Three Tips on Dealing with Food Allergy Anxiety

“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”

– Wayne Dyer

Anxiety is normal – everyone experiences it to some level. When you have food allergies, you may experience more anxiety that the average person. But the key is learning to manage that anxiety.

Having life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish/seafood, wheat, barley, and buckwheat, anxiety has been a feeling I have gotten accustomed to over the years. However, I have also learned how to manage this anxiety by using the following three tips:

  1. Be prepared.

BE PREPARED, message on business note paper, computer and coffee on table

– If you are going to a restaurant or a friend/family member’s house, tell them about your food allergies beforehand.
– Make sure you always have your auto-injector just in case you need to use it.
– If you can bring your own food to make it easier – do so. For instance, when I go on vacation, I often take dry brown rice pasta and rice flour bread to put my mind at ease, as well as make the kitchen staff’s job simpler.

  1. Communicate and don’t “feel bad.”

– Stress the importance of avoiding these allergens in the meal, even at the restaurant or friend/family member’s house.
– Use words and allergy cards, if possible. Using both ensures that all of your food allergies are communicated accurately and completely.
– I used to “feel bad” about communicating my allergies when eating out/at others’ homes. Sometimes I still do – BUT, it is important to remember that it is better to be safe. Both you and the other party will greatly appreciate that.

3. Relax.

– Breathe in and out slowly through your nose – this may sound simple, but my dentist taught me this one, and I’ve used it whenever I feel anxiety. It always helps.
– Distract yourself from the anxiety. If you are with others, talk with them, or watch the television if there is one nearby. Telling those you are with about your anxiety can also help, as they will try to help you manage it.
– Think rationally – if you are prepared and communicate, you should be fine.

Although you cannot control everything, controlling as much of the situation both internally and externally as possible, will help you manage anxiety. The feeling of anxiety when eating out does not fully go away for me, which I’ve heard is quite normal. However, by managing my anxiety, I can effectively decrease my anxiety to a level where it no longer negatively affects me.

– Shivangi S.

One thought on “Three Tips on Dealing with Food Allergy Anxiety”

  1. You missed one!

    4. Don’t be afraid of seeking professional help!

    If your allergy anxiety is interfering with you living your life, and you can’t get past it… Find a good psych! Be sure they understand that a certain level of almost-paranoia like avoidance is healthy for those of us with food allergies. We can’t afford to become complacent with our allergies, after all. But they can help!
    I started seeing mine in an attempt to learn how to think straight during my reactions (I’ve been known to refuse to admit I’m having a serious reaction, or refuse to take my epi. That is an unacceptable thought process!!!). So far after a couple of visits I definitely notice I’m less anxious generally (at grocery stores, at home in the kitchen with my allergens present…) and I’m hoping that we can soon conquer the massive confusion that seems to accompany many of my most serious reactions.

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