Coping with Food Allergy Anxiety: Back to School and More

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DATE: Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TIME: 1 PM - 2 PM Eastern time

WHERE: Your computer, iOS or Android device

 

Children with food allergies may experience anxiety. Worries and fears can come up for many reasons.

 

They may have had emotionally or physically distressing things happen to them. Maybe they are picking up on feelings of anxiety from their parents or other grownups. Or perhaps they overheard upsetting comments or conversations about their allergies.

 

Sometimes children struggle with anxiety related to: 

  • Trouble starting or going back to school
  • Anxiety about dealing with friends, teachers or relatives who don’t have food allergies
  • Replaying distressing events over and over in their minds
  • Fear of trying new foods or refusing foods that are safe

 

Join Dr. Gianine D. Rosenblum and Kids With Food Allergies to learn about anxiety coping strategies. Dr. Rosenblum, a psychologist, specializes in the treatment of trauma. She is also the mom of a teenager with food allergies.

 

Join this webinar to prepare for the busy back-to-school season and beyond. You will learn:

  • How anxiety affects us
  • How anxiety affects children through childhood
  • How to respond to your child’s difficult questions and fears
  • Skills and tools to cope with anxiety
  • Knowing when to get help

 

You may submit your questions in advance on the registration form. We will record this webinar. If you cannot attend the live presentation, we will email you a link to the recording a few days after the event.

 

We thank Mylan for providing an unrestricted sponsorship of this webinar.

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Sounds like you are doing a great job Constance and have a great perspective on things!  We have found that it has much more impact when the kids ask grandma why she chooses to put them in danger.

Thanks to all of you who provided their input and shared own experiences.  We have a TREMENDOUS family and spend a lot of time with certain groups (similar kids ages). I know that not everyone will understand the safety aspect, be considerate, or even care so I started this process as a teaching/learning opportunity.  I gave family members simple but informative handouts from KFA, FAAN, etc. I provided the signs/dangers of possible reactions, explained the blood and skin tests my daughter had to do since the age of 2, the potentially higher risk being highly asthmatic, etc. Maybe its TMI but if they keep doing things like this, I am going to keep reminding them until we eventually fade out and grow towards another social direction. I always bake something special for my daughter when we go to gatherings but honestly, sometimes I just get tired of dealing with the family because we, like many of you, are so vigilant daily when it comes to food. There isn't a day that allergies (both food and non-food) are not on our radar. As my daughter gets older, a component that we did not think of when she was younger is the emotional part.  I also think due to all the incidents within the family, she has become very hesitant to trust certain people.  I don't question that trust or her judgment. It is as simple as "will you feel comfortable" with that person.  In other words, will that person be an advocate for you and know what to do in an emergency situation.  And if she gets invited to go out with those who she can answer yes to (in her own mind) she will go.  And she is also getting older where she can be her own advocate and has to in order to do the fun things her friends do.  In fact, a dear family members suggested that she talk to the offenders in the family directly and maybe she will have more of an impact than my husband or myself. But I find myself leaning away from my family not just because of this, but as another straw as the relationships are not the healthiest anyway, so maybe I shouldn't be complaining after all! My daughter is confident, communicative, talented and has great instincts. We want to foster that so she can grow to be her strongest advocate (next to me of course!). 

 

I will be using the bee allergy analogy for certain. I do want to share that we did attend a kids support group in Larchmont NY last March.  It was very empowering for my daughter.  We went as a family so my son (none food allergy/but asthmatic and has multiple environmental) escorted her (16) and he was very surprised by the emotions from the other children displayed during an exercise. I will keep looking for local ones and hopefully there will be more that will not require more than a couple hours of driving. 

 

Thanks for allowing me to release - it could not have felt any better than here through other parents who understand.  Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Originally Posted by kandicejo:
Originally Posted by Ashley Boone:

There is a private Facebook group for kids 10-26 with food allergies.  Here is the link to those interested: https://www.facebook.com/group...allergiesarentajoke/  Their description says the group "is meant to foster positivity and create a safe environment for teens and children with food allergies to talk openly about their diagnosis and life with allergies."  They also state that anything discussed in the group is private, so kids don't need to worry about their friends/family seeing their posts.

I'm not on FB, but isn't the age minimum 13? I'm glad to see teens and young adults wanting to connect, I just wish the group reflected the age restriction that FB has. 

Good catch, Kandi. 

 

10 year olds and 26 year olds talk about very different things. At least I hope they do!!!! Whether it is a real life group or virtual!

