I have always had atrocious seasonal allergies. I was that kid – you know the one with the constantly drippy nose, who carried tissues while other kids carried personal treasures, and who more often than not in the Spring was likely to be a little spacey because at that time Benadryl was the best answer to swollen eyes and gooey noses. “Most people grow out of it…” they said. And so I waited. And waited. And waited. I’m 42 now. While I’ve not outgrown all of my childhood foibles, many have indeed gone by the wayside. Not my allergies. Last year was one of my worst. I loaded up on prescriptions and struggled through the Spring, feeling a bit punished for my love of gardening and super fresh, super local (backyard grown) food. I used my Neti pot, I used steroid nasal spray, I did everything I could to remain coherent AND breathe.
Over the last year my family and I have made a series of dietary changes. We’ve been paying a lot of attention and have made every effort to eliminate as many processed foods as we can, and recently we’ve DRAMATICALLY decreased the amount of meat and dairy that we consume. We still eat it, but mostly on the weekends, and try to keep the portion MUCH smaller. More of a flavoring than an entree. So here we are, feeling better than we have in a LONG time and tree pollen season is upon us. I’ve noticed and had a few days that made me think about medicating… but I haven’t. Mostly I feel pretty good. I’ve been out in the garden; I’ve been doing yard work. Yes, I feel that pollen, but this is a whole different world. Everyone around me is complaining about their symptoms and trading tips on symptomatic relief. I am breathing through not one, but TWO clear nostrils and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
So what’s going on here? Is it the strange weather? Is it still too early and in a few days I will regret ever commenting on my relative comfort? Possibly. But the fact is that I feel better than I have ever felt. In my life. Ever. There are doctors out there who will tell you that dietary change can influence your allergies… No, really. It’s true; the food you eat MAY actually have something to do with how your body functions. I’ll be darned. I’ll give you one link, but all you need to do is Google “diet and seasonal allergies” and you’ll get a quick roundup of the suggestions as to how and why these two may go hand in hand. My personal experience is suggesting that there is something in either processed food or animal products that taxed my system in such a way that the additional load brought on by Spring pollen was just too much to bear. I suppose I could do an elimination diet, testing one of these items at a time to see exactly which one, or which ones, are causing the trouble…. but I feel great. So why would I do that? I’ll just keep on keeping on and we’ll see what the rest of Spring looks like. Maybe I’ll avoid being groggy at all. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?
So here’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you to eat what I eat so your problems will go away. I’m not going to do that. Our diet has been an evolution. A long process of incremental change that has landed us here. You may not find the idea of really cutting meat and dairy interesting, and I can understand that. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll wonder what would happen if you made some changes. What would happen if the next meal you made didn’t include food that could sit on a shelf for a year without changing? I’m serious, what would that look like? If you have made changes, and you’ve noticed a difference, I want to hear about it. And for the first time with pollen counts this high, I’ll probably remember what you say when you respond.