Food Challenge 28: Cindy vs. Maple Syrup

The food challenge was the least interesting part of my appointment this morning. First of all, I apparently cancelled my appointment on Friday when I called the doctor with emergency throat swelling, but I was not 100% on my game during that call and may not have actually said, “I want to not challenge food but I want to keep the appointment.” In any event, I brought food to challenge anyway, because when I woke up this morning, it seemed silly to go there just to say hi. So I settled on maple syrup, since I was pretty sure I could eat it (spoiler alert: I can) and just hadn’t been because a) I like pancakes better with sugar and b)trees have scared me since the pollen shots.

Anyway.

The reason this challenge is interesting, is because the doctor tried to set me up with another patient who was in for skin testing. It was like something out of a sitcom. Suddenly, the whole office turned into a bunch of yentas – “you’d be such a good match, both allergic to fish!” and “tell him what happens when you’re near horseradish at a bar mitzvah!” Allergist, allergist, make me a match…find me a find…

I rolled with the punches, of course. My suggested beau was way more tolerant of the skin test pain than I’d ever been, barely flinching. My fish test made me cry. Of course, I awkwardly told him that. And when his accompanying mother (apparently, she’s the usual patient) asked me if I could have lox (no) I decided to tell them how as a kid, all I wanted was chocolate covered lox, since I didn’t know what either tasted like but my friends all liked both. We got a good laugh. Which was nice, since the story was preceded by, “Did Cindy tell you she writes comedy videos? Come on, tell them about the videos! They’re funny!” So I guess I proved that?

There’s no wedding date set, but hey. They say it’s best to meet men by sharing a hobby/common interest; maybe an allergist and a shared fish allergy is the same thing?

“What do you do for fun?”

“I build model airplanes. And you?”

“I’m allergic to fish.”

Plus, I bet we can both have maple syrup.

Oh, and ps. I had no reason to be scared of maple syrup. It doesn’t have pollen in it. Neither does honey. Just an FYI. I love how much I learn every time I do a challenge. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to these appointments. If you’re going to risk your life challenging a food, it may as well be with one of the best doctors around who also happens to be super fun.

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 20

Allergens: 6

Up Next: Onion powder

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Things I Learned Tonight While On Benedryl

1. Don’t touch people in grocery stores.

2. Don’t go to the checkout aisle with gefilte fish on the conveyor belt

(one of the above might actually be ok. There’s no telling which, and there’s no telling if it’s the combo)

3. Try to always bring a new bottle of water in the car when driving in case you need to pop some Benedryl on location, and the water that sat in your car all day is burning hot from the 90 degree sun.

4. Singing/rapping is a good test to see if your throat is closing. But also, singing “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “As Long as He Needs Me” for the better part of an hour is not great for your throat. If you get hoarse, scratchy or generally irritated it might be because you’re NOT a Broadway star.

5. It is possible to cook 95% of a shabbat dinner plus tonights dinner while on Benedryl. And also random turkey burgers because it’s hard to remember that freezers exist while you’re cooking on Benedryl. And also that you can’t eat 4 turkey burgers in one day.

6. The above cooking is tiring. Sitting down feels much better.

7. Sitting down is important.

8. Like, super important.

9. Stopping to sing is also important.

10. Lists should always have ten things.

THE JOYS OF AIRBORNE ALLERGIES!

Tips for Friends Who Have Friends Living with Food Allergies (via Epipen Princess)

Loved this guest blog on Epipen Princess’ blog about how to be a friend to someone who has food allergies. I feel very blessed to have the friends that I do who take caution in what they eat around me, who offer to help me buy groceries, who cook for me when I need them to, who offer to pick me up from the doctor’s office. It’s sometimes scary living alone 3,000 miles away from my family, but knowing I have friends who are there for me makes it all that easier.

http://ataleofanaphylaxis.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/guest-blog-post-tips-for-friends-who-have-friends-living-with-food-allergies/

 

So Cindy, What Can You Eat?

When people find out about my food allergies, one of the first questions they ask me is: “What can you eat?” That seems like a perfectly acceptable question, but the truth is, I can eat a lot of foods and I probably can’t think of them all on the top of my head.

In fact, I believe I probably have a more varied diet than the average American. Because  I can eat fewer foods (though still many), I eat most of them. Whereas, when you have the whole world of food open to you, you make select choices based on what’s easy, what you prefer, and what’s familiar. There’s got to be a term for this, but I just came off a 12+ hour day on set (fabulous shoot btw) so all I can think of is the tyranny of the majority. Which, if you think of certain food groups as the oppressed minority sort of maybe makes a little bit of sense if you’re willing to really stretch for it.

