You’re Talking, But Am I Really Listening?

You’re talking, but am I really listening?  

Too often couples are seen in therapy due to communication problems. Phrases like, “he/she just doesn’t understand me,” or “I just don’t feel like he/she is listening to me,” are all too common phrases.

Many times when we are in heated discussions with a loved one, we are thinking about what we are going to say next, or trying to jump in to get our point across. Subsequently, we are not being “mindful” of what the other person is saying. Being “mindful” is being fully present in the moment you are in just as it is unfolding in front of you.  If while your loved one is speaking, you are thinking about what you are going to say, you are already in the future and not in the moment.

Mindfulness is a skill that is the core of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s a skill that requires practice because our society tends to promote being “mindless” by encouraging multi-tasking. One way to get started in becoming more “mindful,” or more fully present in the moment when having a neutral or pleasant discussion, (for both parties) with your loved one is to focus on what they’re saying, pay attention to their tone, and focus on understanding. If you feel the urge to “jump in” to assert your view, just notice that urge, but bring your attention back to what your loved one is saying. Feeling understood and listened to are powerful tools in strengthening relationships.    

Shannon T. Brewer, M.A., L.P.A.

Love and Support in Action

On a recent weekend I had the great fortune of being at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Charlotte. Every year I’m amazed at the wonderful outpouring of support and love that I see at that event. I believe that 16,000 people participated and 1.6 million dollars were raised, of which 75% stays in the Charlotte area. As I was surrounded by all the love and support generated by all those people walking and running for their mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and friends, I thought about what a great way to “cope” with a sometimes devastating illness.

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Training, the module on Distress Tolerance teaches various skills used to cope with painful situations and/or emotions. DBT operates on the principle that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. One of the skills featured in DBT is ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS is an acronynm standing for Activities, Comparisons, Contributing, Emotions, Pushing Away, Thoughts and Sensations.

Fundraising, walking and/or running for a cause such as the Susan G. Komen is an excellent example of something that involves Activities, Contributing and Comparisons, which is why an event like this and others like it are such a huge draw for so many, on so many levels. If you would like to learn more about DBT and the skills training group contact Southlake Counseling for more information.

In good health,

Shannon

Shannon T. Brewer, M.A., L.P.A.


Has Your Grief Taken You Over?

Grief can overstay its welcome. Grief is a normal reaction to loss. We grieve the loss of loved ones, loss of careers, loss of pets, loss of personal fortune and/or loss of physical abilities. Grief can be defined as a feeling of sadness, anguish, sorrow or regret over something or someone that is gone or lost.

Sometimes, however, grief can become lodged into one’s personality, changing how they view themselves and the world around them. It can cause feelings of bitterness, dejectedness and inadequacy. Those are signs that grief may have turned into depression.

Some questions to ask yourself to determine whether your grief has taken on an extreme role may be: “Do I tend to be cyncial about the world and others?” “Do I tend to focus on my losses and can’t get past them?” “Am I more withdrawn and not interested in the things I used to enjoy?” Do I see my future as bleak?”

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you may be struggling with depression and would benefit from talking with someone about these issues. Take the first step toward feeling whole again by scheduling an appointment with us at Southlake Counseling today.

Be well,

Shannon


Holiday Meal Planning

Thanksgiving is over – but the Christmas holiday is only just beginning.  Stores are packed, UPS and FedEx are working overtime and holiday baking is in full swing.  Amidst this exciting, yet often chaotic time of year, it is important to remember to stick to a healthy overall meal plan, to keep your energy levels up and immunity strong.  Nourishing yourself with healthy foods, along with getting regular moderate intensity physical activity and plenty of sleep and relaxation time are usually your best bets to warding off sicknesses, managing stress and maintaining your energy levels.

Speaking of immunity, if you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator, it is past time to throw them out.  According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked meat and poultry leftovers are only fresh in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.  Cooked stuffing is fresh about 3-4 days, too.  Gravy is only good for 1-2 days, so definitely throw any away if it is still lingering in your refrigerator.  For more information on food storage safety, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov.

