3 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage When Allergies Are Leaving You Feeling Burnt Out

 

Keeping the spark alive in a marriage is a challenge in itself; doing so with children is an even bigger challenge. When you add in special needs or a chronic illness like food allergies, it may seem nearly impossible to pull yourself out of the realm of overwhelm into the romantic world.

If you are like most moms I know who have children with food allergies, you are an extremely busy woman. Not only are you busy with everyday life, but you are probably a bit preoccupied with managing your child’s life-threatening condition. With cooking everything from scratch, making sure your child has her meds, becoming a private investigator just to track down foods your child can safely consume, managing co-occurring conditions, etc, it doesn’t always give you a lot of free time or mental space to relax, unwind, and snuggle up with your significant other.

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Tips to Get Your Husband Up to Speed on Food Allergies

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Many times mothers of children with food allergies are frustrated with their husbands because they don’t feel like their husband is on the same page when it comes to managing their child’s food allergies.

They often complain that their husband doesn’t seem to understand the serious nature of managing food allergies. Dads have been known to do things like buy foods at the grocery store without reading the label, order pizza at a restaurant without informing the staff of their kids’ allergies, or they may even forget what some of their kids’ allergies are.

It’s easy to see how this might be frustrating. Instead of blowing a gasket and losing your temper with your husband, try to look for ways to remedy the problem. Perhaps your husband is weak at auditory processing (or maybe he’s a selective listener) and would prefer to have things written down.

Whatever the case may be, it is very important that the two of you approach managing food allergies as a team. If you and your husband are not on the same page, it can feel like you are managing your child’s food allergies alone and that is a very heavy weight to carry by yourself.

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Allergy-Friendly Play Dates

Play dates can be very stressful for parents of children with food allergies.  However, just like adults (maybe even more so), young children need social interaction with their peers. Often this takes place in the form of play dates.

The toddler and preschooler age group presents a unique challenge in that they often do not fully understand the gravity of having a life-threatening food allergy and they love to explore using all of their senses. It isn’t uncommon for children in this age bracket to put objects in their mouth as soon as they have them in their hands. Generally speaking, the younger the child is, the more controlled the environment needs to be.  With that in mind, you might consider keeping play dates completely free from your child’s allergens. While I am not a huge proponent of “blanket” food bans in general, I think you always have to look at each individual situation and circumstance when creating a safe environment for children with food allergies.

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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.

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Tips for Allergy-Friendly Social Events with Family and Friends

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With Labor Day coming up and the holiday season quickly approaching in the fall, why not start thinking about creating allergy-friendly social events with your family and friends now?

Social events with family and friends can be extremely stressful if everyone is not on the same page. It is not uncommon for family members and friends to continue to serve foods that present a danger to your child after they have been diagnosed with a food allergy. In most cases, they don’t do it to be mean or to exclude your child. Although sometimes strangers or acquaintances genuinely do not care if any particular child is excluded (which is sad but true), most people are willing to create a safe environment for their friends and family.

As with most situations, communication is crucial. Once your child is diagnosed with a food allergy, it makes sense to sit down with your friends and family to discuss any upcoming holidays or “get-togethers.” Let friends and family know ahead of time what precautions need to be taken in order to keep your child safe. Together, you can decide who will be hosting which events, where they will be held, what types of foods will be served, and what the expectations are for everyone involved. While you may not agree on every detail right away, this will give you a good start. The most important thing is to ensure your child’s physical and emotional well-being with a little forethought and planning.

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5 Tips for Communicating with Family and Friends Who Just Don’t Understand

One of the most common statements I hear from people with chronic illnesses regarding their friends and family members is, “They just don’tDictionary Series - Marketing: communication understand.” This is particularly true for people with autoimmune disorders (such as, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, Celiac, etc) and other modern invisible illnesses (like food allergies and ADHD). I am amazed at how many times I have heard someone cluelessly minimize the impact of one of these conditions.

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, I am sure that you have uttered the words, “They just don’t get it” at some point in your life. I know I have on several occasions.

This lack of understanding can be very frustrating for you because whenever anyone speaks to another person they want to feel like they have been heard and understood.

Unfortunately, it is particularly hard for people to wrap their minds around chronic conditions unless they experience them first-hand. Unlike visible disabilities, such as breaking your leg,  people around you have little or no reference point in regards to what might be going on inside of your body. This lack of awareness often leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Communication breakdowns can lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, resentment, animosity, hopelessness, isolation, despair, and depression. All of these emotions negatively impact your relationships and overall quality of life. The stress brought on by conflict can also weaken your ability to manage your symptoms effectively.

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