November 7, 2010

My stint on this particular antibiotic gives me a lot of sympathy for people with full-time food allergies.

If I mix alcohol with the medication I’m on, some of the possible side affects of the medication I’m on include nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin, tachycardia (accelerated heart rate), and shortness of breath.  I was emphatically warned by the pharmacist when I filled it, "Not even a drop!"  Not even mixed with food, and "cooked off" in food.

I’m not a drinker, so I didn’t really have to worry about skipping a beer when out with friends.  But I had not thought about the risk that you take when you let someone else prepare your food.  Yes, the menu lists the ingredients in it, but you don’t know if they might use a splash of rum, brandy or whiskey to enhance the flavor.

I didn’t think about how hard it must be for people with food allergies to find food that is acceptable to eat.  Alcohol isn’t a highly-pervasive ingredient in food, but something as innocuous as nuts (an allergy that is permanent) is not only in the majority of foods, but also is processed in plants that make foods that don’t have nuts listed as an ingredient.

At that point, it’s not just about not eating foods that you didn’t prepare for yourself, it’s being afraid of foods that you do prepare yourself, because you don’t know where the ingredients were before you got them.

By Thursday, I will be back to not having to worry about alcohol in my food, but now I’m keenly aware that there are people who have no reprieve whatsoever from having to find out exactly what’s in their food.  I don’t think I’m going to start a grassroots campaign for allergen-awareness (there are hundreds of other organizations who do so very well already), but I do know that I will definitely bend over backwards to be accommodating to people who do have to be extra-cautious with the food they put in their mouth.