When Food is the Enemy

When Food is the Enemy

When Food is the Enemy

I can live without coffee.  I will be mean and nasty but I will be alive.  Sunshine seems to be tantamount to my happiness, but without it, my heart will continue to beat (I know this because I lived in England for three months and the sun came out MAYBE three times).  And naps.  Ahhh…those glorious few minutes when I can escape life and pain and fatigue.  As much as I love them, not having one will not be the death of me (some days I wonder).  What about my cell phone?  I will admit, on days when my phone was lost or broken, I had thoughts like, “This is it!  Farewell cruel world!”   But I did not burst into flames or grow my hair long and start living with the apes.  I can live without it.

But what about food?  We have to have it.  It is the way our bodies were designed.  We need water and air, and we have to have food.  It is the way our bodies get energy.  It is how we get our nutrients.  It provides building blocks for muscle and bone growth.

What happens, though, when food is an enemy to our bodies?  What if our bodies misunderstood the food we eat, causing our immune system to see enemies where there are friends.  That causes the immune system to produce substances and reactions meant for bacterial, viral and parasitic invaders.  Now the rub in all this is the fact that we have to eat, and for many people, that means keeping the body in battle mode.  This is what happens with food allergies, food intolerances, and rare disorders like eosinophilic eosophagitis/gastritis and mast cell disorder.

This is the struggle for my youngest, Little Miss Sparkle and Shine.  She suffers from all of the above, since her body has created four different ways to see food as an enemy attack.  Some reactions are mild like headaches and excema.  Most are miserable like food sticking in the throat, vomiting and constant stomach aches.  Some of her reactions can be life-threatening, like closing of her airway and her heart stopping.

Since she lives in this paradox, the paradox of having to eat and her body hating her for it, our lives look different from many. And because of that I have created:


  1. Medicine is the only way to get through the day.  You pop pills like they are Skittles.  It keeps your reactions to a dull roar most days, as long as you are careful with what you eat.  It can also help to quell reactions to foods that you didn’t know were there or that you thought were “ok.”
  2. You eat wackadoodle things.  Since you can’t eat what most everyone else eats, you have to start thinking outside the box.  I am not in jest when I say we have fed Miss Sparkle things like Antelope, Boar, a grain called amaranth and hemp milk. We joke that the cricket flour I see on Amazon, may be next (funny, not funny).
  3. As a parent, you can never relax.  I.mean.NEVER.  Hundreds of questions run through my head each day like, “Is that food properly labeled?” “Which ingredient did she react to last time?” “Is she sneaking food she shouldn’t have because she is sick to death of amaranth and antelope?” “Has there been cross-contamination?” Things to consider about food and her health are endless.
  4. Holidays and social gatherings SUCK.  Our culture so heavily revolves around food.  Every holiday has at least one food associated with it and in truth, it is the main part of most celebrations.  We have class parties, go out to lunch with friends and have picnic playdates.  This is tough stuff.  It leaves these warriors on the sidelines of most holidays and makes them the only kid in class eating carrot sticks when the other kids have cupcakes at the birthday party.

There are other illnesses that make the body attack itself because it dared to eat (like Celiac, IBD and gastroparesis).  Eating seems so simple so many people, going to Mc Donald’s, eating Doritos, ordering pizza. We taking eating for granted, don’t we?  But for those whose bodies hate them for eating, they have the daily challenge of battling an enemy that they can’t live without.

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  • Kristin Jarvis says:

    Wonderful, Michelle! So proud of you for starting a blog. Thank you for your heart to share with others so that people suffering from food allergies can feel understood! In addition, thank you for shining light on an issue so many of us take for granted! Well done! Bravo!

  • Becky Zerr says:

    This is great Michelle! Not only are you helping others who are dealing with similar struggles, but you are shedding light to those of us that aren’t.

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