When I was a kid, I didn't eat much fresh fruit. When I did, it burned my mouth and caused swelling. Not eating healthy fresh fruit would drive my mother crazy. I was good with vegetables though, so I didn't get too much flack. Still, if I wanted something sweet, fruit wouldn't do it. No apples or pears, cherries, or watermelon for me.
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By the time I hit my twenties I had figured out that I was allergic to a lot of different fruits. Actually, this only applied to fresh fruits. Cook them and I could enjoy them. But outside of applesauce and pies, and the rare compote, who cooks fruit? I could also eat canned fruit.
At one point, when I was working at a hospital, I went to see about getting my hay fever dealt with. I mentioned to the allergist that I was allergic to cherries. She was doubtful, so she told me to bring some cherries to my next appointment. The next visit, I presented the fresh cherries. She sliced one, took a photo of the tissue on the inside of my lip. Then she placed the cherry there for a few minutes and, sure enough, the tissue began to swell up. That was the allergic reaction. She took another picture and told me she was going to submit it to a journal. It didn't help me, but maybe other patients wouldn't be treated with such doubt after that.
Meanwhile, about 33 years have passed since that time and fortunately, my allergies to fresh fruit have disappeared, just as my hay fever has drastically diminished. Poison Ivy is worse than ever though.
Now, I started writing this because I've begun eating apples. You may take this totally for granted. But the past three days, I've had an apple a day. That's a big deal for me. When I was a kid, eating fresh fruit would burn my mouth and cause inflammation. Not knowing which fruits put me at risk, I avoided almost all of them, except bananas. To satisfy my craving for sweets, I'd eat a lot of ice cream and cake. If there was a cake in the house, my younger brother would get one or two slices and I'd finish the rest-- especially chocolate cake with icing. And that ice cream-- I could go through a half gallon in a day or two.
I have to wonder what my life would have been like if I didn't have fruit allergies. It ends up I was probably never allergic to peaches, strawberries and grapes. I'm not sure about a lot of fruits because by the time I was a teen, I literally avoided all fresh fruit except bananas. If there was a serving tray, at a party, of fresh fruit, it would look like a cross between a tray of fire and thorns to me.
Once I had children and I was buying fruit for them, I started, very cautiously, trying fresh fruit again. Grapes, strawberries and blueberries were okay. I realized I really loved cherries. I always liked the canned cherries, so I tried the fresh ones. Sure enough, I still had the allergic reaction when I was in my thirties. Finally, the past few years-- maybe three or four, the reaction has almost totally disappeared.
So this year, I've finally overcome my fresh fruit aversion enough to try taking bites out of apples. This is certainly a normal experience for most people. But for me, it's new.
I realized just how new when I enjoyed the first bite-- the texture, the sound. This was new stuff. The freshness of the taste is something that still hits me as a new treat, with my three days of apple eating experience. Now, I worked my way up to this, in the past two years, eating pears, peaches and plums. But crossing the apple threshold has been a big one for me.
Since I've been an adult, finding new things, new experiences has always been a treat. I feel I'm lucky that I am one of those rare Ameicans who at the age of 57 is finally discovering the pleasure of that first crisp bite. It's finally hitting me that I can have an apple instead of a fruit pastry, which I've long been hooked on, like Tastycake Jelly Krimpets. I don't know if it's too late in my life to change my addiction to sweets-- to switch to fruits. But I'm workig on it.
It makes me wonder what other simple, easily unnoticed things from my childhood I've held onto that I can now let go of. Imagine avoiding eating apples and cherries and pears for over 50 years. This newfound "fruit eating ability" may even help me lose some of the pounds I'd like to lose.
I started writing this because sometimes, writing about these kinds of things helps to flesh out deeper understandings. Sometimes, changes in our lives, in our ways of seeing, doing, feeling lead to new insights and understandings. I'm not sure where my new habit of eating an apple a day will take me. I don't know if I'll change my relationship to sweets or lose weight.
I do see this new "ability" as a change in my overactive immune system. My body is getting along better with the rest of the universe. Maybe this trend will lead to me becoming more tolerant in other ways. Maybe, as my "irritability" response that has subsided in my mouth will lead to my having more patience. Or maybe, my alertness and sharpness will dull. Aging is a wondrous thing. I embrace it with enthusiasm and curiosity.
I just did a search on fruit allergy. Apparently, I am not alone. There's a tie-in to hay-fever, and the worst allergens are in the skin of the fruit. It appears there are more people than I thought who go through this, hopefully, including the later in life discovery of the pleasure of biting into a crisp, fresh apple-- hopefully, before they lose their teeth, not a problem in civilized countries where universal health care includes dental care.(What, you though I could do a non-political article?)