Monday, May 24, 2010

Probably encountered the most frustrating thing...

Yes, I have to avoid certain foods and miss out on foods that I like. That's part of having a food allergy that I've gotten used to. What I'm not used to, happened this morning.

I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM. Oops. I woke up fifteen minutes after I usually leave the house. Crap. The worst part, the really awful part, is that even though I was able to throw clothes on and still would have been able to be at work close to on time if I had left right then was: I knew I had to make my lunch anyway. I couldn't guarantee that anything in the cafeteria at work would be soy-free (not to mention the credit card machine is down and I never carry cash). I also couldn't think "I'll just run to McDonald's at lunch" because I have STILL not sorted through their crazy long list of products and allergens. Plus I've already eaten at Subway like four times in the last seven days and that's not so good for my wallet...

This incident probably won't get me started making my lunch the night before, usually I'm doing other stuff and making my lunch helps me wake up in the morning. However, I did fix my alarm and hopefully I'll be good just doing that.

I went grocery shopping today, finally. Not a big trip or anything, mostly just little things to make some quick, easy meals on days I have to work. I would like to give a quick shout-out to Kraft: thank you for making my shopping trip so much quicker and easier! Kraft is one of the brands that puts the "contains:..." on their products. I know that if I see the Kraft logo, I won't have to spend ten minutes reading all the ingredients to see if there's soy. I've also noticed some brands putting the allergens in bold so they're easy to spot among the other ingredients and I like that too! Kudos to everyone who recognizes people with food allergies and makes their lives a little easier!

(Chik-fil-a also has an awesome chart!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soy-free? eh, maybe close...

Ok, so I'm not totally soy-free yet. But it's only day 3 and I haven't gone grocery shopping yet so cut me some slack. I did however do some research today about what fast food establishments I can visit and the outlook is good :) So far, I've only looked at a few places websites and have found Subway's chart to be the best overall. Well, just compared to McDonalds' chart. Those are the only two I've looked at. Outback didn't even really have allergy information, or if they did it was difficult to find.

Pros: Subway's chart is nice because it's actually a chart. On the left side it lists a standard version of each sandwich on their menu and along the top it has all of the common allergens. As you look at the chart, you can easily tell if your favorite sandwiches (and there's a section for bread farther down the list) are safe for you to eat.
Cons: The allergy chart does not actually contain a list of ingredients, that's separate. It would be nice to see what allergen specifically is in the sandwich. Although, I suppose since Subway's sandwiches are pretty basic anyway (ingredients: black forest ham, lettuce, etc.) and not as lab-created as other fast food places' food, the separate lists aren't that big a deal.

Pros: McDonald's lists everything, and I mean everything. The McRib is even on their list. They show you all the different buns and what's in their chicken (which is kinda scary), all kinds of stuff. They have in bold print what the common allergens in the items are and they list right there the ingredients so that you can see for yourself. That's nice because a lot people allergic to soy can safely eat soy lecithin or soybean oil (Subway had a different mark on their chart if something only contained soybean oil), so if something is labeled as "contains soy" you can see why. McDonald's also distinguishes between types of soy, and will mark things as "contains soy lecithin" or "contains soybean oil" so that you know up front what kind of soy you're dealing with.
Cons: It's strictly a list. A 21 page list. Reading is required. It is definitely not at-a-glance and you have to do some searching to find your favorite things. I will definitely be going through the list and finding all my favorite things, but it hurts them because today, for dinner, I'm going to Subway, because their chart was easy to use and I knew almost instantly what I can and can't order. So it's a very good and thorough list, however for the people who need quick info on what they can or can't have, it doesn't really lend itself to being helpful in that department.

Yay two places I can eat so far!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Year, New Layout (soon?) New Post!

I'm going to try to be better about posting more, especially with the latest thing going on in my life: Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE for short, and yes, I spelled it right the first time without looking!). Basically what's going on in my esophagus is there are an excess of white blood cells do to an allergic reaction. The problem is that the inflammation is so bad that food is constantly getting stuck in my esophagus and needs help to pass through to my stomach (usually in the form of whatever liquid I'm drinking). And when I say "constantly", I mean every time I eat. Especially dry things like bread. Now what the heck the white blood cells are reacting to I have no idea. My first appointment with my new allergist was today. That went pretty well I guess. I got the arm prick test thingy done, and they confirmed my allergy to shellfish (boy did they ever, that was the strongest reaction!) and tree nuts, both of which I was already aware. I did also have a reaction to peanuts (not aware), corn (partially aware and was already avoiding), and soy.

I'm now on an elimination diet to see if, in addition to Protonix (which is helping get rid of acid reflux and repair damage to my esophagus), one of those things is what's causing the inflammation. Corn is going to be tricky, right now I'm just avoiding straight corn, however it may or may not get to the point where I have to avoid high fructose corn syrup. I'm hoping I don't have to do that. I have a followup appointment with the doc in three weeks to see if there's been any improvement based on the diets/medication. I already know the medication helps a little bit, bigger bites are still getting stuck, but smaller ones aren't as often. Protonix got rid of my acid reflux (which didn't happen too often, but often enough to notice and apparently there was some damage to my esophagus) almost immediately, like a day or two. That's been really nice.

I also have my very own set of EpiPens now. I should have had them ages ago really, especially for the shellfish allergy, but it was never really diagnosed, more like "I'll just stay away from that" since my reactions never caused me enough discomfort to visit the hospital. The doc didn't like that, lol, she was like, "Yeah you definitely need to get those as soon as possible." But she's really nice and I like her a lot. She gave me a lot of good information in the office and also sent me home with helpful stuff. She also pointed me to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which is a group that specializes in food allergies and they have a lot of really good info too.

Friday or Saturday-ish, I'm going shopping with my Bestie Amanda at Trader Joe's (which is the grocery store of all grocery stores!) and a couple other places because she is also doing a soy elimination diet (not for the same reasons though). As much as it stinks to be doing an elimination diet, I'm so very glad that Amanda and I will be able to do it together and go shopping together and share recipes and it's so nice not to be doing this alone. The hubby will be eating whatever he pleases, the lame-o. So yeah, having company will be very, very nice indeed :)