Food should be something you enjoy. It sustains and nourishes but sometimes it makes you ill and you don’t know which food is causing the problem.
It can seem like no matter how careful you are something triggers the hives, allergic eczema, sore skin, itchy throat and stomach problems but you don’t know which food is the culprit. This could be caused by food intolerances or a delayed allergic reaction and either could be triggered by pretty much any food you care to think about.
The only real way of pinpointing problem foods is by doing a food elimination diet and slowly reintroducing each food one by one, but it is not something to be entered into lightly. It can be very hard work, exhausting and difficult to stick to. Speak to a specialist nutritionist of dietician for advice before doing this as there are sensible orders of how to go about it healthily.
I am not talking about real allergies here that cause anaphylaxis. I have those covered. I’m pretty expert at avoiding them. I’m talking about the sneaky milder reactions that cause so much pain and frustration.
[NEVER take risks like trying foods you have a true ige mediated allergy to, this could be very dangerous. If you are allergic the only safe course of action is avoidance.]
Working out what’s causing the problem
It’s a good idea to keep a food and symptoms diary so you can track delayed reactions. I try to do this but am not religious enough at filling it in, so often can’t remember even the previous day… sieve head.
Last night and today my eyes were streaming, my face is angry, sore, red and tight like it’s burnt and I have no idea why. I haven’t eaten anything different and I don’t really know what caused this reaction.
I suspect possibly a glass of wine I had down the pub last night, or maybe the sweet potato fries that I’ve had before without issue in the pub on many occasion may not have been quite the same. I didn’t ask. I just thought, oh chips will be OK. So I may not be quite without blame on this recent occasion. But the wine was one I’d drunk before so what’s going on?
But what I have noticed over the last few months is that when one of these reactions happens I actually stop eating.
I become scared of eating anything.
Some days I will eat a banana or oat cakes for breakfast but some days I don’t even want breakfast.
I don’t even feel hungry.
And most odd of all, I don’t even notice I’m not eating.
I realise at 4pm when I’m busy working away that I feel like a cup of herbal tea, look at the time and can’t work out how my body can last that long? I do not fear the herbal tea – at least that’s something.
Usually one of these mild burn type reactions lasts for about 3-4 days before my skin starts to feel supple and less tight, the redness fades and I feel normal again and the first few days of each attack my appetite just disappears.
This is not at all like me. Anyone who knows me will vouch for this. I love my food. I can’t normally go without breakfast and am usually snacking between meals too. I’m usually looking at the time at midday thinking about what to have for lunch.
It seems something happens when these reactions take place.
My appetite just zero’s.
Today I have forced down a bowl of porridge and had a few cups of tea but I’m not hungry for lunch. Nor do I trust anything in my cupboards today.
I have no idea. All I know is that if I wasn’t writing about this and realising I am just being ridiculous and I need to stop, for a break and to eat I would be skipping lunch again without even noticing.
I don’t want any. I don’t even feel hungry.
But at least I’ve spotted this trend.
I know the food reactions have caused depression. When they go on for a long time I just don’t want to live like that any more and am at my wits end. But thankfully they are fewer and kind of under control. I know these feelings will subside when the reaction gets itself sorted.
Could stress be a factor? Could it be the sheet work load, ideas and jobs I have to do with so little time be causing actually burn type reactions which have no bearing on the food and drink I have consumed?
What ever it is today I am one step ahead. It’s 2 o’clock and I am going to force some food down.
I might just go and nibble on an oat cake, or push the boat right out with some humous on a rice cake.
And tonight when ‘husband who can eat anything’ returns from work I know we will eat an evening meal of some sort so there will be some food, but I will be suspicious of it and taste nothing.
As soon as I feel better my appetite returns. My mood lifts and all is well.
Does anyone else struggle to pinpoint which foods cause a problem and then find they fear eating any food at all to the point where appetite disappears? I don’t even want chocolate… there must be something wrong!
Alison Berthelsen says
Ruth, This is SO how my husband has lived,and indeed does still live. Although his dietary needs are digestive based,less skin based, he also can end up eating very little,and missing meals,surviving on tea, eggs and apples!
Crazy for a grown adult.
And it does bring terrible depressions,which is to be expected.
A really well written article,which I would think many will empathise with.
Chin up and be strong.
Thanks Alison. I am being strong and managed 4 prunes, a handful of vegetable crisps dipped in humous and a plum. But I was very suspicious of the humous and crisps. Couldn’t eat much of it. I sound like my friend who has anorexia talking about her struggles with food but it’s so not like that. It does make me lose weight though.
Sarah Gaston says
OMG THIS IS ME RIGHT NOW!!!!! nobody understands !!!!! I’m 88lb and I hate when I have a flare up cuz I lose weight!!!!! Struggling