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Adults & Food Allergies: Creating A Healthy Relationship

When we enter into a relationship with someone, many of us envision a fun-loving and exciting bond with a companion exhibiting qualities that bring value to the relationship. 

So when a food allergy enters the picture, we are forced to unwillingly enter into a relationship - one that doesn't fit our typical healthy relationship model. Simply stated, we end up in a relationship with a potentially emotionally and physically abusive companion. 

Given that we typically don't have the choice to break up with our food allergy, we have to learn how to turn a bad relationship into a healthy one.

So how can we accomplish this seemingly impossible task? 

Accept the Not-So-Good Qualities & Identify the Good Ones

Think about your significant other or even a close friendship. I bet you can identify both good and not-so-good qualities associated with that person. In relationships, since there is no such thing as perfect, we find ways to live with the characteristics that we find less than desirable in our mate or friend.

Food for thought - your food allergy is just another relationship in your life.

This "person" (your allergy) comes with positive and negative qualities, too. However, unlike other relationships, where you have a choice to engage or disengage, that's not an option with this one. You're forced to accept your food allergy as it is - it's the ultimate test of acceptance.

If you're going to have this relationship in your life for the long haul, it can be useful to focus on ways that it may actually enhance your life, rather than only cause problems. You're probably well-versed with the not-so-good, and even downright bad qualities, but can you identify some positive aspects of living with your food allergy? 

Identify and Be Firm With Your Boundaries

With relationships, whether it's with a family member, friend, or significant other, we typically set boundaries that help us maintain healthy connections. Those boundaries may relate to how much time is spent together, expectations, division of responsibilities, etc.

As your food allergy is an additional relationship in your life, you'll need to set clear boundaries with it as well.

Examples of boundaries you might want to set with this relationship are:

  • Dates - Can you go out to restaurants, and if so, which ones? 

  • Control How much control does this relationship get to have over your life? What about emotional control - what's the percentage you're comfortable allowing your food allergy to monopolize your thoughts and feelings?

  • Communication - Do you and your food allergy have clear and reliable patterns of communication? When it's sending you a message, such as a thought of warning or concern, are you able to understand it and act accordingly? 

  • Regaining Trust - If your food allergy declares a fight with you, by way of a reaction, how do you plan to repair the relationship and regain your trust with it afterwards?

Being forced into a relationship with someone, or in this case, something that we don't like is a tough pill to swallow. But when we can't exercise the right to break up with it, we're better off finding a way to live cohesively with it. Otherwise, we find ourselves in an emotionally draining relationship pattern with our food allergy, giving it ALL of the control rather than finding ways to live harmoniously.

What relationship rules do you have with your food allergy?

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