• Emotional Support For Managing Food Allergies in Teenagers | Tamara Hubbard | Episode 135

  • Emotional Support for Managing Food Allergies in Teenagers
    Managing food allergies is exhausting and emotionally draining. While parents of are the keepers of the box when it comes to their children’s food, when that food can be life threatening it’s terrifying. We often handle that fear through vigilance. However, the older kids get the more often they’ll be away from us and the more food choices they’ll make on their own. They need, and want, to take on more and more responsibility for their food but this can create anxiety for parents as well as conflict between parent and child. Find out how to manage emotional turmoil as you turn the reins over to your teenager as Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler discusses managing food allergies with therapist Tamara Hubbard.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    “There is grief involved in living with food allergies. It’s important to recognize and accept those feelings.”

    High Points of Our Conversation About Emotional Support For Managing Food Allergies in Teenagers:

    emotional impact of managing food allergiesLiving with food allergies is about more than vigilance and logistics. There is also an emotional and psychosocial impact.

    Adult-onset food allergies are becoming more common. There is also an increase in the number of kids who don’t outgrow food allergies.

    An allergy is an immune based response within the body and the result is often life threatening. A food intolerance is when the body lacks the enzymes to break down a particular food. It can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and inconvenient but is not life threatening.

    We can support families and individuals who are food allergic by including them in our social lives. If we don’t know how to do that, simply ask them. Tell them you’d like to have them over for dinner but don’t know the best way to go about it. You can ask whether they’d be more comfortable letting you prepare compliant food or bringing their own.

    When you live with food allergies there is going to be anxiety. The key is to not let it reach the point of being unhealthy or isolating.

    The factors that isolate people with food allergies are fear and lack of support.

    Parents need to help their food-allergic child learn how to manage their own food allergies. This includes what to eat and not eat as well as how to handle an allergic reaction.

    We often talk about children’s developmental stages. Ellen Galinsky laid out 6 stages of parenthood which outline our changing role as kids grow.

    Food allergic families are so focused on avoidance that we can go too far and stop our kids from learning to manage their own food out of fear of a reaction. However, if we allow them to slowly take over when we are still a strong presence then we will also be there if they make a mistake and need to manage a reaction. Like all other learning, failure can happen and that is also a teaching moment.

    Tips for parents to manage their own anxiety:

      • Utilize self care—This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s essential you remove that particular hat every day even if only for a few moments.
      • Stay in the now—Don’t allow your thoughts to race away to future fear.
      • Seek support—There are many options including creating a network, joining a group, working with a counselor, and identifying friends and family who get it and will support you.

    5-4-3-2-1 method of reducing anxiety: Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel (touch), 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

    There is grief involved in living with food allergies. It’s important to recognize and accept those feelings. ACT can help you move through them: 

      • Accept your reactions and be present (notice your thoughts and feelings – name them)
      • Choose a valued direction (know what your values and commitments in life are and let those guide you)
      • Take action

    When we get fearful or are working through an issue with our teen, the IDEAL technique can help:

      • Identify the problem
      • Define goals
      • Explore possible solutions
      • Act on it
      • Look back

    It’s important to have conversations with our food-allergic teens about navigating social situations they will be facing—kissing, carrying medication/an injector, eating out with friends, etc.

    Resources Mentioned in Show:

    Our Guest Tamara Hubbard:

    Tamara Hubbard food-allergy-informed therapistTamara is a family therapy-trained Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor focused on providing support to women, those experiencing life transitions, and especially those needing guidance on navigating the psychosocial impacts of life with food allergies.

    Tamara is an allied health member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, as well as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 

    A relationship builder at heart, Tamara is always looking for opportunities to help build and enhance alliances that lead to positive impacts within the food allergy community. As such, she founded The Food Allergy Counselor website, which houses the Food Allergy Counselor Directory, a food allergy mental health resource section, and a blog focused on the psychosocial aspects of life with food allergies. 

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://www.foodallergycounselor.com  

    Our Sponsor:

    Inward Bound Mindfulness Education—iBme— provides In-depth mindfulness programs for teens and young adults. Courses and retreats help them learn awareness, compassion, and concentration practices which develop deep listening skills, self-awareness, and communication—essential competencies for success in all areas of life. Offerings have expanded to include courses for parents and other adults; all available online for 2020.