Originally Posted by Dana CLU:

 I have sat in a kitchen where my own father opened a jar of peanut butter, and I found this to be a teachable moment for my child since my dad represented someone who forgets, is ignorant, or simply doesn't care. I find that when people do not respond favorably, I compare my daughter's allergies to a bee sting allergy. I tell people that they wouldn't dream of placing a bee's nest next to a child with a severe bee sting allergy, so I ask them why they think it would be safe to bring peanuts and tree nuts near my child?

I too used this analogy at school when my girls were in high school--the Bee analogy really works. My DD1 rarely visits her grandparents because of the disregard for peanut contamination in their house. I think we must be living a parallel life....

Originally Posted by Ashley Boone:

There is a private Facebook group for kids 10-26 with food allergies.  Here is the link to those interested: https://www.facebook.com/group...allergiesarentajoke/  Their description says the group "is meant to foster positivity and create a safe environment for teens and children with food allergies to talk openly about their diagnosis and life with allergies."  They also state that anything discussed in the group is private, so kids don't need to worry about their friends/family seeing their posts.

I'm not on FB, but isn't the age minimum 13? I'm glad to see teens and young adults wanting to connect, I just wish the group reflected the age restriction that FB has. 

Kathy, The usual response is this: immediate dumfounded look, appearance of the lit light bulb above the head, followed by a simultaneous slight smile and "ohhh . . . yeah . . " This analogy is what makes my point click.
 
 
Originally Posted by Kathy P:

That's a great analogy. Do you find people respond well to it?

 

There is a private Facebook group for kids 10-26 with food allergies.  Here is the link to those interested: https://www.facebook.com/group...allergiesarentajoke/  Their description says the group "is meant to foster positivity and create a safe environment for teens and children with food allergies to talk openly about their diagnosis and life with allergies."  They also state that anything discussed in the group is private, so kids don't need to worry about their friends/family seeing their posts.

Constance, I never realized how much American culture centers socialization on food until I had a child with severe peanut and tree nut allergies. We have fought long and hard to rethink food as nourishment, not entertainment, and our daughter has grown to see food in this way. When we visit others, we choose not to eat, to arrive after people eat (or to leave before food is served), or to bring our daughter her own food. When we entertain and decide to include food, we provide all food and drinks. Covered dishes are never an option mainly because of cross-contamination. When our daughter attends birthday parties, I have conversations with the parents and tend to send along my daughter's food - such as a cupcake or a brownie - to the party as well, and I stay in the area in case of an emergency. Wherever we go, we inform guests of her allergies and keep her close. We realize that she cannot live in a peanut/tree nut-free world, so we have modeled how to navigate with a simple "no, thank you" when she is offered food, to a "I have to move away from you since you're eating peanut butter, but we can talk later" proactive comment. I have sat in a kitchen where my own father opened a jar of peanut butter, and I found this to be a teachable moment for my child since my dad represented someone who forgets, is ignorant, or simply doesn't care. I find that when people do not respond favorably, I compare my daughter's allergies to a bee sting allergy. I tell people that they wouldn't dream of placing a bee's nest next to a child with a severe bee sting allergy, so I ask them why they think it would be safe to bring peanuts and tree nuts near my child?

Hugs, too, Colleen! Having trudged through therapy for food allergy anxiety a few years ago with my daughter, I understand your struggle. It sounds as if your daughter eats school lunch - is this true? We tried this, but it was extremely stressful to the point where she would not touch the school trays and picked holes in her hands from the anxiety; needless to say, she didn't eat. We have moved more to a more natural, plant-based diet (especially after watching the documentary Fed Up on Netflix), and my daughter has really taken the reins to help me plan and prepare all of her meals, including her packed lunches and snacks. Taking ownership of her nutrition has truly helped her anxiety. She also knows not to trust others' home-prepared foods because of questionable ingredients and cross-contamination. I also told her how some people allow their cats to walk on their kitchen counters, so the idea of cat hair in her food makes her laugh and gag at the same time. Keeping a sense of humor helps maintain perspective as well. I'll be with you at the upcoming webinar.  

 

Hugs Colleen - what a tough spot for your dd.  Anxiety can really be crippling to where no amount of reasoning can turn it around.  I'm glad she's doing better, but it sounds like you still have a long road.  Teens have so much stress on them these days and then add on FA's to that and it can just be too much.

