Living With Food Allergies- My Story

If you’ve been hanging out at DDD for a while you may have notice that all of my recipes are free of gluten, eggs, soy and for the most part dairy free. Some of you may even hang out here just because of those recipes (and I am so appreciative of that!). But there is a reason why I put the time and effort into creating allergy-friendly recipes and I thought it was about time I share my story with you!

May is National Celiac/Gluten Awareness Month and this week is also Food Allergy Awareness Week. I wanted to write this post to not only take part in these celebrations but also to inspire others who are struggling and may not know the answer just yet, because if it wasn’t for a friend who shared her story with me I may still be searching for an answer to my health problems. 

Before I dive in, let me just say that I am not an expert on this issue. This is just my personal experience. 

Warning: Lots of text below and very few pictures. 

 

Via

For as far back as I can remember I ALWAYS struggled with stomach aches. Always. I don’t think I can remember a day when my stomach didn’t hurt. When I was little I remember telling my mom that I had several different types of stomach aches, there were the achy ones, the crampy ones, the stabbing ones, and just about every other kind. She looked just as confused as all the doctors did and I’m pretty sure they all thought I was making it up. And it wasn’t just stomach aches either, I always had headaches and a lot of other issues.

Fast forward to when I was about 10. It was during this time of my life when I discovered that I got sick every time I ate fried foods. Bingo. Fried foods are often made with eggs, wheat AND soy. No wonder why I got sick. But at that time food allergies/sensitivities were not even a thought and my mom and I just thought fried foods were just too rich for me to digest. So I guess we were on the right track. Kind of. And from that time on I didn’t touch anything fried…. until I went to college but that’s another story.

Throughout my life I learned to live with all of my health issues. The stomach pains, the headaches, the feeling that I looked 4 months pregnant because of how bad my stomach hurt. I learned to live with that fact that I never really felt normal but at the same time I really didn’t know any different. At one point I was diagnosed with IBS. While I am no expert on the issue, I personally think it’s just a cop-out for when they can’t find anything else wrong with you.

The next big turning point came when I was a senior in high school and I had an ovarian cyst rupture. (If that wasn’t enough for an 18-year-old, it ruptured while I was cheerleading during the half time show at the Orange Bowl. Awesome.) One cyst turned into two which turned into three and before I knew it these ‘episodes’ just became a routine. Go to the doctor, get pain pills, and rest until I felt better than start it all over again. So after the 3rd one I stopped going to the doctor and just learned to take care of myself. But after a while the episodes were getting worse and more frequent so I went to get them checked out and to my surprise there were no ovarian cysts. Nothing showed up on the ultra sound. I was more confused than ever.

Now that I knew the pain and discomfort I was feeling was not coming from a cyst, I found myself showing up at the doctor every few months with horrible stomach issues. My husband even rushed me to the ER once because I thought I was having an appendicitis. I tried everything, went to different specialists and took a million tests and everything came up negative. Every time the doctors would ask where it hurt I just said everywhere. Stabbing here, cramping there, aching here and I got blank stares. Can I tell you how horrible it makes you feel when no doctor can figure out what’s wrong with you? You start to think you might actually be crazy.

And then my life changed forever. I was 23 and working at a public relations agency in Seattle when I met Megan. Megan and I became friends and like all girls we discussed anything and everything. I knew Megan had food allergies but it wasn’t until she told me her story did a light go off in my head. It was as if she was telling me my own life story. We had extremely similar symptoms and health issues. Could it be that this whole time I was just allergic to what I was eating? Megan suggested I go get tested and at that point I had tried everything else so what was I going to lose?

It took me a few months to make an appointment and to this day I don’t know why I waited so long. I went to a natural path where they ran a food allergen blood test. I remember praying that the test showed SOMETHING. When I sat down and read my results I wanted to cry. This test just proved I wasn’t crazy, there really was something going on with my body. I was so excited to find out that I was off the charts for gluten, eggs, yeast, soy and bananas ( I also tested positive for asparagus, cranberries and pineapple but I have worked those back into my diet with no issues).

