Food anxiety surrounding allergies, celiac and gluten intolerance can definitely have an impact on a person’s ability to live a quality life. This can interfere with everything from eating normally to engaging socially, eating out or travelling. Food anxiety can be a anything from a worry to extreme fear of finding safe food, preparing or prepping meals and eating.
We need food to survive so this is definitely an important issue. Newly diagnosed with allergies or celiac can be frightening on its own, but then trying to devise a new plan for shopping, cooking and eating can be even more daunting.
Firstly, you may need to shop at new locations. Depending on what you need to avoid, it could mean visiting health food centres or stores with specialty sections dedicated to GF and allergies.
Secondly, you need to have a strong support system to understand your lifestyle changes and to be there to listen to your concerns. I joined a support group, learned as much, found out who my real friends were early on and now I follow websites from Anaphylaxis Canada and Celiac Society. And for the naysayers who thought I was taking things a little far, I learned to stand up for myself and set the record straight about the dangers.
Thirdly, you need to deal with any anxiety that develops around food. I had moments where I severely restricted my diet in fear just so I would not feel sick. That served no purpose because then I had to deal with all the fallout from that move. Never feel ashamed to reach out for help for your anxiety. I have taken medication on more than a few occasions in my life to keep me on track. It gave me strength when my panic attach techniques were not enough.
Lastly, you need to educate yourself and set up your own coping mechanisms. Read your food labels, know what other names are forms of gluten (USA does not have gluten clearly identified on their packaging – Canada enforce a warning on the packaging if a product contains gluten) and believe in yourself.
Acceptance is a big hurdle for everyone! Seek professional help if you cannot deal with it on your own, need assistance with anxiety and/or depression or just need to talk.
YOU CAN DO THIS!