Two weeks in

I look back at how my diet has changed in the past four months and it has been truly incredible. On December 30th I decided that I was going to quit Diet Coke. I'd tried this several times before without success, but this time I succeeded. I craved it for two months, but now I haven't touched a drop of any pop or carbonated beverage (aside from sparkling water) for nearly four months, and I don't crave it anymore.

Then, at my doctor's advice I cut out all caffeine, even tea (although I do still eat cocoa). I had two days of intense headaches and a lingering headache for a few days after that, but it's been three weeks and I'm totally fine. I get up in the morning and don't need anything to get my going, which is quite nice.

And then, the allergies. The allergist asked me to avoid wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts. In addition I was already avoiding banana due to a suspected allergy. And last week I had a fairly big reaction to what I suspect is sesame, so I've begun avoiding that as of a week ago. And then tonight I had a reaction to some avocado-date-chocolate pudding my mom made. This has happened a few times before but I was in denial. Three times can't be a fluke, though. Something else to add to my list.

Shopping is an enormous challenge. Nearly all gluten-free products have potato starch, as do a large number of dairy- and egg-free products. If it weren't for this it would be much easier ... I have found some great alternatives: Daiya cheese, almond pudding, quinoa cookies and crackers, rice pasta, coconut flour ... For the moment I have given up trying to eat low-carb. When I can't drive and can't easily read ingredients on products in stores, I basically have to rely on friends and family to take me shopping right now, and I can't be too picky while I'm with them. But I am spending more time in the kitchen than I ever have before, and especially when I'm done school, I can dedicate more time to finding ingredients that aren't processed and preparing my own food.

I am seeing the allergist again in about a week and a half. I'm still having EoE symptoms. In addition to the foods I'm already avoiding, my IgE blood test was also positive for soy and shellfish reactions, so I am worried he is going to ask me to avoid those. Shellfish I only ever ate with sushi, so I would not miss that (since I can't eat sushi now, anyway, unless I make it myself). A lot of the products I'm eating are already soy-free, but it would mean finding some replacements over again (like Daiya "cheese").

I am attending two conferences in the next three weeks. I go between feeling okay and feeling completely overwhelmed. I'm preparing to bring all my own food, and purchasing some that I can't bring on planes. That's the part that I'm feeling freaked out over: I'm not sure that stores in the cities I'm going to that happen to be close enough to the hotel to get to by cab would have the specialty products I need, especially since I won't have anyone to help me shop for them. I'm very glad that I've travelled a lot over the past year, so that I am totally comfortable travelling with my visual impairment, otherwise I would be a complete nervous wreck! As it is I just need to add an extra layer to the careful planning I already do when travelling, and of course there will be a whole new layer of, "Did I forget X?!" while I'm on the plane.

Hi Jen,

Are you feeling better after cutting out all these foods? I hope so. What a challenge! Congratulations on your perseverance. Could you just eat salad and meat for example so as not to have to take all your food on trips? Maybe take something just for breakfast or snacks which could be more difficult.

If you do have to go to a store, I wouldn't hesitate asking the clerks for help. I do it all the time when I'm in the States. I never know where to look for something so usually the clerk accompanies me and then helps me choose. (How nice!)

I live in France now and there are much less processed foods than in the States. I was quite shocked when I went to the grocery store in the US and looked at all the ingredients.

I hope you can get it sorted out. Best to you.

you are incredibly courageous

You've been working so hard. Hope things start falling into place soon and helping even more.

Have you been checked for latex? I know that banana, avocado, melon, and kiwi (all issues for me) can cross over to a latex reaction. (Not currently a problem but I try to stick to latex-free just in case) As you mentioned the avocado and banana, I thought I'd mention it. And when I went to double-check my info online, it looks like (your food nemesis) potato allergy is also related to it. The list might contain a couple other foods to look into, as you already have problems with a few of them. I haven't figured out how to link, but here's a cut-and-paste:

Latex- fruit allergy syndrome –latex contact allergy associated with food allergy in 30-80% of cases
Latex, bananas, avocado, chestnut, apple, kiwi, potato, tomato, melon, papaya.

how & why are latex & fruit allergies connected?

@Mari: I do feel better overall (less itchy, etc.), but as far as EoE it's hard to tell if there's a major difference. I haven't had food get completely stuck, which is an improvement, but am still having difficulty swallowing at nearly every meal. I think I'm on the right track but think there are still some foods I'm reacting to.

@roodgirl: I haven't brought up the banana/kiwi/avocado thing with my allergist yet. Mostly because last time I was just so overwhelmed. I'm going to see if I can bring it up with him this time around, since I'd like to confirm that I'm allergic (if possible) and also it's pretty important to know if there's a latex allergy. I don't think I have a problem with latex, though, but it seems odd I'd be allergic to 3-4 latex-related foods but not latex.

I think if/when I eat out I'm going to have to have salads or else chicken and rice or something. I did put five of my allergies on the conference form, but left off the sesame and the fruit (since I hadn't reacted at the time). So we'll see if they are able to accommodate me. The last conference I was at I went with the group to an Irish pub and it was horrible - at the time I was only allergic to potato, but I couldn't eat 95% of the stuff there and even though I told the staff I was allergic to potatoes, I ended up finding a fry under my burger (after it ended up in my mouth because it stuck to the bun) and had a reaction even though I spit it out right away and was taking loads of antihistamines because of all the dogs (this was a blindness-related conference). Ended up not finishing the food and needing Benadryl and my inhaler. :( Never eating at an Irish pub again, but maybe I can find a better restaurant this time. :)