How Food Allergies Impact A Relationship

Roughly three years ago, I had food allergy testing done. I was experiencing tremendous discomfort, bloating and pain with a majority of what I was eating, and I learned through testing that I am intolerant to gluten, dairy, and egg. Intolerances are different from allergies in the sense that intolerances have less serious complications than allergies, however, intolerances are by no means pleasant. When someone with a food allergy consumes the food they are allergic to, they will likely suffer from a serious reaction, for example, swelling in the throat and/or hives, amongst other symptoms. When someone with an intolerance to a food ingests the food they are intolerant to, they will arguably experience abdominal discomfort, for example, bloating, diarrhea, pain, and nausea. The difference between food allergies and food intolerances essentially boils down to how badly an individual will react to a food, and in a majority of circumstances, the reaction provoked by a food allergy will be greater in severity than that of a food intolerance.

My food intolerances are somewhat unique in the sense that I am basically intolerant to the three most popular ingredients in food. Trust me, it sounds as bad as it is. My food intolerances are a result of an eating disorder I had in high school. I suffered from a combination of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia, and the damage I inflicted upon my stomach and my digestive tract in the process of constricting my food intake are what have forced my body to reject gluten, dairy, and egg.

It was incredibly difficult to adjust my entire diet initially. I had become comfortable to eating foods containing the three ingredients I am intolerant to, therefore I was angry and frustrated over having to remove them from my diet entirely. Eventually, I adopted a diet that is easily manageable, however, it took me quite a long time to do so.

I would argue a majority of individuals do not contemplate how food allergies or intolerances have the potential to impact the relationship they have with their partner, but they certainly do. My long-term boyfriend and I could no longer eat at restaurants we had designated as our favorites because I was unable to eat there. We could no longer grab something quick on the road because many fast-food chains do not offer items free of all three things I am intolerant to. We had to search for new restaurants to dine at, and at times, there was conflict because going out for dinner had suddenly become excessively complicated. Changing my diet completely was hard enough for me personally, but I failed to consider how it would impact other people in my life. My parents had to adapt their cooking habits to adhere to my new needs, and going out for drinks and snacks with friends was no longer so easy (most beer contains gluten). Three years later, dining out has become easier, but it can still be a challenge at times.

Food allergies and intolerances really do challenge relationships to a far greater extent than most people realize. The key to overcoming these challenges is patience and a willingness to accept a need for change, and eventually, you’ll find yourself wondering why your relationships were ever impacted in the first place.

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