How newly diagnosed food intolerances are like a really bad breakup

When you’re first told that you’re intolerant or allergic to a food group, your instant reaction is: “so I can’t eat ANYTHING then.” Sure, it’s a dramatic reaction, but it’s a genuine one.

I’ve had to experience this twice: the first time was seven years ago when I found out I was allergic to cow’s milk, and the second time was last week when I found out I’m intolerant to… *brace yourself*… wheat, yeast, chicken, cucumber, spinach, banana, oranges and sheep’s milk.

Hopefully, some of the foods I recently found out that I was intolerant to will be re-introduced to my diet after 8 weeks apart, but a dairy, wheat and yeast free diet are looking to be more of a permanent lifestyle change.

Being told you have an intolerance feels like you’re going through a tragic heartbreak – one where you wake up in the morning and he’s there, loving you, then by the evening he tells you that his love was all a lie. You love him eternally, but he’ll never love you again. To make it worse, you see him everywhere, all the time, loving your friends, your family and even your enemies. I hate to break it to you, but the mourning of chocolate brownies drizzled in ice cream and chocolate buttons will never truly leave you.

But, just like every relationship breakup, you pull through – better than you were before (especially given that this particular relationship was actually making you sick).

Adjusting to your new lifestyle, without them, has its ups and downs. At first, explaining why you can’t be near them makes you feel like an inconvenience to your friends and very intrusive to tell your story to the waitress in a restaurant. But, once you’ve settled into your new diet, you realise that you can’t keep apologising for something that is beyond your control.

You also start meeting the people who actually chose to live without it – some of whom even confess that they wish they were ‘as fortunate’ as you. Oh yes, you’ll wince at the idea that they think you’re ‘fortunate’ too.

If you’re reading this because you think you have a food intolerance and want to know more about living with them before going for a test, don’t be put off by what I’ve said. I might miss cheddar cheese, coffee cake and bread, but it made me feel constantly ill and was doing awful things to my body. This was my first – and hopefully last – abusive relationship.

Now that I’ve lived without dairy for seven years, even the smell of cow’s milk or the tiny taste of butter makes me feel sick. Your taste buds change and move on, just like your heart does.

It’s early days for my second batch of intolerances, but after going through a breakup with dairy and knowing how much better I felt once it was all out of my system, I’m actually really excited to see how I’m going to feel in a few weeks time. I’ve felt lethargic, sick and have had a very low immune system for three months, could this be the solution? I bloody hope so.

There are days when I long for the time when I didn’t have to triple check to make sure there was soya milk in my coffee, or break it to my friends that there’s absolutely nothing that I can eat in a cafe. But watching what I eat has made me healthier, happier and has made me love my body, all over again.

Food, LifePippa Says