If you are curious if I have Celiac, I honestly don’t know and never will know. You have to have gluten in your diet for an extended period of time in order for the results to be accurate. Celiac or not, I won’t change my eating habits so it’s not worth it to eat gluten for a month. However, since finding out about my gluten-intolerance I have learned that I have cousins on both sides of my family with Celiac and I have experienced rare health issues as a child that can result from Celiac. But the answer to the question is still unknown.

The second I found out about my food allergies I stopped eating everything that showed up on the test and I felt instantly better. But just five days after cleansing myself from these foods my husband and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. I had waited all year to bring out our wedding cake and share that special moment with my husband. After all it’s an American tradition. So I set aside all of my food issues, gave a toast to my husband and enjoyed the cake… for all of about 5 minutes. The rest of the night and the entire next day I was curled up in fetal position and felt awful. It was that moment that I KNEW I couldn’t eat these foods and I have been completely clean ever since.

Over the past 4 years there have been few occasions when things have slipped into my food either through cross contamination or me being careless about reading a label. And now I can tell exactly what food I consumed by how I feel, because every food affects me differently (that’s where all of those different stomach aches come in).

Gluten/Wheat: Lower abdominal pain, bloating, irritability, extreme fatigue, headaches (pretty much how you feel your 1st trimester of pregnancy). It’s as if you have the flu almost.

Soy: My throat now gets tight when I eat soy  so I can tell instantly.

Eggs: Extreme nausea and I feel like I’m having an appendicitis, there is no other way to describe it.

The day I found out about my food allergies/sensitivities was one of the best days of my life. For the past (almost) 4 years I have never felt better. I have more energy that I have ever had before, I have virtually no headaches, and no stomach issues. I honestly don’t know how I survived all of those years.

I know this was probably the longest post ever in the history of DDD but I hope some of you can relate or I’ve inspired some of you to get tested. I owe everything to my friend Megan and I hope to pay it forward one day. I also left a lot of details out of this post (shocking I know) but if you have any questions about my experience shoot me an email, I’d be happy to chat taryn(at)designdininganddiapers(dot)com.

About 

Taryn is the owner/editor of Design, Dining and Diapers, a lifestyle blog that focuses on DIY home decor, design, seasonal crafts, easy recipes and just being a mom! She is all about making things for less by upcycling thrift store finds and using what’s on hand. Taryn lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

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Comments

  1. Grace says

    Wow, Taryn – I never knew this story, aside from knowing you had gluten allergies. Thank you for sharing!!!! I’m going to re-post for my friends.

    Grace

  2. says

    I have Celiac and cannot have gluten or casein ( no dairy at all) my mom has gluten, dairy, and soy allergies. It is such a journey isn’t it? I am so happy that you were able to find out what was wrong so you can avoid those foods now!

    I remember my first day free of gluten, I felt soooo much better. I continue to feel better every day :)

  3. Lindsay Cox says

    Taryn, YOU are the reason I went and got food intolerance tested! I am so happy I did because I never would have thought in a million years I had an egg intolerance. I could have written your story myself. I was diagnosed with IBS at a very young age and totally agree that it’s what they diagnose when they just have no idea what’s wrong with you. Here’s to having better tummies! :)

  4. Debra Kapellakis says

    I am sad it took so long to figure it out but you did, I am happy to hear you are doing good now.

