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Food Allergies . . . What Does It Mean For Me?

Cow . . . a culprit

About a month ago I received a bit of news that I have been desperately attempting to ignore, much to my detriment.

While at my very core, I am essentially your average healthy pre-menopausal (yeah, yeah . . . I know . . . TMI . . .) African American woman, there are a few ticks, quirks and hiccups that affect my life on a daily basis. I’m not talking a dreadful hammertoe/bunion combo, halitosis or decrepit decaying and dismembered bodies buried in the walls of my basement. Hell, I don’t even have a basement.

While those are rather despicable things that I would not want to associate in the same sentence as my name, my malady is, for me, far worse than either of those, dare I say, all of them combined. Brrrr…the thought makes me shudder.

The sad truth is . . . I have food allergies.

Me. A foodie. Well just dayum.

I have managed to survive on God’s green earth for doggone near 48 years, and my ENT doctor had the shameless and unabashed audacity to 1) subject me to various blood tests which drained me on the level of Dracula on a bad day and 2) inform me that, after all these years, I am allergic to milk, wheat and egg whites.

Milk. Wheat. Egg Whites.

That damn near encompasses my entire dietary needs. And the egg whites part just added pitiful insult to injury. I couldn’t be allergic to egg yolks like normal folks. Nooooo, it has to be the egg white. Who doesn’t make stuff without egg whites?!? I mean, come on!

My husband is Dutch. Do you have any idea how many kilos of luscious, creamy, delectable varieties of fresh Dutch cheese I smuggle into my suitcase every time I visit my in-laws in Voorhout, Netherlands?!? I have grown accustomed to this nefarious ritual and I am loathe to give it up. And now that is supposed to stop just because of some ridiculous allergy? Pffffth!

For the past month, my goal has been to ignore this revealing bit of information. I’m pretty good at that. Ignoring, I mean. However, during this time, my weight has continued to creep up, and one malady after another has plagued my precious tummy. All in my mind perhaps? Maybe so. But I’m not so inclined to live out my AARP days popping Imodium every day and eating Rolaids like they’re the long-lost penny candy of my forgotten youth.

Were it not for the intrusive migraines that reduced me to tears, hiding under the covers of my bed and, most recently, at least two trips to the emergency room where I had to suffer through not one but two excruciating spinal taps—of which I will never ever again in life, as long as I am a Black woman, subject myself to, thank you very much—I would have lived out my days in blissful ignorance.

Sometimes ignorance can be a good thing. Right at this very moment, I could be enjoying a big, fat 3-egg cholesterol laden omelette loaded with five types of cheeses with a loaf of wheat bread on the side.

Well just dayum.

Instead, tomorrow is do-or-die day. I am taking control of my body, taking hold of the reigns that is my body and slapping my health into shape. For the first time in nearly 48 years, I am going to see a Registered Dietician.

Oh . . . the humanity.

But this should be a good thing, right? Well of course it is. I need to learn to live without those things that are supposedly affecting my life, even though I don’t have the slightest notion that they are doing just that. In fact, I laughed when I got the news that these are the ailments that, well, ail me. I don’t feel ill. I don’t see any adverse affects.

But wait. I’ve been consuming milk, wheat and egg whites in mass quantities all my life. Who’s to say that, once I eliminate these very things from my diet that, all of a sudden, I won’t be migraine free? I’ll be vertigo free? Or even, if the heavens are in a forgiving mood, I’ll be 15 pounds free?

It’s quite possible that I’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound . . . scale mountains using just my webbed feet (said webbing, no doubt, will form once my body is deprived of milk, wheat and egg whites) . . . stand alongside The Most Interesting Man In The World and have him turn to me and say in amazement, “Damn, you’re interesting.”

Well you know what? I don’t know what will happen. But I certainly do owe it to myself to find out. If the outcome will be a healthier Valerie, then I’m all for it.

So these next few weeks will be interesting. Especially given that my proclivities for cheese—uh, yeah, made from milk, which is the principal offender in my allergic reactions—is somewhere along the order of Superman’s affinity for Lois Lane. How will I live without my cheese?

This is gonna be dayum difficult. But I am nothing if not a trooper.

Having said that, if you should see me quivering in a corner somewhere holding a hunk of cheese in one hand, a whole mess o’ wheat pasta in the other and a fried egg stuck between my teeth, don’t be surprised. It merely means I’ve had a relapse. After all, I’m only human.


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