Don’t Settle for Substitutes 

I’m sorry I didn’t post last night. I got laid low by a cupcake. 

I have no idea what came over me. I am fully and painfully aware I am lactose intolerant. That’s probably why I thought I might scrape the cream cheese frosting off. But I’m not entirely sure what convinced me not to. (Is there such a thing as the cheese devil that tempts you into eating dairy?) 

So, I ate it. And it was delicious. I mean, it was fluffy and creamy and amazing. No exaggeration — it was the best damn cupcake I ever ate. 

How did it make me feel? H O R R I B L E. There was cramping and bloating and I even got a headache. I’m not sure what I thought would change between seeing that cupcake and putting in my mouth. It’s not like dietary allergies go away. 

Which is why I have a very special request for you, my readers: please do not accept substitutes. Eat the thing. In all its glory. As it should be made. With the cheese. All of it. 

I mean, if you want to drink almond milk to lose weight, that’s fine. But when you see a cupcake, do not eat a dairy free, soy free, gluten free cupcake unless you absolutely positively have to. Like, if that’s the last chocolate one and you really wanted chocolate, then that’s ok. Because I have to eat substitutes for my favorite foods for the rest of my life, and although I love my avocado spinach pasta recipe, it’s not pesto with Parmesan and it’s definitely not Mac and cheese. It’s not the same, and sometimes, I really notice

So, don’t accept substitutes, whatever you do. (Which is pretty good life advice in general, actually.) 

Bagels Give Me a Stomachache

You should know that I have an addictive personality when it comes to breakfast food.

I ate Eggo waffles for two years straight. Weekend, weekday. It didn’t matter. I was pouring syrup every morning, while my mother was trying to get me to eat something else.

And then, one day … I didn’t eat waffles. And the day after that? No waffles. And any day after that? You guessed it. I never really ate Eggo waffles again. I burnt myself out by being so addicted to them that I began to loathe them. It was the epitome of “too much of a good thing.”

Now that I have a food allergy, I can’t eat Eggo waffles, even if I wanted to. I have to buy the gluten free, soy free, dairy free, black magic pancake mix if I want a waffle that won’t try to reenact a scene out of Alien and crawl out of my stomach.

But like anyone who has to tell themselves that they can’t eat something, I inevitably eat that said thing. Just a few nibbles here and there. It’s almost like when someone slaps your hand away and tells you NOT to touch the big, red button. It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that your first instinct is to do the opposite of what that bossy person said. It’s alluring in ways that nothing else is.

Of course, I’m not crazy enough to start eating waffles again. My stomach isn’t ready for that and neither am I.

No, I settled for something a little bit more benign: a bagel. No cream cheese. (What are you crazy!? It’s already bad enough the bagel has soy in it. I would be DOA if I tried to eat dairy. Baby steps, as I try to destroy my body one breakfast food at a time.)

So, I ask myself something really tempting of the universe like, “What could possibly go wrong?” and down the hatch.

Probably an hour later I had the worst stomachache of my life. I know, I know. You’re thinking, my god. This woman is like the princess and the pea. But instead of the mattress, it’s her stomach. And instead of the pea, it’s a bagel. And in fact, you are right. (Actually, the pea would have been so much less of an impact on my poor insides.)

Now, this isn’t the first time I have ever eaten a bagel. They were a close second to waffles at one point in my eating career. But alas, no more.

So, what can I take away from this? After doubling over my stomach and sobbing over the fact that it’s so picky about its contents, I realized that there is still something to be gained from this situation.

If you ever worry that you are going to be stuck in a rut or simply stuck for the rest of your life, you won’t. Things will always, always, always change. And though it may sound scary, it’s good.

When I was in the throes of my waffle love, did I ever think I would stop eating them? Even worse, never be able to eat them again? Of course not. But here we are. My body changed that forever for me.

And so it will be for you. If you’re afraid you’ll never find love, you’ll never move out, you’ll never land a job, I can’t tell you what you what will happen. (I’m not a psychic. I just have a food allergy.) But I can tell you that whatever situation you are in now, you probably won’t be in it in a few years. And that’s wonderful and horrifying at the same time. The very fabric of your body is always dying, being reborn (even your stomach). You are never immune to change.

So, if you are going through hell, keep going. And stay away from bagels if you’re allergic. I learned that lesson the hard way for you. You’re welcome.

4 Things I’ve Learned from Food Allergies

First of all, how do you like the new digs??? My amazing friend, Emy Christodoulou designed it, and I have to say, I’m incredibly pleased. Thank you, Emy!!! Looks like a legit blog, doesn’t it???

Speaking of noticing things, I’m noticing some great changes in my body. The last time you heard from me, at least from an allergy standpoint, I was talking about my lactose intolerance. However, after two trips to the doctor’s and two trips to my local pharmacist, we discovered that I possibly have yet another food allergy. We’re not sure what I am actually allergic to yet. It’s sort of like expecting an incredibly painful food baby. We hope it’s soy, (instead of a boy) but as long as I am healthy, it doesn’t matter. Right now, I’m eliminating any irritating possibilities with a food allergy diet. It basically means nothing but rice, protein, fruits, and vegetables. In a few weeks, I’ll reintroduce potentially inflaming foods until I figure out who the winner is.

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the effects of this diet, and I’m learning things about my body that I never knew before. Join me as we count them down, and who knows? Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself, too.

4. You Don’t Need Caffeine

Okay, so caffeine was an absolute staple for me in college. I had to have it, and I had to have it several times a day. In tea, in soda, in iced tea, in Red Bull, do you have an IV of that? But on this diet, I’ve had to say goodbye to all of that. Yup. No straight shot to the heart when I wake up and none when I’m really feeling the effects in the middle of the work day. But do you know what is weird? I haven’t felt like I have needed it. Sure, I get sleepy. But I feel more alert overall. I feel good. So, I’m starting to think that maybe caffeine is a little overrated. (I know that’s a hard truth to swallow.)

3. Healthy Foods Can Taste Good

I know, I didn’t believe it, either. Until I had some amazing gluten-free waffles. Then I had some great oatmeal with lactose-free milk. Did you notice that everything I’m eating has the word “free” after it? Because that is how I feel: free. I’m not sure if I have new adult taste buds, but I am glad to have this new lease on life. When you eat right, you feel right.

2. You Can Feel Emotionally Better

Although I post a lot about positive messages that I encounter on this blog, I’m a little bit of a downer in real life. I’m tired most of the time, and I have trouble seeing the brighter side of things. But somehow, yes, a change in my diet has also helped me with this. As I’ve said, I feel more alert, but I am also feeling more whole. Sure, I get stressed and frustrated. But I feel less weighed down, which is a great thing when you are trying to be positive.

1. You Have More Will-Power Than You Realize

Have you ever been told that you need to cut things out of your diet? Do you remember how you didn’t do that at all? Well, you will not believe how fast you stop eating something when you realize how horrible it makes you feel. Take my obsession with cheese. I would have a pet cow if I could, if that would mean I could have fresh cheese all the time. But I had to give that all up. And I feel like I am not even missing anything. (Well, most of the time.)

So, what can you cut out to feel better about yourself? I won’t say it is easy, but I will say it is worth it. Of course, I’ll eat all of my favorite food once these few weeks are up. But I might be a little bit more mindful of what goes into this mouth of mine.