I cannot count the number of people I have had contact with recently, either in person or through social media, that have made comments about how they’ve noticed they are having greater difficulty with being able to tolerate certain foods. Or that they are having some sort of allergic reaction and they think it might be to a particular food, chemical, or SOMETHING they are having regular contact with and they don’t know what to do.
All I can say in response is, “Welcome to the club”.
Unfortunately, many people, are finding increased difficulty with being able to easily digest foods the way they always have. Some people end up finding through years of medical testing and refusing to believe their responses are “all in the head”, that they DO, in fact, have food allergies.
Others aren’t as “lucky”. And for the majority of those people, the word “food intolerance” or “food insensitivity” becomes a label that feels sort of…I don’t know…wishy-washy. It feels as if the response isn’t “real” when that label is attached to your medical chart.
Increasingly, researchers are finding mounting evidence that people are NOT crazy. It is already known that (at last count) there are over 3 million Americans diagnosed with Celiac Disease. That does not take into account the over 24 million Americans with an ever-growing problem now known as “gluten sensitivity” or gluten “intolerance”. And, I am sorry, but that many people cannot be that crazy about eating certain grains.
Then there are the problems with lactose intolerance and flat out allergic reactions to eating any kind of dairy.
And there is the egg allergy.
Now add in soy.
A person is left eating tree bark and rice? Sure…unless you’re allergic to one of those as well.
The problem, as I understand it, is that our American food supply is being processed differently than it used to. And, our crops have been adulterated by fertilizers and pesticides. And the water supply can leave a lot to be desired.
So, no, you’re not crazy. And your doctor may not be well-educated on the subject. Even if the doctor is a board-certified “allergist”.
At the end of the day, there is a lot you CAN do. The first thing you can do is to stop eating the food you suspect could be causing the problem and see what happens over a period of weeks. If the problem still exists, then you know you can add that food back in and try something else. I would also suggest finding a really good gastroenterologist and someone with a special interest in food intolerance and allergy.
The hard part is the psycho/social response to all of this. People feel socially different and anxious because they don’t want to go out to eat anymore, fearful restaurants are doing something weird to the food that now brings pain and suffering. Let’s face it, our society spends an awful lot of time eating. And most social gatherings involve food. And now, the person with the problem will be “different”, which is about as appealing as going to the dentist.
This, then, can lead to depression. And problems with relationships and work attendance when a person is having a reaction to the food. Or a reaction to the problems that are suddenly apparent. And marital and family problems. Money issues.
The fact of the matter is that these issues are REAL and they can impact almost every aspect of a person’s life.
There are many families out there with young children who are attempting to cope with these issues. Families with small children who are sick because of food allergies. Children who are having anaphalactic responses to food. And these families are having to make huge, expensive changes to they way in which they live their lives and feed themselves because of this growing problem.
In the end, I am certainly not smart enough to predict what will occur within our society to help these families. What I do know is that I am spending more and more of my time trying to help young mothers cope with the burden and fears and emotions previously discussed.
Stay tuned. I have a feeling this discussion is far from over.