Dealing With the Mental Struggles of Food Allergies
The ups and downs of dealing with food allergies can make you feel utterly "nuts." In my personal experience, my food allergies seem to change over time which has made me feel crazy. What once was a safe food suddenly isn't, and what once was an allergy appears not to be one anymore.
Still not sure why allergies change
I am not an allergy specialist, so while I wish to explain why allergies seem to change randomly, I don't have an explanation. But I can express from my journey that changing allergies are very real, and if you go through it, you aren't alone.
I have spoken with many people who suddenly have an onset of a food allergy later in life. For example, a good family friend suddenly became allergic to shellfish late in life. We are talking mid-40s. After decades of delighting in shellfish, he now cannot even have the slightest bite, or his throat will completely close up—a rather scary allergic reaction.
Onset of allergies in adulthood
Personally, I was similarly experienced an onset of food allergies later in adulthood after a Crohn's Disease diagnosis. I was 21 when I started to have issues with food, and it was hard to cope because I could eat whatever I wanted beforehand.
Yes, it is frustrating when allergies come about later on in life. And yes, it is frustrating when allergies fade away and then suddenly reappear. Life is unpredictable, and so are allergies. But with unpredictability can come stress. Not knowing if your current meal will cause a reaction can be rather unnerving.
An allergic reaction from a formerly safe food
Recently I was at home eating dinner. I ate one of my go-to meals: seared chicken with veggies and salad. I made a particular salad with sundried tomatoes, croutons, shredded cheese, and a delicious Italian dressing. Soon after I began eating, I started to feel sick. It was an instant shift in my body.
When it comes to food, I have various reactions, and in this particular case, it was a burning sensation in my stomach, then intense urgency to use the restroom. After that, it was hours of being sick. Vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. All into the wee hours of the morning. Through the process of elimination, I came to find that the Italian dressing was the culprit of my intense allergic reaction. This salad dressing I have consumed for years is now something I cannot eat. Talk about frustrating.
Accept that allergies could change
The most important thing to keep in mind is that allergies are capable of changing. And if you don't accept this idea, it will be extra hard to overcome these hurdles if they do arrive. Positivity is key.
Understanding that allergies can have a mind of their own but that you are capable of adjusting to the changes is essential. If not, it will feel like you are constantly being pummeled back and forth.
So, try to stay flexible. Many food options are available in today's world, which makes substituting ingredients relatively easy. So don't stay fixated on the problem but explore all the options for solutions and you won't feel so daunted with changing food allergies.
Do you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with you?