It’s been a steep learning curve for me, figuring out the best ways to talk to others about food allergies. Here’s my latest Huffington Post contribution:
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I tell my clients that you can only challenge someone as much as you support him or her. It’s a key part of my approach to counseling as I strive to keep challenge and support in balance in my work with clients.
I find more and more that this is something I should be keeping in mind for myself, too.
I can only challenge myself as much as I support myself.
We get supports and challenges from other people too, but it’s important to keep these things in balance for ourselves as well. With food allergies, I’m realizing lately how much I have retreated from the world to protect myself. I have not (knock on wood) had a bad reaction in months, but I also have not been challenging myself. Perhaps I have given myself too much support in some areas, and not enough challenge. I’ve retreated from trying new restaurants, travel, new social interactions, even happy hours after work.
Sometimes this is a good thing, and I feel justified in saying that going to a happy hour after a long work day when I know I can’t eat anything and would be having a drink on an empty stomach would not be fun or happy. That being said, turning into a hermit is also not a good balance.
It’s time for me to put myself back out there in the world a little bit more. No, I’m not hopping on a transatlantic flight to backpack around Europe, but I can go out to eat at a new restaurant this weekend. In fact, that is exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to call ahead, like a good food-allergic individual, make a reservation for 5pm (not the busy hour), and invite a friend to join me. And teach her how to use my Epipen, just in case.
Support, meet challenge. Challenge, meet support.