In January, I think many of you remember, I let you in on some of what was happening personally in my family life. After considerable health problems and what felt like a lot of searching, Pia was diagnosed with pretty wide spread and in some cases severe food allergies and intolerances.
What I wasn’t yet ready to tell you then, was that I was tested too. It turns out that most allergic children gets their allergies from one of their parents. So in trying to be a responsible parent and in an attempt to figure out the puzzle of her allergies, I agreed to be tested. We also thought it might be able to help us see which allergies she may grow out of versus life long issues and to see if we could find patterns of similarity. Also, I just wanted to know.
I knew dairy would be on there. I spent most of my childhood doubled over with stomach aches. I was diagnosed “lactose intolerant” at some point and I think my mom would occasionally buy “mocha mix” for my cereal. But the truth is, people didn’t take “food allergies” very seriously back then, and mostly it was swept under the rug. Eventually you can kind of beat your body into a kind of submission. So dairy, I expected, but I did wonder if there was anything else that would show up too. I have had chronic migraines since I was a tween as well as some assorted other issues that have never really made sense. Chronic skin problems, ADD, and a three year long search for what doctors thought “had to be ulcers” but never turned up as ulcers in my early twenties.
All that being said, I considered myself to be healthy. I just thought all that was normal. I mean people get stuff. They get headaches. They have ADD. They break-out. And get stomach aches. And lots of other things, blah, blah, blah.
It turns out there may have been a bigger cause to all of that, then just it being “normal”. I know now that my body has off the charts allergies to eggs. As well as to kiwi, pineapple, bananas, and passion fruit. I’m allergic to whole wheat, cow dairy and freaking coffee beans. Vanilla beans make me instantly lose my voice. I haven’t figured out specifically what black pepper does, but I’m not supposed to have it.
To be honest, we don’t know about celiac. We had been off gluten for months by the time we did the testing, so there is no way to get an accurate reading. But I’m not sure it matters. After clearing my body of allergens for several months, if I eat something with wheat (usually on accident) my face and nose and throat swells. My hands get arthritic and swollen. I get a stomach ache, a headache and sometimes a bloody nose the next morning. Hard core, huh?! So celiac or not, I am gluten free.
But on a positive note, 4 months into this, Pia and I feel better than we have ever felt. Also, Pete who is along for the ride lost 20 pounds in the first two months and feels like a new man. Pia went for a sinus check at children’s hospital 6 weeks ago and where they had been interested in surgery the year before, they couldn’t find a single symptom. This is the first year she hasn’t had to take (multiple rounds of) antibiotics since she was born. My monthly migraines have vanished. My skin is clear. I sleep 8 and 9 hours in a row without waking up (um, seriously). And so many other things. Despite all of the sacrifices, it has been worth it.
So that’s it. I feel like I have been hoarding a dirty secret. I didn’t mean to do it, I just had to try and get comfortable in my own skin and life before I could share it with everyone else. It’s a massive life changing event for me in ways that I am only beginning to understand. It’s also very emotional. There is a certain amount of panic and fear that mixes with shame and nightmarish visions that no one will ever invite us anywhere again. Will anyone want to come to my house anymore? Does the waiter think I’m a jerk when I say I’m allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs? “Oh yeah, and don’t pepper anything!” All over eyes will be rolling. Sometimes to my face. But despite all of my fears, I was just ready to say it out loud.
Coco’s results came back today, and it made me realize with a certain ease that it was time. Her allergies are far less in number than mine or Pia’s, but like clockwork, she follows after me in the trifecta of hellish food allergies: eggs , dairy, wheat. Boom.
There is nothing more instinctual than the feeling of wanting to help your children. I finally realized that part of that is to teach them that they can be honest and open about what they need. Hiding and acting embaressed of something you can’t help is not what I want to teach them. Taking control of your own health and making the best of a difficult situation is what I want them to take away from this. Do you know that saying “God only gives you what you can handle”? That is my mantra right now. I can handle this and there is a reason that it has come to me.
So this isn’t meant to be just a gross outpouring of “this is my life”, but it is meant to explain. And to reassure I suppose- that you still want to visit this space and use my recipes. I swear I am not here to talk on and on about food allergies! mostly I want to talk about food, and drinks and having fun! Whether you realized it or not, the recipes have been slowly shifting since last September, when we first suspected there were problems. Since January it may have been a little more so. And now obviously they will continue to shift a little more. But the fundamentals have not changed here. I make great food! I want it to be delicious and easy and I want you to share it with your friends and family. I strive in our every day life to make food that tastes so good that no one even notices what it doesn’t have in it. I will continue to do that and to share with you. Please know that I do so with the best of intentions for a delicious (and healthy) life for you and your family!
Lots of love, HeatherPrint Recipe