In a world where it feels like most people eat whatever they want, whenever they want, food allergies can be difficult to manage. Outside of societal pressures to conform, there are financial, social and familial factors to consider when making food choices. How does one manage food allergies without breaking the bank, becoming a social outcast or isolating oneself from family and friends?
Take the Sting Out of Food Allergies
As someone with food allergies myself, I have learned to navigate this slippery slope. As a Wellness Coach, food allergy management is the number one request I get from new clients. Here are a few simple tips for successfully managing food allergies and integrating them into your life seamlessly. These tips may take some extra effort, but they will save you money, time and frustration in the long run.
One Family, One Meal©
The sooner you can get your entire family eating the same meal at each sitting, the less money you will have to spend on food. So find foods that everyone will eat – foods that will not impact the individual(s) with food allergies and that the entire family will enjoy. At mydietribe we call this concept One Family, One Meal. The first step is to find one or two core, allergen-free food items or ingredients that you can introduce into family meals, to help those without food allergies understand that eating allergen-free doesn’t mean eating food that tastes bad.
Effective food allergy management necessitates taking care of oneself by thinking about food in advance, and regular meal planning is a simple habit to facilitate this goal. Plan all of you meals at least a few days in advance. This allows you to not only be a Conscious Eater, but it also provides the added benefit of lowering the total cost you spend on food because you will only purchase food you actually plan to eat (versus impulse purchases).
Individuals who have been legitimately diagnosed with food allergies are eligible for tax deductions for allergen-free food, travel and medical / educational expenses. Eligible deductions can help offset some of the extra money you’re spending on allergen-free foods. Get more information here and here, and be sure talk to your trusted tax professional.
These tips apply to local social interactions such as eating at restaurants and attending parties, as well as travel to other locations.
Speak directly to the chef or host/ess to find out what is being served, what accommodations can be made for you and/or to explain your situation and offer to bring food with you.
Always bring food with you
This tip, when followed without exception, has been a lifesaver for me more than once. The world isn’t responsible for accommodating my food allergies, so I always always always bring food with me, especially when traveling. Everywhere. All the time. At a minimum, I recommend keeping a few bars or a bag of snacks with you all the time. I’ve even gone so far as to ship food to my destination ahead of time to ensure there was food I could eat waiting for me.
In a house where others don’t have food allergies
If you share a home with people who do not have the same food allergies, it’s imperative to store your allergen-free foods separately. I use specific storage containers and areas of the cabinets, fridge and freezer to segregate my food from those that may contaminate with allergens. For some people, it may also be necessary to use separate cutting boards, utensils, etc., as well. Create a system that works for you and make sure everyone in the household complies.
Catherine Mason is a writer, former educator, and someone who has multiple food allergies. As Tribe Leader & Chief Wellness Coach at www.mydietribe.com, she helps people identify, assimilate and maintain sustainable health and wellness practices in their everyday lives, with a focus on physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and financial wellness. Catherine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@mydietribe).
How do you Live with Food Allergies?
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