When I was six months old, my mom found out that i was Anaphylactic to milk, eggs and cheese (along with intolerant to much others). I just reached the age to start experimenting with solid food, and she gave me a small piece of cheese. Within minutes, my face was covered in hives and I started to turn blue. A trip to the doctor’s confirmed my allergies and the near death experience confirmed the severity of the situation. Mind you, food allergy education has come a very long way since 1993. But, when my mom first found out my diagnosis, it was like she jumped into a shark tank. Through many trips to the library and consultation from doctor’s, she became nothing short of an allergist in a short amount of time. She was the queen of making “Cami safe” meals, which probably has created by desire to create unique foods that I can eat too.
My childhood was probably the hardest time period dealing with my food allergies. Not only do children not understand the severity of the situation, but I was the only person in my elementary school with Anaphylaxis. My mom would come in to class and give a presentation every year I started with a new class explaining how I cannot be around dairy and how special it made me. There were a few exceptionally kind classmates that brought me a lollipop or ice pop on the day of their birthday so that i didn’t have to watch everyone eat cake. The older i got the less accepting kids were, and the more it became weird that i was “allergic to everything”. I know that a lot of my social anxiety developed during this time period, because I always felt like the weird kid watching everyone eat food. It always prompted rude questions about my allergies and if I ever wanted to just risk it all and try pizza. I have come to realize that this was just their way trying to understand why i was different. I know now that the greatest gift of my life is having my allergies, because i have a greater outlook on life having many near death experiences. And being “Cami Safe”, is honestly really special to me.
I find the hardest thing for people to understand when it comes to food allergies is that food is such an everyday part of your life. Not only do you need food to survive, but all social aspects revolve on some level of food. My entire life thus far has been a struggle to maintain a level of normality. If i’m hungry, I can’t just run and grab fast food without worrying about having a reaction. Planning ahead has become a great solution. If i’m going to an event that has a birthday cake, I’ll pack a few Oreos. If I know i’m going to have overtime at work, i’ll make sure I have snacks in my car. The beauty of it all is i know every piece of food that is going into my body and i know exactly how it was prepared.
The two greatest things I’ve learned in people’s misconceptions:
- “You’re allergic to everything”: There is a whole WORLD of food out there without dairy. And not that I know, but I bet it tastes a hell of a lot better!
- “I feel so bad for you, you’re really missing out on ice cream and pizza”: I am so thankful that i got my allergies early in life. This way, i have no idea how foods with dairy taste! It’s the only way I know and I am eating so much better and (most of the time- despite my obsession with bacon) healthier.
I’ve decided to create a food blog to share my dairy free eating with my friends and family! I recently moved out of my childhood home in November and have been cooking even more dairy free creations for me and my boyfriend to try. Join me in sharing what i eat and let me know what you think!
Much love xo