The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

'The Girl Who Is Not Eating Everything' Because My Lungs Suck

Note: Sooo, this post is sort of the opposite of my previous post. There's no food porn in this post, no recommendations for where to eat. It's a pretty long explanation of why I'm changing my diet. Euh.






"...This is how I'm going to die, isn't it?"

Two Saturdays ago I had just finished eating half of a pomelo in my mom's kitchen in New Jersey when I felt the beginnings of a severe allergic reaction.

It was day six of a two-week restricted food allergy diet as recommended by my allergist about...nine months ago. Yup. I waited a while on that one. I kept putting it off since it was hard to find a two-week period where I could easily abstain from eating herbs, spices, seafood, onions, chocolate, nuts, and garlic, among a few other things that I had no problem cutting out because I rarely ingested them in the first place (caffeine and alcohol). The other reason I didn't try it earlier was because after months of recording my allergic reactions to food, I couldn't tell exactly what I was allergic to. I had scratch tests for just about everything; positive results were all environmental-related (dust mites, cats, seemingly every tree pollen), with nothing conclusive related to food.(I've been getting regular allergy shots since last spring for pollen.) There were some food-related patterns—spicy food, fried food, pizza (PIZZA?!)—but these foods didn't trigger reactions every time I ate them.

I finally got down to it because about two weeks ago I had an allergic reaction from eating spicy instant noodles (yeah, dumb choice)—not a severe reaction, but an asthma-triggering one that made me want to curl into a ball on my bed for a few minutes—and I realized there would never be a two-week period where I could easily follow my doctor's diet.

And so about three weeks ago, I followed it. I messed up a few times when I ate out with my mom, but by cooking most of my own food it was easy to avoid everything on the "do not eat" list. If I didn't have any allergic reactions during those two weeks, then...great! Sort of. And if I did, it would be much easier to pin down the cause than if I weren't on the diet.

When I reacted to the pomelo, the cause was obvious. I had eaten nothing else that day. It was definitely you, Pomelo. After finishing half the pomelo, my throat started feeling itchy. The area under my tongue got a bit swollen. My breathing became a bit more labored. I went to my room to get my inhaler even though I learned from previous experience it wouldn't help.

I sat at the edge of my bed. My breaths became more wheeze-laden, rapid, and labored. My body temperature rose—I took off my pants and sweater and continued sweating. I coughed up mucus. I wheezed harder. Every cough made each breath harder to take. Repeat [x] a blagillion.

I decided this would be the time to try those pricey Epi-pens that had been sitting in my bag for months. I'd been carrying two Epi-pens with me since I used one in Norway last February, when I had a severe allergic reaction to a hot dog. That hot dog was the third time I had had a severe allergic reaction. The pomelo was the ninth time. I hadn't used the Epi-pens at all during the reactions in between because I always felt, perhaps foolishly, that I had things under control. I got used to the reactions and could tell when it was just shy of "really bad" or beyond.

The pomelo reaction felt like it was approaching beyond. I wasn't surprised; my asthma was at an all time worst and I had never before had a severe allergic reaction when my lungs were that unwell. I wasn't in great shape at my mom's place—I was coughing more than I should've, my body trying its best to get mucus out of my lungs despite the consequence of asthma. My asthma starting getting worse during my vacation in Norway. Shortly before my trip, I unsuccessfully tried to refill my prescription of Symbicort (asthma management medication), which was when I found out that my insurance company limits how many refills of Symbicort they'll cover in order to make you switch to a cheaper brand, but also limits how much of the medication you can buy at a pharmacy so that you'll buy it from a mail-order pharmaceuticals company instead.

...Yeah, I shouldn't be complaining about health insurance. I'm really glad I have it, trust me. I just wish it hadn't taken me a few weeks to sort out the medication order.

I brought an Epi-pen to the bathroom. Before sitting down I looked in the mirror for the first time since the onset of lungfail—the color seemed to be draining from my lips a bit. I gingerly removed the Epi-pen from its plastic tube and mulled over the instructions much longer than necessary. They're incredibly easy: Remove blue tab. Position over side of thigh. STABBOS! Even though the needle-in-your-thigh thing is nothing compared to the barely-breathing thing, I still had to psych myself up for it.

And then...dammit, nothing happened. I rolled the Epi-pen around in my hands and noticed a key bit of information; it had expired last November. FFFFFUUUUUU.

My lung construction didn't let up. If anything, it seemed to get worse. It was around this time I had that, "This is how I'm going to die, isn't it?" thought. I mean, I didn't really think I was going to die, but it was the worst reaction I had ever had and the most scared I had ever been by a reaction—scared like, "What if I don't live long enough to have my own family? Will I see Kåre again? What if I die before my mom dies? AHHHHH." For some reason the other eight reactions didn't properly whip up my fear of death.*

* What should've been scarier was Reaction #8. This only happened a month ago during my flight from New York to Amsterdam, on the way to Norway. I almost used my Epi-pen—the reaction was pretty bad, gurgly, labored breathing and all—but instead I went my non-stabbed gurgly way as the concerned woman sitting next to me probably wondered if I was dying. After the reaction passed I ended up with a major headache that gradually forced me to sleep. If not for the headache, I would've fallen asleep anyway due to my fun in-flight movie selection of "Melancholia."

