Roughly three years ago, I had food allergy testing done. I was experiencing tremendous discomfort, bloating and pain with a majority of what I was eating, and I learned through testing that I am intolerant to gluten, dairy and egg. Intolerances are different from allergies in the sense that they have less serious complications than allergies, however, intolerances are by no means pleasant.
When someone with a food allergy consumes the food they are allergic to, they will likely suffer from a serious reaction, for example, swelling in the throat or hives, among other symptoms. When someone with an intolerance ingests what they are intolerant to, they will arguably experience abdominal discomfort, for example, bloating, diarrhea, pain and nausea. The difference between food allergies and food intolerances essentially boils down to how badly an individual will react to a food, and in a majority of circumstances, the reaction provoked by a food allergy will be greater in severity than that of a food intolerance.
My food intolerances are somewhat unique in the sense that I am basically intolerant to the three most popular ingredients in food. Trust me, it’s as bad as it sounds. My food intolerances are a result of an eating disorder I had in high school. I suffered from a combination of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia, and the damage I inflicted upon my stomach and my digestive tract in the process of restricting my food intake is what has forced my body to reject gluten, dairy and egg.
Initially, it was incredibly difficult to adjust my entire diet. I had become comfortable with eating foods containing the three ingredients I am intolerant to, and therefore, I was angry and frustrated over having to remove them from my diet entirely. Eventually, I adopted a diet that is easily manageable, however, it took me quite a long time to do so.
I would argue that a majority of individuals do not contemplate how food allergies or intolerances have the potential to impact the relationship they have with their partner, but they certainly do.
My long-term boyfriend and I could no longer eat at restaurants we had designated as our favorites because I was unable to eat at those places. We could no longer grab something quick on the road because many fast-food chains do not offer items free of all three things I am intolerant to. We had to search for new restaurants to dine at, and at times, there was conflict because going out for dinner had suddenly become excessively complicated. Changing my diet completely was hard enough for me personally, but I failed to consider how it would impact other people in my life. My parents had to adapt their cooking habits to adhere to my new needs, and going out for drinks and snacks with friends was no longer so easy (most beer contains gluten).
Three years later, dining out has become easier, but it can still be a challenge at times.
Food allergies and intolerances really do challenge relationships to a far greater extent than most people realize. The key to overcoming these challenges is patience and a willingness to accept a need for change, and eventually, you’ll find yourself wondering why your food allergy or intolerance ever impacted your relationships in the first place.
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