Food Allergies and … Love?

Posted by on February 14, 2011 | 59 Comments

** Please note that the giveaway is closed, but I am leaving the comments open so that you can continue to share and read inspirational food allergy stories.

My friend Sloane, of Allergic Girl fame, has a new book coming out in March (check out her cute Book Trailer! I’ve got to do one of those … so cool), and in honor of its release, she asked several of us to share our own food allergic “love story” this Valentine’s Day. Oh, and if you stick around, there may be a giveaway in this for you. Just a little incentive …

A lot of the themes that Sloane suggested had to do with “dates.” As coincidence would have it, my first and only date with my now husband was on Valentine’s Day, exactly 15 years ago. I say only date, as we have pretty much been joined at the hip ever since. For all but one of those years, we not only lived together, but we have also worked together. Yes, “dates” don’t happen very much because I guess we are on one long and continuous date. He is actually upstairs working as I type.

But that doesn’t mean that food allergies haven’t played a part in our love. We are both allergy-prone, but I will just briefly share the moment that started it all … that led me to create Go Dairy Free.

Alisa and Tony sitting in doctor’s office. It was a 2-hour initial consultation with a new doctor, an MD who also practices alternative medicine. I had been referred to him for pain management (he was the only local MD who was also certified in acupuncture), but he wasn’t happy to simply “treat” me, he wanted to see if we could figure out the underlying cause (for ALL of my medical issues). After about an hour and a half of Q&A’s …

  • Doctor: So, have you tried cutting out milk?
  • Me: (flabergasted by such a ridiculous solution to all of my complex medical issues) Why would I do that?
  • (Silence)
  • Husband: Why not? Why don’t we try cutting it out and see what happens?

My food allergy love story is short and sweet. The second my husband said the word “we” in that sentence, I knew it was the right thing to do. I was so overwhelmed (with joy mind you) by the fact that my cheese-loving husband would opt to jump right into something like this with me, even though he didn’t have to. To him, the doctor’s words were spot on and logical. Me, I still wanted more proof (which I later got, in the form of a food allergy test. But seriously, I should have just paid attention to the results in real life!).

I repeatedly hear stories of people going it alone with food allergies, without any support, and it breaks my heart. Though I may have been able to do it alone, I might not have been as willing to try … and for me, it was a massive life-improving experience. That moment in the doctor’s office changed my life path. I was a financial analyst, I worked in tech, and now I work full time writing, creating recipes, and testing products to help others who want to or have to follow special diets. And I love it. I love him. 

So, at the risk of becoming overly sappy, let’s move onto that giveaway, shall we?

You can win an autographed copy, hot off the presses, of Sloane Miller’s new book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies.

To Enter to Win: Sloane would like to hear some more food allergy “love” stories. Simply comment below with a positive food allergy experience you have had … this may be your own allergy or that of a loved one (remember, this book is actually to help those who love those with food allergies too), and it doesn’t have to involve romance! Just a positive experience. Or, simply tell me why you would like to win a copy of this book! You have through Friday, February 18th to enter, so comment now!

For a Second Entry: Let others know about this giveaway (and Sloane’s new book!) via Facebook, Twitter, your Blog, or simply via email. Leave a second comment here letting me know you did.

Good Luck and Happy Valentine’s Day!


Filed Under: Giveaways

Comments (59)


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alisa Fleming and Aubree Cherie, Alisa Fleming. Alisa Fleming said: Food Allergies and … Love? […]

  2. Katie says:

    This is borderline positive. Its the story of how I finally admitted I was lactose intolerant.

    I was living in Hawaii and working a field job that had me camping 10 days at a time. Sometimes I got to work with my boyfriend, and we would share a tent. After one 10-day stint, we got back to civilization and went grocery shopping together. When we got back to the car, he handed me a box of Lactaid and said “I am not sharing a tent with you until you admit you have a problem.”

    I admitted it. 🙂

  3. Ha, very cute story! My husband has been a similarly agreeable companion in my food journey. He even ate a 100% raw food diet for 3 weeks with me. Now that’s love 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    I have been on a raw food diet regime for some months now and have experienced a whole range of helpful benefits. My skin is clearer, I have extra energy, I sleep better and also I have lost 10 pounds in weight! Never just jump into a raw food diet plan, introduce the foods slowly its always the most effective technique.