I broke out Epi-pen number two—this one didn't expire until March. Thank the lord. Time to stabbos again. (Not on purpose, I picked a spot less than an inch from the first stab; soon after I found out if you jab yourself really hard with a blunt—I mean, blunt with a small needle at the end—plastic rod two times in nearly the same spot, you will end up an especially aching, stinging bruise.)

And then...dammit, nothing happened again. WHY, POMELO, WHY? When I had my reaction in Norway I thought I may have used the pen wrong, but this time I was sure I used it correctly.

After that, all I could do was wait. Wait while each inhalation felt like a steamroller squeezing the dregs of life from every meager air molecule my feeble lungs could carry. As usual, the reaction ran its course after about 40 minutes. (I look at my watch constantly during these reactions—it makes me feel better.) I didn't return to normal right away after the 40 minutes ran out, but I could at least talk in between wheezy breaths.

If you're wondering what my mom was doing this whole time, I suspect she was silently freaking out. This was the second time she had ever seen me have a severe reaction (she's also seen a few mild ones), and in these situations you have two options: Let it runs its course, or go to the hospital. If I felt like I had to go to the hospital, I would've told her. Later she told me she felt helpless. :C

After the reaction, my brother came over and we all went out for dinner. I felt fine by this point and, dammit, I wanted to have a nice dinner with my family.

The pomelo reaction made me type up a document of all my allergic reactions up until that point. I had written my reactions down in two notebooks, but never compiled them. Yesss, I should've done it earlier—point that wagging finger right at me. I brought my three-page list of reactions to the allergist's office last Friday, showed them to a new doctor (just because my original one wasn't there that day), and after taking a quick look at them she asked me if anyone told me I may have acid reflux., no one did. I suppose because I had never brought in a descriptive list of reactions, but I did tell my original doctor about some of my reactions, and they did test me for allergies with no conclusive results. So, honestly, I think someone could've brought up acid reflux earlier, even though the acid reflux I might have isn't the kind that feels like acid reflux.

The doctor gave me a list of foods to avoid:

I haz discontent.

Apparently, the list was ripped out of My First Coloring Book of Dietary Restrictions.

The doctor told me Epi-pens don't work with acid reflux-triggered actions. Welllll, ain't that exactly what I didn't want to hear. I had seen that as my only safety net. She prescribed me acid reflux medication along with a prescription for Epi-pens, just in case I have a food-related allergic reaction.

But I've gotten to the point where I'm fed up with being this unhealthy, with being so at risk of having a fatal allergic reaction, with having to rely on drugs that I'm not confident I can rely on (nor do I want to rely on them). I'm thankful (and surprised) I'm not in worse shape, but I want to be better than this, and I know I can get better. It just requires a shift in habits.

...Okay, a big shift.

...Okay, a big dietary shift.

I'm not sure how many times I've mentioned this on my blog, but the reason I got into food was because for a short time during my teenage years I followed a raw food diet and was obsessed with nutrition. ...Yeah, quite the opposite of where I ended up. I started the raw food diet in the beginning of 2003 (second semester of 12th grade) and did it for one and a half years (until the end of freshman year of college). I wasn't a better person then, nor a happier person, but I have no doubt I was a healthier person.

If you think a raw food diet is crazy, I don't blame you. I'm not a nutritionist, obviously, so I can't sway you with facts and figures, and I wouldn't suggest that a raw food diet is for everyone—it's not. But it did help me during those one and a half years, if my results are any sort of proof: I didn't have asthma for the first time since I was a kid, I didn't have perpetually clogged sinuses, and I actually had a modicum of physical endurance. (This isn't to say I didn't still have some health issues, but whatever they were, they weren't nearly as bad as the problems I had lost.) I could run a mile on a treadmill without much problem; these days I get winded just walking up a flight of stairs. I'm not trying to make it sound like a miracle diet—it shouldn't be a miracle to have a fairly healthy body that does what it's supposed to— but some of the stuff I could do then would be unimaginable to me now.

Anyhoo, despite what I just said, I don't plan on doing a raw food diet again. There was always a cloud of stress hanging over me as I obsessed over whether or not I was doing the diet "right" (and I probably wasn't; I found I wasn't much of a fan of raw vegetables so I mostly ate fruits and nuts), and, as I said, that diet didn't make me the happiest person. I rarely ate with other people, and during my first semester of college I preferred spending my weekends in New Jersey with my mom instead of staying on campus and attempting to become friends with my classmates—you know, what normal freshmen are supposed to do. Easy to say, I didn't have a typical freshman experience. (I was much less hermit-like during my second semester when I got a job in campus.)

But I'm glad I did it or else I wouldn't have transferred to NYU for food studies and eventually end up working at Serious Eats. Even if the Serious Eats view (well, not just Serious Eats) that you should be able to eat whatever you want in moderation doesn't seem to be working for me. Or maybe I'm not doing the "moderation" thing correctly. Probably not.

So if I'm not going the extreme raw food route, what am I doing? I'm starting by cutting out spicy food, fried food, pizza, and wheat products, cutting down on anything too greasy or fatty, non-wheat grains, and refined sugar, and eating more fruits and vegetables. These changes are based on previous foods that have triggered allergic reactions, my doctor's suggestions, and nutritional advice for people with asthma. I'm okay cutting out most cookie and cake-like desserts, but I don't plan on totally cutting out ice cream and chocolate just because I already eat them sparingly and they pack a whoooole lotta joy into every calorie. ...I need to hold on to something.

