Guest blogger – Maxine Fleming ‘Managing Anxiety While Shopping with Food Allergies’ | The Food Sensitive Shopper


Maxine Fleming

This week we are pleased to feature a guest blogger, Elika Kormeili.  She is a therapist who works in Los Angeles who is a food sensitive shopper and helps others with managing the emotional toll that food related disease can take on our hearts and minds.

Managing Anxiety While Shopping with Food Allergies

A carton of milk, a dozen eggs, and ring up a case of anxiety too.  When you have food allergies simple tasks such as shopping for groceries can become cumbersone and anxiety provoking.  Think about the first time you had to buy food on a restricted diet.  What was it like?  How did you feel when you could not just ‘grab and go’?

I remember my first time.  I walked into my favorite supermarket, proud and confident.  I knew I could no longer have my favorite cereals, breads and treats but how hard could this food allergy thing be?  I just avoid the ingredients I can’t have right?  Well, yes, but it is not that simple.

When you  are avoiding  multiple foods (ingredients) it can be a nightmare.  You start reading dozens of labels, half the words you don’t understand and really how many different ways can you say corn, sugar and wheat?  Does soy really need to be in everything?

The truth is when you are shopping with food allergies you experience a full range of emotions, from anxiety, depression, frustration and at times hysterical laughter!

As a therapist specializing in helping people with food allergies, I can reassure you that you are not alone.

Here are some tips to help with the anxiety:

1. Acknowledge the feelings.  Either you are an adult with newly diagnosed food allergies or a parent of a child with food allergies, this is going to be an adjustment.  Don’t pretend like it’s not a big deal or that it is not a challenge, the more you acknowledge how you feel the less power it will have over you in the future.

2. Educate yourself.  Begin with learning all the different names for the foods you are avoiding.  Then look for those foods as hidden ingredients.   If you get to an ingredient you don’t understand (or can’t pronounce) write it down so you can look it up.  If you have a smart phone you can look it up right away.  When you have the questions about a certain product, contact their customer services.

3. Before you go into the supermarket, while you are still sitting in the car, have a pep talk with yourself.  Close your eyes briefly, take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that this is all part of a process.  Maybe turn it into a game-like scavenger hunt.  If you find 3 foods that don’t have off-limit ingredients you win a prize.

4. Develop a support system.  Connect with others both online and offline.  Join a support group or start a blog.  If you still need help don’t be afraid to talk to a professional.  Ask your doctor for a referral or find a professional who provides counseling/coaching via the phone, like I do.

If you would like more information about how I work, please visit my website:

Category: Food

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