  5. Kathy Rodriguez says:

    My story began a few years back, I have never been a fan of beef, my husband could not conceive how anyone could go so long without eating any beef or pork. He went on one of his infamous soapbox tangents about it. So for Lent just a bit out of mischief I decided to go vegan for lent. Now that was truly miraculous for me as I was a total milk junkie! I could have lived on milk and cheese! Well I did it and survived quite well but the first day back to normal diet I ran out & bought a gallon of milk. Immediately upon returning home I poured a large glass and commenced putting groceries away, within 15 min I began feeling quite ill with flu like symptoms. I have reluctantly been dairy free ever since.

  6. Erin says:

    Two lactose-intolerants in one house is a match made in heaven. No one brings in tasty ice creams to tempt you, the fridge is happily stocked with rice milk, and you can safely steal bites from each others’ plates. For me, the most fun is introducing my husband to new things. Before me he had never tried cheeseless pizza or soy ice cream. A few weeks ago I made a vegan chocolate cake—I think it was the first chocolate cake he’d had since he was a child. He loved it!

  7. Pagan O. says:

    I shared this on my facebook wall!

  8. Pagan O. says:

    Lets see, I think it’s the look my boyfriend gives me whenever I try a new recipe that is within my dietary guidelines and it comes out great. He loves home cooking, and even though our meals are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free, he loves me all the more for cooking them. We’re both loosing weight together (which is a whole ‘nother love story!) and he has not complained once ever since the gluten and dairy in our home had to go! He’s amazing and supportive in my new endeavors and picks me back up if things don’t go so well.

  9. My positive food allergy story is giving up gluten on a whim and within days feeling like the fog had lifted, and also dropping 9 pounds in 3 weeks without changing anything else (after struggling with a stagnant place in my weight loss for a long, long time). I am sold on this new way of life 🙂

  10. Erin B says:

    We started on the food allergy journey with my youngest son who always seemed to be sick and underweight. Everyone just wrote it off because my husband is also very skinny (anyone see where this is headed yet?). Well we decided to go off of dairy for two weeks to see what happened. Boy did better but so did hubby. A few months later boy was still struggling with some issues, tried Gluten free. Wow oldest son did better as did hubby again, and youngest son. Hubby was able to reduce his allregy shots and meds. Then we got a foster daughter who is allergic to milk and soy. They asked if it would be a problem, I said nope we’re probably the perfect home for her. I’m still in a bit of denial for myself in the dairy dept. I broke down and bought some Brie today. Sometimes the pain is worth it.

    • alisa says:

      It is unbelievable, yet so logical, how food affects our health in so many ways. I’m happy that your son and husband are finding the solution and that your foster daughter found the perfect home!

  11. Megan says:

    I have a cute anecdote about my husband!

    8 years ago I was diagnosed with a severe allergy to raspberries, and was told to stay away from strawberries as well. My husband jumped right into being my taste tester – if it was suspect on any level, he would sample whatever it was to make sure there were no strawberries/raspberries in it, and would check with kitchens to make sure they didn’t use them in any of their desserts.
    5 years later I had an allergy panel done – turns out I actually am only allergic to raspberries, and that I could have strawberries. The next day we went to a Rennaissance Faire, and my husband told me to wait at a table, and he came back with a gigantic container of strawberries dipped in chocolate, and we ate the whole thing together. 😀 They were the best strawberries I’ve ever had!

  12. Ashlie says:

    My belly has become increasingly more temperamental in the last couple of years, my list of no-no’s presently includes: grains, dairy, eggs, caffeinne, dried fruit, and sugar. I have gotten used to the limitations, and cooking great allergy free food at home is no problem at all; however, traveling can be a big hassel! I hate inconveniencing other people or having to tell them I can’t eat the food they went out of their way to prepare – but my darling husband has made this a lot easier on me. Whenever we go to visit friends or family my husband always volunteers to do the cooking for everyone. This often means that on family “vacations” he spends an awful lot of time in the kitchen rather than out having fun. I am so happy and thankful to have him as my valentine!