So for the time being, I'm definitely not the girl who eats everything. :( (But I ate everything already, right? Eh? Uh?) I'll make exceptions for special occasions and vacations, but I'd like to keep on track for the next few months and see how it goes. That means eating out less often (I'd feel better preparing my own food) and not eating the tons of random foodstuffs at work. (I mean, aside from the 20 flavors of Jeni's ice cream we tasted the other day. Um. Yeah I ate those.)

On the bright side, I'm cooking way more than I ever have before! So far my favorite cooking method is "chop up a bunch of vegetables and shove 'em in the oven." ...Yes, I plan on learning more than that. Methinks I'll get better acquainted with 101 Cookbooks.

And...that's...the end. I'll definitely keep blogging—I have a big backlog of posts from last year I still have to write. (AW YEAH I KNEW THAT WOULD COME IN HANDY not really like this but whatever.) I'm sorry if I'm letting down people with this change in diet from, "Yay, I eat everything!" to, "Now my eating habits are super boring," but I really like breathing and not having to rely on drugs to do it, and I'd really like to not worry that my lungs are going to poop out before I turn 30. Hope y'all understand.

To lighten the mood, here's a doodle I drew today for the always-worthy-of-a-doodle Bravetart:

That bunny is propelled by the power of rad.


Pandabel / January 27, 2012 1:56 AM

I feel your pain, literally. I have exercise induced asthma, but I started getting reactions after eating. Like you, there was no one food that seemed to trigger it, and it was always a horrible, gasping, wheezy, mucous filled time of terror.

Last year I tried going vegan for health reasons, and my breathing kept getting worse. I was having reactions after almost every meal. I found out about elimination diets, which lead me to paleo/primal eating... which eliminated my reactions. In my case, wheat and high-sugar/high-starch foods cause my lungs to react. I cheat every once in awhile, but my albuterol is always next to me when I have tasty, lung-killing pizza.

Anyway, you are awesome, no matter what! You are the girl who ate everything, and now only eats SOME things. Best of luck to you, and I will continue to read your blog and your posts on Serious Eats for as long as you write them.

maja / January 27, 2012 2:59 AM

Aaw, I'm so sorry for you!! The reactions do sound really scary. I hope you get better soon now with your new diet, and you probably made the right decision starting to eat better. x

Juji / January 27, 2012 4:34 AM

Eeek. You've pretty much described my worst nightmare. I'm so sorry this is happening to you!

After living in China for a year as an exchange student in the nineties, my sister came home and found out she was allergic to pretty much everything.

I remember a handwritten list we used to have on our refrigerator - it was an entire page of stuff, and included - beef, fish, shellfish, pork, dairy (all), cheese, many many kinds of vegetables, and lots of fruits.

I'm pretty sure it was terrible for her. But, in her case it all improved in a few years, and now she eats anything/everything again...

I hope your body decides to like you soon!

Jack Reynolds / January 27, 2012 5:06 AM

You're not disappointing me at all. Presently, I've narrowed my trigger foods to soy (even vegetable oil, ugh), dairy, citrus, mushy fruits like avocados and bananas, and yeast. I'm also leery of nightshades and gluten. I suspect the latter makes me moody and tired.

I've found that eating an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet helps significantly. Roasted, steamed, and grilled vegetables are great. So are dark leafy greens and olive oil. I take purified fish oil supplements (these are awesome if you can tolerate the source - fish, krill, plankton, or algae), put flaxseed oil in a blueberry smoothie with hypo allergenic rice protein powder, and drink 3+ cups of green tea a day.

Good luck. And remember that even if you're on a restricted diet, your options are still kind of infinite. Several years ago, my idea of dessert was a brownie sundae, and now it's a cup of tea with a teaspoon of honey, or some coconut milk rice pudding with black beans and sweet potato.

Morten Båtbukt / January 27, 2012 6:01 AM

I'm sorry to hear about your reaction, but at least it seems you have a solution. If this works it shouldn't be that bad. Also, Behnaz has problems with stomach acids occasionally, but most of the time she can eat anything. Maybe if you follow your diet you won't have to avoid for example citrus completely, but in large amounts only (like most lactose intolerant people can have some dairy products each day, but shouldn't drink milk in large amounts).

Also, caffeine and alcohol will be easy for you :)

Audrey / January 27, 2012 8:06 AM

You shouldn't be apologizing at all! On the contrary, thank you for being so open and frank with all your readers (:

I also have some problems with stomach acid. I've found that it's usually ok to ingest citrus, but only in grapefruit-size servings after a meal and always with carbs in my stomach (methinks half a pomelo was too much for your poor acids). Unfortunately, greasy food will sometimes also trigger a reaction. Beware of delicious spicy Chinese food and dim sum! Sichuanese is an obvious cause, but (from experience) there is more oil lurking in dim sum than one would imagine. Avocados and greek yoghurt are a great way to get fats.

As the colouring sheet preaches, it's also particularly important to follow a routine. Breakfast and lunch are fine, but my stomach tends not to like most dinner food eaten later than my usual dinnertime radius (and social life goes kerploopy). I know you don't drink much coffee or tea, but even some stronger herbal teas can be too much for an empty/disagreeable stomach. Drinking excessive amounts of herbal tea can also cause acid reflux to flare up the next time you eat - something which I neglected to realize for too long.

