We’ve Got Allergy “Issues”


Irreverent solutions to your real life allergy & sensitivity drama

Recipe for Weight Loss

Dear Issues,

I was diagnosed with gluten, dairy and soy allergies last year and I’m wondering if you know of a diet I could go on to lose weight. Is there a gluten-, dairy- and soy-free plan I could follow to lose about 20 pounds? Does such a thing exist?


Already Too Restricted

Dear Already,

I’m so sorry for your loss of gluten, dairy and soy. Of course, it’s oftentimes true that those of us with food issues don’t have just one. Me? I’ve been in big-time denial about my dairy issue because gluten is plenty to deal with, thank you very much. But let’s talk about you.

Your question contains a beautiful irony. There are a bazillion people out there who deliberately cut out all gluten and dairy in order to lose weight. They do this on purpose. So here you are in the same spot. Why not adjust your outlook and consider this an opportunity?

Personally, I would also like to lose the 20 pounds I put on after my own celiac diagnosis, when I started baking, eating everything I baked and seeking out every gluten-free cupcake in town. If I were to get serious about my extra baggage, I’ll tell you what I would do: Eat whole, single-ingredient, non-processed foods, including loads of vegetables. I would cut back dramatically on sugar, including the drinkable kind, which (sadly) includes wine. And I would exercise at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. It’s really true that eating less and exercising more is the full-proof way to drop pounds.

The bonus here is that when you remove processed foods from your diet, you can better determine exactly what you’re eating, meaning you eliminate the risk of soy, gluten and dairy sneaking in. It’s also much better for your body. If you’re a meat eater, choose great cuts of meat and season them with delicious spices, not processed sauces. Eat as many vegetables as you want, enjoy fruit for dessert (no added sugar) and drink lots of water.

Exercise pro tip: Find your happy place and show up often. In other words, choose an exercise routine that you enjoy, so you’re more likely to stick to it. I recently discovered that I much prefer yoga with a senior citizens group than the cross-fit gym I’d been trying. I’m 100 percent okay with this even though I’m a long way from retirement.

If you can, find a friend to exercise with you; it will keep you motivated. It also helps to keep track of your food intake and exercise; the LoseIt! app is great for this.

All this is easier said than done, which is why I can’t live this way for more than a few weeks at a time. But I have faith in you!

Please write back about your success so we can all be inspired to get more healthy and fit.


A Little Respect

Dear Issues,

My husband and I like to go out for breakfast on weekends. I’ve been gluten-free for six weeks due to an allergy. I always order two eggs, no toast—and I tell the waitress I have a gluten allergy. Last weekend when she served my breakfast, she said, “Here you go, gluten girl.” How do I respond to this? What am I supposed to do when people say things that minimize my situation?


Dissatisfied Customer

Dear Dissatisfied,

I’m so over toast. Wouldn’t life be easier if everyone just assumed we didn’t want toast with breakfast or a breadbasket before dinner or a cookie with our vanilla latte? But that’s not reality.

The frustration that comes with dining out is amped up when you sense judgment from your waiter, hostess, chef or dining companion. It’s not awesome. But here are some ways to make it easier.

First, grow a thicker skin. It’s possible the waitress was trying to remember that you were the gluten-free patron and she said “gluten girl” to help her remember who got the eggs without the side of gluten. It’s like my mom used to say when my big brother was being a big pain: “Just ignore him and he’ll stop.” Okay, she may not stop and neither did my brother—but ignoring him helped me move on.

Which is why you should ignore people who make silly or even mean remarks about your diet. Because it has nothing to do with you. Their problems are due to a lack of understanding or to bad manners or they’re having a bad day (or life) and they’re taking it out on you. It’s their issue, not yours. So move on.

As your skin grows another layer, practice a very simple speech before you order your breakfast to explain your gluten allergy. Keep it quick and factual and give a smile to whomever is taking your order.

Remember, you are responsible for only one person—you. So be safe, sit back and enjoy your eggs in peace.