“What does your husband do?”
As a professor, I have taught a variety of classes, but one of my favorites is my January Term course titled “The Metamorphosis of Theobroma Cacao” at Saint Mary’s College of California. The course is about the history of cacao and includes the following: chocolate tasting, making of chocolate confections, and studying cacao’s role in the personal care products industry and making personal care products using cacao. My class in 2014 was full and included both female and male students. The latter is noteworthy because in previous versions of the class, I had taught the course as quarter credit and split in two classes. In the personal care course, I had had only female students and having male students in such a class brings different questions and topics of discussion.
One astute male student asked me on a day where were we discussing our personal care industry texts, “What does your husband do?”
Not having been asked that question in any other context besides relating to his profession, I answered that he too is an educator which led the student to clarify, “No, what does your husband for his personal care products since you are allergic to anything with corn? And what does he eat?”
My answer to that question is a bit indirect and begins with our first date where I cooked a meal of tapas followed by handmade chocolate candies. Prior to the date, I had revealed to him my walnut allergy and asked whether he had any. Lucky for us, he is only “allergic” to bad food. What a blessing. Lucky for him I do not make that kind of food.
Since we began dating, he has made a choice to omit walnuts from his diet because he enjoys kissing me. When I answered my student’s question in this way, most of the class giggled, but I also believe they were hit with a does of awareness because the idea that a partner makes a dietary / life-style choice to avoid an allergen so as to not harm a loved one is an act which shows that food allergies not only affect the individual, but they also affect relationships.
Our journey continues and has led to our marriage as well as to parenthood. Shortly after her birth, we discovered that our first daughter was suffering from major food allergies. One of which is corn. We lived through a version of hell because she was so sick and in so much pain. The only thing we wanted was for her to feel and be better and so we worked on learning what we could and made healthy changes. I removed her allergens from my diet so I could breastfeed which allowed her to begin to heal and resulted in me feeling really well. My Foodie-In-Crime also removed her allergens from his diet in order to not cause her any unintended harm.
Fast forward a few years after reintroducing foods and I started to be feel ill and have rashes on my face and neck that were so itchy that I felt like I would scratch my skin off. I had headaches, brain fog, G.I. issues, moodiness, etc. My self-esteem suffered because my rash-laden, itchy skin reflected on the outside and to the world what I felt inside. I was itchy a lot. I was in pain a lot. My Foodie-In-Crime lived this pain with me for at least two and one half years until we discovered the causes: a corn allergy and celiac disease. It has been over six years and he continues to support my dietary needs while avoiding my allergens because I sometimes react if he ingests them. Since he loves me, enjoys kissing me and he has no desire to see me suffer or be the cause of that suffering, he follows a primal diet.
So what does my husband do? Not only is he a considerate partner, he is also a good papa bear who wants to protect our little ones and be a good role model which has led to him learning to read labels and he has become pretty darn good at it. There are times when he is uncertain and so he sends a picture of a label asking a question via text. We are blessed. And I am grateful to have a Foodie-In-Crime who is willing to avoid my allergens and those of our little ladies in order to make sure we do not have reactions in our home.