Food Sensitive Support – The Food Sensitive Shopper
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends…
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends.
– Portion of the Beatles song ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’
How do you deal with your food sensitivity? Do you tell others about your needs? Ignore the symptoms? Cheat once in a while to see if you are still sensitive? Keep it a secret? Are you in denial about the whole enchilada? Don’t worry you are not alone! There are many levels of awareness, understanding and care that each of us are experiencing with a food related disease or sensitivity.
Caring for yourself or family member with a food sensitive diet starts with mental well being. A comforted and confident mind is a direct link to your choices with eating behavior and quality of life. Today let’s look at the power of support in your life. Some of you may think ‘I don’t need any support with this’. Even if you doubt the need for support I encourage you to build a support network for your greater and long term well-being.
Food allergy and food intolerance are very different in terms of potential immediate threat to life (food allergy) and long term threat to life (Celiac disease) versus digestive distress and other manageable symptoms. I have to add that EOE or EE is also a very serious food allergy related disease that stems from specific cells in the esophagus (i.e. where food goes from mouth to stomach). Food intolerance can be life changing as well. It is uncomfortable and at times embarrassing to have irritable bowel syndrome, flatulence, bloating, and other symptoms. I know I feel more tired, irritable, experience stomach pain, have eczema flares and intestinal spasms when I have been exposed to gluten and soy in any form even though I don’t have a true diagnosis. These symptoms change my quality of life for the worse…who wants that? Not me and I am assuming not you either.
Everyone in our household has different food issues. The range is from life threatening anaphylaxis to reflux to EE to my mystery food sensitivity. The foods are all different so we have had to create an interesting life style that includes lots of cooking and being very careful what we eat. I can’t continue without touting proper nutrition. It is a key to good health but with food avoidance this can be tricky (contact me if you want to learn more about this subject).
Here’s my bottom line… I would not be as comfortable and confident managing the family diet if I didn’t have a network of support. Early on in this journey I was referred to a local food allergy support group. What a difference it made in my life. In our group we shared each others pain, concerns, recipes, experiences and more… We hugged, discussed, analyzed, and supported each other. It was a big relief to be a part of this group not only to build confidence in the kitchen but also to support others. My support group helped me care for our son with anaphylaxis and asthma so much better than if I were to do it alone.
How can you find support? Glad you asked! Support comes in many forms. It can be through the internet, from family and friends, support groups and medical personnel. A combination is a well rounded approach. I have found that just one path to support is not enough to live a quality life with food challenges.
Ask yourself today ‘what kind of support do I need?’ Support groups can offer different experiences. When our son was first diagnosed at 5 months old the group I joined was based on emotional and informational support. At that time I needed a shoulder to cry on and to be a shoulder for others. This worked for me. My current group offers interesting events such as cooking, concerts, and awareness events. It is important for you to decide what you need to improve your confidence and comfort level.
There are ways to find local support groups in your area.
Managing food allergy? Either of these two organizations can steer you in the right direction.
Managing Celiac Disease? We recommend you begin with the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Managing EOE or EE? We suggest you contact FAACT.
Managing reflux or GERD? We suggest you go to: http://www.dailystrength.org/c/GERD-Heartburn/support-group.
For food intolerance go to: Food Intolerance Network.
No matter what your diagnosis is (or your family member) we suggest you discuss this with your medical team. They may hold the key to some helpful local resources in your area. Another idea is contact a local therapist or nutritionist to see if they have support group resources.
What do you do if there isn’t a local group? Consider forming your own. There are so many benefits from forming your own group including widening your support network, learning, and creating new friendships.
Here are three basics for forming your own support group:
1. Create a name and a mission for your group. The mission is the definition of your group’s intention, focus, and level of support.
2. Decide on meeting date, time and location for the initial meeting then make flyers and hand out to local churches, physicians offices, schools, clubs, family, friends, etc….
3. Contact your local newspaper to promote this new group by getting a listing in the local events section. This should be a free service.
Once you have 1-2-3 in place see what turns out. Don’t be discouraged if your membership is small at the beginning; small groups can offer very powerful support. If you don’t know where to meet try meeting in the morning at a coffee shop, evening at a cafe, at someone’s home, local church or recreation center. You may find local preschools or private schools will offer a room to use for a support group meeting.
We are also here to support you. Check out our other posts for supportive information or visit our web site Allergy Free Table. If you need to contact us about a particular issue or need help forming a support group contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org