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Updated: May 19, 2022

For the past 18 weeks, I've been following the SFED.

What's that? You might well be asking.

SFED stands for Six Food Elimination Diet, which means six food groups are not allowed, and must only be carried out under the supervision of an experienced, specialist dietitian via the hospital. These dietitians are so rare that I have to travel two and a half hours to see mine.

The six food groups I am excluding are gluten grains (wheat, rye, barley, and oats), milk(all mammalian milk), egg, fish(including molluscs and crustaceans), nuts(peanuts, almonds, brazils, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, macadamia, walnut, and cashews), and soya. On top of this I am also allergic to chicken, beef, pineapple, and black pepper.

I often get asked, 'what can you eat?'. There are still lots of foods I can eat, it's just difficult to avoid those forbidden foods. I won't starve, I'm just not enjoying food anymore. Shopping takes twice as long because I have to read all the labels. I used to love cooking, (I am a trained chef after all!) but now I hate it. Eating, why would I? It causes me pain and can be frightening when food gets stuck on the way down, but we all know I would soon die without food, so I have to eat slowly, small bites, and lots of liquid, sauces or a drink with each bite.

The impact on the mental health of myself and everyone with food sensitivities (allergies, coeliac disease, EGIDs, crohns, IBD) can be very challenging. Imagine being afraid to eat. You need to check the ingredients in everything. Feeling that you can't trust anyone with preparing your meals.

Then you have to check the ingredients in medications too, and the pharmacists don't understand, keep getting the wrong brand of medication, tell you they can't order specifics, make you look 2inches tall, and make you go back the next day because they actually can order specifics, they just think you're being awkward, or they can't be bothered!

Is it any surprise we struggle with daily life? Is it any wonder we get depressed, angry, upset, frustrated, or feel like giving up on life?

Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband, who has been with me through the journey to diagnosis of EoE, and continues to encourage me by cooking for me. I rarely cook anymore, it's too traumatic. Likewise with shopping, I've had many occasions when I've burst into tears in a supermarket, and had complete strangers ask if I'm OK. I just ask them how long they've got, and they go on their way.

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