I remember sitting in a little neighborhood Italian restaurant about three months ago, talking to my Mom about this strange itch I’d been having. We discussed whether it could be the weather, or if I had changed any body products, or laundry detergent. And I wasn’t really worried at the time, although it had been getting worse and would eventually become almost unbearable at times, but at that moment in time it was just an annoyance.
It was a month later when I figured it all out and had a name for it: histamine intolerance. And I remember thinking that I needed to tell my family because we eat together every Sunday and then some. I was worried they’d think I was nuts, especially because I self-diagnosed, and that this was going to be such a big change to my eating habits it would be impossible to navigate.
So one night at one of our Sunday dinners, I told them. I remember it being very awkward trying to explain I had this weird problem with food even though two months earlier I was completely fine. But they listened even if they didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of the disruption my new diet was about to cause, or how uncomfortable life had become.
I’ve endured quite a few evenings since trying to explain what I can and can’t eat, and eating things I know I shouldn’t because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make a big show out of it. I’ve eaten lots of things that turned out to be “unsafe.” But along the way, things started to change and the acceptance of my food fate was evident in the preparation and thought my parents began to put into the meals.
One night Dad made pasta and put all of the toppings in separate bowls so I could choose what I wanted. Last week’s salad dressing was olive oil and lemon with a touch of sweetner, and tonight’s pasta salad was made with lemon instead of vinegar. (yes we eat lots of pasta but we’re not Italian, just vegetarian!) Mom knows I won’t eat anything with chocolate anymore, and I’ve finally, I think, gotten her to understand that it’s ok, I’m not tortured by that fact. The folks go to our favorite pizza joint on the nights they know I won’t join them so they can still have pizza without tempting me.
My closest friends know about my intolerance because I sent an email to this blog. I mostly wanted to get people viewing it, so I had to basically “come out of the closet” with it. They’ve all been great about it. And if someone who doesn’t know about my issue offers me something I can’t eat, I tell them no thanks, I have some food allergies and leave it at that. Not everyone needs to know my personal problems.
I guess I wanted to write this entry to support the people who like me, are entering a new phase of life and having to explain to those closest to you what it entails. Making your way through life with a major food issue is not easy, especially if you are social and eating with friends and family is important. But it can be done. I’ve slipped off to the bathroom on more than one occasion and popped a Quercetin or two. I’ve scratched at my arms under the table cloths of some really nice restaurants! And now, as my intolerance comes under control, I eat and laugh and wait until the dreaded itch flares…and more often than not it doesn’t come.
I’ve never let anything ever stop me from having fun. And this isn’t going to stop me either.
Tell your family and closest friends. Give them time to absorb the strangeness of it and then learn to support your process. And sneak off to the bathroom and down a Quercetin. They don’t have to know everything…