5 Reasons to Join a Food Allergy Support Group

5 Reasons to Join a Food Allergy Support Group

by Rachel Hayden, FAACT-recognized Support Group Leader / No Nuts Moms Group

Food allergies can be extremely overwhelming. I haven’t met anyone with close ties to food allergies who could honestly say that it wasn’t stressful at some point. I remember sitting in the exam room at our appointment where we received the official diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies. I felt stunned, shaken, and lost. Luckily, soon after diagnosis, I found some excellent books, blogs, and websites to get me grounded enough to survive. Even though I had resources, it was still a lonely road.

To make this new food allergy life easier, I began seeking out a local support group. I first found an online support group based in my region, the No Nuts Moms Group. I joined up and began quizzing the moms there about a local, in-person support group.  Luckily, there was one, and I immediately reached out to them. It has been such a blessing, and I’ve made some wonderful friends in this group. Why join a support group?  Here are my top 5 reasons to join a support group.

  1. It’s a sign of strength. You’re probably thinking that joining a support group is a sign of weakness, showing that you can’t handle food allergies alone. I disagree, and I feel it’s a sign of strength that you’re saying you want to connect with others like you. Being strong in a tough situation can only make you stronger, and you’ll build life-long friendships along the way.

  2. You’ll gain resources. I’ve met several food allergy moms who have traveled much farther down this path than I have, and I have learned so much. I’ve never met a fellow food allergy parent who wasn’t willing to share their tips, tricks, and recipes with me.  There’s no doubt that you’ll increase your helpful resources by joining a support group.

  3. You’ll raise awareness. Our food allergy support group has done latex-free balloon launches and bike rallies for Food Allergy Awareness Week. I know I’ve helped my own family and circle of friends understand allergy issues just by telling them about our support group and how much it has done for me and my family. Spreading the word about food allergies is sometimes as simple as joining a local group that participates in awareness and advocacy activities.

  4. Your children will meet other children with food allergies. This is a huge bonus for our family. I’ll never forget how happy my son became once he realized that the other children at an Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by our support group, also had food allergies. His face lit up realizing that the other kids also had to avoid foods and carry their auto-injectors. Not only will your children meet other kids with food allergies, you’ll gain friends as well.

  5. You’ll learn about food allergies and anaphylaxis. Often times, food allergy support groups have special speakers. Our wonderful allergist spoke at one of our meetings, and it was highly informative. We learned so much about food allergies, treating anaphylaxis, and had a Q&A time to get our burning questions answered by a medical professional. Support groups often have training sessions on topics such as treating anaphylaxis or how to use epinephrine auto-injectors. These special meetings can be invaluable, even life-saving.

If you don’t have a support group nearby, online support groups can be a great help, and even a way to help find and organize others who live near you. Whether you are looking for, are involved in, or want to start a support group, check out FAACT’s Support Group Page for more information.

Rachel Hayden is author and creator of Mom Vs. Food Allergy, a blog focusing on awareness and encouragement in the food allergy community. She also loves to develop and adapt delicious recipes that are free of dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, carrot, pumpkin, celery, strawberry, and tomato. She is the mother of two, one of whom has life-threatening food allergies. Visit Mom Vs. Food Allergy to follow Rachel’s life as a food allergy parent who loves to cook.