Greetings Kansas City! Let me introduce myself. I am an actress, a musician and I have food allergies. Seven of them. Yep, you heard me right, seven major severe groups of food allergies: corn, soy, wheat, caseine, all meats, all fish and shellfish. Oy.
They don’t define who I am but I do live with them every day, and they greatly affect my health. I even made a TV show about it called “Allergy Actress Cooking!”
So what do you do when you suspect you might have food allergies or sensitivities and you have to function in everyday life around all the social settings involving food?
First you figure out what you’re allergic to. You can do that through food testing and then likely an elimination diet.
Those words can sound pretty scary! Just say them out loud. Elimination. Diet. There is nothing remotely fun, exciting or inviting about them.
However, understanding that it’s the process that may help your health improve AND that it’s only temporary should lesson the negative connotation. Before you know it, you’ll be through it and onto eating yummy foods you know your body likes! That’s when the true enjoyment of food comes back into play.
So what is an elimination diet?
Simply put, you eliminate the foods you tested as allergic to or think you may be allergic to for a period of 1-3 weeks and then you reintroduce each food one at a time.
For kids, the full elimination should be less time, like 7-10 days, then start reintroducing. Adults, around three weeks is a good amount for elimination.
The key is to eliminate all of the suspect foods at the same time and make sure to drink plenty of water. Honestly, doing this under the care of a doctor or nutritionist is always best, but make sure you are working with one who is well versed in food allergies, food sensitivities, autoimmune, and GI-related issues.
Once eliminated, keep track of how you feel. After the elimination period, start reintroducing foods, one at a time. For example, I had to eliminate all milk.
I reintroduced cow’s milk on a Monday and had a horrific GI reaction and hives as well as spaciness and fatigue. So that one I knew would be a no-go.
I then had to wait two more days until it completely left my system before reintroducing the next food (That’s really how long it takes y’all!).
The next item happened to be goat’s milk cheese. THAT one I didn’t really react to because it is low in caseine (my allergy) so that got put back into my diet. Thank goodness! Yay goat cheese!!
I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t EVER have cheese. I know I’d get used to if I had to, but still. Phew!
The process of reintroduction continues, one food every three days until everything has been reintroduced. This diet will really give you a good idea of what your body can and cannot handle.
If you decide to keep out the foods your body does not like, you are likely going to find that you are feeling much better and have fewer overall health issues.
Again, I’m not a doctor. This is just from my personal experience of living with food allergies every day and learning how to feed myself well.
Speaking of feeding yourself well, next time I’ll start talking about how you can make food fun again, even with a special diet!
Mary Beth Eversole is an actress, voiceover artist, and musician living in Los Angeles. She is a native of Overland Park. She has performed all around the world in opera and musical theater, as well as on film and television and as a voiceover actress. She currently has a show “Allergy Actress Cooking” on YouTube, and it is soon to be distributed by TV Tibi and Akyumen TV.