Food Allergy Counseling

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Trust Post




Trust.

Trust is earned over time, that’s one. Two, sometimes you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right. Three, without trust and with a gut feeling of doom, dining outside of your safe zone with food allergies can all break down into a puddle of anxiety, fear, distrust and non-socialized eating.

That was me this weekend.

I went on a meditation retreat in the Catskills Mountains. My dear friend Kate (and wonderful artist, here’s her site ) attends weekly meditation with Banyan Education. She’s told me about it for years and I hadn’t ever gone. I have an occasional meditation practice at home; through a steady practice of yoga, I have seen meditation come into play in surprising ways (like during a MRI). So when Kate told me about this retreat I said, “Yes,” not knowing anything about it.

Pre-trip, I did my usual travel steps:

-Worked with the program administrator to talk with retreat chef,

-Emailed a detailed food allergy and food intolerance list,

-Emailed meal suggestions with what would probably be easiest for kitchen (steamed rice, steamed veggies, plain cooked beans),

-Brought non-perishable food and perishables, like fruit,

-Brought multiple medications - all up to date, and

-Checked on Google Maps for the nearest hospital.


And there was the rub.

The local hospital is about thirty minutes away. This gave me pause. Growing up across the street from a world renowned teaching hospital and emergency room (one that I visited often as a child) being thirty minutes away from help made me anxious. As I drove drive deeper and deeper into the mountains and away from civilization (I’m such a city-girl) my anxiety increased ten-fold.

When I checked in early, I headed straight into the kitchen to talk with the cooks at Menla. They couldn’t have been sweeter, and my emailed food allergy list was posted on their bulletin board – great. My system totally worked, natch – it’s a very solid system.

But.

I didn’t trust them. They seemed lovely, professional and said they deal with special requests all of the time. They said, “Just tell us what you want and we’ll make it.” They were totally transparent about what the ingredients they use, cooking methods, where they keep their tree nuts (it’s vegetarian, so no fish at all). Again, the steps totally had set up a great trusting environment. They were so thankful that I had told them my food allergic needs ahead of time so they could prepare.

But.

Here we were in the mountains thirty minutes away from the nearest hospital and I just didn’t feel safe enough. So I ate the food that I brought. In my room, alone. I felt like a goofball, I felt separated from the group and I felt like it wasn’t my finest food allergic girl and coach hour. However, without doing those steps, without recognizing that I wasn’t feeling the trust and if I had tried to eat food that was making me nervous, I would have been in a different quandary (or just left the retreat altogether). I forgave myself. I stayed ("I'm Still Here" by Sondheim was my theme song: ), I ate my safe food thus allowing me to engage other aspects of the meditation retreat.

I wanted to tell all of you about this – this version of punking out and self-forgiveness. I'm not exactly clear why. Maybe it's because I have a hunch that some of you reading this blog think I don’t run into food allergy trouble. (Ahem, of course, I do like here.) Maybe it's because like many of you, I have a lifetime of not trusting others to help with my food allergies and a lifetime of getting burned when I did. Or maybe, you're the parent working hard to trust those around you for your allergic child and are coming up short.

Now, my trajectory now is to say, Yes" as often as possible. Now, I set up an environment where trust can be formed or created or earned and I step into it (posts about about how I do that are on the right, just scroll down). When in that environment, after doing the steps, I make a determination. Nine times out of 10, I go for it and am richly rewarded. And then there's something like this: setting up an environment and not being able to step into it.

I'm here to tell you (and myself) that that is OK too.

4 comments:

Jenny said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. You did the right thing--you went with your gut.

You did exactly what I'd want my own daughter to do in that situation.

Great message, Sloane. You'll help many with this one!

Allergic Girl® said...

thanks for your support jenny.

Alison M said...

Thanks for writing this. Sometimes your gut just knows.

My daughter went to a birthday party at a waffle restaurant this last weekend (she's severely egg-allergic) and even though I went in mid-week to check on the alternatives, and they assured me everything was fine, I just didn't trust them. I'm not sure why, either; I just felt that they didn't get it and they didn't really care. I gave her a stash of safe sweets, and checked with her what she could have to eat and when I came to pick her up (I spent the entire time in another cafe about 300 yards away!) that's basically all she'd eaten. They had forgotten to serve her a main course. I couldn't get beyond their indifference. Gah.

Susan Weissman said...

I LOVE this post. It confirms the "if" aspect of this condition. Trust is contigent on "ifs." Sometimes there as too many and sometimes there is just the wrong one haunting an otherwise reasonable situation.

The hospital proximity issue gives my husband great pause whereas there are other issues that do it for me....