If there's trouble cutting down on the right things in the right quantity, I'd suggest structuring meals around one source of carbohydrates and one source of protein. If you're completely happy with both of them and know you have chosen the healthiest option, you should have no problem filling out the rest of your meal with veggies and fruit.

I hope everything goes well, and that we'll get to hear good things from you soon. Happy Chinese New Year, and 身體健康!

Susan in HK / January 27, 2012 9:36 AM

Wow, Robyn, so sorry to hear about this - being on a restricted diet sounds like it would be horrible. But not as horrible as having those scary reactions and not knowing what was causing them, I guess. Hope you get better.
Take care,

Olivia / January 27, 2012 10:25 AM

Dude. Remember when I got all sick and couldn't eat gluten and stuff?! Your reactions are what happened to me! NYU gave me the SAME coloring book page for acid reflux.

Does the allergy feel like the inside of your ears are itching and your saliva is getting ropey? Then you have to wait for taking a breath because it's like someone is hugging you too hard, wait it out, then breathe during your hug-free window? They have a new term for it now, called delayed asphixiation. It won't show up on any allergy panels.

I'm glad you're making diet changes. Reading about all of your posts I always felt guilty about my enjoyment because I knew what you were putting in your body was NOT healthy, but at the same time I loved to read it.

Please take care of yourself. Epi Pens don't work, but they get you kind of high. Fun times.

Jeanne / January 27, 2012 11:29 AM

Ahh Robyn, I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with so much. I hope all these changes will help you feel better. I personally don't care if your posts become lists of fruit because they are always entertaining and I'll be reading no matter what.

Carrie Dahlby / January 27, 2012 12:59 PM

Acid reflux is managable. I found out I had it when a flu made it hurt to sing (singing is what I do)... and then it continued to hurt to sing for months after the flu. They stuck a camera down my throat, told me I had acid reflux and prescribed Nexium. The Nexium seems pretty benign to me (no side effects and no really scary possible long-term effects that I know of) so I look forward to being able to go back on it after pregnancy. After staying on Nexium and losing 25 pounds, acid reflux wasn't a bother in my life anymore. Not that you need to lose weight, and asthma is something I'm fortunate to know nothing about. Best wishes! Deprivation can be a slippery slope, so I recommend try to work in the occasional exception to the rules (then again, you already said you will).

marsha Calhoun / January 27, 2012 6:31 PM

Well: first of all, I read this blog because you write it, and I'm confident that whatever you write about will be interesting. Second: good on you for your brave endeavor to address your health proactively. Third: feel absolutely free to criticize the wretched health insurance system with which this country is cursed. Fourth: I believe that all of your readers are looking forward to hearing of your improved condition, and holding the same good thoughts that I am for your excellent progress!

janet / January 27, 2012 7:40 PM

:0(! there are still lovely things to eat that are not on your no-list so it's all good :D and being/feeling healthy is all good squared!!

kim / January 27, 2012 8:54 PM

No need for apologies Robby. Like you, I could NEVER adopt a raw diet. I've tried, but as a 'true' Chinese eater, I MUST have some cooked greens. Eating gai lan raw? No way!

I also have digestive issue. My mom has been bugging me to get a stomach checked out. I chicken out. Anyway, good thing you're taking care of yourself because if you don't, who will?
What kind of foods have you been making at home? Seems like you and Kenji are becoming more homebodies now. :) Cheers to that. Happy Lunar New Year!

Sherm / January 27, 2012 9:41 PM

So sorry to hear about your struggles with what seems like a terrifying set of circumstances. Love your blog (when it's updated *zing*) and your work on SE, and will continue to check for and read anything you publish. You're one of the most accessible and hilarious people I've ever come across on the innerwebs. I wish you good luck and good eating in your new habits.

One word of advice: if you have pollen allergies, you may want to avoid certain fruits that can cause pretty severe allergies in people that have allergies (worst sentence ever). I suffer from this, mostly with apples and cherries. Sever throat itchiness some swelling and weird ear situations arise from time to time. I've been taking OTC allergy meds which have pretty much knocked it out, though.

Sorry for the long, drawn-out comment, but I guess what I'm ultimately trying to say is that I hope your dietary changes help you find the answer to these attacks and that I will definitely be staying onboard to keep up with how things are going.

roboppy / January 28, 2012 12:47 AM

Thanks so much for your comments, guys! I didn't expect so many people to have allergy problems too. ...[group hug] :(

I MEAN, yay, we're not dead! :D

Pandabel: Thank you for reading! "Horrible, gasping, wheezy, mucous filled time of terror" = yup, you hit that on the nose. ;_; So sorry to hear you've gone through the same thing, but I'm glad you figured out what was bad for you! I read that wheat makes asthma conditions worse, so..I guess I'm ready to give that up. ...Orrrr mostly give it up. I suspect I will cheat on vacation.

maja: Thanks!

Juji: Oh man, I can't imagine being allergic to as many things as your sister was! I'm glad she's better now. Perhaps there is hope for me. :) I think it'll take a while,'s been so long since my last healthy diet, I'm not surprised my body is messed up.