    • alisa says:

      What a sweetheart! I think the longer your list gets the harder it is with social events … not just from a “what you can’t eat” standpoint, but also in people understanding. I am sure it helps put everyone at ease that your husband steps in!

  13. What a great post and story! Love growing from food allergies. 🙂 Seriously, though, that is a huge step for some men- giving up a certain food for the one he loves- sounds funny but it is so sweet! And yes, look what blossomed!! A full on career in helping others through eating and writing. What a wonderful story, Alisa.

    That book sounds great. I don’t have a love story grown through food allergies, but I do know that being with my boyfriend has taught me that food is NOT the enemy- it’s actually enjoyable and incredibly nourishing. I now love food, where I used to hate it. 🙂

  14. carolee says:

    I LOVE my fingernails & toenails now!
    I started a low-carb diet and cheese became a staple in my diet, i was probably consuming 75% more cheese (+dairy in general). although i was losing weight, my stomach always felt bloated AND i noticed black lines started forming on my nails (although I thought that was from exercise & softball at the time).
    I eliminated all dairy for a month…….and I ‘m happy to say, no more inflated belly AND the black lines on my nails STOPPED forming!. I am no longer constantly putting on polish & I can wear clear polish again! (

    • alisa says:

      Now that is a weird symptom! I mean, the inflated belly I can see, but nail problems like that … wow, you just never know what affect certain foods will have on our bodies.

  15. Fiona says:

    I’m still plodding away trying to figure it out 🙁 Less dairy, low wheat now. Little sugar. We shall see.

    • alisa says:

      Don’t feel down Fiona, I think all of us who’ve posted here have gone through what you are going through … once you find the answer, it will all have been for such a good reason!

  16. Hannah says:

    Maybe this sounds silly, but sometimes it feels nice when my mum, grandma, and I all have to order the same meal or dessert at restaurants because of our food allergies/intolerances. There’s a sense of camaraderie 🙂

  17. I found out I was gluten intolerant right before my senior year at USC. (Studying accounting information systems. I don’t work in my “profession” anymore, either, as I am sure you know.) Sam decided that our household would be completely gluten free. He would only have something if he wasn’t with me. Almost 5 years later, he realized he is lactose intolerant, so, other than Max, our household is now dairy free. Truth be told, he feels much better without gluten and just doesn’t want it, and I feel much better without dairy. Haven’t tried the dairy-free cheese, yet, but I don’t really want cheese that much anymore. Weird.

    • alisa says:

      Yep, the cravings do go away! I don’t use dairy-free cheese either. I keep meaning to buy some Daiya to review for GDF, but it’s so darn expensive!

      Your men sound like cuties 🙂

  18. I have facebooked and tweeted about this. 🙂

  19. I actually do not have any food allergies or intolerances. But after fighting for my son’s diagnosis of Celiac Disease (and Dairy sensitivity) from his neurologist, no less, because of the night time seizures he was having (because his GI would not believe me), I went back to school to get a Master’s in Holistic Nutrition so that I would know how to make sure to feed him not just right, but really well!! Then we discovered my husband’s Celiac Disease (or my husband stopped ignoring it) and we have all been gluten free (and pretty dairy free) ever since (almost 6 years now). So, I guess in a sense, the love story here is that I was willing to do whatever I could to make sure that my son and husband stayed healthy, even if it meant going completely gluten free when I did not need to! But, in all honesty, it was the best thing I ever did. I feel so much better myself now too!! 😉

  20. Shannon says:

    I found out that I am gluten & dairy intolerant. I have a bit of a problem with an acidic stomach so I am trying to figure that bit out. The way I figured it all out was that at almost thirty years old I still had acne. Whenever I accidentally eat the tiniest bit I have digestive problems & break out.

    I have had every test done to see if I am “allergic” to gluten & dairy and all the tests say no but I am so sensitive. I have 3 kids and my son is also gluten intolerant. He breaks out in eczema. We have recently put my youngest daughter on a gluten free diet as her belly was always bloated and she was gaining weight too fast. It seems to be working.

    My sweetheart is going to school for Culinary Arts and cooks and bakes us all sorts of delicious food. I have to be careful because even he forgets sometimes and accidentally contaminates me!

