Freedom in Food Allergies
I first learned about my husband’s food allergies over dinner approximately two weeks after we first met. My roommate was trying to set us up without either of us knowing and had invited him over for dinner, along with another friend of ours that he knew. Other than thinking he was a nice guy, I remember being both fascinated and appalled as she menu planned for our little dinner party to accommodate for his food allergies.
Fast-forward to a couple of weeks later—we’re sitting in a restaurant on our first date (my roommate knew what she was doing!) and he orders a plain hamburger with no cheese and no bun, a side of bacon and a salad with just lettuce and a hardboiled egg. I’m sorry, what?!
Clearly, I had questions! As first date material goes, this was one for the books. I asked the inevitable question, in an attempt to wrap my brain around exactly what he could and could not eat: “So, what are you allergic to?” He rattled off the list: wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice, corn, dairy, soy, tomatoes, strawberries, pears, and apples, and I gulped in reply. “That’s a lot of things… so what do you eat?”
We’ve been married for nearly three years, and I have heard this question from every new person in our life the first time we share a meal. His standard reply? “Well, if we’re cooking at home, it’s really not too hard to come up with something. It just gets tricky when we go out to eat.” And it’s the truth! I’ve learned a lot about cooking for him in these last 3+ years and thought I’d share a few thoughts about it with you.
Forced Creativity is Good for Me.
So often “limitations” get a bad rap. While they can be restrictive, they can also be fertile ground for unbelievable creativity. I’ve found lots of ways to be creative (mostly because I still want to eat the good stuff!) and have actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Believe it or not, I can make a halfway decent pizza for a guy who’s allergic to grains, dairy/soy, and tomatoes! It wasn’t something I came up with in our first month of marriage, but continuing to revisit the same craving and think about a way around the limitation helped me get creative with beets and carrots in a way I never would have imagined before.
Variety is literally the spice of life.
When I met Cody, he only ate twelve to fifteen foods. Like, total. His bachelorhood was served well by knowing the 4 or 5 meals he could safely eat, and eating them repeatedly. I, on the other hand, crave variety, and one week into our marriage, after making all of his old standbys, I just knew that with enough research I could mix things up. Pinterest became my best friend, and Cody’s mind was blown. It was hilarious because he kept telling people what a great cook I was, but I knew that the bar was pretty low. My pot roast is good, but I guess it’s really good if you forgot you can eat carrots and onions. And add garlic salt.
Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive.
The longer I explore new recipes to make delicious food that my husband will enjoy, the more I see that the discipline of allergies has given us new freedom. While there are at least twelve foods that he can’t eat, there’s a veritable smorgasbord of things he can eat! The discipline required to keep certain ingredients from my cooking has lent itself to a new lease on all of the things I can include… did you know there are at least three really delicious ways to eat cauliflower?
The best thing about these lessons in my kitchen is that all of them apply to other aspects of my life, too. Sometimes flashes of creativity come when my options are limited. Mixing up my daily routine (within reason!) can change my outlook on life on a hard day. Embracing discipline as a way to experience freedom in my walk with Jesus always pays incredible dividends.
Let’s look at the limitations we’re facing with fresh perspective and dig into the goodness they offer us!
And if anyone wants that pizza recipe… let me know. ;)
photo by: Bethany Shaw