What You Need To Know About Food Allergies

What You Need To Know About Food Allergies

Educate yourself and help those you may know if food allergies!
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I have anaphylaxis to milk and shellfish. You may be asking yourself, "What in the world is anaphylaxis?". Anaphylaxis is a type of reaction in which after ingestion (sometimes just after inhalation) of an allergen, a person's throat will close, shutting down their airway and if left untreated can result in death. The only things the Anaphylactic community has to defend themselves with against this reaction is 1) strict avoidance of food with the allergen present, 2 ) if ingestion occurs, the EpiPen is used right away.

Side note: the EpiPen is a shot of epinephrine that will temporarily stop an anaphylactic reaction if used in time. The EpiPen only works for about 25 minutes which should give the person having the reaction enough time to get to the hospital and receive steroids to try to stop the reaction completely.

However, the sad truth is that sometimes people having this deadly reaction do not make it to the hospital alive. If the reaction is left untreated the person will go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is when the allergic person's airway becomes almost completely restricted, their blood pressure bottoms out, and they pass out and sometimes never wake up.

So now that you have a crash course in anaphylaxis, I'm going to tell you my story.

I've had anaphylaxis since I was born. Yep, that's right! I've spent almost 21 years with this disease and honestly, I wouldn't have wanted to grow up any other way. Let me explain, growing up with food allergies was not always fun. I had a normal childhood just like everyone else. I played basketball, softball, soccer.... pretty much all the normal sports kids play.

I had friends, I went out to the movies and the carnivals in my hometown. But one thing that wasn't normal was when it came to food. I had to be overly aware of what was going on around me. If shellfish was being steamed in a restaurant, I would have to leave. If someone was drinking milk right next to me I had to be aware of if that spat when they talked.

Even little exposures to my allergies could set off my anaphylactic reaction. Cross-contamination is a huge issue, so I cannot eat out at restaurants. When I was younger I was never really in the position to go to a lot of restaurants. But as I got older, the problem grew to be a bigger issue. I wanted to fit in with my peers, go on dates, and not seem like that weird girl that can't be taken out on a generic dinner date.

New people would come in and out of my life and not all of them would understand. A lot of people would question just how serious my allergies are and if maybe I am taking it too seriously.

Something that people need to understand now is that, yes, all allergies are serious on some level. Every person that has an allergy does not have the same reaction. Honestly, it's great that your aunt has an allergy and she can eat food that has been cross-contaminated with her allergen and be okay. It's amazing that your dad can choose when he wants to ingest his allergy and not have an anaphylactic reaction. I do not have those luxuries. If I consume or ingest my allergy in any way I will have an anaphylactic reaction. My throat will close and I will die if I do not use my EpiPen.

If you know someone who has food allergies all that I ask is that you take it as seriously as the allergic person does. Each person is different and you need to adjust how you act and what you say accordingly.

Even though it has definitely not been easy growing up with food allergies I wouldn't have traded my experiences for anything. If I did not have these allergies, I would not be who I am today. When it comes down to it, my food allergies will always be a part of who I am. Even if I desensitize and grow to not be allergic to milk and shellfish anymore I will always take the lessons I've learned with me throughout every challenge I may face in this life.

If you want to find out more about food allergies and anaphylaxis please visit https://www.foodallergy.org/home

It is a very useful and informative website.

Also if you have food allergies and need more resources you can also visit that website and look around! Even though everyone has their own set of allergies and reactions you are not alone.

Cover Image Credit: Dentistry IQ

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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I've Recovered From An Eating Disorder and Exercise Addiction... Now What?

I am ready to be simultaneously healthy and fit, rather than hurting my body while trying to be fit.
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While recovering from an eating disorder and exercise addiction, I purposefully didn’t force myself to work out much or put a huge emphasis on working out.

As I continued to recover, I also did my best to not deprive myself or restrict any certain foods, which I have an extensive history of doing. Exercise and eating healthy are two of my biggest passions and two things I have been surrounded by my entire life. My parents are marathon runners and we were "that family" that wasn't allowed to eat candy or junk food.

However, recovery meant letting go of the suffocating hold that I had on these two passions.

My recovery has primarily been in the last 6 months, even though the issues I struggled with started in 9th grade. I turned my focus to body-acceptance, forgiveness, and healing — and away from negative self-talk and hatred for my struggles.

I hated what was happening, but didn't control being pulled back towards it.

For me personally, recovery has been a journey I've primarily taken on my own. It has taken A TON of hard work. It has required training, not unlike physical body training.

This kind of training has been mental and physical — training the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in my mind and training my physical responses and actions. From harmful, life-consuming actions to beneficial, life-giving actions. Recovery is more than worth it.

It has been difficult, to say the least, but so necessary, eye-opening, and freeing, as anyone with these types of struggles knows.

You have to fill your mind with truth, find support (even if it's very small), re-train your mind, and be fully invested in your recovery — in order for it to happen.

For internal struggles like eating disorders and addictions, there is no perfect formula or set of steps to follow. There's no pill you can take or encouragement someone can give you. Everyone's story is different and recovery comes with a lot of ups and downs.

I've come to a point in recovery where my body and mind are ready and begging to dive back into better eating and consistent working out (with a better, healthy mindset of course.) I'm really curious as to if anyone else with similar struggles is at this point or has been here. I am excited about health and fitness, and excited to be able to enjoy these things that I love. But there's still a sense of fear in the back of my head.

It’s hard for me because uhhh... Where do I start!?

What do I do?! The last time I was fully invested in fitness was years ago.

I went from feeling like a fitness and PRO to feeling like a complete newbie.

I am ready to be simultaneously healthy and fit, rather than hurting my body while trying to be fit. One of my MAIN goals for this summer is to get back into a clean eating lifestyle (that allows me to feel my best!!) and to find a consistent fitness routine that I will be excited about and will stick to.

Crossfit workouts used to be my PRIDE and JOY, and I desire to find a place or activity that allows me to LOVE fitness again.

I've found confidence, peace, and joy without restriction, obsession, and deprivation... and I'm ecstatic to be able to incorporate balanced, safe health/fitness back into my life.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap / Nirzar Pangarkar

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