Jack: Oh no, that's quite a list of trigger foods you've got there! But it's good you could narrow it down. I eat a lot of bananas these days and I love avocados; I'd hate to give those up. :[ I take fish oil omega 3 mom makes me, hehe. And yup, as you said I do have lots of food choices. Not such a bad thing to be forced to get used to other ingredients I didn't eat much of before!

Morten: I hope next time I go to Norway I'll be in better shape. ;_; I must admit I haven't been avoiding citrus...I really like clementines. Haven't had any problems with them so far. Phew.

Audrey: I'm cutting out most Chinese food for now, because of the grease-factor. :( Quite a bummer considering I work in Chinatown. And Sichuan restaurants used to be my favorite! Ohhh well. I predict I will eat loads more avocados this year than EVER BEFOOOORE.

I don't drink much tea, but I'll keep the tea advice in mind. If I do drink tea, it's mostly milk tea, but I figure I could do without all the extra sugar. Delicious...sugar.

Happy new year to you too! I had two nights of CNY dinners in a row; I saw them as my last indulgent meals before eating more healthily, hehe.

Fan: Thanks! That reminds me, I do wonder how Jason is doing with his healthier diet...

Susan: I remember times when I was absolutely hopeless at restricting anything out of my diet...but now, yup, the reactions have won over. Thanks for reading!

Claire: Indeed, I am at my best when I'm breathing. [stands up proudly]

Jeanne: Thanks! Here's a special treat for you:

2 bananas
3 peaches
a handful of blueberries
2 clementines

...okay I've gotta work on that. I will make it more exciting in the future.

JPress and Manda: Thanks! I love da hugs.

Carrie: I'm glad to hear you've got your acid reflux under control! I know I'm not super overweight, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to lose a few pounds. Or perhaps turn some of this flabbo into MUSCLE! ...Haha, okay that probably won't happen.

Marsha: 1) Thank you! I shall feel off your confidence! 2) I must thank my mom for setting me on the path to better nutrition. I know she'd want me to be more strict with my diet, but..gotta start somewhere. 3) Ohh yeah, how I do love criticizing it. ;_; I think Kåre told me in Norway there's a cap to how much money a person can medication before insurance has to cover the rest of it, which is like.....the opposite of here? Wuh. 4) I'm hoping I experience that progress!

Janet: Yes, lots of lovely things left! WE SHALL EAT THEM!

Kim: Oh yeah, lots of green stuff isn't fun to eat raw. The raw food diet is like...anti-Chinese, haha. I hope you figure out what those digestive issues are! For better or worse my digestive system feels fine, it's just the lung..problems..that get in the way. Lately I've been roasting cauliflower and squash and anything else that I think will taste good with those two, hehe. Happy new year to you too!

Sherm: Thanks for reading! I deserve that zing SO HARD! My doctor mentioned the pollen thing to me too, although I'll admit I...uh..forgot to heed it. ;_; I haven't reacted to apples or cherries yet, but I will keep that in mind. Would be so sad if I reacted to cherries; I love 'em soooo.

Caroline / January 28, 2012 2:07 AM

That's a great decision, good luck with your new diet! Although I enjoyed reading about all that food you were eating, I did think that it couldn't possibly be good for you. I am glad that you are doing the right thing for your health! And I will definitely keep reading your blog because you are always funny as hell. Take good care of yourself!

Dumneazu / January 28, 2012 2:49 AM

We don't read TGWAE to see what you ate as much as to what you have to say about it. We read it because you are such a cracking good writer. You could be blogging about sweaters or Medieval history and it would still be knee-slapping funny.(I'm a writer and heartily admit that I sometimes crib your style...) Please don't abandon us to the boring blog post styles of other sites!

Good luck on beating your asthma into submission!

plume / January 28, 2012 7:20 AM

Well, that's bad news, I hope the medication makes it better.
I had to stop eating any dairy product, it was hard but it made me discover new products. I made this inconvenience a source of inspiration to create new recipes, so you see it's not necessarily all bad.

Rodzilla / January 28, 2012 7:20 AM

Good luck with everything Robyn! This was actually the first time I read about your background wrt the interest in nutrition and such, but we have more in common than I thought. I'm confident that you'll be able to find a balance that will keep you healthy.

Mahar / January 28, 2012 1:40 PM

Oh! I know the feeling! I have allergies to everything---wine, alcohol, chocolate, shellfish, et al---but it can be done! Good luck with the eating, I'm sure you'll find a way to enjoy yourself more than ever! :)

melanie / January 28, 2012 6:22 PM

robin, I'm so sorry you're having these issues. I am newly vegan (with the exception of honey) because I just couldn't see any other way to solve weight and health issues. I've lost ten pounds in a month and feel great. I'm a chef by trade, actually,a vegan chef,so I know how to make everything taste really good. Listen, I LOVE food, all foods (especially pork and cheese !),but you know what, here's my chance to eat and experience the other 50 to 60 % of foods out there I've not eaten. Including, raw food preparations, vegan food and vegetarian. Look at it as an adventure, not a prison sentence. You are greatly loved and you will be victorious ! please, be well. Best, melanie

Jason / January 28, 2012 10:37 PM

I'm sorry things had been so tough and hope that these new dietary changes will help relieve you of some health-related stress. I think you could eat sawdust, and I would still read your blog. It's the spirit of your words which always excite me the most. Here's to non-exploding lungs!

