Full Circle, or How I Discovered My Food Intolerances, part 3

How I Found Out I Was Allergic To Pizza, and Discovered My Other Food Intolerances, part 1

Going Against The Grain, or How I Discovered My Food Intolerances, part 2

In 2008, I developed probably the most surprising allergy yet. There was a free drinks fridge at work and the only item in there without corn syrup or citric acid was orange juice, which I had a bottle of every morning. I started getting heartburn that grew more and more severe at the days went by, but I didn’t think about the connection to orange juice. I even started taking a Pepcid a day to try and stave it off, but no luck.

Finally, one day, I had an orange juice and went for a walk. By the time I got back, I noticed my mouth felt funny. My lips were swelling quite visibly. I knew then I was having an allergic reaction and took some Benedryl. My esophagus felt very tight and started feeling like it was being crushed, my whole chest became very painful. It was horrible. My lips kept swelling over the next three days and I kept taking Benedryl. My scalp even broke out in hives.

The ingredients in the orange juice were simply oranges, water, and ascorbic acid. I accidentally had a little orange in some fruit salad about three weeks later, and shortly after developed the same esophagus-crushing reaction. Since then I haven’t had any orange or other citrus except for a little lemon, which I’ve found doesn’t cause a reaction in me. True allergies often are to a very specific protein, rather than what you’d find in a family of food, so it may be lemon is safe for me.

gluten free donuts doughnuts
Life is full of surprises. I recently ordered some gluten-free donuts because I haven’t had a treat like that in many years. I thought they were delicious – I got cinnamon sugar and maple frosted. But by the second one, I was getting stomach discomfort. I always listen to that now. My gut knows what’s going on, even if I don’t.

I scored the list of ingredients, no corn starch or potato flour (both common gluten-free flours). No aspergillus. No orange. Cross-contamination? What was it?

And there it was. Pea fiber and pea protein. The one food all those years ago I actually tested positive for on an allergy test. Something I didn’t suspect because eating green peas or snow peas every so often never caused me any problems.

Why now? Why was I finally having a reaction to a food indicated on a test 24 years before? Perhaps the pea protein is such a concentrated source of the allergen that I finally reacted. Maybe if I ate a bucket of regular peas, I’d have the same thing happen.

So that’s where I am today. I’ve gone to doctors and I’ve spoken to natural foods gurus. I even had an interesting run-in with an energy healer in a health food store. However, I was able to figure out all the things (so far!) my body doesn’t want to deal with by listening to my body, by listening to my gut.

My gut was doing the thinking for me, and though it took me a while, I finally got around to paying attention to what my gut was thinking.

It’s worth it, if you want to feel better, to think with your gut.


Check out my personal food list – maybe it will help you understand some of your food intolerances.


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