Food allergy anxiety can result from a fear of eating something you aren't able to, or simply the extreme of not being able to eat it at all.
When I found out I had to avoid gluten, the thought of having to take out a certain food group 100% of the time, sent me into an anxious tail spin.
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My Gluten Intolerance
My entire business and brand is based around living in the fluidity and balance of wholesome eating, and not falling victim of the perceived extremes the food world has created.
But when I started seeing my functional medicine doctor and she had me cut gluten out for a month, I realized I had a major issue with it.
I felt amazing, and many of my other ailments started going away. It hit me hard that I was going to need to be vigilant in cutting out this food group.
I had a hard time thinking about the extreme of this. My anxiety peaked at the thought of having to do something 100% of the time. I lived in the middle, knowing that extremes affected my mental health.
The difference with Celiac
While I have not been diagnosed with Celiac, at least not currently, gluten does wreak havoc in my body. After I stopped eating it for a while, I feel the effects of an accidental does fairly quickly. And each time this happens they last longer and I feel them more.
Still, I am not ultra crazy about it. I do not eat gluten, I know buy all gluten free items like breads, tamari instead of soy sauce, etc. And through bad experiences, I have learned that when I go out I need to ask for the gluten free items.
With Celiac disease, you need to be extra vigilant. You need to clean pans before using them, or even have separate pans, you need to make sure the plates don't share items with other gluten filled foods, and going out is extremely hard.
I don't plan to get tested for Celiac, maybe because my subconscious doesn't really want to know, but also because to get tested you need to gluten load for a while and the thought of that makes me want to cry.
Removing Foods from Your Diet
When it comes to dealing with food intolerances versus an allergy, it's simpler because you just try and remove those foods from your diet.
You don't have the added issue of an extreme life threatening reaction, so it's definitely an easier issue to deal with.
But this still can affect your mental health. Having to completely avoid certain groups of foods makes it difficult to navigate eating especially when you are at someone else's house or if you are eating out.
Can food allergies cause anxiety?
When you have to always be aware of something, no matter what that thing is, your brain doesn't get to rest. This can keep you in a state of constant worry if you aren't careful.
I have always tried hard to stay away from extremes, in all areas of my life but especially food. The extreme way of eating that are in our food world is something I avoid.
When I learned I had to stay away from gluten, the first thing that peaked was my anxiety. Thinking about how I was going to navigate all the things I loved to do, going to friends houses for parties, going out to eat, having my own dinner parties...brought me worry.
While I didn't have to stress about my life and an extreme allergy, it still brought me anxiety. It's common for people with allergies, or food intolerances, to develop or heighten their anxiety.
But there are things you can do to help!
Tips to Help Food Anxiety
Here are some things I have been doing to help me feel successful in doing all I love to do and navigate my gluten issue:
- Fill my home with things I can eat and put them in a special place so I know that I will always have something.
- Before going to a friends house, ask when they are serving so you can prepare.
- When in doubt, eat before you go somewhere.
- Offer to bring something to eat that way you know there will be at least one safe thing available.
- If eating out, ask to see the gluten-free (or whatever you need) menu or ask what items might fit your needs.
- Gluten can hide in many things, as I learned the hard way when I had some cheese dip once and realized it was made with beer.
- Make sure to splurge on some things you love to eat so you never feel deprived.
Keeping your mental health in a happy state is important for overall health. Just because you can't eat a certain thing, doesn't mean you have to be deprived and miss out on all the greatness of food!
Questions or comments? Let me know below!