You are given a food allergy diagnosis. This is something that is very new to you. You may have suspected it or perhaps, there was an incident that triggered an unexpected reaction. Either way, your life is changed instantly. There is no going back to what used to be, there is only the option of going forward. You will be overwhelmed, afraid or possibly even a little bit angry but this is all to be expected. How you decide to integrate your life with food allergies is up to you; not every person chooses to handle them the same way. Whatever your goals are, whatever everyone else has shared with you or whatever you feel will be the best option to live safely with food allergies, there are some basics that are a necessity for anyone.
- Medication is a must Whatever you decide to do to embrace your food allergies, remember that having two epinephrine auto injectors is crucial to staying as prepared as possible. Nothing else will stop an allergic reaction faster. When seconds count, you need to have everything at your fingertips. Everyone’s food allergies are different and this includes how they react to their foods. It is far safer to carry epinephrine and not need it than to find yourself having an allergic reaction and realize your medications are not there to help you. There are multiple options available and your only question should be how fast can I get my prescription filled.
- Other people have your back The food allergy community is an amazing network of people that will fight tooth and nail for you without asking for anything in return. This is because they understand what you are going through, even when you are fairly certain nobody really does. No matter what time of day it is, someone is also awake and willing to be there to listen. It can be something as simple as a book, online outreach, conferences or products to give you a little reminder. Even if it is halfway across the world, I promise you there will always be answers when you need them. In the simplest terms- Food allergy support is a vast, never-ending place where people from all over the world meet. This is a family that you never knew existed and that you didn’t think would ever be a part of your life.
- Advocacy is necessary Not everyone wants to cause friction when they don’t see eye to eye but sometimes, it is a must. You have the right to live as normal of a life as possible with food allergies without being in danger. This requires everyone around you to support you and be onboard with what you need to accomplish this. I recommend one rule to live by- never accommodate your safety to make someone else feel more comfortable about any situation. You may get some rude looks from friends, family members or even your physicians but nobody else should have the power to jeopardize your needs. If you come across resistance, educate them. If you feel pressured to prove what you need, remind everyone that a food allergy is not something that is always visible and waiting until it is can be life threatening.
- Share your experiences You may not realize it yet but the very thing that has turned your world upside down can also be your new superpower. Not everyone may have the same comfort level on how to share about their experiences but the key is to share to help empower others. For instance, Backpack Health app is an effortless way to keep all of your health information easily accessible while also giving you the option to anonymously share for research purposes. If you are looking for more of a social network, try becoming a member of a food allergy organization that gives you options to listen to webinars and ask questions, attend events or take part in surveys. Being a voice for someone that is just beginning with a food allergy diagnosis can be an amazing opportunity.
Food allergies are a lifelong diagnosis. On the other hand, they may also become a lifelong passion for you to embrace. Always remember that taking care of you first is never a selfish thing, it is always a necessary thing. There may be days that you question the why’s and how’s. There will be days when you make mistakes. Remember to give yourself enough courage to continue to find the answers that you need and to know that you are meant to learn from your mistakes. Above all, finding your new place of comfort in your everyday life will take time- don’t rush into anything and enjoy everything. This is something that you might not have had the pleasure of doing if you were not diagnosed in time.
About the Author
Tracy Bush is a Food Allergy Consultant, Author, Blogger, Mother & Self-professed “Kitchen Geek”. Her website AllergyPhoods and media pages are a mixture of product reviews, recipes and advice mixed with a tinge of humor. Her mission- “I write, I cook and I laugh and I aim to make everyone else do the same.”