Guest article courtesy of Jennifer Leeson, LCSW.
Living with life threatening food allergies, celiac disease, or other significant food restrictions can be challenging in ways that go beyond knowing what to eat and what to avoid. The negative impact of having food allergies can greatly affect one’s emotional and social well being and their quality of life.
Research into the specific impacts of living with food allergies or celiac disease is being done, though still on a relatively small scale. Studies related to these issues have identified a number of areas of specific concern: aspects of general health; activities within the family; eating outside the home; eating within school environments; reactions of other people; food labeling; previous allergic reactions to food; co-existing allergies; impact of the food allergy on quality of life of caregivers; and burden of responsibility. (A small, yet notable impact has also been reported on one’s career/work environment.)
In particular the research has indicated a significant psychosocial impact on children, adolescents, and their families. Most notably is the considerable effect on daily family activities and socialization in regards to the continuous attention needed to avoid the exposure to allergens for one or more members of the family. The populations most adversely affected are: females, parents of young children, and adolescents. Of these, the most significantly affected is mothers of severely allergic children.
If you or someone you know is affected by food allergies and/or celiac disease, then you may have experienced, or are currently feeling the related adverse impact on quality of life first hand. These impacts can lead to intense fear and anxiety, as well as frustration and anger. Online chat rooms related to these topics are populated with individuals seeking support for these very real emotions.
The IBS Treatment Center thanks Jenn Leeson for this month’s lead article. If you are feeling stress, anxiety, or overwhelming unhappiness caused by your own or your child’s food allergies, we encourage you to find the support you need through counseling, therapy, or a local support group.
To find a support group in your area, check out one of the following websites (just click the name):
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America
Celiac Sprue Association USA
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
Washington FEAST (local, grass-roots support group for families dealing with food allergies)
Stay tuned for Part II on The Psychological Aspects of Food Allergies and Celiac Disease.
Article Courtesy: Dr. Stephen Wangen