to take a positive approach to celiac and food allergies, and that became the theme of my blog: don’t let celiac disease and food allergies hold you back. I started thinking with that, and hopefully it’ll help people. It’s a great outlook to have, to make the most of it.
When you first blog, it’s for yourself or your family. My first blog was whiny, and so I ended up deleting it. 2 years later, I’m a writer, an author of several new books, and I thought having a blog would be a good launching point to build a platform for a new book. I really wanted to write a book about dealing with food allergies. But now that I’m blogging, I find that I really like it! I’ll probably still pursue the book but I like blogging. There’s more interaction, which I like. I get feedback all the time, and I’m constantly in contact with my readers.
Kitchology: How is your blog doing?
Amy: Good. One thing I try not to think about—and that I figured you were going to ask me about!—is the stats. I just try not to analyze them too much. But I did notice all of a sudden that I’ve been getting more responses. I think it’s because the writing’s become a little more honest, more true to myself. I measure the success of my blog according to how many responses it’s getting. I feel like it’s a more reliable indicator.
Kitchology: Do you have any advice you’d like to offer aspiring bloggers?
Amy: Find your own unique voice. There’s a lot of blogs out there and there can always be more. Everybody knows something different, so find your niche, figure out what you want to write about. Like for me what I wanted to write about more is living life to the fullest with allergies, because I’ve reached that middle aged point and want to enjoy life and didn’t want health issues to hold me back. I want to be a role model for kids dealing with similar issues.
I think about my son, who’s only 20; if he eats a tiny crumb of he’s doubled over, lethargic, in terrible pain. He’s very skinny, and he’s in college right now. When I was in college I drank beer and pizza and had a great time! It’s kind of sad that he can’t do those things, and so I want to be a role model for him and teach him how to make choices. He can’t just get hungry and eat whatever he wants to eat. Hee’s an audio engineer, and if he’s on set or doing a gig and gets hungry he can’t just go grab something with the guys. When he was in a dorm room he really couldn’t eat; there weren’t a lot of gluten-free options. It’s tough because he’s got a lifetime of living with this, whereas I didn’t get diagnosed until I was in my 40s. So I really want to do the best I can for him.
With my blog, it’s the same thing. I know there are other people out there dealing with the same kind of situation that might not have much of a support group, or someone to push them through and get them to live their lives the way they want to. So that’s what my blog is all about. Once you find out what your blog is about, what message you want to send, blogging will be easy. You just have to find your voice.
Thanks for stopping by! We hope you enjoyed this interview. If you’d like to learn more about Amy, visit her blog at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.
This interview originally appeared at Kitchology Blog by Jessica Cue