Worry if your throat will close? Will i break out in a rash? These are questions that a person with a food allergy wonders on a daily basis. I am lucky enough that myself nor someone in my family has had to live with these worries. I have an intern with me this year who has to live with the worry of a dairy allergy her whole life. I thought that since she has personally had to go through this I would love to get her take on living with a food allergy especially when traveling and dining out. Here is her story.
Being diagnosed with a food allergy at any age can be tough. Having to constantly worry everyday what am I going to eat today, or asking yourself “can I eat this without having a allergic reaction”? There is always a constant worry that you can potential eat a food today that can cause you to go into anaphylactic shock. Since the day I was born I was diagnosed with having a severe allergy to milk protein. 23 years later I still have this allergy and it has actually gotten worse. It is very hard for me to go out to eat like a regular person, without a fear that my food will be cross contaminated with any dairy. If I have made plans to go out to eat with friends or for work celebrations, I am always made aware of the restaurant ahead of time. I then go research the menu and make sure there is at least one option available for me to eat. I also call the restaurant to make they aware of my allergy and ask for ingredients in the menu options I believe I am able to have. Honestly I’m not going to say all restaurants understand my allergy because I have had many iccidence. When these do occur I make sure I always have my epipen and benadryl with me. I also never return to these places again. Recently because of new emerging food trends there have been more vegan options available at restaurants. If on a menu the item say vegan I know that I can safely eat this meal. The more vegan restaurants that are becoming available gives me relief that I can go into the restaurant and not worry that I am going to have an allergic reaction.
This allergy has made me become great at meal prepping. Especially when going on vacations I make sure I bring some foods that I know I am able to eat. I have learned to read food labels very carefully because milk can be an ingredient in various forms. Such as casein, nonfat dry milk, whey, also some products will say “may contain milk”. When I see these names in the ingredient list I know immediately I can’t purchase this product. Living with this allergy is always going to somewhat of a struggle. As the days go by I find more foods that I am able to eat. Over the years I have learned to not let this allergy control my life. I just always make sure I’m prepared with food everywhere I go.