Monday, February 16, 2015
My Egg-Free Life (Vol. 1)
I've decided to work on a little series about my egg allergy, mostly to record my experiences/experimentation with egg-free baking, egg substitutions, and navigating my allergy. Today, though, I'm just going to talk a little bit about my history with eggs.
I was diagnosed with an egg allergy before I remember. When I was a baby starting solids, my parents were having a hard time keeping food down and vomit away. The doctor suspected a food allergy. Dairy was the first suspect, but over time, they were able to isolate eggs as the culprit.
This was in the (very) early 80s and food-labeling was not what it is now and food allergies are not what they are now. The internet was still something used by scientists and the military and no real people had even heard of it. Computers were equally not-for-public-use. Accordingly, it took some trial, error, and a lot of learning to figure out what I could and couldn't eat. Pretty much everyone who I grew up with has a story or a memory about that time I ate that candy/ice cream/bread item and threw up on the couch/in the car/outside the shoe department at Robinson's.
My doctor thought that I would outgrow the allergy by the time I was 10 or 12, or by adulthood at the outset. When I was 18, my allergist did a skin test that resulted in an immediate positive, a massive welt on my arm, and tingling in my fingers. They didn't even wait 5 minutes before agreeing that I was allergic, cleaning my arm, and deciding not to give me a flu shot after all.
I cannot eat egg in any form, either straight or in baked goods. I can usually eat food processed in facilities that use eggs, but there are a couple of brands of pasta that I avoid. My response is mostly GI. I have never had a true anaphylactic reaction (Praise God!!), but I have had bad asthma attacks when I consume more than a bite of something. Knowing what I know now, I probably should have been more worried than I was at the time. It has only taken 33 years and too many incidents of accidental ingestion (usually when I'm at an event and don't want to rock the boat by being difficult and asking too many questions) to finally start carrying Benadryl and my inhaler in my purse.
As an adult, I've taken more ownership of my allergy. I've learned to read labels. I've learned what I can eat and cannot eat when I go out (and usually, I stick to it!). Perhaps most importantly, though, I've learned to prepare food at home that conforms to my allergies. The only time we eat anything containing egg is when Charles scrambles them for himself and the kids (who, thankfully, have no known food allergies!) on an occasional weekend.
I don't expect that to change. My allergy seems to be severe enough that it is just part of my life. And I'm okay with that. I'm so used to eating this way, that it would be a big deal to do anything else. I do, however, want to continue to be creative in the kitchen so that my family and my guests can continue to be exposed to a range of foods and not feel "deprived" with egg-free eating.