For much of the time I struggled with EDNOS, a lot of it centered around two things: “good” foods and “bad” foods. Putting foods in categories like this helped to create a shortcut for me: if I knew a food was “good”, I didn’t have to worry (well, more like obsess) about it later. When I was working through my eating issues and seeing a nutritionist, she helped me to see foods as neither bad nor good, but neutral, so that I could re-learn how to approach the foods I needed when I was hungry for them. This was a crucial first step in my recovery, because it meant that I no longer needed to be afraid of food.
But as with many things that become different in your life as a result of having children, I now have to think in those terms of “good” and “bad” again, because my almost-two-year old son has recently been diagnosed with food allergies. He’s allergic to both peanuts and eggs; and although peanuts are relatively easy to identify in most foods, eggs are not. They’re in almost everything! And it takes a lot of vigilance to keep him away from them: a lot of reading labels, learning substitutions, and preparing myself and my family in case he accidentally ingests either one.
With his diagnosis, fear has unfortunately come into a lot of my thinking with food again, even though I’m not allergic to them myself. I’m constantly thinking about whether or not I’ve washed my hands well after eating a sandwich because of the mayonnaise on it, for example, because I don’t want to accidentally touch his hands or face and cause a reaction. I second-guess things I’d normally eat at restaurants if he’s with me, because I’m afraid he’ll suddenly reach over and grab a handful of my dinner off my plate and break out in angry hives.
But there’s a difference now when it comes to “bad” and “good” foods: I’m afraid of them, yes, but not for me–for him. It’s a different sort of fear, because it comes from a place of love and vigilance, not anxiety and shame. And best of all, I can employ coping mechanisms I learned from my time with the nutritionist to situations when I’m nervous about his allergy: remembering to breathe, deeply, calm down, and remember just to know I’m doing the best I can as a parent and as someone who’s still in recovery.
Food allergies–Just an Excuse? video resource
A New Life (My Son is Here!) by Christy Gualitieri
God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Person, book by Walt Larimore MD