Over the last six months or so, my diet has drastically changed. I have always been a meat-and-potatoes type of girl. Of course, I’ve thought about eating healthy, but I just love food and never wanted to restrict myself to only what was good for me.
An Allergy to Meat?
This past summer I got a tick bite. I live in a rural area where these are very common and generally not much more than a nuisance. This one was different; not in appearance, but in effects. The tick, known as the Lone Star Tick, transmitted the Alpha-Gal Allergy through its saliva.
Now I am allergic to beef, pork, venison, some dairy products, and gelatin. Anything that comes from a mammal can send me into anaphylactic shock. I can eat chicken and turkey, but not lunchmeat, because it contains gelatin, which comes from mammals.
There is not much known about this strange allergy. A recent article published on the National Institute of Health’s website shows that experts are still in the early stages of understanding Alpha-Gal, and notes that thousands of cases have been reported in the U.S. alone. Another article by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center describes one woman’s experience with Alpha-Gal. In this article Dr. Robert Valet says, “Certainly these patients can present with every bit as severe of an allergy as someone who is allergic to peanuts.”
Cheeseburgers Are Not Your Friends.
Needless to say, some big changes were in order when I found out I was essentially allergic to meat and dairy. My family generally ate beef at least three times a week. I drank milk, a big, tall, delicious glass of milk, every day.
Now, I have a protein bar for breakfast, some sort of fruit for a snack, a salad for lunch, and some variety of turkey or chicken with dinner. I substitute ground turkey for beef in a lot of my old recipes, such as spaghetti, lasagna, and tacos, and you can barely tell the difference. We use chicken for enchiladas, pastas, or in chicken potpies. My husband came up with the idea of using canned, precooked chicken; this saves a ton of time.
My family still eats meat when we go out, but we don’t cook it here, so all of our diets have changed in big ways lately. I am proud that we are eating so much healthier, and I don’t think I would revert back to my pre-allergy diet, but I sure would enjoy just one more cheeseburger.
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