A Non-Allergic Husbands View of Dealing with Family Food Allergies
I had been asking my husband for over a year to write this article for my blog. In so many of my gluten free groups I see women posting about not getting the support from their spouse that they need to succeed in their health. I wanted something from my husband’s perspective that I could share with them and have them show their spouses in hopes of helping.
We learned together. Even though he wasn’t gluten free in the beginning, this was his journey as well. He has been so incredibly loving and supportive through all of this that there is no way I could have succeeded so well without his support. Quite frankly, I think he was tired of having a sick wife. When I regained my health, he saw strength in me that never existed before. I feel like that is reason enough to stick by my side and keep me healthy. I hope this article may help you or anyone in your family. Thank you for your love and support.
It’s easy being a gluten free and dairy free husband when your wife does all the cooking. Although in the beginning it was not easy, it was actually very hard to begin this new lifestyle. Having been together for 10 years and being able to eat whatever we want, then discovering that she was actually allergic to gluten after the birth of our first child brought upon a whole new set of complications in life that was unknown and unexpected.
|Celebrating a birthday with a gluten free and dairy free cake
The initial challenges were dramatic and difficult. Having a gluten allergy prevents you from eating what most would consider “Normal” everyday foods, for instance, fast food restaurants. At this time (2011), not a whole lot of restaurants actually had gluten free options and most were not even really aware enough to accommodate this allergy. Aside from that, my wife became stressed out about preparing meals at home because you literally have to go through and modify your entire home food inventory to be safe to cook with. In addition to that, she had to learn new cooking styles and methods in order to make the new meals and I will admit that I felt the frustration radiating from her during the learning process. As we found out, cooking gluten free and dairy free is difficult to get right, but gets better with practice. I would now consider my wife a well-developed gluten free and dairy free chef.
|He’s got his eye on the last of the pancakes
Some challenges I faced when she initially went gluten free includes dealing with the increased cost of food, the availability of the items you need at stores (multiple trips to different stores each week), ensuring food that I order and pick up from restaurants is “Safe”. Let me tell you, nothing is more frustrating than ordering and picking up food for dinner, then finding out that I missed something or forgot to ask about something which resulted in the wife being upset with me. It took me a long time to get it right and to know the questions to ask. Also, a lot of the time, the employees at the restaurant are not savvy enough about allergies. They would for instance offer regular soy sauce with our gluten free rice noodles, this is also frustrating. It left me wondering what else I need to be worried about.
I tried to be supportive as much as I could and I strived to be understanding in the seriousness of her allergy. At first, I would eat what I wanted away from home and eat gluten free at home, after all, I wasn’t the one with the allergy. I did although research the allergy and found out the symptoms, effects, and sources. I learned that gluten increases inflammation in the body and this intrigued me because I had just been diagnosed with mild arthritis in my shoulder with an inflamed AC joint. I thought about going gluten free to see if it would help with my shoulder arthritis. Totally committing myself to be gluten free was going to take some motivation and dedication to stick with it after having no care to what food I consumed for 30 years.
Now although I am not technically allergic to gluten, I did decide to make the decision and become gluten free. What I discovered in the first few months was astonishing, my arthritis pain went away and my AC joint no longer ached. I also lost weight (about 10 pounds in 2 months), my body felt cleaner, and my mind felt clearer. It may sound weird, but it is true. In the beginning I even purposely ate gluten a few months in, because I wanted to test out the allergy theory and analyze the results of how it affects someone who didn’t have a noticeable sensitivity to gluten. I found out that my body still treated it as a toxin because I got nauseous and bloated. I regretted having ingested it and I made the decision to remain gluten free. Since 2012, I have not regretted going gluten free. I will be honest though, there are some foods and meals that I still miss and attempting to consume them in a gluten free option is not the same. Choosing to be gluten free without an allergy is not an easy decision to be made and requires a huge amount of motivation and dedication to remain true and loyal to the new lifestyle change.
My wife later decided to make our son and daughter gluten free for good reasons that I ended up witnessing myself. My first thoughts were that it wasn’t fair to them and they should not have to go through life missing out on whatever they wanted to eat due to having to worry about gluten. We didn’t even know if they had an allergy or not. During this period, I noticed how certain ingredients affect our son, allergy or not. Occasionally, our son would get exposed to gluten, usually accidentally from a family member, or at a friend’s birthday party. I noticed a behavioral change in him when he would ingest artificial coloring or flavoring for sure, and as for gluten, I noticed a behavioral change as well. He would not always complain of sickness after ingesting gluten or artificial colors and flavors, but sometimes he would. After I noticed this behavioral change in him, I was totally fine and supportive with my wife’s decision to restrict his eating habits.
To add to all the complications of starting and maintaining a gluten free lifestyle, when my daughter was born, we found out the hard way that she was lactose intolerant and we had to cut out dairy as well. She had been colicky her whole time as an infant. We tried several things but nothing worked. Then one day on our vacation she began to throw up violently after being fed a bottle in the middle of the night. She had done this a couple times before, but not this bad. We decided to put her on a non-dairy based formula. No issues arose since we switched her to a lactose free formula. It also seemed she was a lot happier and less colicky.
It really is amazing learning about all of these different food allergies and how all the different ingredients in food affect our bodies and our behaviors. I am a big supporter of modifying your diet to any extent needed in order to support a happier, healthier, and cleaner life. The problem is that you have to experiment yourself, everybody reacts differently. Most of the population will not question ingredients in food. The same people do not correlate how they feel after eating to what may be in the food they are eating. The same people may only pay attention to the nutrition facts when selecting foods, I am guilty of this for the first 30 years of my life. A lot of times you must deal with friends, co-workers, and family members offering you things you cannot have because you are allergic or just simply choose not to consume them. Most people don’t understand the severity and seriousness of the issues surrounding food allergies and the chemicals contained within the food we consume. What we put in our bodies should be selected carefully while thinking about the long term effects on our bodies.
The reason I am writing this article is because I want others to know that just because your body shows no signs of sensitivity to certain food ingredients, how different you actually do feel mentally and physically when you experiment with removing certain items from your diet. I feel great! I am truly amazed of how different I feel today after removing some things from my diet. Maintaining my weight is so easy now. Before going gluten free, I would binge eat and my weight would fluctuate dramatically. I have no problem keeping cravings under control now. This is reason enough to make a change. I also wanted to express the different challenges I have faced and how dealing with them can be difficult. I hope I have provided some insight from a non-allergic supporting spouse’s perspective into other people’s worlds where food allergies and sensitivities may also be brought into their life unexpectedly.
I wish everyone the best in their search for a happier healthier life through their food choices.
AKA- Mr. Living Freely Gluten Free
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