While developing The Gluten Free Cupboard, I’ve given a lot of thought about whether or not to share the daily life and emotional side of living with food allergies as an expat in a foreign country. I wasn’t certain that anyone would want to hear or quite frankly, really cared. As this project has grown and gained exposure, I’ve been asked repeatedly about exactly that. I’ve been amazed at how many people are sincerely interested in the reality of my life. They are often shocked at how difficult and challenging it can be.
In moving forward, I will begin to share some of these daily life issues and emotional struggles that are the reality of my life. People keep telling me it really helps when they can ask questions or read the posts since they don’t understand and they truly want to help or accommodate my needs. So, my hope with this newest aspect of this project is to provide another way to help others living with similar issues and to be a support and encouragement.
The first thing that comes to mind on a daily level is the silent struggle of food allergies. I don’t look sick; you can’t “see it” when you look at me which makes it difficult to comprehend that even a little piece food on your plate could make me violently ill.
My food allergies are always foremost in my mind. I am always vigilant, but no one knows, sees or hears that. I am always cautious, never really letting my guard down and constantly thinking about safe food preparation, cross-contamination and hidden ingredients. It feels like any one of my food allergens is lurking in a hidden place waiting to attack me.
I am always vigilant when food and beverages are present. For that matter, I have to be aware of anything that goes into my mouth like medicine, toothpaste, chewing gum and even lipstick (touching my mouth) to name a few. I even have to be careful when sharing a drink from the same glass, with my family, that they have not had something that would contaminate the rim of the glass. The most surprising for others to hear is that I have to be careful when kissing my husband in case he’s eaten one of my food allergens! Because of this, he rarely eats peanuts and almonds around me. He was diagnosed with gluten intolerance a few years ago which is helpful from that perspective.
It’s taken a long time to come to terms with this; some days are better than others. I’m now at the point where I can talk about it more comfortably and confidently which is part of sharing all of this with you. I know some of you friends are living with similar challenges. I hope this encourages you to know you aren’t alone. Perhaps through my sharing and planting seeds of hope you will gain confidence to know that you can eat safely and find ways to thrive in your daily life too.