Winning the emotional battle of food intolerance diagnosis

Winning the emotional battle of food intolerance diagnosis

Every day in my clinic when I give patients the news about their food intolerance diagnosis, a common reaction is one of grief and disappointment. “But I can’t possibly give up dairy they cry. “I can’t believe I have to miss out on dairy it’s one of my favourites.”

Usually, I take the chance to gently remind patients that they’ve typically come to me at their wit’s end. Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, or fed up with nasty reactions, they know that something needs to change, and they’re not going to feel better until the underlying issue is dealt with.

Once that initial “it’s not fair” type of emotional response is voiced, patients are typically ready to move on and make the necessary changes that will set them on the road to health. And one of the biggest, most important changes that patients need to make is one of mindset.

Embrace your journey to health

It’s vital to constantly remind yourself that the changes you are making are to support your health. Focus on what feeling better will enable you to do, and the benefits of no longer suffering from problems like digestive discomfort, mood disorders and tiredness. Think of activities that your food intolerance was preventing you from enjoying and make an active effort to do the things you were previously missing out on.

Discovery, not deprivation

Frankly, food intolerance problems are in large part a symptom of our modern, stressful world where preparing nourishing food has slipped down our collective priority list. Supermarkets are filled with what I call “food-like products” and the consumption of these products is contributing to illness. But, on the flipside, over the past five to ten years, supermarkets have also greatly expanded their range of foods, giving busy consumers increased access to new foods that fit within their dietary limitations.

As an example, think of the number of gluten-free grains that are now widely available across the country. Consumers no longer need to make a special trip to a health-food store for foods like quinoa, buckwheat and millet (although I’m a big fan of supporting health-food stores and encourage you to continue to discover what they have to offer), with major supermarkets carrying an ever-growing range of goods. Whilst in an ideal world, everyone would support smaller local stores like greengrocers, delis and butchers, I’m enough of a realist to know that access to foods in supermarkets is a big help for many of my patients.

And thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there’s thousands of bloggers out there experimenting with alternative ingredients and creative substitutions to suit the food intolerance issues of themselves and their family members. Whatever your food intolerance, you can guarantee that there’s somebody out there writing recipes that will suit you and creating a community where you can get support as you make changes to your diet. We as well have written an eCookBook that is especially for those that have food intolerances.

Thrive with support

Support is another vital element to managing the emotional issues that surround a food intolerance diagnosis. Sadly, a lot of people in the broader community are dismissive of food intolerances and the discomfort that they cause. Too often I hear stories of patients being mocked by friends and relatives for their perceived fussiness. This is why great support mechanisms are so important – whether that is family and friends who truly understand and empathise, online communities, or regular check-ins with your healthcare professional to monitor your progress and record your results.