  5. says

    I hear ya! I lived with an undiagnosed dairy allergy until I was 40. On the advice of my allergy doctor I eliminated cow’s milk for 2 weeks when I was 11. I was allowed to drink goat’s milk. I now know that the protein I am allergic to also shows up in goat milk (it shows up in all pasteurized milk but not raw milk). It wasn’t until I eliminated all dairy for a month that my dizziness and sinus migraines went away. I became gluten sensitive in my mid 30’s, eliminating wheat and gluten when I was 38.
    I can drink raw milk (although it is horrendously expensive and not always available). If I use sprouted wheat flour (available at Whole Foods) and soak it overnight in whey mixture or soured (raw) milk then it is much more doable. I still have some minor symptoms but its worth it when only wheat rolls or pancakes will do. I save this for special occasions, like Christmas, because I get bloated for a couple of days. So much better though than the other gastric problems, joint pain and hair loss that I get from regular bread!

  6. Tori says

    It all sounds very similar. I am allergic to soy and am gluten intolerant. I also have a daughter who is allergic to eggs and tree nuts. I have been soy and gluten free for almost a year and I will never go back!! I felt like i had a stomach ache my entire life. My boyfriends would bring me home after a date out and say to my mom that they thought I needed to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with IBS around the age of 16 which they bruised my ribs trying to see if I had ulcers from drinking the nasty barium solution. Yuck!! I still cant be tickled near my ribs without it being painful. As soon as I took both of those things out of my diet it I felt so much better.
    This summer I am starting my other daughter on a gluten free diet bc she is having similar symptoms as I did growing up.
    I am so thankful for blogs and sites like this to help me learn more about cooking gluten free. Btw the chocolate cookies with salted peanut butter frosting is AMAZING!!! so GOOD!!

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your story. I also don’t eat gluten. Feeling and sleeping a million times better. I’m in the process of having my children tested doing a DNA gluten test. It’s not cheap. But it is good to have proof for my children who need to “see” it with their own eyes and not what mom “suspects” they have.

  8. says

    I have been feeling terrible for so long and I’ve had the same problem with the doctors. They just look at me like I’m a hypochondriac. Sorry docs, this is something real! The other day, when my brother was in town, we were driving by the place where his new corporate building was going up and as we went down a side street I noticed a bakery sign that I’d never seen before. It looked like it was closed so I googled it. Turns out it is a gluten free bakery, so I started reading about how they got started. It was like reading about myself. I started reading it aloud because I thought maybe it was just me, but my husband, brother and sister-in-law all said, “Toodie, that’s YOU they’re talking about.” I was stunned.

    So, just this morning, as I’m going through some blogs and checking out the cool stuff, I stumbled onto your site. I’m so glad I did. Your story makes me feel like I’m not alone and I’m really not nuts, and your recipes look delicious. I do have a question though. Is it hard to adjust to the different tastes and textures of the foods that are gf? I can usually adapt pretty easily, but when it comes to eating, I want to be able to actually get a good taste. I’ve read so many articles now in the last couple of days about how the textures are horrible and the tastes are just as bad. Please tell me it’s not so, because looking at your recipes, it does not seem that way.

  9. Sherrie says

    3 1/2 years being in a antibodic because they thought I had staph infections, head, ears,, chest broke out. Feeling so foggy and forgetful, ringing ears, asthma attacks, every joint in my body in pain, muscle spasms in both legs and back. I gained weight instead if lost weight. Celtics Disease. After a doctor told me numerous times there was nothing wrong with me I needed a mental health professional. Stomach aches for years. Was in Nexium. Today I have been wheat free, sugar free, diary free for 16 days. The rash cleared up on my head, my ears are clearing up, the aches are gone , the ringing is livable and has lessened. My stomach doesn’t hurt, the foggy feeling is lifting. I ran three mies two days in a row! I changed doctors and I am no longer making myself sick! I also have lost 14 lbs. it is amazing! I love your blog! Thank you for posting these recipes!

  10. Ramon del Fuego says

    Wow, you sound like a total pain in the arse! What a delicate wittle flower, unable to consume the most basic food stuffs. Thank you for sharing the story of how incredibly sensitive and weak you are. It’s an inspiration, allowing normal human beings to say, “Well, at least I’m not like that one neurotic chick with the blog.”

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