Discovering that you or a family member has multiple allergies can seem like an overwhelming thing to deal with. These are the four things I wish I had known in the early days of our multiple allergy journey.
- Don’t panic! This is good news. No, really. You now know what has been causing the symptoms so it’s an opportunity. Allergy Big was very ill for the first three years of his life. Discovering his food allergies meant that he was able to recover and subsequently thrive.
- Don’t worry about a variety of meals. Lots of us have this idea, and social media fuels this, that we should all be able to produce a wide variety of nutritional meals inspired by global cuisine. We are so lucky to live in this time of supermarkets with so many products. However, this is a recent innovation. If you read books like the Little House on the Prarie series, then one of the thing that stands out is how bland and repetitive their meals are. The treat foods are described so rapturously because they were so unusual. In fact, right now many people will be eating pretty dull meals to sustain themselves. So don’t feel guilty about a lack of variety. I would aim for a plan for three days of meals to start off with, that you can rotate. If you can access a dietitian then they will be able to help you put this plan together.
- You might have to change your views on food shopping. Lots of people seem to have favourite shops that they like to buy the bulk of their food from. I find this just doesn’t work for us. I go to a different supermarket each week; I use Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and The Co-Operative Society. I also use an online supermarket (Ocado), a wholesaler (Suma), local health food stores, and online shopping sites (Ethical Superstore, Goodness Direct, Veggie Stuff, and Holland At Home). Also, don’t dismiss the bargain stores. Lidl and Aldi stock more products that we can eat than Waitrose do. I still hope to repeat the day I found Kinnerton Free From chocolate at a very low price in Home Bargains! Shopping will, especially in the early days, take up quite a bit of time as you will need to check every ingredient list on every product.
- Get organised. In the early days, there is going to be a lot to learn and keep track of. You might need to keep a food diary that tracks symptoms with foods eaten. You might need different shopping lists for each store on the go. You might need to keep track of appointments with multiple, medical consultants. Next week, I’ll write a more detailed blog post about how I organise our information.
Finally, thanks to reader Janel, who commented on the blog’s About page while we were on blog hiatus and inspired this post. I decided to do a series of posts for people in the early days of diagnosis so that information will always be available if someone needs it.
It would be great if readers could share their ideas for dealing with those early days in the comments.