Do you remember hearing any allergy story when you were a kid? I sure do not.
In the summer of 1988, this kid did not have allergies. This kid would walk barefoot in her grandparents’ backyard, lie in the grass among beautiful fragrant flowers, eat her way through raspberry and red currant bushes, and then explore the vegetable garden some more in search of wild strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and carrots.
Fast forward 25 years to June 2013, the now 27-year-old kid is standing in her living‑room, enjoying her first peach of the year while going back and forth between her very slow computer and yet another episode of Law & Order. Her throat is feeling slightly itchy… Oh well, she might not have washed the pretty fruit enough. She takes a sip of water and proceeds to taking another bite. Her lower lip starts swelling… That is just in her mind, right? She takes another sip… The water does not glide through as easily as usual. Another one… Her throat feels even tighter than a second ago. Something is really wrong!
That kid was me, and this is my allergy story.
That day, alone in my apartment in the middle of the afternoon with no neighbors around, the two things that saved me were the fact that I had to check on my computer’s progress every other minute and my weird habit of eating peaches with a fork and a knife, which limited the pace at which I was ingesting it and allowed me to realize what was happening before it was too late. Had it been cherries, I would have died.
The following week, my life changed as I unwillingly became acquainted with the world of allergies. I met with an allergist, got tested, and left her medical practice with a list of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that I might develop an allergy to, a prescription for an EpiPen, and a diagnostic: Oral Allergy Syndrome.
Over the next six months, I started reacting to apples, cherries, kiwis, honeydew melon, plums, sometimes carrots, and sometimes almonds. I became scared of eating anything raw and often found myself reminiscing about that carefree kid in her grandparents’ garden.
Suddenly, I felt completely overwhelmed and ignorant. Which fruits or vegetables could I keep eating? Which ones should I stay away from? Which ones should I cook and for how long? Could I keep going to the same restaurants? What if I ate apples or peaches unknowingly? Would I die? How did EpiPens work? How would people know where to find my EpiPen? And would they know how to use it?
From allergy story to Miss Allergist
I have come a long way since that afternoon in my living-room. I still have my allergies, still carry a shot of epinephrine at all times in my purse, still wish I could bite into a fresh juicy apple as I enter the supermarket, and still get scared every now and then when my throat starts itching, but I now live comfortably with my allergies.
Don’t get me wrong, this was neither quick nor easy, but a girl’s gotta eat and this girl LOVES to eat! So I did a lot of research on the matter, changed my regimen, learned how to cook for myself and, in the process, became extremely mindful of other people’s dietary restrictions and expanded my repertoire of allergy-friendly recipes to make all my friends happy. I have also learned a great deal about how environmental and lifestyle factors can either worsen or alleviate our symptoms.
Once upon a time, I was a teacher and people called me Miss Allison (my last name was too weird and difficult to pronounce). When allergies suddenly struck me, I became the student studying for hours, trying to figure out what to do. It only made sense that my professional and personal worlds would one day collide to make me Miss Allergist.
So I am neither a doctor nor a chef, but I am here to share with you what I have learned throughout the years, and especially my recipes.
WELCOME AND BON APPÉTIT!