I Want My Nickel Back

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might recall that I have been struggling with food allergies for a long time. If you haven’t been reading for a while, I struggle with food allergies. While I have known that I am more sensitive to some specific items that others, it’s taken me a very long time—almost 20 years–to find out what has been behind the intermittent but nasty eczema on my hands.

Dairy and eggs are two particular food banes of my existence, as they are for many people. They cause me digestive woes. My reactions seem to be less when I eat dairy or eggs in things than when I drink milk or eat some scrambled eggs.

A couple of weeks ago, I was lying in bed, trying not to scratch at the scaly, inflamed patches on my hands. I looked up eczema, the specific kind of eczema I get, which is called the dyshidrotic eczema, and found out that one of the most common causes of that particular type of eczema is nickel sensitivity.

I have known for more than half my life that I cannot wear jewelry with nickel in it, because it gives me a horrible rash. Guess what else gives people who are sensitive to nickel of horrible rash? Eating nickel.

I bet that’s not something most people would think of right away. I certainly didn’t. But nickel is a trace element found in the earth, and many foods grown in the earth absorb various amounts of nickel. When people like me, who are sensitive to nickel, eat those foods, they cause our rashes to flare up.

Fortunately, I’ve been around enough people who struggle with food allergy issues, and who are particularly brilliant about replacing things that cause people to struggle with their food. I know what to do and how to help myself.

Unfortunately, nickel is particularly high in some of my favorite foods. It turns out that legumes are ridiculously high in nickel. So, beans, and their relatives, nuts and peas, are out. I happen to really like beans. For many years, I ate an alternative diet with a lot of beans, including things that we don’t always think of as beans: tofu and other soy products.

But the biggest bummer of all is that chocolate is made from a bean: the cocoa bean. Cocoa and cocoa powder rank near the top of the charts for nickel content.

I’m very used to altering the way that I eat to make myself feel better. I have been doing it for a long time. Sometimes, I balance proportions and still enjoy the things that otherwise would make me sick. Sometimes I eat too much, and get sick. That’s something my friend Vicki, who also lives with food sensitivities, calls the “idiot tax.” We’re humans; it’s hard to resist things that taste good to us.

Right now, I am going through the Kübler-Ross cycle of mourning chocolate. I don’t know how long I will be in depression. I would like to say that I could bargain, but chocolate is wicked high in nickel that it’s really something that shouldn’t be on the menu for somebody who has a nickel sensitivity.

On the bright side, there are many delicious flavors in this world, such as butterscotch, caramel, peppermint, and many more. I look forward to exploring them in ways that I have not heretofore taken the time to do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit in a cozy chair with a vanilla Ripple steamer, and listen to, “How You Remind Me.”

One thought on “I Want My Nickel Back

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