I am really glad that there will be a webinar soon on anxiety in children with food allergies.  My 13 year old daughter is suffering terribly from anxiety related to her food allergies.   She was restricting food because she was only eating things she felt were 'safe" at school --which amounted to very little.  She lost weight, was very labile in her moods and was eventually hospitalized for weight loss/restricted eating back in June.   She is doing a little better and has regained weight but her anxiety over her allergies is still very much controlling her.    We are going away for a few nights soon and she keeps asking me what she will eat when we are away.  She doesn't think she will trust the pots and pans in the rental house etc.     Of course I have talked to her and tried to reassure her and the allergist has told her that he has been doing this a long time and he has not lost a single patient to food allergies etc.   We tried a therapist once right before (the night of) her admission to the hospital but, to say it did not go well would be a huge understatement.  We really need to find someone who understands both anxiety and food allergies and that is not as simple as it might sound.       Hopefully, this webinar will be able to help.   I do think that talking to other kids the same age would help but I cannot seem to find such a blog/site.     

Have a good night all.

This is a valid question. I have found that the people who disregard my respectful requests either 1. Don't understand the problem or 2. Are a little antisocial, lacking empathy or a sense of caring. If you explain again, in easy to understand terms, and get the same reaction again: consider that the 2nd item is what is happening.

Then, go read "The Psychopath Next Door," book by Martha Stout. You will be amazed!

Nice to see you pop in!  Sorry to hear that her last reaction has caused heightened anxiety   Your methods for dealing w social situations sound great!  It can be very difficult to trust other people's food - we've definitely had issues w/ that.  Sometimes they don't know how to read a label for hidden ingredients or it's just a cross contamination issue in their kitchen.

We are dealing with a similar situation to the person who posted the question.

We host a lot of gatherings and I request that people do not bring items that have peanuts, tree nuts or sesame to our house.  People are fairly willing to comply.  I see it as a part of a communications campaign about food allergies.  Most people really just don't know and no one wants someone to react to food they make. No one! 

 

So, I do my best to phrase things in a pleasant way and not come off like a compulsive, controlling parent! I have not had anyone complain and just about everyone is happy to comply.  I get comments about how it makes people search out new fun recipes, etc.

 

We host things to help reduce the food risk - and we like having parties.  We always provide the items that are most likely to unknowingly have peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame - bread, crackers, etc.  And I often ask people to just bring fruit or veggies or cheese.  That makes it a lot easier.

 

When we go to gatherings, we talk with our daughter about things before we go and identify any special foods she wants to make sure she does not miss out on. Then bring a safe version of it.  Basically, I carry a safe candy/treat all the time.

We ask her playmates to wash their hands and face after eating - so far, people are happy to comply.

 

It is a lot to keep track of and watch for.  And honestly changes community events for our whole family.  But, I just keep reminding ourselves that if we want to participate in such events, this what we need to do.  Just like if you go in the sun you need to wear sunblock! 

 

However, I have noticed that lately our family is not being invited to as many gatherings at other places and I am wondering if the food allergies (and my food requests) are a part of the situation.

 

Our daughter is fairly worried about food that others make - all of her reactions have been from food other people have made and sworn were safe.  And the last reaction was a big one that has left her fairly scared and with very high anxiety.

I do sometimes wonder if all my communicating could be adding to her anxiety.  Hard to say.

Hi and welcome!

When my son was younger I was more restrictive (he is multiple food allergic and was contact reactive to dairy, and has needed epi several times).

Now that he is in middle school - far less so...

In our house - no. Out and about - we try to avoid places/gatherings where people are eating nuts. However, I am not as concerned with others eating a peanutty dessert. I just don't serve her food from a common table, get things from a fresh package, etc.

Btw - welcome to posting.
In our house - no. Out and about - we try to avoid places/gatherings where people are eating nuts. However, I am not as concerned with others eating a peanutty dessert. I just don't serve her food from a common table, get things from a fresh package, etc.

That's a great question and one that gets raised a lot around here.  A lot of times, it will depend on the age of the child and if they have known contact or airborne reactions.  Sometimes others just don't understand and need to be educated. 

I have a question - how do parents of potentially severe reaction pn/nut allergy parents handle allowing their child around others who are consuming the products?  I have gotten to the point where family members just completely disregard my daughters nut allergy and while she will not sample everything, i find myself restricting everyone in bringing potentially harmful foods around her for fear of contact/cross contamination.  Some feel this is overboard/ocd behavior so I am curious to see how other parents address and handle their fa child around others who are consuming.  Do you allow others to eat the potentially hazardous item while he/she is present?  

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