Ever since I was a little girl I have loved camping and eating all the good food from the grill, especially the fish. But when I was about 16, I had an allergic reaction to both shrimp and salmon. It was awful; I developed hives, my throat swelled and my breathing was constricted. After that, I avoided fish, seafood and really anything that lived in water!
Testing for Food Allergies
Years went by and I finally decided I should get tested for my allergies. I made an appointment with my Avera McGreevy doctor to find out how intensive the test would be. She told me I could do a simple blood test for nearly any allergy I suspected. That was great news—a simple draw and tests results within a few days. The results showed no allergies to seafood, tuna, salmon or trout! Let the fishing begin, right?! This is where the real story begins.
It had been more than fifteen years since I’d even thought about eating fish or seafood. I was very leery about trying fish again. Over that time I had trained my brain to reject it—the smell, the taste and even the look of it. Just the thought of eating something that came from the water was disgusting to me. I was even skeptical about the lab results being accurate, although I knew deep in my mind that they were 100 percent accurate.
A few weeks went by and I finally worked up enough courage to try fish again, under strict guidelines. I had to be in Sioux Falls so I could access medical treatment if needed (really?!), and it also had to be an actual fish that was listed on my test results. I selected tuna. I remember that as a kid I loved tuna melts and I knew that with a little cheese and bread it couldn’t be that bad. I carefully took my first bite and then another and then slowly finished it. No reaction, I was just fine.
The story doesn’t end here; I was still struggling with my mindset about fish. How can I make it more appealing to me? Fifteen years of negative association with a food is a long time. I tapped into some of my own health coaching skills and decided it was time for some self-reflection. Through the reflection process I realized that I don’t know anything about properly cooking fish. I also realized that I had lost touch with the nutritional value of the different varieties of fish. I decided to research ways to cook fish and also looked up nutritional values of some fish and seafood. Through that process I found many recipes and a great low fat, low carbohydrate seasoning that my family and I love. I also learned about the nutritional value, which, I have learned, helps me mentally enjoy my food more. I have now tried fish several times and I am really starting to enjoy it again!
Benefits of Health Coaching
As I reflect on my experiences over the past years I realize that I should have connected with my physician earlier in this process. I also realized the power of health coaching skills. Without those skills, and the support of my family, to help me work though this process I would likely still be living a fish-free life. If you have any uncertainty about an allergy I would highly suggest getting tested sooner than later so you too can find what works best for you. Finally, if you’re like me and you have negative tendencies toward certain foods, I would highly encourage tapping into the skills of health coaching and learning to enjoy what healthy food has to offer.