Are you a Food Sensitivity Victim?


Let's talk through two different big pieces of the food sensitivity puzzle we all have to deal with, regardless of your trigger foods.  One is a common mindset that can really wear you down and the other is a very practical decision you need to make.  

No more Food Sensitivity Victim!

First, let's talk about mindset.  It is so easy to embrace the "poor me" mentality and to focus on all of the things you can't have that you wish you could have.  We become a victim of our food sensitivities.  I want to challenge that mindset. 

With food sensitivities, you have to be willing to be creative and try new things.  You have to be able to stand up and advocate for yourself, even if it is just proactively reading a menu before you go out to eat so you can plan ahead.  You have to believe and trust your own body when those around you are saying your symptoms don't make sense or they are all in your head.  

Victims don't do those things.  

You are more in control than you may believe...

So let's reframe.  You and I both have things we "can't" eat.  Why can't we eat them?  Because we feel miserable afterwards.  There are consequences to eating that trigger food.  But does that mean we CANNOT eat them?  Nope.  You and I both get to decide.  

Learn how your body responds to a particular food and if it causes uncomfortable symptoms, you decide if your desire for the food is worth dealing with those symptoms.  You are actually making that choice each and every time you do or do not eat that food.  It really isn't that we CANNOT eat them.  We choose not to eat them so we don't get sick.   

(The caveat to this is food allergies.  If you have anaphylactic-type reactions to foods, please avoid them.  Typically with food sensitivities we are not talking about life-threatening reactions.)

You are more in control of your own situation than you may feel.  Embrace it!  You decide what you will and won't eat and why.  

What will you do with your favorite recipe?

Second, to balance the mindset stuff, let's talk about a very concrete decision you need to make.  This is big.  Are you ready?   

When it comes to favorite recipes, are you a Purist (meaning you want the dish to taste exactly like you remember it or you're not eating it at all) or are you a Maverick (as long as it resembles the recipe, you're willing to call it by the same name)?  There is no right or wrong answer, just your preference.  (And know it can change from recipe to recipe, too!)

A lot of folks would ask if it's really a big deal.  And I answer with a resounding YES!  

Face it, if you dream about your grandma's homemade macaroni and cheese, a gluten-free or vegan or non-dairy version may not make the cut.  It may be worth it to simply walk away from mac and cheese for a while as your body heals.  Someone else may say the boxed Daiya cheddar-style mac and cheese is good enough.  This is truly a personal decision.  But as we find ourselves in situations where these dishes are commonly available, it helps with mindset if you have already made this decision.  

Exploring options and making a decision...

Let's keep going with the mac and cheese example.  If you decide nothing will replace grandma's macaroni and cheese, you have a big decision to make when you get to that family gathering where you know it will appear - do you eat a bit because the symptoms that come later are balanced by your love of the dish or do you completely write off macaroni and cheese to avoid the symptoms and inflammation?  

And there is another option…maybe you're good with a stand-in macaroni and cheese that tastes one-third as good as grandma's but doesn't have any trigger foods in it.  Maybe you bring your own safe version of mac and cheese to the family gathering.  Maybe you have it the night before at home to avoid any questions from grandma.

Regardless of your decision, you're leaning on that mindset we were talking about a few paragraphs above.  You are not a pitiful victim who can't eat a family favorite food.  You are a strong individual proactively deciding how you want to feel - and choosing foods to support that decision.  Well done, You!!

Sixty-second Self-Care Tip…

Whether for the holidays, birthdays, family reunions or any other reason why your family gets together with food, let's start planning now!

Grab some paper and a writing utensil (crayons allowed).  List out the different dishes that are always on the table at your family gatherings.  

Now work through the list and consider these three questions about each dish:

  1. As it is traditionally prepared, is this a safe dish for me to eat?
  2. In the context of this family gathering, how important is this dish to me?  Why?
  3. Am I a Purist or a Maverick when it comes to this dish?

OK…if you're a Purist and that dish is important, you have a big decision to make - is eating a bit of it at this family gathering worth the symptoms afterwards?  Only you can decide. 

And if you're a Maverick, you need to decide if you want to play with recipes and substitutions to create a safe version (or find a safe pre-made version) that tastes good enough for you.  And do you really want it at that gathering or is another time on your own good enough?

I know…now the challenge of finding substitutions and recipes starts.  Having a really hard time with a particular dish?  No clue how to find an ingredient substitution?  Comment below and let's get you some answers!  Or, if you'd rather, post on Facebook for some ideas and support!


family gatherings, recipes, resilience, self-advocate, victim

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