A banana, the perfect fruit: sweet, rich in vitamins and potassium, doesn’t need washing, comes in its own handy wrapper. And very, very bad for me.
As a child, I was not a picky eater at all. I didn’t know that refusing food was an option. But bananas? They made me cry, literally. The distinctive smell made me woozy and want to gag. When my mother, a nutritionist who knew all the benefits of this wonderful fruit, would give it to me to eat, I’d sit there with a mushy bite in my mouth, miserable and sobbing. I just couldn’t make my body accept it. Gag, vomit, whatever. Every part of my body rejected it.
I just about clicked my heels (ask me to demonstrate sometime) when I finally got tested for allergies since I was such a sickly child, and the doctor confirmed I was allergic to bananas. Oh frabjous day and other Lewis Carroll-coined exultant nonsense phrases!
In fact, my reactions are more in line with a banana intolerance. You can check out the more medical explanation or the account of another person who appears to share my banana intolerance. I still just say I’m allergic though. It’s easier.
Despite the diagnosis, it hasn’t always been easy for me and my combative relationship with bananas. A few examples:
- The smell makes me ill enough to require me to move when a person is eating a banana near me. Once, when I volunteered at a food bank, the odor of bananas reached beyond the doors of the plant. I had to become a mouth breather for the day (sexy!), and was still very weak and light-headed the whole time.
- Bananas are freakin’ everywhere. I have to be very careful about smoothies and be one of “those” people who asks about the ingredients in certain foods. Dessert makers tend to like using bananas for their natural sweetness.
- People think my intolerance is funny and always try to test me by giving me bananas, waving it in front of my face, etc.
- No to plantains. They’re too closely related, so I’m not going to risk it.
- Although I’m not allergic to banana leaves (happy about this since so many yummy Vietnamese and other ethnic foods are steamed in them) I found out in the worst way that I am allergic to banana blossoms. On a trip to Vietnam with my mom, we both had no problems with the street food, except for one day when I started sweating, getting cramps and feeling generally crappy. Since we ate the same thing that day, we figured out that the banana blossom was the only factor that could have affected me. Makes sense since the blossom eventually turn into fruit.
Sometimes I just tell people that bananas are like kryptonite for me, rendering me weak in powerless. I was also diagnosed with an allergy to pineapple, so perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m like old-school Green Lantern, who didn’t have power over the yellow?