Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Friends Zone: Allergy style

Who hasn't heard of the Friend Zone?  I'm not talking about Ross and Rachel here, the Friend Zone is the place in a relationship where both parties are comfortable, it's that point in time when you don't really move forward because you have reached a defining level in your relationship.  Some people feel it's inescapable.

Today, this struck me as the perfect metaphor for food allergies, and even chronic symptoms.  I've reached the Friend Zone.  In allergy-speak, this isn't a terrible thing.  It means that I'm comfortable managing my diet around my needs.  I don't even stress about food events, or beg for a carefully footnoted ingredient list.  I already know that answer; and it's no.  No food prepared outside of my kitchen at this time.

But it's also a danger zone.  I'm taken aback by food offers from new friends and acquaintances.  It means that I have my safe food list, my comfort foods, and I'm not constantly trying to expand.  In short, it puts me in a rut.  Same old foods, prepared very similarly.

Likewise, when it comes to symptoms, there is a Friends Zone that isn't so great.  Kind of like an annoying neighbor who thinks you're best friends and you want to be polite to.  Or are forced to put up with.  They become so ingrained in our lives that we take them for granted and stop trying to change things.  We accept them as an inevitable negative part of life.

Recently, I was talking to a woman who has a teenage son with food allergies.  He's in a double friends zone; choosing to put up with symptoms and assuming they won't get worse.  I hope, for his sake, that they won't.  But I also couldn't help but wonder if the problem could be too much Zone.  A boring diet, no longer pushing to adjust and expand, coupled by an acceptance that this is just the zone.  What we know, what we grow used to.

As someone with food allergies, I don't want to be stuck in a zone.  Maybe I'll choose it now and then, but I don't want to be stuck with symptoms I can't explain (they're either related to hidden allergens, or caused by damage done by prolonged GI reactions).  I don't want to presume that my diet must be boring and bland, while "normal" people enjoy "normal" diets full of spice and pizzaz.

So, while I fully intend to adjust my diet this summer in search of answers, I've also decided to yank myself out of the Friends Zone.  Insist on spicing it up.  Add a little pizzaz.

If nothing else, I'm gonna sip my ginger water from a champagne flute once in awhile.  It feels inspirational.