Self-Care and Food Sensitivities

If you’ve been with me for any period of time, you know that while I started out really focused on self-care, things have gone more the way of food allergies and sensitivities lately. 

If it seems a little disjointed, I get it…but for me, it’s all in the same big self-care family.  Learning how to use your food choices to best serve your body and your mind is a critical component of self-care, by my way of thinking. 

And living with food allergies and sensitivities isn’t easy.  (A fact that I still feel regularly, even after over 45 years of living with my own food restrictions.)  But the actual food part is just a little smidgen of the journey.

The hard part is the self-advocacy:

  • Refusing a traditional family dish that was lovingly made by someone very special because you know it will make you disappear into the bathroom for the entire evening.
  • Choosing to eat out with friends, family or colleagues even when you know you may have an awkward ten-minute discussion with the waitstaff to figure out what on the menu you can safely eat.
  • Spending the time and energy in both the grocery store and the kitchen to find and create safe and palatable meals that you either eat alone (in addition to a “regular” meal for everyone else) or serving it to everyone knowing you’ll listen to nothing but complaints from others around the table.
  • Feeling unheard because you have to repeatedly tell the same folks the foods you can’t eat, knowing that they won’t remember and you’ll have the same conversation again next time you get together.
  • Listening to a healthcare provider disagree with everything you have to say about food sensitivities and testing and symptoms because they don’t believe in food sensitivities.

We forget how much of our identity and our relationships with others revolves around food.  When our food options change, those relationships may change, too.  It is very common, and uncomfortable, to suddenly feel very alone around a full table.  And, if we really dig into it, there is some shame involved, too.

One of the reasons I was drawn to my training in Integrative Medicine was one of the core beliefs: the patient is an expert in the most important part of the health puzzle – themselves.  Part of my experience in healthcare was listening to (and sometimes watching) professionals shame and belittle the patient.  As far as I am concerned, there is no place in the upright doctor-patient relationship for shame. 

Shame says you’re a bad person.  None of us are bad people because we have food allergies or sensitivities.  We’re simply folks dealing with a set of circumstances.  And most of us are trying to find a way to manage the impacts, both physically and emotionally, of those circumstances.

So…bottom line…if you are dealing with food allergies and sensitivities, know that there is nothing wrong with who you are as a person.  You didn’t do anything intentionally wrong to get where you’re sitting today.  And you deserve to be heard and respected for what you’re trying to overcome in your life! 

Don’t give up taking care of you because of pressure, disbelief or shaming.  You know you better than anyone else ever will and you bring something truly unique to your family and community – you! 

Sixty-Second Self-Care Tip:

This one may take a little longer than 60-seconds to put together, but it’s guaranteed to save you time down the road.  Being able to quickly and effectively communicate your restrictions is important – to those around you and for your own peace of mind.  There’s nothing worse than struggling for words in a rushed environment.

In one fairly succinct statement, how would you describe your food restrictions to someone who doesn’t know you?

I’ll give you my example.  I’m allergic to dairy and sensitive to several other things.  For me, the dairy is the big one that I work the hardest to avoid.  When I need to, I tell folks “I’m allergic to anything from a cow – milk, butter, cheese, etc.”  It gets their attention because it’s a goofy, sideways way of saying I’m allergic to dairy, and it also gets them thinking about it a bit.  (And I like it when they think about it – they’re more apt to remember!)  And it is a little silly…which suits my personality.  But I own it.  There is no shame in my statement!

So, in your own unique voice, how do you tell others quickly about your food restrictions? 

If you live with food sensitivities, why not check out my new program, Counter Culture: Take Control of Life with Food Sensitivities?  Registration is still open – until midnight tonite EST!  CLICK HERE to get in under the wire!!!


60-second self-care, food allergies, food sensitivities, self-advocate, shame

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