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Social Survival Guide for a Corn Allergy

Corn AllergensOh boy, the summer is just around the corner, and you've been recently diagnosed with a corn allergy/intolerance! While there are of course many illnesses and diseases worse than this, it still has the potential to make for a lousy summer. This little survival guide will, hopefully, help you get through the summer.

Due to the reality of our situation, my guide may seem a little more focused on your attitude than your food. That is because, in reality, our mindset is about all we CAN change. Short of hosting every picnic or party ourselves, or skipping them altogether, we only have complete control over our perspective. So, at the risk of sounding like one of those corny women’s magazines (no pun intended), here are some of the standard problems we face and, hopefully, a solution, or at the very least, a new way to think about it.

We can’t eat the food or drink the beverages.

Do not go to any functions without food! I cannot emphasize this enough. Make your own and bring it. This is the biggest part of dealing with a food allergy, and summer picnics should not be treated any differently. Plan what special foods you want in advance and set aside time to prepare them. If there a food that is safe and you really like, but it’s expensive and you don’t buy it often, this is probably the time to splurge. Also, always keep a glass of your own beverage with you at a party so you’re not constantly being asked if you want something to drink.

Family members don’t believe us.

If family members really thought about it, they would realize that no one would sacrifice all this all the time if it weren’t necessary. However, there are people who are close-minded, which is why this is a problem in the first place. Quite frankly, you’re not going to eradicate their preconceived notions by your summer eating habits any faster than by your regular eating habits. Be in the American spirit, and forgive them for being uncharitable and intolerant. :)

Cheating is not possible.

Unlike diets or even, to some extent, diabetes, there is no cheating with a food allergy. None. Don’t even go there.

There is constant pressure to try a new dish.

It’s much easier to say that the way to handle this is to “Just say no thanks” than it is to do it over and over again. One way to do it is to enlist the assistance of your spouse, sister, best friend, whomever, and then stick to your guns. When approached by some well-meaning person, wander back to your “support buddy” for morale. Even if they can’t stop others from asking you to try something, just having someone else acknowledge your situation is comforting.

What about tradition?

This is a tough one, especially if your family is big on food, like mine. I have taken over some of the dishes so I can make then corn-free, and others I have just forsaken. Also, since there are so many other aspects to family get-togethers apart from food, spend time focusing on those. Be responsible for, say, the children’s entertainment, or the decorations, or music. It will channel your energies somewhere else, and provide you with conversation that doesn’t have to do with food.

So, in summary, the most important thing for you to do is prepare foods in advance and make sure you always have some with you. The thing about this food allergy is not so much that we can't eat normal foods, but that we can't eat prepared foods. Planning and preparing ahead will not only help your spirits when you're at that party, it will give you a sense of control over your situation, and vastly reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed with the whole food allergy thing.

Have a safe and wonderful summer!