Without a doubt, every time I tell someone I have an MSG allergy, the first thing they say is, “Isn’t that in everything?” No, MSG is not in everything, but it is in most Chinese foods, soups, canned veggies and processed meats and can affect people differently. For me, Chinese food is what makes me the most sick, which is a shame because I used to eat it all the time, until I noticed it was making me violently ill.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a flavor enhancer and according to the Federal Drug and Food Administration, it is considered a “generally safe” ingredient. Notice the word “generally.” Doesn’t that make you feel a little uneasy? It sure makes me queasy. MSG is supposed to be put on the label of anything it is in, but I can tell when it’s present because I instantly get a headache.
I was raised Jewish and yes, the stereotype of us eating a lot of Chinese food is definitely true. There was a restaurant just down the street from my house that had the best food, and they practically knew our order the second we stepped in the door. I never had a problem with the food, that is until I ate Chinese at a food court. That was probably my first mistake.
I was probably 10, and I had never eaten the Chinese food from this place before. I wish I had just gotten a slice of pizza. I don’t remember what I ordered, but I know I drank a Pepsi. Well, long story short, I got food poisoning almost instantly after eating the food. I’ll leave the imagery up to you. The event was so traumatic, I had to stop drinking any type of dark colored pops and haven’t had a sip of one since.
I was convinced I got sick because I ate sketchy food court food, not because what I ate was Chinese food. I’m Jewish, so there was no way I was ready to admit I couldn’t eat Chinese food. I waited a while until the next time my family and I went to our favorite, authentic Chinese restaurant, which I think was supposed to be MSG free. I got sick from that food too. And the time after that.
I stopped eating Chinese food for good. No other food has affected me the way Chinese food did. I’ve gotten headaches from soups that most likely contained MSG, but nothing more than that. Now, I’m really careful when it comes to eating canned veggies and soups. I have to thoroughly check labels, but being away at school, I’m scared of what could be in the food we are being served because there aren’t any labels to check.
I don’t miss eating Chinese food (or pop, since that was a major factor in my first experience with food poisoning. I’ve actually lost a lot of weight since cutting that out of my diet.) There have been times when my friends order take-out and I just eat a box of rice. My family makes a killer stir-fry that is probably my favorite meal at home, so it’s not like I’m missing out on too much.