For folks with food allergies and chronic health issues, having a great support system can help to alleviate some of the stress experienced from those issues. I feel very grateful to have such a great support system. In the past, reaching out for help has been difficult. Showing others that I am vulnerable used to always feel like such a huge risk, and I did not want to appear as “weak” or “needy” to others. Various life challenges have taught me the value in reaching out to others and I am getting better at asking for help.

When I was first diagnosed with IC, I struggled. Liz, my fellow blogger, was a huge support. I recall dropping by her house one day and standing in her living room crying because I was so frustrated. We traveled together from Memphis to Las Cruces last December, and it was really easy to travel with someone who had similar food issues. Each time we were hungry, we consulted phone apps and tried to find a place that would accommodate our combined food issues. We crabbed about the lack of choices offered, and celebrated when we found a place that had yummy food AND we didn’t experience any reactions to said yummy food.

My partner is another huge source of support. Sometimes the thought of going to the grocery store will bring me to tears. On those days, she offers to go instead. She knows that I love food, so she seeks out new recipes and tries to modify them to accommodate my food issues. When I am in pain, she tries to find ways to soothe it. There have been a few times when we ate out and I was tempted to eat something I shouldn’t, and she gently asked if I was sure I wanted to risk it.

On Sundays we regularly get together with friends for Sunday dinner. My friends ask me about what food I can have, and are sure to make adjustments to the food so that I have something to eat. They make sure I get salad before any vinegar is put on, they use rice noodles instead of regular ones, and they always ask “hey, can you eat…”. I am so grateful for their attention to this. It’s a small thing to some, but to me it feels like a lot.

Spending time focusing on the gratitude I feel and expressing it to those who have been so supportive helps me feel better. It really helps when I’m having a bad day with food or pain, because somehow it takes the focus off the pain or limited food choices, and replaces it with feels of warmth and love. This doesn’t mean I ignore my real feelings, it just helps me to shift my perspective a bit. If you’re not used to reaching out for help from others, or letting others know what you’re going through, give it a try. It will make your food issues easier to cope with.