Monday, September 15, 2008

A Change...

On this merry-go-round that we call Life, we are constantly faced with changes. Some are small and rather insignificant while others are life-changing. I have had one of these changes lately. Not a completely and utterly life-changing event, but definitely more than a sniff-"well"-and-move-on.

I was raised on PB&J. No-bake cookies were one of my favorite treats. Snickers were my favorites candy bar. Slowly but surely, all that has changed. Gone are the days where I can slap some peanut butter and some jelly on two slices of bread and call it lunch. Gone are my snicker-lovin' days... You see. I have a nut allergy.

I first noticed an issues about 18 months ago. I noticed that any time I ate raw peanuts or something like a Snickers with raw nuts in it, I would cough. Not a I-can't-breathe-cough but a I-have-something-stuck-in-my-throat-cough. It was so much fun I decided to steer away from anything with raw peanuts.

About six months ago, I was hungry for a late night snack. This was before we started grocery shop regularly so we didn't have a whole lot in our pantry. We did have some peanut butter and some Ritz crackers so I grabbed some and didn't think anything else about it. I them as I went, spreading gobs on the ones for my husband and a much more moderate amount on my own crackers. I had only eaten three or four when my stomach made me aware that it was angry not happy. I was completely miserable and took myself to bed.

The next day, I did my Internet sleuth thing and discovered that gastrointestinal issues is a symptom of peanut allergies. It certainly isn't something I care to ever repeat. Have you ever had gas issues but you're not in a place where you can do anything about it so it just builds up and rolls around in your stomach and makes you miserable? Well, it's kinda like that... Only there is no gas or any way to relieve it. It's like a rolling cramp through your whole middle. Double over in pain kinda thing.. Really not a lot of fun.

As it stands, I'm not overly worried about what I eat. If I think it may contain nuts, I'll check the label. Obviously, if I know it does I avoid it. When we went to a new restaurant in our town, the thought never crossed my mind that I needed to be careful. Afterall, I just ordered the soup and salad bar! Well, there were two kinds of salad and one of them contained almonds and walnuts. Guess which one I got! With no signs to guide me and a line on the other side of the bar, I grabbed the salad that had the nuts in it. I didn't actually eat any of the nuts in it but after about three bites I noticed my stomach was none too happy. After more thought and investigating the salad, I found the culprit.

I haven't stopped going to that restaurant. In fact, it's actually my new favorite in our town that has virtually nothing to eat. But I haven't gotten the salad bar again. It's discouraging sometimes to sit and think about what I can't eat anymore. Things that I grew up with like PB&J, no-bake cookies, peanut butter suckers, etc. Things that I love like Snickers, your average trail mix, peanut butter crackers. No more sharing my husband's favorite Reese's ice cream or eating Nutter Butters, no more buckeyes and proceed-with-caution with a lot of homemade brownies. Thankfully, it's not a bother to breathe it so going to steak houses and making my husband his favorite peanut butter cookies are still safe for me to do.

It's the restaurants that are iffy that really get me. After my experience with the salad and not even eating the nuts but being exposed to it, I'm worried about trying anything involving the oils. While I like Chick-fil-a's chicken sandwich decently enough, I LOVE their breakfast minis. But I'm afraid to try them because they cook their food in peanut oil. This means Penn Station's french fries are now questionable for sure but what of the rest of their foods?

I think it's harder to discover this at 23 than it would be to figure it out at three or even five. At those ages, you haven't spent so many years in peace eating the foods that you like. Now, I know what I'm missing. I mourn the loss of those foods that pleased my tastebuds. I struggle with coming to grips that I'll constantly have to watch what I eat at potlucks, and restaurants. But I can be thankful that I only have a reaction when I ingest something with nuts and don't have as serious of a problem as some people do.

My fear though? I worry that if it's progressed from just raw peanuts to nuts in general, will it get to the point that I can't eat anything that's come in contact with nuts? Will I ever have a problem with breathing it? If it's gotten this far, where will it go from here? As I readjust things now, will I have to continue to make bigger adjustments in the future? Are you aware of how many things were made in factories that process nuts? The possibilities are endless!

I keep telling myself not to borrow trouble. I have enough to deal with right now without stressing over the future. Are you allergic to nuts? Do you know anyone that's allergic? How do you/they cope? What do you/they eat? Are there any substitutes out there worth trying? What are your thoughts? Know any good resources? Please share by either including a link in the comments or emailing me at .


aclaypot4him said...

I have failed as a parent...I did not ever teach you how to deal with a nut allergy! Ugh! :O) I can't imagine not being able to go "nutty"...I think you are doing the right thing; Researching, asking experienced ex-nuts to share...I bet there are books at the library, too.

Love you despite your nutty boycott...:O}

Digits said...

Another Ariel!
I'm adding you to my blog reader and I'll stop by occasionally (if that's okay :)

Liz said...

This is so annoying! I'm sorry.I'm not allergic to nuts, but ever since I lost my gallbladder (at the ripe old age of 23) I cant process a lot of fats. If you know what I mean. :)