As for the rest of your meal plan, too often, Americans throw a healthy meal plan out the window when the holidays arrive.  However, try to avoid the “all or nothing” mentality.  You can still enjoy a few indulgences here and there, while sticking to an underlying healthy meal plan.  For instance, it is fine to sample the holiday treats that local stores may offer, such as hot chocolate, cookies and pastries.  And, it is even fine to purchase a few for you and your friends or family to enjoy together.  Your body will best manage these discretionary (extra) calories if you are healthy and managing your weight with a basic healthy meal plan.

So, starting your day with a balanced breakfast is a good way to begin.  Think whole grains (in cereals, English muffins, breads, bagels), fruits and proteins.  Combining proteins with carbohydrates at all meals and snacks is the best way to manage hunger and satiety levels, reducing the changes that you will have strong cravings or urges to overeat later in the day.  Popular, healthful breakfast proteins include lowfat dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt and cheese), dairy alternatives (i.e. soymilk), peanut butter, eggs and egg whites, lean meats and meat alternatives (i.e. soy sausage).  You also get some protein from grains.  Many grain products like cold cereals and breakfast bars contain extra protein (often from milk or soy protein ingredients) and fiber, too.  Fiber is especially helpful in preventing disease and managing satiety levels.

So, as you prepare for a day at the office, at the mall or at home doing chores, remember to keep your breakfast balanced.  Continue to eat healthfully throughout the day, too, and know that in moderate amounts, your body will be able to handle some discretionary calories along the way.  As with any time of the year, we should all focus on balance, variety and moderation to keep us healthy.

Be well,

Julie

Holiday Tips for Managing Your Weight and Hunger

The holiday spirit is in the air.  And, for many people, just the thought of the holiday season brings on anxiety related to food.  Many worry about the upcoming holiday parties, extra treats around the office, gift baskets filled with chocolates and cheese and of course all the free samples of holiday fare at your local grocery stores.

You can, however, take comfort in the fact that it is possible to stick to a healthy meal plan over the upcoming weeks.  The holiday season does not have to inevitably bring with it a fluctuation in your body weight.

To help you reduce your anxiety, here are some tips to help manage your weight and hunger, this season:

  • Try to maintain a healthy, balanced meal plan from day to day, even if you know you are going to a party or have extra treats around the office or home.  This will ensure that you do not fill up on nutrient-poor, high sugar, high fat foods.  If you are hungry for a treat, dessert or extra snack, you can fit it into your meal plan, as long as you have eaten well balanced meals and snacks that day.
  • Resist the urge to skip meals.  This will only lay the foundation for increased hunger and cravings later in the day, therefore increasing the possibility of overeating later.
  • Balance your carbohydrates and proteins at meals and snacks.  For instance, if you are going to have a piece of pie, have a small glass of lowfat milk with it.  Or, if you choose the cheese appetizer, have some whole grain crackers or fruit with it.
  • Prepare meals with lowfat dairy, lean meats, whole fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned), whole grains and healthy fats (i.e. olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds).
  • Lighten traditional holiday recipes by reducing fat, sugar and sodium. This can be done by using egg substitutes instead of whole eggs, lowfat dairy products rather than whole fat versions, using lean cuts of meat and decreasing the amount of added sugars and salt you add to recipes and meals.
  • An average amount of 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day will help increase your fiber intake and ensure you are getting plenty of phytonutrients (plant compounds that help prevent disease).  Depending on your personal nutrient needs, you may need slightly more or slightly less fruits or vegetables daily.  A dietitian can help you determine your personal needs. Choose colorful produce for the best nutrient balance.  Great produce options include broccoli, berries, spinach, tomatoes and winter squash.
  • Try not to classify foods as “good” or “bad”.  Most foods can fit in healthfully to a balanced meal plan.  Placing foods into positive or negative categories can be detrimental to your overall meal plan, leading to feelings of anxiety if you break out of what you consider safe and unsafe foods for your diet plan.  In other words, it is better to set goals to increase your fruit intake, for instance, or to decrease mindless grazing on food, rather than to require yourself to eat one apple a day or to avoid all desserts.

