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Food Allergy Awareness Week Day 5: Problem-Solving with Food Allergy Fear

Day 5: The I.D.E.A.L Method

Imagine this scenario.....

Your daughter comes home from the first day of school saying she made a new friend, and she's been invited to the friend's house to play the next day. 

You're thrilled that she's made a new friend and has a smile ear-to-ear. But, you've never let her go to a friend's house without you, let alone to someone's house whose mother you've not yet met. You want to let her go and play, but your fear is keeping you hostage. The "what ifs" are playing loud and on repeat in your head, making it hard for you to think straight!

When you need to make a decision, but your emotions are taking over, having a problem-solving tool to help navigate the scenario can be beneficial.

That's where the I.D.E.A.L. Method comes in! This technique helps define the main problem in a situation and guides you through creating and evaluating solutions. Essentially, it helps you look at things more objectively.

Applying the I.D.E.A.L. Method to the scenario above might look like this...


Describe it in detail - have you had similar scenarios before?

  • You might say “I’m too scared to let my child go to a play date at a new friend's house, but she really wants to go, and I would like to let her if I could just get past the worry.”


What would you like to happen? You’ll need to sort through the feelings in order to make a tangible goal.

  • You might say “I need to determine if there’s true risk for her playing at her friend’s house, and I need to decide whether I can become comfortable with her going. Also, should I stay the whole time? What things need to be in place for me to feel okay with this?"


What solutions are there? Which is best? Is it safe? List the pros/cons of each.

  • I can talk to the mom ahead of time about safe foods, how to use Epi, and let my daughter go and stay without me

  • I can talk to the mom ahead of time and stay for the first 15 minutes until my daughter and I both feel comfortable, then leave

  • We can invite her new friend to play at our house


Pick one of the solutions and try it:

  • I talked to the mom ahead of time about my daughter’s allergy, packed our own snacks, reviewed the Epi pen with the mom, and stayed for the first 15 minutes until my daughter and I were both comfortable enough for me to leave.


Did it work? If not, what will you do differently next time?

Benefits of the I.D.E.A.L. Method....

  • This is an easy-to-use tool that you can use yourself, teach to your child/teen, or even use as a family when there's a decision needing to be made; 

  • It aids in balancing the emotions and the facts - essentially helping you become "unstuck". 

  • By using this tool, it helps decrease the power of the fearful emotions and increase the focus on where you DO have control or impact in a situation.

Find the I.D.E.A.L. Method worksheet in The FAC's Shop

If you find yourself needing support for food allergy-related psychosocial impacts, locate a food allergy-informed mental health practitioner via the Food Allergy Counselor Directory.


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