Lying in bed at night, the room falls silent. The pulsing of my heart begins and the aches all around my body follow instantly. The inside of my stomach tenses cruelly, displeased with my actions. I turn onto my side to try and reconcile the pains, but my body fights back at me. Running my hands through my hair in disgrace, I sigh: “It must have been the apples…”
For anyone in this world who has a food allergy, you will know how it feels, and for those of you who don’t, you have no idea how lucky you are. Your eating habits are suddenly thrown off course in the blink of an eye, and your world tipped upside down, making things like food shopping, going out for meals and takeaways just that little bit harder.
I know I have it much easier than some, as my allergies are fairly easy to manage, but I still can’t help feeling that I may be missing out on some of the finer things in life.
I’m allergic to fruit. Yes, fruit! Well, more specifically the natural sugar, fructose, that is found in fruit and other things like fizzy drinks, honey, sweets, vinegar, energy drinks, some vegetables and many more unexpected things.
As a dancer, who had always strived to eat healthily (and consumed energy drinks as if they were on tap), this was quite a shocking and heart sinking discovery.
You’re probably wondering how the hell I found out about this in the first place, right? Well after suffering severe stomach pains for years and after being tested for almost every other possible illness and tried on a long list of medications, the doctors decided to do some food tests.
To test for these types of intolerances, you have to drink a concentrated solution containing that particular sugar (I had previously been tested for lactose and glucose too), and then you have to blow steadily into a bag which basically records how your body has reacted that substance. In terms of fructose, mine didn’t react particularly well!
The moment I found out, I played over and over in my mind all of the beloved things I would now have to live without; strawberries, milkshakes, cola, orange juice, two sugar in my tea…
The more I thought about it, the longer my self-pitying list of what I would have to leave behind grew and grew. I suppose it’s only normal to turn into a massive drama queen, isn’t it?
But what I have realised over the years is this – allergies like mine aren’t so bad when you look at the bigger picture. Yes, I had to give up some of the things that I loved the most, but it’s not like I had to give up my limbs or, I don’t know, my iPhone now is it?! And, more importantly, I know I should feel blessed that my health was not at serious risk.
After years of managing my condition by myself, I’ve noticed that my body has started to tolerate more and more things, meaning I am now in the process of reintroducing my long lost food and drink loves back into my life. Finally!
Are you living with an allergy? Are you feeling down and like you’ve got it bad? Look around you.
You may have had to make some sacrifices, but what you have left surely outweighs the negatives.
And like I always try and tell myself when the load feels heavy:
“God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers”.