Food Allergies: Anxiety, Gratitude & Belonging

So often we worry about whether our food allergic kiddos feel like they belong. We never want them to have that feeling…that they’re the ‘odd man out’ or like one of the segments from Sesame Street’s ‘One of These Things is Not Like the Other.’ As I’ve grown in my comfortableness with my son’s food allergy diagnosis, I too have evolved in what I find to be an unending truth.

The truth is, we don’t want our children to feel like they don’t belong, always different in this crazy world that socializes, celebrates, rewards, incentivizes and crafts with food. Whew! That was a long list. But let’s be honest, at one time or another in our childhood or even as an adult we’ve felt like the: ’odd man out’, ‘third wheel’, however you want to label it. Feeling different is really a rite of passage, whether you have food allergies or not. I believe these types of situations help us form our being. I know this now because I’m an adult though…I now have the ability to know and understand that ‘now’ isn’t forever and that as we age and grow so does our resilience, what we stand for, how we come to formulate our morals and values, how we determine who our ‘true’ friends are, not to mention just plain get more comfortable in our own skin, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I will still advocate hard for inclusion of food allergic children, but my new theory will help to manage feelings about it better.

So here’s my theory:

I think that focusing our lives and the lives of our children on gratitude and appreciation for what we have will not only decrease our and their anxiety but intensify everyone’s feeling of belonging.

"One thing that has helped me immensely in handling life's challenges, is letting go of how I thought it was going to be." ~ Kristin Beltaos

“One thing that has helped me immensely in handling life’s challenges, is letting go of how I thought it was going to be.” ~ Kristin Beltaos

How could you not have a strong feeling of belonging when all you see is sheer abundance?

Truth be told, I’ve always told my boys that it’s not about what material things we have in life but about the experiences that we have, the people that we spend time with, what we give of ourselves to others and how we impact the lives of the people we interact with — whether that’s the cashier at the grocery store or your family and friends. We need to not only think about our gratitude, but convey it through our gestures and contact!

How can you start this? Well, get a large canning jar and have each family member write down what they are thankful for and place it in the jar each day, every other, whatever feels natural. Then on the ‘difficult’ days pull from it for reminders of what we are grateful for to help deflect from a negative situation. Another option is to have each person share at the dinner table what they were thankful for about each day. No matter how you decide to establish this new family ritual, realize that the jar may prove to be of tangible help when a rainy day heads your way, being able to pull from it and review past joys.

By focusing our lives on the expression of gratitude it will make it difficult to slip into the dangerous ‘grass is always greener’ mentality, wishing things could be different in our lives. Truly accepting life the way it is handed to you and living within that rather than ‘how things were suppose to be’ permits us to teach compassion to ourselves and others and accept our life’s ‘lumps’ for what they truly are…something to be grateful for.

I gave you a few of my thoughts, won’t you leave a comment and share with me one of yours?