Julie Whittington is a Registered Dietitian in the Lake Norman area.  Reach her at juliewhittingtonrd@yahoo.com.

Children and Divorce: Issues with Anxiety

As a family moves through a divorce transition, the reality is that many problems and concerns may arise.  Their parents’ divorce or separation can be very difficult for a child, as well as for the entire family.  Issues with children may manifest themselves in different ways, depending on the child and the situation.  One common difficulty that may present itself for children is anxiety.

Anxiety in Children: What Does it Look Like?

Anxiety in children may look different than it does in adults.  Children may have trouble expressing how they are feeling or even be confused about what’s going on inside them.  Anxiety may show up as physical symptoms or illness, such as headaches, stomach aches, or repetitive behaviors like hair-pulling.  Children who have issues with anxiety may lose interest in taking part in activities they once enjoyed, or feel unable to try something new or different.  They may find it difficult to talk about what’s going on with their parents or other family members.

Ways to Work Through Anxious Feelings

In experiences like these, parents may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how they can best help their child through the transition of divorce or separation, especially when issues with anxiety arise. Meeting with a child and family therapist can be very beneficial, and by working together, the therapist, the parents, and the child can develop a therapeutic plan that aims to help the child in a developmentally-appropriate and kid-friendly way.  A therapeutic plan could incorporate different types of therapy, including play therapy techniques, peer-group sessions, or some traditional talk-therapy, depending on the child’s age and comfort level.  Activities can be geared to specifically deal with anxiety issues, in a way that is comfortable and supportive to the child.  By meeting with a child and family therapist, both the parents and the child will gain skills and insight on how to best deal with current issues, and will be able to use those skills when dealing with problems in the future.

A compliment to child and family therapy is joining a peer-support group for children.  Groups like these explore age-appropriate activities designed to increase positive coping skills in a fun and encouraging environment.  It’s a great way for a child to learn that he is not alone in what he is going through, while also gaining knowledge of child-friendly methods and techniques that he can integrate into different aspects of his life.  A sense of camaraderie and accomplishment is encouraged, and children work through their issues in their own way, while making friends and having fun.

A Parent and Child Activity: Deep Breathing

A quick activity that can be helpful to children when they’re feeling anxious (and adults too!) is a deep breathing exercise.  This is a perfect activity for parents and children to do together, as it is one that holds value for everyone.  First, take a deep breath, and hold it for a brief second.  Slowly release the air by blowing the breath out, like you are blowing up a balloon.  Focus on your breathing as you do this, and repeat a few times.  Begin to pay attention to the sound of your breathing and how the air feels when you are inhaling and exhaling.  By putting your focus on your breathing, the anxious thoughts and feelings begin to fall away and your body responds in a calming manner.  The great thing about an activity like this is that it’s easy, requires little practice, and can be done anywhere!  It’s a wonderful tool for children to utilize when they are feeling nervous or scared, and one that even adults will see benefits from engaging in.

Carina Wise, MFTA is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in working with children and families, many of whom are traveling through a divorce transition.  To learn more, contact Carina at Southlake Counseling (704) 896-7776

 

Going Through a Divorce? What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children NOW!

A parents’ divorce or separation can be very difficult for a child.  The child may be confused, scared, angry, or sad, and be unable to express how he or she feels or have difficulty talking about what is going on.  This can manifest in many different ways, including problems at school or with friends, feelings of anxiety or sadness, difficulty concentrating or focusing, or physical illness such as headaches.

Children may feel as though they are alone, and that no one else has ever gone through something like this.  They may feel torn between their parents, and worry about the future.  Children could hold fantasies that their parents may reconcile, but many times, this desire does not come true.

What can you, as a parent, do to help your child?

