So here’s what I couldn’t have (that was previously in my regular diet):
- meat from any mammal: beef, pork, lamb, goat, deer, rabbit…etc. etc.
- seafood. I could go fishing, but most store-bought frozen seafood has been preserved in some way, usually by sulfites
- garlic, onions, tomatoes, grapes: all have naturally occurring sulfites
- potatoes, green beans, carrots: from previous allergy testing
- any produce that had been cut prior to me buying it
- most juices (grape juice is often a filler)
- most beer (I have found micro-brews and German beers to be safe for me)
- mixed drinks
- wine (although I recently found quite a few organic wines that are safe for me)
- non-organic pasta
- most bread, baked goods
- most things from a box, can, or package
- most menu items from most restaurants
- ice cream
I could probably go on, but the list is remarkably long. And that meant I couldn’t:
- go out to eat
- hit the drivethrough
- have popcorn (or any snacks) at the movies
- eat candy, chocolate
- go to dinner parties
- attend social events where food was a main component
Now, I know what you’re thinking: why couldn’t I just go and be social? Here’s the thing. No one had heard of alpha-gal or a sulfite sensitivity. Worse yet, no one really understood what that meant. Everyone knows what a peanut allergy is, or lactose intolerance. Those are easy. But sulfites and meat products are in everything.
1) I couldn’t expect everyone making food for me to list out all ingredients and brands (ingredients in the ingredients). Buffalo chicken dip: chicken, hot sauce, cheese, right? But wait, was the chicken fresh or canned? Was it seasoned, and if so, with what? Did that seasoning have any anti-caking agents in it? What kind of hot sauce is it? What are the ingredients? Is the cheese actual cheese, or a “cheese-like product?” Was it a block or shredded (anti-caking agents)? And that doesn’t even cover the dipping vessel!
2) It is ingrained in me that it is simply rude to turn down food that is offered to you. Besides, I always want to say, “yes, please!” when someone offers me food. I love food!
And 3) “Oh, that’s how you stay so skinny. You just don’t eat.” This one seems quite superficial, and it was, at first. But it just kept coming. That and “oh, you’re a vegetarian.” “No. No. and NO! I can’t eat your delicious maple bacon cupcakes because if I do, I’ll break out in hives in about 15 minutes, and then go into anaphylactic shock later tonight! I do not choose to be this picky! It’s kind of a survival thing. Or at least an avoidance of a very unpleasant couple of days thing.”
But that sort of outburst is generally a downer at social gatherings. So I just stopped going. In fact, I stopped going much of anywhere. I was constantly worried about getting stuck somewhere and getting hungry. I’m not a happy person when I’m hungry. And most people around me are also not happy due to my not being a happy person when I’m hungry. It’s not like I could have grabbed something while I was out. I couldn’t even bring a granola bar in my purse, because granola bars have sulfites! And no one actually likes granola bars anyway. Don’t lie to yourself. Granola bar or anything other option…pick one. Yep, that’s what I thought.
So I couldn’t eat anything. And I couldn’t go anywhere. And I couldn’t do anything fun. I was low energy (from not eating much and probably some nutrient deficiencies), and cranky, and lonely, and depressed. And I felt so very isolated. No one knew what I was going through. I had no one to commiserate with. And I was going through it every day, at every meal. Every time I saw, smelled, or heard someone talking about food, I was reminded of what I couldn’t have. Life was not great for me. And worst of all, I pretty much had no hope of that ever changing. I actually started fantasizing about my end-of-my-life meals. Steak, McDonald’s french-fries, Oreo cookies, ramen even. Or a big, fatty, bacon cheeseburger with bacon cheese fries and a chili cheese dog. Or….ok, yeah, you get the picture. Things were bad.