A few years ago, I discovered that something I was eating wasn’t sitting well with me. I noticed that eating dairy would be followed by heavy bloating and gas and other, later less I-want-to-share-in-public-type discomforts. I went to my doctor, who told me that if this was happening, if *not* eating milk fixed the problem, and if Lactaid helped, then I was lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance means that your body doesn’t make the digestive enzymes (lactase) to digest dairy, or doesn’t make enough, so the undigestible food causes gas and discomfort.
Turns out I was indeed lactose intolerant. Oh joy. This is terrible for a lifetime cheese, yogurt, whipping cream, milk, and ice cream lover. I discovered the new joys of Lactaid in helping me to enjoy the foods I had once loved, and soon a lot more lactose-free dairy started coming onto the market, including coconut-based dairy substitutes. Crisis averted.
About nine months later, I saw a naturopath to try to discover why I was having strange symptoms (which mostly turned out to be chemical-allergy-related), and he put me on an elimination diet for five weeks, with re-addition of a single food every few days to evaluate if symptoms reappeared. It was then that I determined I had an intolerance to eggs. Not just egg yolks, not just egg whites, but eggs. Eggs cause me pretty much exactly the same symptoms that dairy does. Not only that, but even lactose-free dairy products were starting to cause me problems. It turns out that lactose-free dairy actually contains lactose, it just also contains lactase enzymes to help your body to digest it. Milk and eggs; there goes my bread. Luckily, nothing else seemed to pose a problem.
Fast forward to today. I recently reaffirmed after cooking a pork chop in a cast iron pan previously used to cook pancakes and scraped clean that I *really, REALLY* can’t have even the hint of eggs or dairy. The next day was not fun. I am also wondering if I have further food allergies, this time to nightshades. See, the skin around my lips and my eyelids and eyes have been acting up lately, which is normally a chemical allergy thing, but this time there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it to be happening. In addition to the facial rash, my lymph nodes have been bothering me more than usual. I’ve also eaten a lot of potatoes recently. Last week I had gluten-free cookies and french fries frequently, and then I went camping. For a few days in the middle, my allergies were fine, and then I ate potato chips the day before I came home. The day I came home, my arms were a mess with bumpy rash, and my face wasn’t much better. A nightshade allergy wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, considering my mom told me that raw tomatoes caused me rashes when I was young.
So now I’m off of potatoes and tomatoes. I’m trying to encourage my husband to explore sweet potatoes and taro fries, but it’s probably too soon. We’ll see how a week or two nightshade-free does me, and then I’ll gradually try to add them back in and see if I react. Food allergies and intolerances suck!