January 06, 2013

Food Anxiety

I suffer from what I like to call food anxiety. What this means is that I get nervous in situations where I cannot provide my own food or if I am expected to try food that someone else has prepared. If any of you are on specialized diets for health reasons I am sure you can appreciate what I am talking about! I feel much more comfortable if I can bring things that I make myself to eat. It is often perceived as rude or strange when I decline offers from people who have made food, or are willing to buy food for me. This often leads to awkward discussions where I try to explain the diet that I am on, but most people just don't get it. It's frustrating. This could happen at restaurants, get togethers with friends or family or other various functions. Most people do not understand or have never heard of the diet that I follow so I am often given strange looks or asked numerous questions about the food I eat. And even then, people just don't get it (for the most part). For this reason I often avoid situations where I know food will be an issue. It's sad. I have missed many functions for this very reason and when I think about it this sounds ridiculous! However I have been in too many situations where I ate something that was supposed to be "safe" and then ended up sick the next day. For me it's just not worth it. Ideally I could bring my own food with me at all times. Unfortunately this just isn't always possible depending on the nature of the event.

As sad as it is, the western medical community (for the most part) puts very little emphasis on nutrition as part of the healing and treatment of diseases. This has never made sense to me. How could the things you put into your body to fuel it not impact disease? However, the problem is that in today's medical world people like to have evidence to back up any treatments, which I do fully support, but it is very difficult to study nutrition as a treatment option because it is so individual. What may work for one or a few people may not work for others. Plus it is very difficult to get a study population to eat a very specific diet as it would mean you would have to provide all the food for a study, which is basically impossible. So to have good quality studies with many subjects that can be well controlled is virtually impossible when it comes to nutrition. Hence the lack of evidence.  Sadly I don't know if this will ever change. However, I know that many patients out there have turned to nutrition to treat their own diseases and are having great results. If you look at the number of blogs out there dedicated to just this issue it is amazing! Hopefully, over time the push from the general public who have found nutritional treatments to be helpful will become so great that the medical community has to get on board. I don't see any other way for the current situation to change.

Until that time I will have to live with my food anxiety for a while. This is just fact. I have accepted it, although it doesn't mean that I like it. I would love to be able to go to a restaurant and not worry that I will be sick for the next couple days, or accept food from someone and not worry that it is contaminated. But this isn't my reality. At least not right now. Maybe one day...

I would love to hear from people about this topic! What situations do you find the hardest? What do you do to cope? Are your family/ friends/ community supportive of your way of eating?


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