  21. Marissa M W says:

    I have been GF for over a year and my sister for 5 months (with my encouragement)… The “love” story that comes to mind around this is The LOVE of a Mother!
    Our mom has listened patiently and supportively to my process and scientific ranting for the past year and more recently that of my sister. She has shown resistance if ever she felt we were trying to push her toward it, though she stayed open and continually offered a listening ear.
    My sister and her husband went back to visit and being the foodie she is, my sister proceeded to cook up some amazing meals and desserts that were all GF and DF. My mother got to see how simple and healthy these meals truly can be and that there is really a whole world of food available to her even while cutting out glutenous grains and dairy. So… as of last Saturday she has been GF and after one day she noticed a difference. She is not only still feeling great and noticing changes she is also getting great support from friends and loved ones. My dad has been openly expressing his pride in her at taking this on and doing well and feeling great. Friends have provided her with no judgment and graciously offered GF alternatives at social events.
    I feel that each of these little expressions of LOVE and RESPECT mean SO MUCH when someone is just beginning on this journey. There are some big emotional obstacles one has to face when dealing with food intolerances and allergies and these little showings of LOVE do not go unnoticed!
    That’s my LOVE story! 🙂 It makes me smile! I hope it does you too!
    THanks for the opportunity to share and to win a copy of Sloane’s book!

    • Marissa M W says:

      I have to add that it is one week and a few days since my mom has been GF and she is noticing that her arthritis in her hands is nearly gone and the white knuckled tension is no longer there. She is overjoyed to say the least!
      She is no longer keeping her GF decision to herself. She is so excited about the changes it has brought out in her that she now will share it with anyone who asks.
      Loving one person enough has a ripple effect that can reach around the world! She is showing me this!

  22. Shannon says:

    I retweeted you! 🙂

  23. Marissa M W says:

    I will certainly be sharing this on FB as well! Support is essential! We do not need to go this alone!

  24. Linda Marcy says:

    Like you my life turned around when I found out about (& did something) my food allergies. All the usual suspects & a few others to boot.

  25. Giselle Bailey says:

    When I was a child, I became allergic to raisins. I was left with memories of eating Sun Maid raisins which was truly enjoyable to me. However, I had no reaction to grapes or grape juice and I continued to consume them. In 2002, I won a fruit basket at church. Everyone had to look under their seats and I found that there was a note taped beneath mine. I was the lucky person. I noticed I had a strange tingling in my mouth after I ate the grapes. I dismissed it because I thought I was allergic to raisins alone. Later that year, my church district had Holy Communion and I drank the grape juice (the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not condone the use of alcoholic beverages). That tiny glass of juice nearly sent me the the hospital. I could not breathe properly. I had never been more scared in my life. If I had drunk a bottle of juice, I would be dead. My church was very accommodating when I explained my condition. Every communion, my glass of water is prepared for me. I never had to remind anyone, or stand embarrassed while someone rushes to get something for me. I am the only one in the entire island who drinks water at communion. I have learnt to I accept the occasional stares with a smile. By the way, my mother still offers me food that has raisins in it.
    I am also allergic to peanuts and dairy. I started my dairy-free journey in November 2010. It is a work in progress as I have to read labels and choose carefully. It was quite depressing to go to the supermarket and walk out almost empty handed. I have been cooking and experimenting with recipes. I enjoy eating my successful dairy-free creations.

  26. Joanne says:

    Oh that it is SUCH a sweet story! I think the closest I’ve come to an allergy love story is when I convinced my mother that in my brother’s best interest, she should switch to soy milk. His stomach is much happier now.

  27. Jamie Brummel says:

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease last March. In May I started seeing a naturopath and learned I am also dairy and tomato intolerant. Considering that pizza, red-sauce pastas, breads and cheese were a large part of my diet before diagnosis, eliminating these foods from my diet was a drastic change, to say the least. I have received nothing but LOVE and SUPPORT from my husband, children, friends and extended family. In April, on our way home from our Spring Break vacation, we stopped for dinner at my mom-in-law’s. Not only did she follow all my instructions to the letter in preparing dinner, she even surprised me with a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of gf bread! My sis-in-law has taken it upon herself to provide homemade gf desserts (she’s a wonderful baker) at all our family gatherings. My husband and children graciously and almost always enthusiastically sing praises for the gf/df meals I make for us. And my dear friend, M., makes sure my daugther has gf/df treats at school at Girl Scouts because, wouldn’t you know it — both our daughters have to eat that way, too.