Jason / January 28, 2012 10:37 PM

I'm sorry things had been so tough and hope that these new dietary changes will help relieve you of some health-related stress. I think you could eat sawdust, and I would still read your blog. It's the spirit of your words which always excite me the most. Here's to non-exploding lungs!

janet / January 29, 2012 6:02 PM

My asthma practically went away when I moved to a drier climate (Southern Cal). I can still get a reaction tho, from nitrates. Stay away from them nitrates, and MSG. Glad you made it through your ordeal!!!
Love your writing no matter what the subject! I have been a faithful reader for years!! Keep going!!

Rosebud / January 29, 2012 10:13 PM

I've heard that these reactions can get better over time, though I'm no MD. Abrazos mi amiga. And don't worry about the whole TGWAE title; it still fits and besides, you like manatees. You are awesome blossom.

roboppy / January 29, 2012 11:42 PM

Caroline: Thank you! I hope I continue to be funny as hell. ;_;

Dumneazu: Thank you! Perhaps it is time for me to expand my blogging topics. I do approve of sweaters.

Damn, saying you sometimes crib my style is too flattering; I love your writing! I am ashamed to say I haven't read your blog in a while buuut I'm going to read the crap out of it RIGHT NOOOOW (after I reply to these other comments)!!!

plume: It is nice to have a reason to create new recipes, yup! Glad to hear the no-dairy route is working out for you.

Rodzilla: The nutrition thing is a somewhat strange part of my life, hehe. I mean, considering how things turned out. :) Gotta thank my mom for getting me interested in nutrition! She's always been on me about it though since I have the most health problems in our family. ;_;

Mahar: Aw, that's quite a list! :( Although I wouldn't mind doing without alcohol or shellfish. Enjoy myself, I SHALL.

melanie: Thanks! There's a lot of food out there for me to discover—no prison for me! My next step is to learn how to prepare it so it tastes good, haha.

Jason: I can see my sawdust blog now: "Sawdust is not good, guys. I know it's temping, but...just don't." I'll come up with more interesting topics. :) Thanks for your support!

chocolatesuze: Thanks! I love dem hugs.

janet: Thanks for reading for so long! My mom wants me to stay away from MSG and nitrates, too. Methinks I will be staying away from Chinese restaurants for a while.. :( Perhaps it's time for me to learn how to cook Chinese food...

Rosebud: Thanks! MANATEES FOREVER!!

Teresa / January 30, 2012 1:14 AM

Robyn! Those sound like such horrific experiences, I'm scared just reading them, without having to go through them myself. Please take care of yourself, and really, if it comes to one's health, I feel you shouldn't have to explain. Just do what's best for you. :) I hope this doesn't make your job at SE harder, seeing how it may be a job requirement to test out products and review different food groups, etc. In any case, would love if you could document your new food journey (albeit a different one). TAKE CARE! :))))))))

sarah / January 30, 2012 1:34 AM

hey robyn,

ive been reading your blog for a long time - its really funny and soulful. thanks for writing it.

please be safe and please be careful! im a doctor so when i read your description of your allergic reaction, i was literally cringing. and also hoping your next sentence would be "...and then i went to the hospital." i was a little worried that you fell asleep after one of the episodes - even though im sure you felt pooped id still be concerned about your oxygenation. although it sounds like you have a handle on what the episodes are typically like, please be careful. i feel like such a mom. this is the danger of blogs... we feel like we know you :) so take care of yourself.

its very brave of you to make these changes, even though it must feel like youre up against a wall. but i dont care what you write about as long as you keep writing. preferably about food and life. but if you start writing about computers and mathematics i may not be that into it.

lucyD / January 30, 2012 10:51 AM

Just read your earlier post on the unfortunate hot dog incident maybe its the raw onions and not hot dog that cause that earlier reaction. Take care.

Ani / January 30, 2012 3:58 PM

I am so sorry to hear you have asthma. I do as well. I always thought it was my allergies to cats, dogs, etc. I was tested for it.

Now that we know allergies can also be food related. And not just peanuts of course.

Anyway in my long and rambly way I hope you will be well!!! And I will still read your blog!

J / January 30, 2012 11:59 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your health issues, but I'm glad you're trying to do something about it. I hope it works out for you!

Your blog posts always make me smile & I love what you do with your photos. You can make the most drab thing vibrant.

Gypsee / January 31, 2012 4:30 AM

Hej Robyn,

Sorry to hear about your food allergies. Holy Suckiness!

Good luck on the new diet and take care!

-gypsee from Max Burgers, Malmö Sweden

Julie / January 31, 2012 2:38 PM

Dang! I'm glad someone figured out what was going on with you, but I'm bummed for you over your new dietary restrictions. It seems like a lot of my favorite food bloggers are having to make dietary changes--especially baking bloggers who've been instructed to avoid gluten and dairy. Luckily, there's a lot of awesome food out there you still can eat, and 101 Cookbooks is a good start (but I'd pass on her black bean brownies). ;) Here's to your good health!

roboppy / February 1, 2012 1:40 AM

Teresa: Thanks! If anything, it should make my job at SE easier because I won't have to eat stuff!, it just makes me less useful. D'oh. Hm well, only been a week so far. :)

Sarah: Thanks for reading (and caring)! Sorry for freaking you out...gee, if only my doctor had been more freaked out, haha. Well. I guess they're used to this kind of thing. ;_; I did wonder about my oxygenation that time I was on the plane since I was on a...plane. But being on a plane also meant I was bored. I don't usually fall asleep after reactions, hehe.

