The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Diet Update + Watching 'Eat Your Kimchi' Because That Pluot Was a Dick

Food allergens report
Beware of the ORANGE ZONE.

"Do you feel healthier since going on your diet?"

This is the question I've heard the most in the last few months. I mean, aside from basic questions like, "How's it going?" or, "Did you go to bed at 3 again?" or, "What are you eating? Can I eat that?" (which is only asked by Hambone, the official Serious Eats dog, and it's not so much spoken as desperately transmitted through his glistening puppy eyes).

My not so encouraging answer: "Not really. Maybe less asthma, but otherwise I feel about the same." Not that I expect drastic changes so soon; it's only been about one and a half months since I started my healthier diet to prevent allergic reactions to food. The rough guidelines:

  • No deep fried food (Alas, after a month of avoiding french fries, I've caved in two times so far.)
  • No spicy food (I've cheated on this a few times too, but unlike with the fried food, it was accidental)
  • No pizza (pretty easy to stick to since I didn't eat much pizza in the first place)
  • Wheat only once a week (At first I wanted to cut it out completely, but it was too damn hard. And I must admit I ate wheat two days this week. Also, I still use soy sauce with wheat in it. I keep forgetting to look for the non-wheat kind.)
  • Fewer non-wheat products (I tend to eat rice when I go out, but I've stopped cooking it at home.)
  • More fruits and vegetables

The biggest changes since I started my diet:

  • Don't need to take as much asthma medication (Perhaps not much of a victory since my doctor prescribed me a pretty large dose to begin with, but I'd like to believe this is an effect of the diet.)
  • Cook way more often than ever before (The best formula I've learned so far is lemon + ginger + coconut milk + anything tastes pretty good, but I have yet to reach the point where I'd feel comfortable feeding anyone else the stuff I cook, assuming I want that person to like me.)
  • Eat way more squash and potatoes (Pretty sure I've eaten more squash in the last one and a half months than in my whole life before then.)
  • Eat way more nuts and dried fruit (Prunes are da bomb. And I'm not talking about poop bombs. You probably weren't even thinking about poop bombs. BUT YOU ARE NOW. You're welcome.)
  • Eat way more bananas
  • Eat way more yogurt
  • Eat way more spinach
  • Eat way more carrots
  • Eat way more chocolate (mostly because I had accumulated a stash of Norwegian chocolate since last spring—a stash that lasted quite a long time until I started my diet, which sounds like the opposite of what should've happened)
  • Eat way more snacks in general as long as they're not wheaty or fried

So what I'm trying to say is that I still eat a buttload. Maybe not as much as before—man, I ate a lot before—and not as unhealthily as before, but surely more than my sedentary 5'1" self needs to be stuffed with. It's just taking me some time to get used to these new eating habits and to learn when to, um, stop eating. (First step: Buy fewer snacky things.) My mom thinks I lost some weight, but I can't say I feel like I have. Not that I care much; it wasn't my goal. I haven't gained weight, at least.

I'm fine with the way things are going. I'm not on this diet to transform into a beacon of glowing health—that would require doing a bunch of things I'm not doing now, like eating more healthily, sleeping more than six hours a night on a regular basis, and physically exerting myself until I reach the "sweating" stage. For now, I'm on this diet to be moderately healthy, decrease my chances of having an allergic attack, and more easily identify what I'm allergic to.

And identify, I HAVE. The results of the food allergy blood test I did back in January, pictured in the chart up top, helps guide my food choices (although I still eat some of the "orange zone" food without a problem, I'm avoiding eating, say, five of them in one go), but that test can't tell me everything. It couldn't tell me that I'd have an allergic reaction to day-old cole slaw—cole slaw that was benign the first day I ate it—or, as I found out yesterday afternoon, that a few bites of a pluot would give me the mega-wheezes.

Or maybe I should've known. Peaches and almonds are on my allergen list, and pluots are in the same genus. (What can I say; Prunus just doesn't enter my mind when I'm shopping for groceries.) But I've eaten lots of almonds and prunes lately without any problem. Maybe the pluot I ate yesterday was just a dick.

Here's what went down. After eating a few slices of the pluot, the lymph node under the left side of my chin started swelling, the floor of my mouth got mildly swollen (this is usually the first thing to happen when I get an allergic reaction), and not long after I went into crackly-flubby-lungs-ugh-WTF-can't-breath-so-good-(or-feel-compelled-to-be-grammaticallly-correct) mode. It wasn't nearly as bad as that time a pomelo took over my respiratory system, but bad enough to render me useless. It took about 45 minutes for me to feel normal again, at which point I was still mindset of, "Bluuh I don't wanna do nuuttinnn bllrurughgh [words degenerate into slurring] [shoves head into a pillow]."

