For just shy of ten years now, our family has had an unusual diet. At the age of only fifteen months, our youngest tested positive for a variety of food allergies including fish, poultry, rice, eggs, nuts, and legumes. For the better part of ten years, we have kept our own intake of such items to a minimum while remaining always on guard for the hidden presence of these allergens.
We learned a lot from it, too. We learned various ways of substituting eggs in recipes. We learned the hidden dangers of things like Worcestershire sauce and Guinness, both of which contain fish (although you can find versions of Worcestershire sauce that are fish free occasionally). Even as recently as last month we learned that vegetable stock, and vegetable broth can have very different ingredients, and one of them has chicken broth under some brands. There was even a time when I complained to Knorr because their “vegetable bouillon” included proteins from fish.
Our world is currently upside down.
Some things changed a while ago. Rice and eggs, ultimately, were reintroduced successfully. But even so, we were consigned to the adage that if it has scales or feathers, or contains nuts, it’s off limits. Then we took our youngest in for an allergy test so we could get updated documentation for her new schools here in Oregon.
For the first time in ten years, we can eat chicken, turkey, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios. A whole new world has been opened up. It’s hard to explain the shift, especially since it’s something we’ve lived with for a decades now. How do you get across that foods people take for granted were out of reach?
We have theories on some of the changes. Some has to do with protein markers some nuts share with tree pollens. Our running theory around poultry has to do with the reintroduction of eggs a few years ago.
So when you see me shouting about food, it’s not just because I’m hungry. It’s because our youngest got something back in her diet that she was deeply allergic to before.
(Fish, peanuts, and almonds are still very much off the menu, though.)