Speaking of feeling like a mom, I really didn't give my mom enough cred in this post. She's the one who more properly scared me into eating healthily. Sometimes you need that push. My mom has been pushing me for ages. Sometimes I look back at when I was a kid and think, "I really should've listened more to Mom when she told me to eat healthily." ;_;

Anyhoo, unless the lack-of-breathing gave me a higher aptitude for computers and math, you're gonna be stuck with food and life. :)

Marvo: ...Oh god, now all I see is a forlorn Cookie Monster. Silently staring at his cookies. Questioning his life.

lucyD: Yeah, totally could've been the onions or some other non-meatlog part of the hot dog that was the problem. There were quite a few things going on in in most of the stuff I've reacted to. D'oh.

Ani: I'm allergic to cats too...I suppose I shall never have a kitten. Sniff. (I mean, I know there are shots you can take but I'm not quite that desperate. I do like cats though.) But I think I'm ok with peanuts. Yay!

J: Thanks! I shall continue to vibrantify!

Gypsee: Thanks! Luckily I had no reactions in Sweden. Gooooood ol Sweden.

Julie: Oh man, no gluten or dairy is quite a turn for a baking blogger...:( I don't feel too bad about getting a food-break, hehe. Aaand..I will skip those black bean brownies!

Frida: Thank you!

I Live in a Frying Pan / February 2, 2012 1:01 AM

Noooo....this is horrid Robyn, I wouldn't wish this terrible allergy on any food-loving soul, especially not someone as awesomely foodalicious as yourself! I feel your pain though...had the worst stomach ulcers for two years, and had to pretty much cut out all caffeine, fried stuff, spicy, red meat, blah di blah out of my diet...but two years later, I'm actually much better and started my blog last year when I thought I could finally start food exploring again.

The key for me now is to mix it up and do it in moderation - a meal outside, followed by two to three meals at home...that way I'm not killing myself unintentionally.

I don't know much about allergies, but I really do hope that this is something that can be cured over time. Even if not, hope you're able to stick to a lifestyle and diet program that keeps you healthy - I'm sure you will, and wishing you all the luck and support you need to follow the doc's orders!

...and a smidgen of floofay bun, cause we love it so and I'm sure it won't cause a reaction.

Jamie / February 2, 2012 3:35 AM

Oh god! I was reading this blog and feeling terrified for you. Asphyxiation is my worst fear. Next to ghosts, sharks, and crocodiles.

Anyway, I've been pretty big into tracking random things about my health as well, so i was kind of excited to hear that's what you were gunna do :P
I do believe knowing what is good for you via trial and error is the best way...most of the time.

I actually had no idea you had all these food allergies. But anyhoo glad to know you're okay! And gonna live a healthier life.

James / February 3, 2012 1:16 AM

If you'll be cooking more, then you'll just have even more everything to eat! And plenty to blog, and plenty of friends and fans to read along with your next set of food adventures. I'm glad that you at least have some kind of clarity and a plan for how you are going to kick this thing. As an unrelated wise boy once said: sucks to your asthmar!

Sandra / February 3, 2012 2:13 AM

I'm sorry to hear about this whole allergy thing. I, too, suffer from asthma (AND acid reflux AND atopic dermatitis). Like you, I love eating and trying new things and I'm also quite good at cooking. Aside from common allergens as dust, smoke, pollen and pet dander, I am also allergic to spicy foods, all things poultry, and basically anything that comes from bodies of water. When I get an allergic reaction, the asthma, acid reflux and atopic dermatitis flare up almost simultaneously. It sounds serious, but my allergic reactions never go into overdrive that I would asphyxiate, like you did.

To be honest though, it does not stop me from still eating and trying new things and cooking (even inhaling the scent of chicken for example can trigger my asthma; it's crazy, I know).

I hope you get better. I hope your lungs give you some slack. I hope to read more of your awesome foodventures in 2012. The internet just isn't the same without The Girl Who Ate Everything.

roboppy / February 4, 2012 10:51 PM

Christina: Thanks! So far I don't know if I'm feeling the effects of the diet, but I know I'm eating less junk so...yay! And no pomelos. Wah.

Danny: Thanks!

I Live in a Frying Pan: Whoa, stomach ulcers? :O That sounds super crappy. Makes me think of a sad stomach full of sores. :( Glad to hear you feel better now! And that you found a way to mix things up without feeling like crap. I must admit I ate some cupcakes the other day (GASSSSP) even though cake is on the "DO NOT EAT" list because my friend made em and dammit, they were good cupcakes. Made with love.

I would also take that smidgen of floofay bun. Floofay is worth it.

Thank you for the bear-hug!

FN: Mmm, perhaps if I refine my Rad Bunny design a bit more...

James: I'm alllmost surprised no one else has said "sucks to your asthmar!" to me before, hehe. :) I've wondered if my cooking adventures are worth blogging, and so far they are totally not, unless you want to read about my struggle trying to chop up a kabocha squash with an inadequate knife. Man, that was dumb. Pretty sure I should've used an axe.

Sandra: Oh no, your reactions sound worth than mine (even without the cannot-breathe thing)! :( So sorry to hear about that. As far as I know, I won't get a reaction from smelling something. That's pretty scary.