So to pass the time, I poked around my YouTube subscriptions and, to my glee, saw a new WANK video (that is, "Wonderful Adventure Now Korea," duh) from Eat Your Kimchi. And thus I spent about half an hour watching Eat Your Kimchi videos while regaining full use of my lungs. It's one of my favorite YouTube channels (some other fave YouTubers: Freddie Wong, Nathan Barnatt, DJ Flula, Natalie Tran, Ninja Sex Party, and Henry Philips) and I hope some of you like them too. Because if you don't, I will judge you really hard. In a negative way.

For those who don't know what Eat Your Kimchi is, here's a super short summary: Four years ago, husband and wife team Simon and Martina moved from Canada to Seoul to teach English and in their spare time made awesome, funny, well produced videos about Korean culture. Loads of em. Today they no longer teach English; the success of EYK allows them to be full-time bloggers.

Their productivity astounds me. Shooting and editing videos (and blogging about the videos) is about 10000% more complicated than what I do, and I can't even pump out one blog post a week, nor can I keep up to date with editing my photos. (Granted, I have a full-time job, but even if I didn't, I don't think I'd be that productive.) How do I...I just...what...blurgh...aarhrhg [flails frantically, like swatting at invisible gnats].

Eat Your Kimchi - "Korean Shabu Shabu"

Their latest WANK—more specifically, a FAPFAP, "Food Adventure Program For Awesome People"—is about Korean shabu shabu. If you're into sexy close ups of a bubbling pot of vegetables and meat and other good stuff, this is for you. Sadly, I've stopped eating Korean food ever since I started my diet because two out of the three last times I ate Korean food, specifically soondubu, my body reacted with mild to moderate lung wheezes. I'm sure there's some Korean food I can eat—I might just have a problem with spicy Korean food—but to be safe I've avoided all of it.

Eat Your Kimchi - "Wonderful Adventure Now Korea" playlist

I'd recommend starting at the first WANK to get the lay of the land (or browse their channel of over 300 videos). What I love about the videos in this series is that they're not just, "Hey look at this cool thing in Seoul! Here's some info about it!" but, "Hey, look at this cool thing in Seoul and WATCH US FIND THE BEST ENGRISH and WATCH US FIND A KPOP IDOL and WATCH US COMPETE IN THIS RANDOM CHALLENGE then WATCH THE LOSER MAKE A FOOL OF HIM/HERSELF." Simon and Martina are a perfect blend of silly, funny, intelligent, and informative. And quite possibly the coolest couple out there. And they make me really really really really want to go back to Seoul (I've visited once, back in 2009).

Well, I lost an hour of my life tonight, so it's time for bed at this ripe hour of...4:40 a.m.? FFFFFUUUUUUUU-anyway, my next post will be about stuff I ate that didn't trigger an allergic reaction. [thumbs up]


Audrey / March 11, 2012 7:24 AM

Glad to hear your health is improving! Hopefully, soon you'll be able to pinpoint more triggers so you can reintroduce other things. Also, I've adored Eatyourkimchi for a long time - their consistent level of output and enthusiasm is incredible. And they're just plain fun to watch.

Jannie / March 11, 2012 8:32 AM

Uh, I would be very careful about following the advice of your current medical practitioners. . .seeing as they have you classified as male. Or is there something you forgot to mention to us, your dear readers-to-whom-you-tell-everything :-)?

Meister / March 11, 2012 10:29 AM

Man, I'm sorry to hear you're battling allergins, and that pluot does sound like a dick! But good on you for taking steps toward feeling awesome, because you are pretty awesome and your feelings deserve to line up with the truth of the situation.

PS: They sneak wheat into all kinds of crazy places, don't they!? Annoying!

kim / March 11, 2012 5:33 PM

Although weight lost isn't your goal, did you weigh yourself before & after? Allergies are tricky little suckers. Sometimes you get a reaction and sometimes you don't. Guess also depends on your current immune system. Are you in fighter position or flight and run mode? I do pray that you'll feel better soon enough to tackle some more 'orange zone' eats. :)

roboppy / March 12, 2012 3:30 AM

Audrey: Yay, glad you hear you're an EYK fan! I wish I had gotten on the bandwagon sooner.

Jannie: Yeaaaaahhh uhhhhhummmuh I don't like to talk about that JUST KIDDING, I guess my doctor goofed, which makes me wonder how many other things they've messed up. Muhoh. I AM A LADY PERSON I SWEAR.

