A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

There is nothing worse than taking a food allergy hit while traveling; especially when the side effects are on the smelly and messy side, followed by a migraine. Though thankfully the migraine came well after we were home, and I had meds to help with the other side-effects while we were in the car.  It takes the motto of “don’t leave home without it” to a whole new extreme.

Exile Brewing Company is located in Des Moines, Iowa, near their downtown area.  It’s very industrial, and the air is filled with the tang of fermenting barley and wheat as you would expect from a brewery.

I was traveling with a group, and a beer after a long hard day at the track is just what this group (minus myself, beer – bleh) desired, for me being able to eat there is the only requirement.  So, I called ahead and checked it out, turns out if I communicate with my server, they can feed me. Great! I let the group know and we head out.

Typically, it’s the third time that is the charm, in this case it was the first time.  I ordered their chicken plate, and it came with a starter salad.  They brought me their house parmesan dressing, it smelled divine – which typically denotes when I can’t have something – but I had them double check the ingredients.  Turns out I couldn’t have that dressing, but I could have their Italian dressing. Dinner progressed without incident, and the group deemed the beer worthy of their taste buds.

Two nights later, we decided to return to Exile.  This time burgers and fries were the desire, as well as beer, after a very long weekend of field and track.  It was time to enjoy the company, fill our bellies, and then get a goodnights rest for the 11 plus hour drive home the next day.

This time, I wasn’t as fortunate.  It was Saturday night, and they were busy. Though we were seated quickly, getting and keeping our servers attention was not easy.  A member of our party has a very drastic reaction to onions, and requested no onions on his burger.  Sadly, when he received it…there were onions present. Thankfully he could pull them off and carry on with his meal, but the fact that they were there was a bad omen for me.

I did my due diligence and asked the server to verify that I could have my desired menu choice, a lovely steak salad with heirloom tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are a personal favorite).

Now when I had called they informed me that I needed to let my server know about my soy allergy so that they could inform the kitchen of it, and the kitchen could then take steps to prevent cross contamination and use pure olive oil.

I stressed my allergy and he assured me there was no soy in my entrée of choice. It came with the parmesan dressing, so I asked for the Italian instead, and proceeded to wait patiently.

My salad came, and I ate with gusto. I was starving, and realized quickly that it wasn’t enough to cover the energy I had burned at the track meet, so I also ordered a starter salad.  Honestly, I think I wanted the fresh vegetables, it’s one thing we don’t get enough of when traveling to out of state meets.  Plus, the started salad also had heirloom tomatoes, so it was a no brainer I asked for the Italian dressing, and settled back enjoyed the company.

We got back to our room, and my symptoms started. The only thing I can figure is that they didn’t take proper steps in the kitchen to ensure I only got olive oil when cooking my steak.  All I knew was that I didn’t feel well, and if I didn’t start on my meds soon I would be in trouble.

The moral of this story is, you can never be too careful. Just when I think I can eat somewhere new, which is nice for all involved since we carpool and they are typically stuck going where I can go to eat, so it’s nice when we can change things up a bit, then something like this happens and I just want to run back to my hole and only eat at places I know are safe.  It’s kind of sad, I won’t deny it, but the reality of not eating properly is dangerous. And I will take sad over dangerous any day.

After years of going wherever someone else wanted to go and basically living on salads, no meat or any protein just veggies, after a long grueling day of field events where we can be doing anything from running in fields to spot where a shot put, discus, hammer, weight, or javelin fell, to shuttling said tools back to the athletes just to name two jobs; add into that extreme weather from 100-degree heat to 42 degrees and freezing rain for outdoor venues and all of it requires energy for your body to burn, and contrary to popular some beliefs, only eating vegetables is not the best solution (for me anyway). Even if you want/need to lose weight, not eating properly, regardless of the reason, is not the answer.

Once my doctor threatened me with a hospital stay to get my blood chemistry back to “safe” levels, I realized the error of my ways and put my foot down when it came to eating with groups. Sometimes it means I don’t go with the group. That really sucks, especially for my husband because he chooses to go with me and that means he doesn’t get to socialize (something he thrives on), but there is only one me and I have to take care of me.  That is a hard lesson to learn, for some.  (Pot calling the kettle black…right here!)

Thankfully hubby doesn’t complain, much. After four days of the same restaurant he’s ready to eat anything else, but he’s a trooper. I offer to let him go with the group, and Lord bless him he chooses me every time. Thankfully, with my continued efforts to try new places – it is not easy let me tell you, once you experience a food allergy reaction you are very leery to re-live it – I have found some great places of us to eat when we travel.  And hopefully there will be more travel, for fun not track (though we love our track trips) in our near future.