Managing Food Allergies: Strategies For Emotional Well-Being

You likely have an emergency care plan in place to handle your child’s, or your own, allergic reactions.

It is also helpful to create a strategy for managing anxiety, because experiencing anxiety over a potentially life-threatening food allergy is normal.

Having some anxiety is motivating, spurring us into action. However, too much is detrimental to our health and may prevent us from taking steps that will keep us safe and ultimately reduce our anxiety.

For Parents/Adults: Five Strategies

Parents who care for their own emotional well-being are better able to help their children do the same.

  1. You can be anxious and brave simultaneously, and courageously accepting any challenge tempers anxiety and bolsters confidence. Acting brave makes us more likely to pursue helpful options and opportunities, and you will be role modeling a proactive, positive attitude for your child.
  2. Give yourself plenty of leisure or alone time, pursue your personal interests, exercise, spend time in nature, and socialize with friends.
  3. What you learn about food allergies empowers you, builds confidence, helps you advocate for yourself or child, and allows you to instruct your child about allergies as they are ready to learn.
  4. The support of others who are knowledgeable, or who are going through the same difficulties we are, is invaluable. Seek support if you need it from professional counselors, food allergy associations, website communities/forums, and through in person, or online support groups.
  5. As your child matures, or your adult lifestyle alters, update allergy safety plans to reflect the changes.

For Kids: Five Strategies

Helping children manage their anxiety teaches them to honor and care for their own emotional well being.

  1. Help your child recognize their strengths by showing appreciation when they exercise them. You will be giving them the gifts of self-confidence and positive self-awareness.
  2. Make sure your child understands, at an age appropriate level, their emergency care plan. Knowing and following the plan will help them feel less anxious, and more in control of their allergy.
  3. Encourage your child to express their feelings by sharing your own, and by showing their expressed feelings unconditional positive regard.
  4. Help your child discover ways to self-soothe when feeling anxious or upset. For instance, they might take slow, deep breaths, listen to music, play with the family pet, or get with a friend.
  5. Help your child remember that the allergy is just one aspect of their self; encourage him or her to focus and expand on positive qualities and interests.

Source: FARE/Jeanne Herzog
Photo credit: Tetra Pak

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