Imagine sitting down to eat a wonderful meal with your family. Enjoying every morsel and having wonderful conversation. You are totally worry free and in my case go about putting the dishes away afterwards when your entire body goes into an all out assault that feels like one of the scariest things you have ever had happen to you. You break out in hives, parts of your body begin shaking uncontrollably, the bottoms of your feet begin to hurt so much it feels like you are walking on rocks and your blood pressure drops so quickly that you nearly lose consciousness. You have no idea if the next thing to happen is your throat closing up and shooting yourself with an epi pen. This or a myriad of other things can be a common scenario for someone with a life-threatening food allergy.
Sadly food allergies are becoming much more common place and there are many guesses as to why that may be happening. In the U.S. our food supply is laced with GMO’s and pesticides and many of us have been consuming these things for years. It is still not understood what effect these so called “foods” have on our bodies at this point but allergies and asthma are on the rise for sure. But all of that aside not many people discuss the silent part of life threatening food allergies that may affect sufferers and even their loved ones.
Many times I write posts not because I claim to have all of the answers, but because I struggle as many others do with things. In my search to grow through these situations, while dealing with AG I find things that help me cope and I want to share in hopes it will reach someone else going through the same thing.
Here are a few things that I have done to help give myself peace of mind or cope with hard food situations:
This one has really helped me. I don’t go out to eat to often but I just had a great get together with some friends at a restaurant I was unfamiliar with so I made a phone call to the manager. First of all my allergy is not very well known so I’m often uncomfortable getting the weird stares by the waitress or the “huh, what is that” reaction so it was nice to just be able to explain it while not under any pressure. I was able to take the time to explain without the loud background noise and speaking over everyone at the table to get them to understand the issue. I was able to ask if they would have a way to safely prepare my food and what options they would have available if any before I was seated in the restaurant. This really gave me peace of mind before I got there rather than stressing so much about trying to explain it all. The last thing I want to be is “that person” at a restaurant that appears to be difficult. I would never try to do that on purpose but when you have life-threatening allergies it may appear that you are being that way to someone that is not familiar with them. This allows you time to make sure this place will be safe for you or pick another place ahead of time. Also, if you are unsure about the ingredients listed on the package of a food you are preparing at home or a supplement you may be taking feel free to call the manufacturer and question them about the source of that ingredient. You would be surprised how helpful they are and how much peace of mind it gives you.
Have a plan and make sure your loved ones know it…..
Have a well written out plan in your bag as to what medications and how they should be administered in the event that a reaction occurs. This way you know in the event that something goes awry you will be taken care of the best way possible. For instance, I personally don’t want to be hit with an epi pen right off the bat I want all other measures tried before that happens. That is my personal preference. Each person will have different feelings on what is best for them.
Pack a lunch….
This has also been a good thing for me. I have a cooler bag that I take with me when I know I will be out and about. I pack things like crackers and almond butter, jerky, fruit, nuts and sometimes I even bring a hot thermos of soup with me that I can eat when there is nothing available for me or if I simply don’t feel up to trying to eat at a new restaurant. This has been so freeing for me because I know I have plenty of food in the car and I can just go about my day and not stress it!
Take care of yourself ahead of time….
Sometimes if I am invited to a special event or a place that it would be inconvenient to bring my own food I will eat a good meal right before I go! My daughter and I love different herbal teas so she gave me the idea to pack some tea bags in my purse and I can always get some hot water at a restaurant. Save your favorite flavor for this occasion! I am able to sit and enjoy a nice cup of tea while visiting with a friend. Whether they are eating or not, my belly is full and I can enjoy my tea and the company. After all the company is what it’s all about anyways! Right?
Help your body to turn things around….
This one takes a little work but I have found it to greatly help me. I started an anti-inflammatory diet when I encountered autoimmune issues and the side effect was that my allergies have gotten significantly better! For the first time in my life I am not totally miserable in the Springtime and I am able to manage it with some herbal preparations and no other medicines. I have also met at least one person that has been healed of a severe food allergy in this way. I am not advocating you run out and eat peanuts if you are deathly allergic after trying this type of diet but under a doctors careful monitoring it might be worth looking into! Our bodies are made to heal as that is how God created it!
If you don’t have severe food allergies it is very difficult to understand how it affects many levels of the person’s life. Our lives are more centered around food than one might imagine. If this is an allergy that has affected them later on and not something they were born with or even if it is something that started at a young age there is a level of feeling deprived or grieving over something that was lost when out in a social situation that involves food. Extending grace and showing compassion to that person who is affected by this goes a long way to helping the person cope with it. A little patience and putting yourself in their place for a few minutes helps that person more than you can imagine.
Fear can be an awful emotion and not fun to deal with but like many obstacles in life it can be overcome!