Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dealing with Food Allergies (Part 1)

Since Dan was one we have changed the way we eat at our house.  That was when we first started discovering his food allergies.  You might be surprised to know that my first reaction to his food allergies (besides fear) was anger.  I was angry at the food that could kill him.  I was angry that cooking, which I don't really love, just got harder.  I was angry that Dan would probably never get to enjoy some of the foods that I had loved the most.  (I say had because I was so angry at peanuts that I quit eating the food that has been my main staple for years -- peanut butter).  I was angry that he couldn't eat what everyone else ate.  I was angry that school, and parties, and even family gatherings were going to be complilcated.  Thankfully, there were three things that helped me to get past the anger.

1.  I have a friend who has dealt with multiple food allergies in her family.  She told me what to look for on lables and she gave me a couple of recipes to help.  I believe she cooks three different dinners for her family every day since they are not all allergic to the same things.  I was impressed with how matter of factly she dealt with the situation.  Somewhere along the line she had already learned that being frustrated and angry didn't help anyone.  Her understanding, patience and example were priceless.

2.  I read in one of my fiction books (I can't remember which one) that being angry with a situation we are given in life is the same as being angry at God.  That made me stop and think.  Heavenly Father knows about Dan's allergies and I know that being angry at God is not a good idea.  I started trying harder to not be angry.  Thinking about this idea helped me to be ready for #3.

3.  I went to a Relief Society meeting where a lady spoke about her son being diagnosed with diabetes.  She spoke about how hard it was for her.  Her situation sounded harder than mine -- but it was similar in some ways too.  After describing her challenges she told us about a question she had been asked.  If she could go back and choose to have her son be free of diabetes would she?  She was surprised to find the answer was not a clear "YES!"  She said that her son is very compassionate, and thoughtful.  She felt that this was a result of his experience with diabetes.  As a result of her son's diabetes she had learned to communicate with Heavenly Father better and to feel His compassion and love more clearly.  Maybe that "YES!" would take away the good things too.  Listening to her helped me to see that I was angry over something that might be an important part of Heavenly Father's plan for me, and Dan, and our family.  Perhaps I couldn't see the good things that could come from this hard thing.

Thanks to these three things, I have been able to stop being angry and to deal with food allergies more matter of factly -- like my friend.  This is a situation that we have been given and it is up to us to handle it the best way we can.  Eventually we may even be able to sincerely give thanks for the opportunity to experience life with food allergies.  Maybe we will look back and find that we are more patient, or compassionate, or thoughtful because of this situation.  One day we will clearly see the good that has come to us because of a hard thing.  In the meantime, we won't waste time being angry.


Megz said...

I definitely would prefer some other trials than a food allergy for my kids(maybe being too kind to others would be a nice trial...)
Way to turn it into a positive. And who needs ice cream when you can have a popsicle instead??

Libby said...

My reaction to my son's food allergies was more matter of fact, but I grew up in a house where my dad and brother both had severe shellfish allergies. I've heard a number of allergy moms describing their reactions as being similar to going through the states of grief: denial, anger, etc., as they mourn the loss of a "normal" childhood. Maybe going through the range of emotions is important to coming to acceptance. Or maybe you're just more mature than I am!

On a lighter note, have you tried Sunbutter yet! It will definitely cure you of the PB blues!

Happy Mom said...

Thanks for your last two posts. They've been so inspiring. Hope your days are filled with the normal hubbub and it's all good!

Marcy said...

Very inspirational! We don't have any food allergies in our family, but have some other "issues" that I have found myself angry about over the years. Thanks for your post!!

cold cocoa said...

Sounds like such a big pain! It's scary not knowing what trials are out there in store. you're doing a good job, though, and Dan seems happy!

Anna said...

Food allergies can be so tricky! I think you've been handling things beautifully, though. And I found that being aware of food allergies in my own family has helped me be a little more sensitive to others when I try to take meals in or have others' kids over to play at my house, or even what I provide in the way of treats at group piano class. My sister's son deals with a peanut allergy too, and I know she has gotten creative over fixing things for her family. I bet you will be learning some amazing things and learning to cook some things you never ever thought about. Good luck!!