Fat Thigh-roid Woes: What flavors MSG?
Over the years my food sensitivities have gotten, well, more sensitive. Also, since the overhaul of my diet, anytime I eat something super scummy (yet delicious) my stomach, head, nose and everything just wants to explode. Sometimes it’s worth it (I’m talking to YOU, pastrami subs), and sometimes it’s one of those poor decisions made out of extreme hunger and exhaustion (You know who you are, Snickers).
One thing I can’t tolerate anymore is Chinese food.
Let me take you to a time, a few years ago, while I dined at this amazing Chinese restaurant and everything tasted delicious. For the purposes of this column, I will call this restaurant “Chinese Grub #1”.
About an hour after eating, I was struck with the worst headache of my life. I don’t normally get headaches, but this one was migraine-like and pure dull ache.
I didn’t think anything of it. Didn’t think it had anything to do with the Chinese food (figured it was the weather, or I was dehydrated) but it was so bad I had to pop a pill and it STILL didn’t go away. A few months after this incident, I ate again at Chinese Grub #1 cause it was so damn delish and once again, head throbbing.
Chinese Grub #1 has a sign posted outside their establishment that they use NO MSG. Guess who is allergic to MSG? Me!! The FDA says MSG is safe, and a very small percentage of people actually have a reaction – but if you have it in normal quantities you’ll be fine.
I call BULLSHIT on the FDA. Nothing that gives me a headache like that should be considered safe.
MSG is in so many processed foods, and yeah, maybe in very small quantities it’s *okay*…but my body has gotten so sensitive that I can’t tolerate those small quantities anymore. I don’t eat flavored chips anymore because of this nonsense, and my former fave was BBQ dipped in yogurt. I dip everything in yogurt, and if you haven’t gone down this path – I highly suggest you try it out. You’ll be hooked. Now it’s just plain salted kettle chips for me…sniff.
Part Two of my Story:
My grandma loves Chinese food, so I picked some up for her bday a few months ago. Went to this small establishment near my home, Chinese Grub #2, and it’s run by just one guy. He cooks and waits on tables. Superman. I asked him if he put MSG in his food, and he hesitated before answering and said “yes, but I don’t use too much – if you want, I’ll only use very little in the food today.” He then went on to tell me stories while he was making my food, stories that perked my ears up.
“Every Chinese food place uses MSG, that’s where they get flavor – if they tell you they don’t use it, don’t believe them. I have a friend that works at “Chinese Grub #1” and they tell people they don’t use MSG – he said they have bags of it in the back, and they put one cup in their dishes.”
Stroke of luck, some gossip from one guy to another guy and finally to me to me that pointed out the specific restaurant that made me sick. Now, I know this isn’t a very thorough investigation, but I don’t have access into the kitchen of Chinese Grub #1. But, my headache and bent over sickness from Chinese Grub #1 was so severe I was very willing to believe how much MSG they actually used.
So I called Chinese Grub #1, and the convo went something like this:
Me: “Hi, I’m severely allergic to MSG, do you guys use it in your food?”
Guy on phone: “I don’t think so.”
Me: “You don’t think so?”
Guy on phone: “No, we don’t, it’s in soy sauce, but we don’t add any to the food.”
Being sick with thyroid disease makes our bodies become sensitive to additives and even things like gluten. I’ve worked at plenty of restaurants, and no one really took allergies seriously. That was then, this is now. It’s worse people. I’m convinced that guy doesn’t think I have an actual allergy to MSG, but I’m just saying it cause it’s the thing to say. MSG is unpopular. It’s damn near social suicide to get into bed with MSG.
What the hell are we supposed to eat if we can’t or don’t want to eat every meal at home?
This guy is potentially dealing with a lawsuit, no? What if I can prove they use MSG in their food, what happens then? Does the health department come down on people who lie about ingredients, or do they only think certain health hazards should be cited?
I once worked at a restaurant that got a “B” rating for a leaky faucet. A. Leaky. Faucet. This system is backasswards.
Another common allergy is to gluten. Everyone and their mom talks about their gluten intolerance. I live in Los Angeles, where most people will tell you they have a gluten allergy. “Gluten-free” became the new Atkins a few years ago, but these thin bitches have taken it a step further and lie about having an intolerance. The actual intolerance is to FOOD, but whatever. Point is, servers think we’re all just crying wolf. But again, back to last week’s column, people just DON’T CARE about you and your allergy.
This makes it that much harder for people with an actual legit allergy.
I don’t want to become that person that is super suspicious of every meal I eat, but at the same time – I MUST remain cautious. It’s not worth the headache, bloated belly, and pain I’ll be suffering with the rest of the day. Unless I’m at home alone and near a bathroom.
How do you deal with food sensitivity issues in an increasingly insensitive world?