It all started with the allergies. When I was about 7 years old, my mum took me to an allergy specialist. On initial testing I was allergic to nuts, eggs, dust, pollen, grass, horses and cats * eye roll *. As if that wasn’t daunting enough for my parents, this was all added to my already existing asthma, eczema and hay fever.
I found it very difficult at birthday parties and in the playground, because allergies weren’t as common as they are today and I was one of very few who had them. As an allergy kid I wasn’t even sure myself what I could and couldn’t eat, so I would often find myself feeling left out if I was denied one of the baked goods other kids brought to class.
Thankfully, as I grew up my allergies started to subside and I grew out of most of these by the time I hit my teens. Most significantly today, I am anaphylactic to nuts and my countless reactions (worsening with exposure over the years) have shown my body is not messing around on this one!
When I was in the later years of high school, I started experiencing major tummy bloating, erratic bowl movements and lethargy but couldn’t pin point the source. I was tested for coeliac disease and gluten intolerance as related foods seemed to aggravate my tummy, but neither came back positive and the doctor put it down to IBS (irritable bowl syndrome). From that point I listened to what I thought my body wanted and ate a healthy diet in line with this, but I would still have bloating by the end of each day…
A few years on, my sister- in-law had breath testing done (a test designed to diagnose gastrointestinal disorders) because she was experiencing stomach troubles of her own and found out she had fructose malabsorption. I started paying close attention to what I was eating and realised that could also be the case with me! So off I went to get a fructose breath test of my own.
The test came back positive, which I was happy about. Seems strange to get excited about finding out you have to cut foods out of your diet (some that you really love) but I was just relieved that I finally knew the cause of my discomfort! I did find it to be quite overwhelming though because I had minimal knowledge on what this meant exactly, so I started to do my research, leading to my following of a modified low FODMAP diet for the past 3-4 years to help minimize and manage my symptoms.
Nuts can (mostly) be quite easily be avoided, which is great because put bluntly, that is life or death for me. But I find fructose and other FODMAPS I’m sensitive to can be more difficult to manage as they sneak their way into so many products and dishes.
There have definitely been moments when I have wanted to hold a pity party for myself as I watch my friends bite into a nutella donut, pizza slice or even a crunchy apple – damn it! But over the years I have learnt to adapt and have become somewhat of an allergy enthusiast.
I love to eat at cafes, have nights out with friends and make quick convenient food choices – but it has taken me a while to fully understand my allergies and intolerances. I am now at a point where I feel completely comfortable doing all of these things and my aim is to help you do the same through sharing plenty of tips and stories with you all.