Friday, April 16, 2010

Ingredient Reading FAILURE

One would think after fourteen months of learning to scrutinize every single ingredients list on every single food I put in my mouth, I'd be an expert by now. Unfortunately, even expert ingredient list readers can be tripped up.

Sometimes it's due to things outside of our control, like sudden unannounced product changes. Usually, however, it's our own fault. Life decides to speed up, we get in a hurry, we reach out and grab something we think is something else, then we compound the problem by not catching the mistake until after the package is sitting empty in the trash due to a sudden snack attack.

This tendency to go into autopilot at the grocery store has brought me to my metaphorical knees more than once and it's very much the one thing that continues to plague me, even after all the cravings have passed and that switch in my head has reset so that the foods that really ARE bad for me smell and taste bad.

This time around it was a bag of crisps. We were at the grocery store a couple of weekends ago and I passed by the Riceworks display, remembered I was out and I snagged two bags. What I thought I grabbed were the Sea Salt and Salsa Fresca flavors, as those are the two I can eat (no soy or dairy, all are gluten-free). After sitting down and eating the entire bag Wednesday night, then waking up Thursday and feeling progressively horrible, I stopped and thought about what all I had eaten the day before and spotted the bag in the trash, realizing suddenly that instead of Salsa Fresca, I had bought the Sweet Chili flavor, which is chock full of soy.

The lesson I took from this was to SLOW DOWN and LOOK. The red and green packages obviously invoke traffic signals and they're a good analogy for food intolerances and allergies. That red bag should have screamed STOP to me, but I was in such a hurry that it didn't register...and once it had made it home into the pantry, it was "safe" and my brain completely set it aside for any further consideration. Assuming everything I've bought is safe when I know that I've been getting sloppy is dangerous. Days are lost feeling extremely ill, which then makes everyone around me suffer. If I had a job, that would be lost wages if I had to call in sick.

The hidden blessing to having food intolerances instead of true food allergies is that such a mistake doesn't land me in the hospital with anaphylaxis. Usually it isn't until the next day when every thing's happily landed in my intestinal tract that things start to go very very wrong. While I wouldn't wish this ailment on anyone, I do have to be grateful for that (at least for now).


  1. I have been having some kind of digestive problems lately myself. I have not checked out any food allergies yet though. I think mine may even be somewhat stress related as it seems to happen a lot when I get upset or am involved in some kind of drama. Anywho I have had other things checked out so if it doesn't get any better on it's own I will have to check into the food intolerance/allergy angle and also brink up the stress/drama angle too. I sure hope it isn't food as it sounds like a pain in the butt to try to shop and feed yourself when you have food intolerances and allergies.


  2. PD,

    It really is a pain in the butt!'s doable once you get a solid diagnosis. I can't emphasize how important KNOWING really is for this sort of health problem. Too many doctors want to just slap an Irritable Bowel Syndrome label on the symptoms when there are a wide variety of diseases and conditions that can be at the root of the problem.

    The flip side is that when dealing with the gut, even once you know why you're sick, the healing process takes a LONG time to be fully completed. Sooner you know, the sooner you can get treatment and make the lifestyle changes that will speed up healing and the sooner you're feeling well!