Monday, April 21, 2014


Happy Easter for all of those celebrating this weekend!

A warm, sunny and beautiful weekend to celebrate Easter, attend Church and spend time with family...
For all the children I know - this weekend is the BEST!  Candy.  I think for some kids, Easter morning is better than Christmas morning.  Candy trumps toys in my house.
I have tried having our Easter Bunny bring toys, but it is just not the same - chocolate is key.
So what about those households where food allergies make having candy a scary and risky situation?

I attended an egg hunt that had peanuts and other nut candy hidden in the eggs.  As soon a I realized (prior to starting the egg hunt) - I thought it was time to make an exit.  I was there with two very excited kids.  One very allergic to any type of nut and peanut and one not. 

Interestingly my allergic child was perfectly fine with walking around and not picking up any eggs.  She decided to hang with her friends while they hunted and she would just enjoy being there.

Her brother was told he could collect eggs, but not take any home.  Anything with no nuts could be eaten at the park but anything else should be given to smaller children as we leave.
Well - that did not go over so well!  It took some comforting and consoling and reassuring that there was plenty of candy at home to make things ok...

I wondered why such different reactions?  Was it that the non allergic child is younger?  Is it that he does not want to be limited by someone else's allergy?  What was the difference?

As I thought about it, optimism came to mind.  Tomorrow I am giving a workshop on how to Increase Your Optimism at the Integrative Health Center so perhaps my presentation is in the back of my mind - however I believe it was more than that.

Optimism is defined so very many different ways.  One of my favorites is a quote I saw on facebook post by Positive Focus this week that said, "Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster it's a cha-cha" by Robert Brault.

Every event in our lives can be viewed through multiple lenses.  Which lens we chose makes all the difference in how we feel.  Food allergies bring on such anxiety. Every situation where there is food brings out potential for a reaction.  Like all others who deal with severe food allergies we have moments of anxiety and fear and frustration.  Many days we wish we could make it go away and that she could do and eat just like all of her friends.  But that is not an option.  Knowing that is not an option she has a choice to make.  Be sad and frustrated all the time or be happy about what she is blessed with.  That is exactly what happened at this egg hunt.  Seeing the hunt through the negative lens led to frustration on the part of the child told he could not bring candy home with him.  Seeing the hunt through a positive and optimistic lens allowed a little girl to safely enjoy some time outside in the sun with her friends searching for plastic eggs.  Picking them up or eating the candy - not so important.  What was important to her was being there and being safe.
She often tells me that she is grateful that her allergy has taught her to read labels because it makes her more aware of everything she puts in her body.  She is aware of food dyes and of fat and sugar and is just more educated in general about healthy eating.  That doesn't mean she doesn't eat junk - of course not.  Junk can taste really good :) - It just means she is aware and makes "safe" choices.

I wanted to tell this story because food allergies absolutely suck.  There is no doubt about it.  Fear and anxiety are natural. Simple things like birthday parties, egg hunts and other social events can turn into nightmares - however like anything else in life that isn't perfect - it does not need to define and consume us to the point that we do not enjoy what we do have and what we do get to do. 

Knowing how to be careful, read labels, use an epi and ask the right questions are very important things to know and to do.  However I believe very strongly that changing the lens we see situations is just as important in staying safe and healthy each day!

If you are a mom who has had anxiety over your child's food allergies, know you are not alone.  There are tons of resources out there to help you manage.  If you believe counseling or coaching (phone or in person) is something you would like to explore - please check out my website and reach out to me.  I am happy to set up some time to have a free phone consult to see if I can be of service to you.

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