When it comes to dealing with a newly diagnosed food allergy, or an undiagnosed but heavily suspected food sensitivity, panic and the feeling of overwhelm is normal. This is especially true if you are the parent of an allergic/sensitive child. Here are five suggestions to put you in control:
Deciphering the results of an allergy test or grasping the significance of suspected food sensitivity is confusing. The health and science community (both conventional and alternative) doesn’t yet fully understand everything about allergies. Get online, talk to friends, talk to your healthcare team. Absorb all you can and empower yourself. Much of this information will conflict and some will be simply inaccurate. Some, though, will likely resonate with your situation and help you guide your next steps.
Be open to change.
This is the biggie. Whether you suddenly have to omit 80% of your child’s favorite foods from his or her diet, use wizardry to find extra money in the food budget to pay for new and more expensive foods, or clone yourself to make time to do your own food prep, adjusting to your new lifestyle will take some getting used to. Staying flexible and open minded will make the process go more smoothly. For example – your grocery bills increase by $150 per month and cutbacks need to be made somewhere else. It may be ok! Sometimes the things we think we MUST have are actually not missed after a while. (This is obviously for those who can afford the basics.) Another example – your child loves ice cream a lot and it is your most effective bribery tool. Thanks to a dairy sensitivity, ice cream literally has to be off the table. It’s know it’s hard, I do, but I PROMISE there are amazing alternatives that the whole family will be scrambling for. The best part is that you may come to really love new foods or family routines that you wouldn’t have otherwise tried!
The amount of information out there will blow your mind. It blows mine, and this is what I do. If this isn’t what ‘you do’, chances are you’ll need support mining through the vast amount of material, coming up with new menus, making adjustments to your lifestyle, etc. Enlist the help and support of friends, family, nutritionists, support groups, whatever you need. As we are becoming increasingly sensitive as a population, we’re all in this together.
Connect with your food source.
Our food source – how our food is produced – is a prime factor contributing to our allergies and sensitivities. We weren’t meant to consume so many additives. It’s no wonder our bodies are freaking out! Connecting with your food source helps channel an awareness of the way our bodies, food and environment interact. It’s indeed the most primitive, yet most important aspect of our long-term health. Here are some ideas:
- Visit a local farm. Talk to a farmer if you can! Kids love farms, and in my experience, people who grow food do it out of passion for humankind and are happy to share.
- Grow something of your own! Even herbs in a pot.
- Start paying attention to the political debate surrounding the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods. The debate alone illustrates the decision making process of what goes into our food.
- Watch, or re-watch, one of the many fabulous documentaries produced about our country’s food production. Food Inc. is a classic!
Trust your gut.
Finally, listen to your body. If you suspect that a food is causing a bad reaction in your body or your child’s, pay attention. The signs can be very subtle like dark eye circles, congestion, aching joints, and behavior changes. They can be noticeable, but easily ignored. Your doctor may dismiss your concerns but realize that his or her opinion is just that. YOU know your body best and YOU know your child best. You’re the boss. Continuing to eat foods that don’t jive with your body could lead to even more sensitivities, inflammation, behavioral difficulties, and disease.