Simon: Ooh, thanks for stopping by my blog! MAKE SILLY VIDEOS FOREVER, PLEASE. I hope I can someday visit Seoul when you guys are there!

Meister: Thanks! :) I may be ingesting wheat in other ways I don't know about, but bluuuh I can't monitor everything. At least I'm not actually gluten intolerant.

Kim: I haven't weighed myself, admittedly; I generally go with how my clothes feel, which is the same as before. Doesn't mean I didn't lose weight, i guess, but if I did it's made no impact on my waistline. Or circumference of anything else, hehe. I'm pretty sensitive to that stuff.

I totally need to eat more healthily and not, say, eat cheese puffs at 1:50am like I did last night doobedoo...

Rebecca / March 12, 2012 6:36 PM

My brother has survived two years in Korea without eating anything spicy (he thinks he's allergic to red pepper flakes) yet still had loads of yummy foods, so don't give up on Korean food yet! :)

thespatulaqueen / March 12, 2012 9:54 PM

I cooked with you and thought we had a delicious meal. Chocolate and ice cream afterwards didn't hurt either. :)

Also, I just noticed you're a little bit allergic to cucumbers. Yay, cucumber allergies ARE real! I mean...not yay, but at least now there can be more of us avoiding that evil thing.

maggie @ balance nyc / March 12, 2012 11:23 PM

Ooo I will have to try the lemon + ginger + coconut milk trick. Mine is usually "saute something in butter + add whipped cream cheese + really good balsamic vinegar". So I like to find new fail-proof combos.

roboppy / March 13, 2012 1:55 PM

Nick: Haha, aw no ultra sad face needed; I wanted those fries...and that salad...and for some reason I feel like it's more okay to eat fried food with you (I mean, not health-wise, just psychologically). That's just how things roll when you eat with Nick.

Melissa: YOU LIKED MAH MEEEAL? :] I don't think I could taste the broccos that well since I was sick, but I'll take your word for it. Chocolate makes any meal better, though (well, eaten afterward, not with the broccoli).

I'm so glad I could justify your cuke aversion!

Maggie: I haven't tried butter, whipped cream cheese, and balsamic vinegar before; will keep it in mind!

Margaret / March 27, 2012 6:34 PM

So intrigued by the lemon/ginger/coconut milk thing-- care to expand? What do you cook with that?
I'm in college and always trying to find simple ways to make good food

roboppy / March 27, 2012 6:50 PM

Margaret: Sure! I started off with this recipe:

...But I left out the tomatoes, garlic, and hot pepper because I didn't want to use em. After making the recipe with chickpeas and spinach, I tried cooking chunks of kabocha in the coconut milk/ginger/lemon combo with good results. And chicken. (That was after also trying this recipe: And random veggies. Hope that helps!

Naomi / March 28, 2012 8:19 AM

I've been reading your blog for awhile (a year or two?) and I really enjoy it. I haven't posted a comment before because... I don't know why. BUT! I was reading this article about how apparently everyone uses this type of insect to dye food red, and I was wondering if you had been tested for allergies to this insect? It sounds like even innocent things like cheddar are often dyed with this insect. Might be worth pursuing....

Here's the article I was reading:


kristina / April 2, 2012 11:08 PM

phew! that was mildly scary, but definitely not as scary as the citrus incident. glad you're better.

ps. i moved from portland to nyc. :) now i'm able to really put more effort into trying the places you've recommended over the years.

Michael / April 3, 2012 1:18 AM

Robyn, I love that you share stuff like the list of allergies you have with us! No worries, your list isn't have as bad as my friend's list! Things on his list include not just wheat but RICE, and not just milk but SOY MILK too! THAT is super sad face worthy. I used to have breathing problems after eating too, and it stopped after I quit overstuffing myself, hahaha.. trials and tribulations of food lovers... good luck!

roboppy / April 17, 2012 12:52 AM

Naomi: Ah, I'm replying so late!...that you may not see my response. ;_; But first, thanks for reading for so long! No prob on waiting a few years to leave a comment. ;) As for being allergic to that dye, I have no idea, but I've reacted to many things that definitely don't have that dye, so I can't say it's much of a worry for me. I just have to worry about all the other stuff. ...Hm.

kristina: Welcome to NYC! Portland is pretty damn nice (street foooood!), but I hope you're liking it here so far.

Michael: Oh my god, being allergic to rice would be terrible. I LOVE RICE FOREVER. Even just the smell of it...mmmm...

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