Dating with Food Allergies + Chronic Disease

Wowweee is this a giant // relevant topic. I’m also not quite sure how I haven’t written about it yet. I feel like I’ve casually dropped things along the way but haven’t spent time addressing all of it. SO here we go.

Let’s kick it off with what my “issues” are to set the tone.

I’m dairy-free, gluten-free, corn-free, predominantly coconut-free. My dairy allergy is super severe, no cross-contamination. I stay clear of gluten to help manage my IBS, bloat, and tummy issues. And the corn fucks with my throat and makes me rashy but isn’t life threatening. The coconut I choose to stay clear of most of the time because more likely than not, I’ll be constipated for more days than I’d like to admit.

I also thrive (I prefer this term over suffer from) with IBS-C (which I keep very well managed between food, supplements, and my lifestyle) and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

To manage my body, I cook a lot. I also have a few restaurants I keep on rotation that have dishes I know my body (and tastebuds) love. I also know what restaurants I feel comfortable ordering in from (little to no dairy in the kitchen, or I eat there enough to know the people that work there). This is all KEY when it comes to dating. You and only YOU are in charge of your body. You have to voice its needs. You have to stick up for yourself and feel comfortable doing so. OWN IT. If they’re right for you, they won’t care. Rephrase. They will care. They will ask questions, show concern for your well being, and eventually help you navigate it. If they literally don’t care or don’t care to partake in the situation, they’re (a) not worthy of you, you beautiful sensitive being and (b) aren’t in a place where they feel comfortable enough with themselves to not care what others think when you order a little bit differently or opt out of certain events // activities to take care of you or say no to cheese on that salad // sandwich // .

How it usually goes down — for me:

First date: I don’t say anything pre-date unless for some reason it comes out, but usually doesn’t because I stick to just drinks or an activity like a walk for a first meeting. The food allergies then come up at the bar. Usually alongside the drink order, apps get involved, especially if I’m meeting someone after work (// boys just have a tendency to always be hungry or not plan ahead). That’s the exact point the food allergies come up. It goes a little something like this — “do you want to get something to eat?” “no thanks, I already ate.” “would you have some of XX if i got it, i’m starving” “I actually have a really severe dairy allergy and don’t do XX so no thanks, but you go ahead and order something if you’re hungry.” — if I’m feeling a possible vibe with them (you know you can tell within minutes of meeting someone, I’ll usually make a joke // light heartedly say if you order that there is no chance you’re kissing me later, but that’s your call. THEN, here is how you know they care // are the kind of person you want to spend more time with: they will (a) ask if they mind if you order something you’re allergic to (honestly, nothing grosses me out more than someone chowing down on something cheesy // buttery while a foot away from me talking to me, potentially accidentally spitting it in my drink while chatting…the whole situation is 100x worse if said food is finger food — and follow up with how long they would then have to wait to kiss you OR better yet (b) they make the decision to order something without dairy or gluten or corn so I can taste it if i change my mind (and so they can kiss me later with no stress or disgust — let’s note i will kiss with gluten or corn, just not dairy — remember, that one is life threatening // hospital inducing).

Second date: This is where the food really comes up if it hadn’t already on the first date. Thorough run down of allergies, what happens, education, etc ensues. Most of the time it’s well received — I will say though I’ve vetted these guys. The ones who say they can’t live without cheese on their hinge profile or pose with pizzas, I say no to right off the bat // don’t even match with. Then comes where to eat. We usually go to sushi because it’s a crowd pleaser and easy for me to eat and also one of my favorite foods. You can also tell a lot about a person from their sushi restaurant choice and order. If we don’t do sushi, I throw out what cuisines // restaurants I’m comfy with and we go from there. Let’s reiterate really quick. If a guy is genuinely interested in you he will listen with care, go along with it, maybe joke around in a kind fashion, and move on with the date like it’s “normal” — or at least his “new norm.”

Third+ date: they know the drill. At this point in seeing someone I will probably have them over and cook for them. It’s fun to share that and usually they have a good time getting in on the action. Plus there’s something hot about getting messy with someone in the kitchen. Remember, you do what you do because you care for your body and are confident in your body. That energy flows through you to them. What could be weird or annoying to some can be electric if attuned properly.

