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More Than Allergies Can Challenge My Experiences With Food

Last updated: January 2023

Since food allergies and sensitivities limit my diet, I really delight in what I can eat. When something else spoils my experience with food, I can feel let down and discouraged. During one particular week, I faced multiple challenges with my food.

Challenge 1: Spoiled food

I decided to cook turkey burgers one evening. But as soon as I opened the package of raw ground meat, a sour odor filled the air. Although I can't smell as well as I did before I had COVID-19 in 2021, I can still pick up strong scents. And the spoiled meat smelled stout. I quickly threw the package of stinking meat in the trash. I have had food poisoning before, so I did not want to take any chances. I would rather not eat meat for supper than risk getting sick again.

Challenge 2: Distractions

The next night, I tried cooking again. I put raw chicken thighs with herbs in the oven to bake. An hour later, I enjoyed the taste and even a hint of the aroma of this appetizing dish. I planned to use the leftover chicken for my family's meals for the next 2 days. But I got distracted. Several hours later, I realized I forgot to put the chicken in the fridge after it cooled.

So, my baked chicken ended up ruined too. I had to come up with a new meal plan. The distraction cost me time and money as I had to return to the store to buy more meat.

Challenge 3: Mistakes

Another day, I planned to drive to Houston to buy something at a store we don't have access to nearby. My son asked if we could get the special cupcakes I sometimes buy on our trips to the "big city." A certain bakery offers several gluten-free options, including chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that I can eat. Of course, I said yes.

I tend to do things in logical order. So based on the location, we visited the bakery first. I felt a little adventurous, so we ate our dessert before lunch. I only ate part of my cupcake since the icing on top was too sweet for me to eat all at once.

Next, we headed to my favorite health food restaurant. I had placed an order on my phone that would be ready by the time I arrived. The restaurant was located only 10 minutes from the bakery. But, another challenge awaited me at the restaurant counter. The wait staff did not have an order for Michelle Hernandez. They never received my order because I had called their other location, which I did not even know existed!

Driving across the city

The staff offered to prepare another order for me. That would have taken the same amount of time as me driving to the other restaurant. I opted to head to the other restaurant, so my first order would not go to waste. By this point, I was hungry and tired from my city trip. I felt frustrated. Why is it so hard for me to get something to eat?

And then I noticed I was in one of my husband's favorite parts of the city—an area I had not seen often. That sense of adventure, along with memories of my quests for food while studying abroad during college, bubbled up again. Despite the challenges back then, I enjoyed finding restaurants in a foreign country and ordering authentic cuisine in a foreign language.

I made up my mind to enjoy our outing despite the challenges. I took in the sights on the drive, including a huge park and nature area. Kind wait staff greeted us at the other restaurant. An hour after I had placed the order, my son and I savored our delicious meals.

Challenge 4: Inclement weather

My week of food challenges continued with three separate power outages in 2 days. I was worried the power would be out for so long that our food would spoil. But fortunately, each power outage lasted only 1 to 3 hours.

With each loss of power, I reminded myself that we could buy more food if needed. Yes, it would take more time and money. But in the end, we would have food.

Enjoying meals with food allergies is hard

Because I have food allergies, eating can be more challenging. Other things can sometimes add to the challenge. Spoiled food, distractions, my own mistakes, and the weather have spoiled some of my experiences with food.

But over time, I've learned something important. Shifting how I think about challenges can spur me on to obtain and appreciate the food I can safely eat. As much as possible, I aim to find something to relish in my experiences with food.

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