Saturday 1 December 2018

A quarter teaspoon of scallop and my first anaphylactic reaction

When I was 21, I visited my parents in far North Queensland, Australia. They live in a small quiet beach community where the air is heavy with humidity, and the nights are deeply quiet - filled with the sounds of insect and dark night skies glittered with stars.

One night, my Dad was cooking dinner, which included an entrĂ©e of scallops. As a rule, I don’t eat shellfish as my hands, throat and mouth itch whenever I even touch it. But it was a relaxed evening and I had never tried scallop before so we thought why not? Once the scallops were cooked I tried a small piece on a teaspoon, no larger than a 1/4 teaspoon serving. Within about 10 minutes I started coughing, my fingers and the soft tissue in my throat felt tight and uncomfortable, I was also very itchy. I then started getting dizzy, passing in and out. Immediately my Dad threw me into the car and drove me straight to the local hospital – keeping in mind, the closest ambulance and hospital in this part of rural Australia is a 20-minute drive from our house. I was diagnosed with Food Chemical Anaphylaxis and placed on a restricted rotational diet. I was just 21 years old.

What I didn't know at the time, was that this was the catalyst that would throw me deeply into a passion for food, food allergies and nutrition. After spending countless hours with doctors, allergists, nutritionists, and dietitians, I have developed a deep understanding and reverence for nutrition and health through diet. My health philosophy is very simple, look after your body: Feed it with a varied diet and whole foods, exercise it, (for me this means weekly yoga, rock climbing, walking my dog and getting in nature), and finally be aware of contributing factors, which includes hormones, stress, work and home life (just to name a few).

When I started on this journey, I didn't know anyone with allergies, I didn't know how to look after myself, and I didn't know how to be safe eating around others. Now I feel like I have a pretty good idea (most of the time) and I really want this space to be somewhere that you can come to feel better about your journey and feel supported. You are not alone.

With Love,
Eating out at a music festival in 2015
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