Let’s talk about How to Live Life with Food Allergies. Living a Life with Food Allergies does not have to be difficult and awful. Whether you are new to food allergies or just struggling to get a hang of your food allergies, this guide should help.
Life with Food Allergies can feel overwhelming at times. Even though I have had food allergies for nearly my whole life, I still run into frustrating or discouraging moments at time. However, as I discuss in the About Page of Eat or Drink, I have decided to see my food allergies as a blessing not a curse. Once you learn to manage your life with food allergies, it’s truly not that bad. Below you will find some tips I have learned throughout my life with food allergies.
Do you have tips or suggestions I did not mention in this post? Let us know in the comments below! Not only will it be useful for me, but it will be useful for others wanting more advice as well.
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How to Live Life with Food Allergies
Obviously, when you find out about food allergies, there are a lot of adjustments that have to be made. Today my main focus is on some simple steps that will make a world of difference. Life with food allergies does not have to be awful. These suggestions should help you manage your life with food allergies a little bit better and give you a lot more peace.
The topics I am focusing on today are:
- Learn to be your own Allergy Advocate
- Don’t get so Offended
- Get to Know your Grocery Stores
- Become an Expert Label reader
- Spend Some Time in the Kitchen
If there is a specific topic of living life with food allergies that I am not covering and you would like to cover, please let me know in the comments down below.
1. Learn to be your own Allergy Advocate
When you find out you have food allergies, it’s so important to learn to speak up for yourself, over and over and over again. I understand for some people this can be difficult. Honestly, this is difficult for me. I don’t like to be a burden to anyone. However, it’s necessary and I have been left with a horrible stomach ache too many times because I was scared to speak up.
When is it important to be your own Allergy Advocate?
Let’s say you are looking at the menu and you see a tasty meal that sounds clean. It does not say anything about cheese on top so you assume that it won’t have any. Nope, think again! That simple dish comes out loaded with parmesan. That’s why even though you don’t want to “be a bother” you ALWAYS have to ask. Especially when it comes to dairy, I like to be specific. You could say, “I can’t have any dairy that means no cheese, cream, or butter, can you tell me if this dish is safe?”
With Friends and Family
Unfortunately as much as our friends and family care about us if they don’t have food allergies you have to assume they don’t know what they are doing. If they offer to make you a gluten free dinner and cross-contamination is a concern, tell them that! If you don’t want to be a bother you can always offer to cook with them or bring your own food.
If you are a parent of a child with food allergies make sure you give clear directions to the people in charge at school as well as your child’s specific teachers. Also, take the time to teach your child (depending on their age) what questions to ask about the food they plan on eating. Teach them to read labels and investigate food properly.
At the end of the day, your food allergies are your problem. Nobody else understands YOUR food allergies as much as you. Therefore, you need to learn how to explain them to others and make sure the food you are about to consume is safe for you.
2. Don’t get so Offended
I’ve had food allergies since I was a kid and I dealt with many mean kids and even mean adults questioning my allergies, doubting my allergies, and not caring about my allergies. Sometimes they meant no harm and sometimes they actually did. At the end of the day though it doesn’t matter. If I’m going to live a happy life with food allergies I can’t get so offended all the time. It’s not worth it to stay angry and bothered.
Some People Just Don’t Understand
Sometimes people stink and actually do say mean things about your food allergies. Then there are other times people truly just don’t understand. Don’t write people off in your life just because they are having trouble understanding your food allergies. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had family members offer me food that I couldn’t eat. Even my own husband struggles remembering what’s safe and not safe. Yes, I could get bothered and annoyed and assume they don’t care about me and my allergies. I could wallow in my misery and feel like the world is against me. But is that way of thinking really necessary? Do I really think people don’t care about me or do I just think people are forgetful?
The truth is we get so sucked into our life with food allergies that we forget other people don’t have to think about food as much as we do. So don’t blame your friends and family when they forget (again and again and again), give them a break and don’t get so offended.
3. Get to Know your Grocery Stores
Every grocery store is different. That’s why it’s important to get to know YOUR grocery store. Find out how they organize their store. Do they have a special section for healthy foods where you can find all your allergy-free products? Or do they mix allergy free products in with the rest of the food? Do they use labels to identify gluten free items? If you are new to living a life with food allergies, figuring out where you can find the products you need will make a world of difference.
Natural Health Food Store
If you are struggling to find allergy free items in your regular grocery store, try to find out if your town or a neighboring town has a natural health food store. These stores tend to have some great allergy free products. While they may be a bit more pricey, it’s always good to support local businesses.
If your regular grocery store is coming up dry and you can’t find a natural health food store, online shopping is great for finding certain allergy free products.
My absolute favorite site to shop for allergy free products is Vitacost. This is probably the only online store I suggest signing up for emails. They do a lot of 15% off and 20% off discounts that you will not want to miss out on. No, they are not paying me to say this, I just really like Vitacost.
Another great option is Amazon. Especially if you have Amazon Prime it makes buying packaged foods online so cheap. Please note, I am part of the Amazon affiliate program. This means when you click on the Amazon link I provide, at no additional cost to you I receive a very small percentage of the sale.
Have Fun Finding New Products
It’s a great time to be alive for people with Food Allergies. Even when I was young there were not nearly as many products as there are now. More and more companies are branching into the food allergy world. Instead of being mad about what you can’t have, have fun finding new products all the time. Find some great allergy free companies and follow them on social media. It’s a great way to find new products and get excited about eating allergy free.
If you are still trying to find new products for living gluten-free, here is my Gluten-Free Food Guide.
4. Become an Expert Label Reader
This tip is pretty self-explanatory but so important. You need to learn what to look for in labels. I know it will probably drive you nuts at first, but I promise you label reading becomes second nature. Eventually, you’ll be scanning labels in a matter of seconds.
Know What to Look For
Unfortunately, it’s not always spelled out for us. We are scanning for the word dairy and we see the words, “whey protein”. These words can be confusing at first but eventually you will know exactly what to look for. It’s important to do a google search for alternate words for your allergen. There are many different charts available these days to help. There are also some useful apps like the one I discuss in my article, “Two Moms Develop Food Allergy App”.
May Contain Warnings
I see a lot of people new to food allergies ask if they should avoid foods that have a May Contain Warning. I can’t give you a yes or no answer on this one. Everybody’s allergy is different. Remember, you are YOUR own advocate. I have never had a reaction to cross contamination for any of my allergies. Because of that, I’m able to eat food that May Contain my allergens. You might be the same or you might not. If you know you are not anaphylactic then it may be worth it to do some trial and error. However, I suggest talking to your health care provider before doing any sort of trail and error allergy test.
5. Spend Some Time in the Kitchen
Spending time in the kitchen has been my saving grace to living a life with food allergies. Food allergies really can create a negative complex towards food. That’s why it’s important to learn to embrace food. Instead of hiding from food or being mad at food, have fun with the foods you can have. If you don’t like the store bought options for cookies, then bake some of your own! Don’t limit yourself to the grocery store options.
Find New Recipes
Obviously I suggest my site for allergy free recipes. As someone with food allergies I have made it priority to create recipes that are better than the “real thing”. That’s why I hope my recipes can bring joy to you in your life with food allergies.
Beyond specific food blogs like my own, I also suggest using Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Pinterest is fun when you are in a rut and need to find new ideas. Facebook has some great food allergy recipe groups. And Instagram has some really fun visual creations
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