Think about what you ate this week. Maybe not you, loyal readers, as you probably care quite a bit about food (you’re reading a food blog, after all) and that separates you from the masses. But think about the people around you and what they eat. Same lunch day in and day out? Similar dinners? Making a large pot of food on Sunday and spreading it through the week? Probs.

In a typical week (I’d count this week, but I’ve got a cold and had an allergic reaction yesterday so I’m all out of sorts), I eat:

chicken

turkey

lamb

beef

cheese

eggs

beans

rice

corn quinoa pasta

potatoes

sweet potatoes

squash

zuchinni

eggplant

cereal

bread

green beans

pineapple

apples

pears

grapes

chocolate

chips (either corn or potato)

And that’s not counting lentils, millet, carrots, quinoa, tomatoes, and peppers which make regular appearances in my diet.

I don’t always use the same recipes, I don’t always eat the same combos at meals, and of course, I only eat each food item 3 times a week.

I feel like I have a fairly diverse diet each week. Fine, so I can’t experiment with new foods (except weekly, when I experiment with new foods at the doctor’s office), but I eat what I can. I’m not saying I don’t get bored. Oh, boy do I get bored! But most of the time, it’s easy as switching out Honeycomb for Captain Crunch. Or eating white beans instead of black beans. Yams instead of sweet potatoes. Meatballs instead of pepper steak.

I think back to two years ago, when I was overdosing every day on pasta (with sauce and cheese for lunch and chicken or beef for dinner…occasionally subbing pasta for rice). I could eat a lot more (sort of, I mean, since no doctor had told me I couldn’t yet), but I actually ate a lot less.

Too often, I think of my allergies as a burden. This week, especially, when I reacted to nothing, simply because I’m already under the weather. But then, I realize that in a lot of ways they’re a gift. Today, I’m focusing on how they’ve taught me to broaden my horizons, care more about my daily food intake, and pay more attention to nutrition in general.

Now excuse me, as I plan for tomorrow’s lunch…

Food Challenge Round 27: Cindy vs. Olive Oil — The Rematch

First of all, yes, the punctuation in the title of my blog post is stolen from Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. No, I didn’t seem Tom Cruise at the allergist.

But I DID successfully eat olive oil.

As you may recall, on July 31, 2012, I posted about my first challenge with olive oil. It was a horrible experience. Not anaphylaxis bad, but not fun. I remember how lethargic I was after eating those rye crackers, how everything hurt when I moved. Not today, though! Today, I ate potatoes with olive oil and was totally fine. I ate like a normal person eating potatoes. It’s so strange how I can so easily recall feeling my whole body start to shut down just a year ago, and today, I ate food and just felt like I’d eaten. Not like a bulldozer had dragged me halfway across Prague. (Not sure why I picked Prague).

It's Chanukah in August!

It’s Chanukah in August!

So yay! I can now eat olive oil! This is a serious life change. It’ll be easier for other people to cook for me, I can probably go to more restaurants, and I there’s one invisible food that’s off my list. And more importantly:

I’M GETTING BETTER.

The hypersensitivity that started two years ago (isn’t it just dandy that the X-Games are a reminder of my first hospital visit?) is on it’s way out. I’ll always have allergies, but some of the ones that went all wackadoodle on me are waning. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. My body is recovering. It’s relenting in its war on food. Just call it Robert E. Lee. Proclaim me emancipated, or something.

I have to be careful about how much olive oil I eat so as not to overdose again — twice a week, in limited amounts (basically one dish per meal, twice a week, preferably not in back to back meals), but it’s still a game changer. It’s on the table…literally.

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 19

Allergens: 6 (yayyy this number is going down!)

Up Next: Onion Powder

Food Challenges Rounds 25 & 26: Cindy vs. Peanut Butter (2tsp) and Rum

This week, I completed one year of food challenges! When I started this process a year ago, I thought for sure it’d be quick, that I’d do a few food challenges, and get a nice amount of food back into my life pretty quickly. When my doctor told me he thought it’d be a good year before that happened, I was totally sidelined and confused. Now that it’s been a year, I am grateful for all the foods that are back in my life, but also still running through the list. Fine, so I didn’t do a challenge every. single. week of the year — had to take breaks for holidays, anaphylaxis, and important work events — but 26/52 is a lot. I imagine I have another year left to go. And honestly, it’s not so bad. Keeps my weeks interesting, it’s good to check in with the doctor and get my questions answered regularly, and when I succeed, it’s great. There are some foods I’ve incorporated less than others (I really should eat more barley…but I imagine I will come the winter, something about barley in the summer seems weird even though the weather doesn’t change here), and some that have become staples again (wheat, sunflower oil, lentils). I’ve learned a lot about my body in the last year, about food in general, and about courage. I still get scared every week, but I keep going back. And when it’s fine, it’s really fine. And when it’s anaphylaxis, I just shake a lot and get really cold and feel out of it for a week. That’s what blankets are for, right?

