This I Believe

Kristina - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on November 14, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

There I was, at the age of twelve, suffering and not knowing what to do. My arms were aflame with a fire red rash and I could barely stand up because my stomach was tied into such terribly painful knots. I lived this way for a long while before I finally got diagnosed with a plethora of food allergies. These allergies include wheat, yeast, dairy, soy, peanuts, pineapple, barley, corn, processed sugar, preservatives, and gluten. I nearly entered a state of depression realizing I could no longer go to friends’ birthday parties and eat pizza, cake, and ice cream. There would be no more sharing of food at the lunch table, going out to restaurants for a lovely family meal, or enjoying the luxury of sampling food worry free at the grocery store.

For a while I missed those days, and missed the inclusion and conversation that food brought about. However, I realized that I don’t need food to be my ticket into the conversation or my emotional relief at the end of the day; I had real relationships and real ideas for that purpose. My biggest burden had become my greatest blessing. I am now happy and healthy and I have not gotten sick for about a year. I can run seven miles without having any of the symptoms of asthma. I get to cook myself great, healthy, diverse food every day and often receive comments on how delicious it looks and smells.

Moving away from the subject of myself, it has been a great blessing to many others as well. My mother eats healthier now and my friends get to have the advantage of knowing quick easy recipes that are much healthier than the cafeteria food. Even people outside of my personal circle of relationships have been affected by my allergies.

No matter where I am, usually the grocery store, I end up running into someone with a gluten intolerance or some kind of allergy and it is a rarity to run into someone with an allergy that I do not also posses. I am able to guide them and help them, as I have already tried most of the brands and products available to the overly allergic. I have shared many recipes with people and I am on my way making a recipe book and food guide for people with multiple allergies or even just sensitive stomachs. When I tell most people about my allergies, the typical response is, “Man, what can you eat? Anything? That must stink.” I respond by telling them that I love my allergies because I now know how many different foods there are away from PB and J’s, potato chips, and cookies. How many people have actually tried quinoa, mung beans, or amaranth? I get to enjoy the great nourishing diverse food that God put on this planet. Sometimes our greatest burdens can often be our greatest blessings. This, I believe.