Build Your Food Allergy Support Network

Build Your Food Allergy Support NetworkOne of the things I learned from working in medical social work is that it takes a team to manage serious health conditions. It’s no different with food allergies. A food allergy diagnosis is life-changing. It may be very overwhelming to navigate in the beginning. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to feel anxiety, grief, depression, or even isolation when they are faced with food allergies. In addition, there is so much to learn and do to stay safe. And to top it off, many people who don’t deal with food allergies everyday do not understand what it takes to manage them successfully. This diagnosis is a lot to take on by yourself, which is why it is so important to surround yourself with a team of support.

The first step in building your support network is to assemble a team of supportive professionals. Ideally, you want to have a board-certified allergist and immunologist on your team. Look for an allergist who is familiar with food allergies, not just seasonal or environmental allergies. You will also want to have a primary care physician that is knowledgeable about food allergies and supports the treatment that you and your allergist create. If you or your child also deals with other allergic issues such as eczema, you may need to add a dermatologist to your team, as well. You may also need a referral to a gastroenterologist if you have a condition such as eosinophilic esophagitis or celiac disease.

Other professionals you might want to have on your team may include: school nurses, teachers, and other staff members that might be caring for your child, as well as dietitians and nutritionists (especially if you are dealing with multiple food allergies). You may also consider seeking out other professionals to help you improve your overall quality of life and well-being, such as social workers, allergy coaches, psychologists, counselors, religious leaders, etc.

Be sure to surround yourself with a supportive social network of people, also. One of the best ways to avoid the isolation that may accompany a food allergy diagnosis is to surround yourself with others who get what you’re going through.

Here are some tips for building your food allergy support network:

  • Join a food allergy support group or organization. You can find local and national groups.
  • Connect with other individuals who have food allergies. You can connect with people locally or through social media.
  • Identify one food-allergy supportive family member or friend with whom you can share openly.
  • Consider working with a food allergy coach, mentor, or peer who has experience successfully managing food allergies to help you navigate the day-to-day challenges.
  • Volunteer to support food allergy organizations, such as Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) or Kids with Food Allergies.
  • Attend food allergy conferences and expos. This is a wonderful way to meet like-minded folks in the food allergy community and build relationships.
  • Take advantage of food allergy training classes and webinars.
  • Enlist the help of others. Be proactive in communicating the support that you need in managing your food allergies or your child’s food allergies.

While there are some people who just “don’t get it,” there are increasingly more people who do. Never be afraid to let people know how they can help you stay safe, whether they are a server at a restaurant or your best friend. The most important thing here is to get out there and connect with people who “get” food allergies and don’t be afraid to share your needs with others. Not only does this help to raise awareness around food allergies, but it also goes a long way in helping you to live life to the fullest with food allergies.

I would love to hear how you have built your own support around food allergies.What has been your biggest help or what has been your biggest challenge in doing so? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

About Tiffany deSilva

Hi I'm Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, CHC, Founder of BrightFire Living, LLC. I am a social worker, speaker, author, certified health, wellness and lifestyle coach, certified green living coach and toxic-free consultant. I am passionate about helping women like you to detox each area of your life, safeguard your family's health, and live life fully charged and completely lit up! I am on a mission to empower women and families who are managing food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other modern chronic health conditions to live a safe, happy, and healthy life that truly lights your fire!

Feedback & Comments:

  1. It’s definitely important to have a support network with those who understand the difficulties!

  2. Love this! A sense of community is so so important!

  3. Well said! This is such great guidance for those who just got the diagnosis as well as people living with them for years!

  4. Great advice! And yes, you need those support networks.

  5. I love all these tips Tiffany. Thank you!

  6. Great advice! It’s so true – it can become so overwhelming and even isolating to deal with food allergies on your own. Building a support system and having people you can speak honestly with is so critical!

  7. These are all such great tips Tiffany! I think your end note brings up a good point. We all come across challenges in life that others may not understand. Some are more crucial, but it’s still important to embrace and appreciate those who do “get it”!

  8. It’s so true! Once I joined a local support group I felt so much better about the food allergies and found some life-long friends.

  9. I think atttending food allergy conferences and expos, like you mentioned is one of the best ways to meet people and find resources! I love going to them myself and since so many new products and resources are being developed it is truly helpful.

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