Food Allergies, on the surface, seem much simpler than they are. Avoid the food, and you’re in the clear. However, this is completely inaccurate. Having food allergies can cause so much anxiety in people, and this topic is not discussed enough. Allergic people of all ages suffer from anxiety induced by their allergies, and it is common for people to keep this inside from fear of judgment. This article hopes to bring light towards allergy anxiety in hopes of normalizing it in society.
What is “Allergy Anxiety?”
Allergy anxiety looks different depending on the person. It could be as simple as getting nervous when at a restaurant, or it could be much more severe. There are many different factors that impact anxiety, making it difficult to generalize. In sum, allergy anxiety is anxiety that comes from a fear of being in certain situations, such as hanging out with friends or going to a family barbeque. For some, this will be very minor; however, for many, their anxiety will keep them from doing things they desire.
Personally, I tend to develop anxiety when going to restaurants. The thought of not knowing what is going on in the kitchen makes me worried that one of my allergens will end up in my food. Additionally, I get anxious when traveling, specifically flying. Planes are not commonly cleaned well enough in between flights which means that residue of nuts people were eating could be in my surrounding area. Both of these things are very common triggers for allergic people; however, this commonality does not take away my fear. As I’ve grown up, I have explored and researched to find ways to help cope with my anxiety. Although nothing will take away 100% of my anxiousness, these tips and tricks that I have practiced have helped significantly.
Tips for Coping with Anxiety Induced by Allergies
Always travel with disinfecting wipes! These will always come in handy, no matter the destination. You can feel safer knowing that you have an extra layer of “protection,” and this will likely ease some of your worries.
When flying, always ask the person working at the gate to pre-board the plane. This allows you to go on before everyone and wipe down your area (seat, tray table, floor, etc.) This way, you can be sure that you will be safe on the plane and don’t have to worry about inhaling any bit of your allergen.
Additionally, when flying, politely ask the people near you to refrain from eating your allergen. Most people will be very understanding as they would not want to be the reason that you have a reaction. You can feel safer flying with this added safety measure. (Tip: offer to buy allergen-free snacks for those people so that they still have something to eat)
Call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure that they are able to accommodate severe food allergies.
Instead of just telling the waiter your allergens, specifically, ask them to fill out an allergy slip/form so that it is very clear to everyone preparing your food that you have a life-threatening allergy.
When the food arrives, double-check with the server that the chef was informed of the allergen and that everything has been checked to make sure your dish is free of any harmful ingredients.
Take slow and deep breaths. This will calm down your system and ease the initial urge to want to panic.
Plan ahead of time so that you can prepare for whatever the event is. You will feel more in control, therefore, less anxious.
Always pack an extra “safety snack.” A safety snack is something that you know you can eat and is safe for you. For me, this is anything by Made Good or Enjoy Life.
Don’t let your allergies control you. Take the reins and set yourself free from the constraints of your allergies. Never forget that this is your life, and there needs to be a balance between living in fear and living safely. You got this!