  28. Jamie Brummel says:

    I have shared the link on my FB page. Thanks for the opportunity to be mindful of the love and support I’ve received in my gf/df journey!

  29. bebe says:

    My son has food allergies and i have to say my eyes have been opened to all of the crap that is in our food. I have always thought of myself as somewhat “healthy”…. i will never go back, i feel like i was so nieve before. Even if/when he grows out of these allergies, my family and i will continue to eat real foods. I am in a love affair with real foods and wellness.

    • alisa says:

      You aren’t alone bebe, I think all of us go through a huge phase of discovery when look past the nutrition facts and actually read the ingredients. It’s astonishing really!

      Good for you for planning to stick with it!

  30. AmyB says:

    My 8 year old has been allergic to dairy her whole life. That was easy she’s never had it so she doesn’t miss it. Last month she was diagnosed with a lot more including gluten and soy. I can deal with the food stuff but she is having such a hard time emotionally. I’d love to read this book and get ides on how to help her cope.


  31. Being alone with food allergies is no fun. It can feel very lonely and sad. I looked back at the things I have written about over the past few years and told my husband the other day that I was really sorry he has celiac, but his food restrictions have really helped me feel like I have more of a food companion. Now I enjoy food so much more since I can cook food for both of us to enjoy together. Restrictive diets don’t have to be lonely, you just have to find the fun alternatives!

  32. It’s a great story and how wonderful that your husband is there for you!

  33. Kara says:

    Last year at this time, I was planning a birthday party that featured a raw juice bar as the main event because my son had just been diagnosed with multiple, multiple allergies.

    A year later, we learned that the test he had been given garnered some false positives, and many of the 50 plus foods we had been avoiding have been slowly incorporated back into our diet with success.

    But I learned so much more during the past year: I learned that my son, 7, has incredible willpower and strength; I learned that my daughter, 4, is capable of more compassion that I could have imagined. I learned my husband has a lot of faith in me and my mama instincts.

    And I learned that certain kinds of fake cheese taste like feet.

    But all in all, it has been positive year of growing for all of us, that has reminded me how lucky I am to have this little family of mine!

    • alisa says:

      This is a sweet comment Kara … and it made me giggle – the feet part 🙂

      You really turned what could have been a negative into such a wonderful positive, and I’m elated to hear that your little one is doing well without avoiding 50+ foods. Yikes!

  34. Courtney says:

    I would love to win this book because I am allergic to fish/shellfish/seafood/gluten/ and a vegan (by choice) so there are lots of things I can’t eat, lol. It looks like a great book!


  35. danielle bryant says:

    I would love to win her book because I am allergic to milk (anyphylaxis), and would love to hear of some stories and have some support!

  36. Yvonne says:

    I would love to win this book because I have IBS and it’s a challenge for me to cook delicious food without, after eating it, having stomach problems.

  37. Amy says:

    I had a blood test last summer that showed I had multiple allergies/intolerances. Then a couple of months ago, we had my older son, about 34 months, evaluated for enlarged tonsils and sleep apnea and my younger daughter not quite 2 had increased fluid in her middle ears. My husband’s doctor, a natural health physician, immediately and emphatically told him to eliminate dairy from their diets and we did (dairy was one things that showed on my blood test and one thing that I definitely noticed issues with). W have seen a marked difference with my older son. He is sleeping though the night, snoring less, no sleep apnea, no scratching his skin til it bleeds and scabs, better eating, better social skills, and an improvement in his diaper rashes. We don’t have as much formal prrof with my daughter except for improved diaper rashes. I am trying to eliminate dairy and have been doing much better and overall feel better, but I need to do more! i don’t think I’ll ever give my kids dairy even if we actually get them allergy tested and dairy doesn’t show up as a problem. I have to much evidence on my side.

    • alisa says:

      Amy, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story! I read more on your blog too. So much work, but I am so happy to hear it is paying off. It should get easier with time, as things settle in as habit and new favorites are formed. I hope that your little ones keep progressing well!

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