Nowww for the chronic disease chat. I’m in a weird place here because I blog. I write about this stuff as part of my job. So it often comes up in conversation on the first date. Because of what I do, the things I share on stories, and the topics I write about, I pretty much have no filter. I have absolutely no issue telling someone my gut health journey story on a first date (in fact, I did it this past weekend and the guy literally looked at me like I was super woman when I walked him through how I healed myself). That said, I will leave out the gross parts (like the fact that I low key shit on the gastroenterologist that diagnosed me IBS-C when I was in college — yes it happened, and yes it’s a very long story). I will also usually say IBS or tummy troubles instead of IBS-C (it’s less graphic) and then explain what the acronym NAFLD is and then explain that yes I still drink and it’s just a balancing act // taking care of my sensitive body sort of thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Someone who is interested in you will ask you questions and not care if you’re not “normal.” In fact, it might make them more interested in you. Because of my chronic illnesses, I’m into stuff, do fun activities, and get myself into all sorts of offbeat continuing education opportunities that I probably wouldn’t do otherwise — like infrared sauna, herbal tinctures, acupuncture, YTT etc. You are you for a reason. Spread your light. Put it out there. Don’t hold back. They’re going to find out eventually and you don’t want to waste your time on someone who can’t deal or chooses not to.

I get that you probably don’t blog about this stuff, so it’s not going to come up in a what do you do situation. But it may come up in a what does your day to day look like because us spoonies tend to spend a little bit more time on our bodies and self care daily. That said, when and how you answer questions related to your own chronic illness is entirely up to you. However, my general rule of thumb: don’t mention it unless it comes up and if a convo leads into it, don’t avoid it. It’s okay, in fact it’s good, to be open! It might surprise you, your date may have similar issues, know someone with similar issues, or just like to geek out on health // biohacking stuff OR they just will just think and tell you that you are an incredible human.

I hope this empowers you. I hope this helps you tap into your third chakra, your solar plexus — aka your sense of self, power, and vitality. I hope you don’t hold back. I hope you get a little vulnerable. Yes, its scary. Yes, some people won’t understand it. But some people will and you will never know unless you go there.

Radiating light to all my friends on the search for love. It’s there. As always please leave a comment below or DM me with thoughts, feelings, and questions.

XO

P.S. one FAB question that came through on instagram that I didn’t address in the novel above —

How do you not feel guilty when your pain gets in the way of dating // sex // etc?

This is such a great question. If it’s a first date, I will just cancel. Tell them I’m very sorry but I’m just not feeling up to meeting. If they think you truly have potentially // if it’s in the stars, they will kindly reschedule. If the raincheck date doesn’t happen, I believe it wasn’t meant to be and your body was probably trying to tell you something. Don’t feel bad about it. You don’t have to get graphic with them, but you can voice that you were looking forward to the date but just can’t make it. Be real with them, don’t beat around the bush, be sincere, no game playing. If it’s past a first or second or third date and you’ve have the chronic illness chat — this is a perfect education moment. Explain that you don’t have the energy // aren’t in the physical, mental, or energetic state to be present for them that night. Tell them what your needs are. I personally need to be alone and like to do some kind of self care. Pending on the situation that means an infrared sweat sesh, a movie alone, a castor oil pack, a long walk in nature, leaving the city for the weekend (i’ve cancelled so many weekend dates to do this), etc. If you’re someone who likes to snuggle or talk things out with a partner to get the energy flowing through and out of your body, you can tell them that. Set the tone for the date. Say you know, I wish I was up for being friskey // going out // etc (however you want to phrase it), but what I really need right now is a low key night at home. Do you want to come over for XX (meditation, a movie, etc)? The last thing you need is to put excess stress on your body so be crystal clear with them and remember if they’re meant to be in your life and want to support you they will — but no one is a mind reader. You have to be super straightforward like flat out say I want to see you and spend time together, but can’t have sex tonight. If you’re bloated to the extreme, look like your 8 months pregnant and don’t feel like going out to eat. Make a joke. Tell them that. They only way to get through the rough stuff is to make light of the situation, don’t hold it in (that said if you don’t really know them yet, just say you’re not up for it. We do have some boundaries people.)