Each Family’s Food Allergy Story Differs: Find Your Own Voice

VoicesWhen our family was introduced to food allergies fourteen years ago, I never would have expected to foresee how it affected our lives in so many different ways. I’m not talking about the additional stress or cooking or even the multiple times that were just overwhelming but the future “us” with food allergies. When a family is given a food allergy diagnosis, time seems to stand still for a little while. Usual events are not handled the same way and every little thing that used to be part of your life must be stopped, rewound and rethought to ensure everyone’s safety for the rest of your lives. Your menus change, your thoughts change, your family and friends change and, eventually, your voice changes. I’m talking about the voice that everyone uses to discuss what is near and dear to their heart.

Choose Your Own Voice However you decide to share your food allergy passion, it’s important to use what you feel is best for you and your family’s situation. Yes, you can go with the flow and share whatever the current food allergy trend is but before you do, think about it. Is it something that you truly believe in? Does it feel as if it is the right connection for what’s going on with your personal food allergy journey? Is it something that you feel absolutely comfortable sharing with others? If you are not answering yes, I recommend that you think on it just a bit longer. There are many ways to advocate for food allergies and not all of them are always accepted by everyone. The most important thing is to make sure that you are comfortable accepting it.

Allow Others Their Own Voice This is where you may find yourself to be challenged just a bit. It’s hard enough to advocate on a level that’s right for you but it can be equally tricky to know how to let other people advocate in a way that is not yours. Two mothers arguingWhen you become passionate about what you need to tell others, there is sometimes a fine line between advocating and becoming overbearing when someone else is explaining how they must handle their food allergies. The food allergy community is one of the strongest families you will ever meet and need. Just as a regular family disagrees, so do your food allergy family members. When this happens, try to remember how you felt when you were so perplexed, unsure of where to start or what to do and give them whatever support you are able to give within your comfort zone. Sometimes just knowing someone else is there to listen even when they may not agree gives you more strength than anything.

The Range of Voices Not everyone wants to be as vocal as you, as active as you, as nice as you or as diligent as you. I will admit this was a difficult task for me to realize even in our own home. One of my favorite bloggers has a son close to my son’s age who began the website Food Allergy Ice Breaker to share his allergy passion. My son chooses to be very laid back about his food allergies. My daughter, who does not have life-threatening allergies, is an avid label-reader who looks out for her older brother as soon as she sees any possible allergy triggers. Then there’s me- the one with the big mouth who must share with everyone. You will meet people who seem angry and others that welcome you with open arms. Without this variety of voices, the food allergy community would have less strength and knowledge. These differences are what begin new conversations and bring us new information and that is something that keeps bringing us answers.

“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.”
– Don Miguel Ruiz

If you are not sure which direction you should go in, ask people. Use your trusty devices and Google everything until you cannot Google anymore. Keep notes and collect whatever you can until you know inside of your heart that you are at a good place to start. Most importantly, if you have done all of that and you still need more advice, just ask. Ask me, ask teachers, sit in on local food allergy support groups and absorb everything. Food allergies are complex and seemingly endless but so is the information to keep you going. For those days that are more difficult and you feel as if you cannot possibly even try to have a voice- know that you did your very best for that day and tomorrow is another day. You will see that when you do not have the strength to speak, so many others will gladly speak for you until you can again.

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at www.AllergyPhoods.com. Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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