You can’t help it sometimes. Okay, most times. You learn you have food allergies/intolerances and everything looks like a potential hazard. There will always be paranoia when anaphylaxis is a reaction. Heck, I have a healthy enough paranoia that my peanut allergy could wind up in an anaphylactic reaction that I’m not tempted to go near peanuts.
Paranoia makes you hypervigilant. Too much hypervigilance creates stress. Too much stress can lead to adrenal fatigue and triggering autoimmune disorders.
I had to let go of some of that paranoia to lower my stress levels.
But what does that mean?
It means offering to cook when I stay with friends.
It means educating others when it is called for and not until then.
It means packing food for road trips when there are no restaurant options along the way. Packing food in the suitcase and carry-on luggage for potential food emergencies in the airport, plane, and destination.
It means researching potential restaurants before traveling.
It means taking my own food when going to big social gatherings when food options are slim to none and/or potential for cross-contact is high.
It means releasing family and friends from the expectation that they have something available for you.
You cannot let go of all of your food paranoia. It would make us lax in checking everything and we could end up in worse health than before. But there is some unnecessary paranoia and stress we put ourselves through that I think would make it so much easier if we would just let it go.
The paranoia serves us well when we are first diagnosed, but we cannot keep up the same level of paranoia all the time. Again, severe allergies aside. My paranoia levels at home are low because if Chaz wants to bring in something with gluten, he keeps it separate from the rest of the food. He has his own spot in the dining room for his food he brings in. It is nowhere near the pantry or the refrigerator. He brought in bread for the first time a few months ago and was toasting it in the oven. I got a bit paranoid and was throwing foil down on the pan and cleaning the counter after him. He hasn’t brought bread in since. He knows to wash his hands and face after eating anything I react to just in case. He ate something with gluten in the car a couple of years ago then reached for me. I pulled away, “You have gluten on your hands!” We have now dubbed them “gluten cooties.” It keeps it light and less stressful for me.
There are places I feel comfortable if someone else cooks for me and other places I don’t. That is okay and I plan accordingly. It keeps it low stress for everyone.
I know that going to see family and friends when food is involved means food in most situations and we all want to partake and feel included when the food is involved. However, our family and friends don’t always get it or their kitchens are a cross-contact nightmare. There is no rule that says you can’t bring your own food. That way when you are socializing, yes, you may not have what everyone else is having, but you have something safe for you. I’ve found when I take that food element away from the socialization that it becomes more about being with your family and friends than it does about the food.
Double checking ingredients no longer feels paranoid to me. It is just routine. I’m happier with where I am and how I need to eat because I don’t make it stressful or turn something into a stressful situation when it doesn’t need to be. I can’t have it? I move on. No sense ruminating over it because it does nothing but create stress. If you haven’t been paying attention (or just started following me) I do not need nor do I want the stress. I have better and more productive things to do with my time.