I will continue to write about my foodventures! Thanks for your support!

Alice Liu / February 6, 2012 1:39 AM

hi, boppy! (is it okay to call you that? it makes me feel like we know each other...when it's only me who stalks on your blog..sorry.)

so sorry about the asthma. does this mean...NO MORE TONKATSU?!?! O.O i was at nijiya today (our version of mitsuwa on the west coast) and they were selling curry pan and tonkatsu. i had to make the hardest decision ever: which one to buy??? i ended up with the curry pan (which gave me a surprise at first because i forgot that asians only have sweet bread for some reason), but if you had to choose, what would it be?

roboppy / February 7, 2012 1:38 AM

Alice: It's totally cool to call me boppy! It's as valid a name for me as Robyn is. :)

And...yeah, no tonkatsu for a while. :( The last time I ate tonkatsu, methinks sometime in December, I couldn't finish it because it triggered a reaction. A mild one, but one of the asthma-y sort. D'oh. I SO WANTED TO FINISH IT.

In a battle between curry pan and tonkatsu I'd rather eat tonkatsu. ...But if I could fit both in my belly I'd eat both. Yesm.

Carol F. / February 7, 2012 10:39 PM

Robyn, most of the foods you mentioned are on my husband's no-no list. He follows the msg diet here--

I do not gain anything by giving you the links. I just enjoy your blog and this is something that has helped many people. Possibly if you eliminate chemicals from your diet you will not have to eliminate all the rest of the foods you mentioned. Also, to reduce the acid from foods, try Prelief, kind of a Beano product but for tomatoes and such.

Good luck!

Rose / February 7, 2012 11:48 PM

Boooo! It sounds like you almost have to cut out all the fun delicious stuff that is soooo bad for you but soooo delicious! Argh! I had a terrible attack a year or so ago and found out that I had to cut cheese completely out of my diet. It's not a lactose thing, just it aggrevates a gallstone that I have. Of course I never really liked cheese until I couldn't eat it.

Lacey / February 8, 2012 1:57 PM

I'm pretty sure that no matter what you eat, you will make it fun to read about :) I really hope this dietary shift works for you! Happy lungs = yay!

bionicgrrrl / February 9, 2012 4:39 PM

OMG, oh no, poor you. I had something similar happen a few mos ago, but I don't think it was acid reflux, I think the canned pate I ate had gone bad (I should have known, it expired an year ago). And then in LA I got sick and I was worried the whole time I would never get well so I know how you feel. Hopefully it will pass, but if not, I'll still want to eat boring food with you! You bring the fun!

roboppy / February 9, 2012 11:46 PM

Carol: Thanks for the book rec! I hope I've cut down chemically stuff from my diet a lot by cooking most of my own food, but I can do better.

Rose: Aw man, no cheese? :C I don't eat many things with cheese in em these days (I'm guessing I mostly ate it in the form of pizza, hehe), but I like knowing I CAN eat it if I want. Hope you're feeling healthier!

Lacey: Thanks! My lungs have been quite happy lately, yay!

bionicgrrrl: EVIL CANNED PATE!

And we can totally eat boring food, weeee! YOU TOO BRING DA FUN!

KatyBelle / February 11, 2012 10:07 PM

Robin, thank you for sharing your story with us. You've been mentioning your increasing allergy and asthma problems on here, and I have been worried that this is why you haven't been blogging as much.

Please take care of yourself, and when you are ready to come back, we are looking forward to hearing from you.

AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR BORING DIET! I read this blog because you're fucking hilarious! The food porn helps, but I read this blog for the pee my pants humour.

roboppy / February 12, 2012 5:06 PM

KatyBelle: Ah, I can't blame my lack of blogging on allergies; that's just because I'm lazy. :( THANKS FOR STICKING WITH ME!!! I must continue to make people want to pee themselves! Yeah!

Alyssa / February 13, 2012 5:41 PM

Sorry to hear about your health problems, but at least after all of that now you know what's wrong. That's a lot of delicious food that you're going to have to cut out, but if it means you'll be in better health, then I'm sure it will be worth it.

I often question my ability to be an adequate food blogger because I choose not to consume many animal products. But I think it's still worth it to be part of the online food community, even if I'm not participating in all the discussions. I hope you'll keep us updated with your dietary changes and how they're working for you!

roboppy / February 15, 2012 1:42 AM

Alyssa: As long as I don't die young in a freak accident, I'm sure cutting out the deliciousness will be worth it in the long run. ..It better be. :) And you can totally be a good blogger even if you don't eat loads of animal products!

whitney / April 30, 2012 11:26 PM

Robyn! I happened to find this while I was being distracted from doing research about a client with fructose intolerance. Poor thing. So it was perfect, sometimes distractions work out.
Im sure you know this since youve seen an allergist, but there are things that you can do to reduce allergies when eating fruit. They include taking the skin off, eating fruit before it is too ripe, and cooking the fruit (tp make jams or crumbles, compotes!) Cooked fruit and ice cream is delish, and I love any excuse to have ice cream ;) Hope you are well.

roboppy / June 4, 2012 12:29 AM

whitney: Thanks for the tips! My allergist didn't give me any, aside from...avoid what's on my allergy list. :\ Cooked fruit and ice cream sounds good to me, hehe.

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