Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Food allergies and Eating Disorders


This is not a topic talked about often, openly nor easily. But think about it: with all of the emphasis placed on eating, what not to eat, what happens if you eat the “wrong” thing, messaging about food can become confusing to children, especially as they grow into tween years and social pressure for commercial version of beauty becomes more pronounced.

I'm talking about food allergies and eating disorders.

I spend a section of my book Allergic Girl, exploring the issue as I've had several food allergy counseling clients over the years who struggled with new diagnoses of food sensitivities and allergies and were already struggling or in recovery from previously diagnosed eating disorders.

So, when I read this article back on February 27, 2013 in the New York Times Motherlode column called "Six Ways to Spot an Eating Disorder Early" by KJ Dell’Antonia, I knew it was something to be explored on this blog as well. The article talks about how to spot the early signs of eating disorders. It’s worth reading for food allergy parents. 

An excerpt from "Six Ways to Spot an Eating Disorder Early": "Act on your own instincts. 'Parents do notice,' Dr. Hagman said. 'They just don’t know what they’re noticing.' Suddenly, they’re buying less at the grocery store, or having different conversations with their child, or seeing changes in appearance or physical ability like those Madi described. 'If something has changed, say something,' Dr. Hagman said. 'Ask what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to talk. Sometimes teenagers will say, "No one noticed anything, so I thought I must be fine." Notice. Open the door to the conversation.'"

How children translate the messaging parents tell them about food, danger and safety, can be confusing. Add to the mix if there is a family history of compulsive behaviors, anxiety disorders or maladaptive eating disorders, and/or if there has been a major life shift (a move, change of schools, a divorce, a death), all of this can trigger a child’s desire to control their world (and adult's too). Very often food is one thing that feels like it can be controlled.

If you suspect these kinds of behaviors, contact a mental health professional for an evaluation. You can find reputable and licensed mental health professionals and information on my Allergic Girl site, from national organizations such as:
American Psychological Association (APA) 
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

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