Reflecting on a Thanksgiving Dinner Mishap
Last updated: November 2023
For about 28 years now, I’ve been living with food allergies. You’d think that by now I'd have a perfect grasp on how to navigate situations involving food, but I still slip up from time to time. Thanksgiving 2022 was one of those times. These slip ups can get scary, especially when that throat tingling starts, but after years of living in this body I’ve learned to listen to its cues and know if I do or don’t need medical attention.
To preface, I’m a vegan with a nut allergy. A lot of vegan dairy substitutes are made out of cashews or other nuts. Normally when I consume a nut or nut product, my throat swells up a bit, I get nauseous, about half of the time I throw up, and if I do, it typically takes until the next day for my throat to feel back to normal. This can also be coupled with lip swelling, and exacerbation of any patches of eczema I have on my hands or arms. Thankfully I’ve only had to go to the hospital twice because of one of these reactions, and by now I have a better handle on what to do when they happen and can judge when I need help.
I should’ve asked
This time around, I was bamboozled by a roasted red pepper pasta, or rather, I bamboozled myself by forgetting to ask about it. I thought I was on top of my game because I asked about the vegan cheeses on the charcuterie spread, they were cashew-based, so I stayed away from them and was fine during appetizers. Then it was time for dinner and I was sure everything was fine, until I took a bite of the roasted red pepper pasta.
This or That
Do you find it challenging to navigate food allergies during the holidays?
It was uncomfortable, but okay
The pasta went down my throat and I immediately felt that something was off. I felt my throat start to itch and I asked what dairy was used in the pasta. My friend told me it was a vegan sour cream. I asked if I could look at the tub and, lo and behold, cashews were the first ingredient. After taking an allergy pill, drinking some water, and waiting a while, I threw up. My throat felt horrible. I took another allergy pill, alternated between drinking water and Sprite, and by the end of the evening I felt mostly better. While I was definitely embarrassed, I was thankfully able to enjoy a movie with my loved ones afterwards and didn’t end up completely ruining the night.
Navigating Thanksgiving with a nut allergy
As hard on myself as I was initially, I’ve given myself some grace. I’m very lucky that while my nut allergy can get scary, most of the time I don’t have to go to the hospital when I accidentally ingest them. I know not everybody can say that, especially those with many different severe food allergies. While I do get frustrated with myself for making mistakes like this, I am only human, and beating myself up over it won’t help.
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