Sadly I'm one of those odd people who have an undiagnosed intolerance. I live with this daily and have learned to be careful and canny in what I eat. However, looking at the menus regularly served at conferences and conventions, I feel a great sadness for those like myself who cannot (and not by choice) eat what most people do. They may relish their hot sauces but meanwhile I'm chewing on a stray lettuce leaf that hasn't been soaked in sweet chilli vinaigrette.
I would love to be able to eat spices. I really would, but I'm hoping this tiny insight into what happens to me will educate other people that its not a choice for us. This is a battle we live with daily. When I watch cooking shows and they use a cup of this spice and 2 chilli...oh and pass the garlic and ginger I want to cry. This is why:-
I’m one of those weird people with an “intolerance” of spice. Such a gentle word to explain the gamut of pain and discomfort that comes from the bite of something forbidden.
See, I know from the very first taste. The spark of heat on my lips, and I’m already lost. Its tendrils reach out, like the tentacles of an octopus, burning my tongue and mouth. I’m already lost, because once I swallow, that fire streaks down to my belly. Think of scouring your system? This is effective but the after effects are wholly unpleasant… for everyone.
It begins with a bloat, hardening my stomach while the tumultuous shake begins. I’m burning from the inside out as fine tremors shimmy through my whole body, clamping nausea and cramps take control. The burning extends.
OMG do not get in my way. This is not the time I can manage to stand in a line… anywhere.
The vomits begin. If I’m lucky and it’s merely a mouthful of food with spice, I can sometimes tough it out. Sometimes I can’t though. No matter how much I could wish otherwise.
Milk helps. (It neutralizes the enzymes) but again it’s by degrees and depends on how much I’ve eaten.
I shake and I ache, my stomach cramps and there isn’t enough water in the world to quench my raging need to put out the fire that is my existence. If I’m really unlucky it migrates south and there’s nothing I can do until my body is done.
A night gripping the toilet bowl is very uncomfortable. Not to mention unhygienic. I wish I had a choice.
Afterwards, you brush your teeth, stagger back to bed and lie there hoping to cool down. You will the raging sea inside your belly to settle, unable to think. Lost in the haze of ongoing pain. Has it passed? Do I need to dash again?
Now, dehydration is my friend. Days pass before I feel somewhat normal again. I drink water, carefully consider everything I eat and drink until the effects have worn off. I stay quiet and calm because my whole body is feels like the tiniest thing will shatter me.
See, a lot of people out there think that intolerance of spice is something we “make up” to explain our dislike of it. Not everyone is medically diagnosed. (Life would be so much simpler if it were!) but it’s one of those little-known and rarely-considered issues that more people have than anyone would guess.
So the next time someone says to you they are intolerant of spice, take a moment. Think about my experience and put yourself in their shoes. Cause it’s a horrible thing to live with.