Anyway, so my last two food challenges went really well. So well that the blogging need wasn’t that immediate. I can now have two teaspoons of peanut butter, which is awesome. It’s still not enough for me to actually eat – I can’t seem to figure out the proper occasion for two teaspoons of peanut butter, and am scared I’ll start eating it and want more and get sad, plus I can’t eat crackers that I don’t make myself and that’s not worth two teaspoons – but I will try more soon. I have to take a break to make sure I don’t overdose, so those challenges will come down the road.

After the two teaspoons of peanut butter, I was going to try wine vinegar. But I couldn’t really settle on a recipe with wine vinegar that a) would be normal at 7:30am and b) I’d actually make often. People often get annoyed when I can’t eat wine vinegar, but I never liked the taste and never cook with it myself. Still, I was going to try it to succumb to the peer pressure.  But I couldn’t get to the kosher grocery store in time, and Ralph’s didn’t have any kosher brands. PS, I hadn’t been in Ralph’s in forever, and can I just say, that place is SUPER BRIGHT. Like, I don’t know how people can even see properly after shopping there. I have become a Whole Foods/Farmer’s Market Snob. Penn and Teller would hate me. That makes me question a lot of things. I don’t want Penn and Teller to hate me. I don’t want the version of myself who used to traipse around the Whole Foods in Union Square angrily and bitterly to hate me, either. But that girl could eat more, so what does she know?

Anyway…

I couldn’t find the wine vinegar in the brightly lit supermarket. I decided to wander around trying to find something else to try. This is maybe the most depressing thing a person with my allergy list (aka me, I’m unique that way) can do. If you can’t have processed food and you can’t have lots of unprocessed food, a supermarket is just miserable. I looked at all the aisles, all filled with things I couldn’t have, and got overwhelmed by how much there was to try. Did I try another cereal? No, aren’t Honeycomb, Kix, Chex, and Captain Crunch enough? What kind of person needs Frosted Flakes (omg, me). Did I try Entenmann’s donuts? Almost, but I could just picture my doctor’s face when I brought those in, my mother’s reaction to that phone call, and just the general public’s “what’s wrong with you, who needs donuts?” collective sigh. And also I was scared to read the ingredients and see cottonseed oil and know I could never try them again. (Just googled the ingredients for glazed pop ’ems which would be the kind I’d try, and they have xanthan gum in them. So fuck Entenmann’s. They are not on team Xanthan Gum is evil).

I thought about trying other sauces. Maybe a mustard with “spices?” Maybe a different kind of pickle? But all of those foods seemed useless to me in my life. And it was close to 11pm and I was getting tired. So I decided to try white wine. I headed over to the alcohol section, but I couldn’t decide which wine to try. Pinot Grigio? Chardonnay? It’s been so long since I had white wine, and the last one I had was Moscato (which I couldn’t find) that I just got overwhelmed. Plus, if I can have red wine, then is it that important that I have white wine? And then I realized — RUM!

This year on Cindystock, we gonna sip Bacardi like it's my birthday.

This year on Cindystock, we gonna sip Bacardi like it’s my birthday.

The last few times I’ve been at bars, I’d had too much wheat for Heineken and the bars didn’t have corn or potato vodka. Not that I’m the biggest drinker, but I do get “drinks” for work, and it’s frustrating when I do go out to have to look through the menu and not drink. Especially when I make someone else be the designated driver, or pay for a cab. That’s just rude to someone else’s night. But rum…rum is on every menu. And I didn’t think I’d be allergic to it. So I grabbed a bottle of Bacardi for myself and one for the doctor and nurses as a thank you for a year of food challenges gift, and 8 and a half hours later, had a rum and coke in the doctor’s office.

I passed! Not surprised, but very happy.

Also, after the overwhelmed feeling the night before and the stress of a food challenge, it was sort of nice to have a shot and a half of rum first thing in the morning. Not to become an alcoholic or anything, but after the panic and fear before every food challenge, getting a little relaxer in is sort of nice.

I celebrated that night at karaoke, where I rapped like nobody’s business. I’m getting better at that, now that it’s my go-to check to see if I’m breathing. I’ll be Nicki Minaj yet!

On Monday, I’m going to re-challenge some foods I stubbornly believe I can have but just overdosed on at my last challenge of them. Olive oil is Monday (scared), onion powder the week after (scared), and pasta after that (petrified, mostly because I’ll be so mad if it doesn’t work).

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY:

Cindy: 18

Allergens: 7

Undecided: 1

Up Next: Olive Oil, take two.