In experiences like these, parents may feel over-whelmed and unsure of how they can best help their child through the transition of divorce or separation.  A step that is beneficial is meeting with a child and family therapist.  Working together, the therapist and the parents can develop a therapeutic plan that aims to help the child in a developmentally-appropriate and kid-friendly way.  A therapeutic plan could incorporate different types of therapy, including play therapy techniques, peer-group sessions, or some traditional talk-therapy, depending on the child’s age and comfort level.

The therapist can also work with the entire family, and collaboratively, develop ways to make the adjustment to co-parenting smoother.  As the transition through divorce can bring many changes, strategies and techniques can be discussed that help the family re-define the rules and responsibilities to better meet the most recent needs of each person.

A compliment to child and family therapy is joining a peer-support group for children.  Groups like these explore age-appropriate activities designed to increase positive coping skills in a fun and encouraging environment.  It’s a great way for child to learn that they are not alone in what they are going through, while also gaining knowledge of child-friendly methods and techniques that they can integrate into different aspects of their lives.  A sense of camaraderie and accomplishment is encouraged, and children work through their issues in their own way, while making friends and having fun.

How can therapy help you and your child?

In my work with child and family clients, I feel it is important to create a safe and engaging therapeutic environment where each family member is able to express themselves and work together to develop solutions to problematic issues.  Using play therapy techniques, children can create artwork or engage in various activities that give them a way to explore what’s going on in their family and the emotions that go along with it, but in a way that is comfortable and friendly to them.  During family therapy sessions, family members can talk together about problems in a secure setting, with myself as an advocate to help navigate this transition.

In the peer-support group Shining Stars, myself, along with Mike Tanis, LPC, LMFT, will lead a group full of fun and child-friendly activities designed to encourage children in the development of coping skills and collaboration of age-appropriate techniques to deal with issues relating to divorce or separation.

Additional Resources for Parents and Children

  • For children ages 4-8, a book called “Two Homes” by Clare Masurel is an excellent resource to talk to younger children about divorce and separation.  In this picture book, the main character of the story discusses how he has two of everything, houses, rooms, etc., but both of his parents love him very much.
  • For children ages 9-12, parents may be interested in the book “What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? A Survival Guide for Kids” by Kent Winchester, J.D. and Roberta Beyer, J.D.
  • A book for adolescents, “The Divorce Helpbook for Teens” by Cynthia MacGregor is a wonderful resource for teens and families going through a divorce transition.
  • For parents, a book called “The Good Divorce” by Constance Ahrons can be beneficial.  Common issues such as co-parenting are discussed and the author’s own life experiences are inter-woven throughout.

Carina Wise, MFTA is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in working with children and families, many of whom are traveling through a divorce transition.  To learn more, contact Carina at Southlake Counseling (704) 896-7776

Infertility: When to Say When?

Most couples facing infertility treatment never expected to have difficulty conceiving a baby. Month after month of trying leads to a trip to an infertility specialist and before you know it you are in the midst of infertility treatments. You begin with monitoring your basal body temperature then move into taking some medication and before you know it you are making difficult decisions about things like surgery and using donors. It can all come at you very quickly and make you feel out of control. Dealing with infertility on a daily basis can take an enormous toll on you physically, emotionally and financially.

Which treatments to try, for how many cycles and how much money to spend? All are very difficult questions. The answers are different for each couple. What may feel right for one person might feel very wrong for another. It is important to honor your individual circumstances. No one has walked in your shoes, and though loved ones and medical professionals may give you advise, you are the only one that can decide when the time is right to grieve your reproductive loss and move on to explore the other options that may be available for building your family.

Struggling through all that comes with infertility can leave even the most grounded person feeling that they have lost control over their life. It can help to take a step back and have a conversation with your partner about your goals, ethical beliefs, physical and emotional stamina and financial situation in order to put you in a proactive mode instead of feeling that you are always reacting. Some topics worthy of discussion include:

Ethical Beliefs – It may be that you are ok with IUI, but IVF doesn’t feel right, or perhaps you are comfortable with IVF and a donor egg, but surrogacy is pushing the envelope for you. Think ahead as to what could be coming down the road so you will be prepared when the next option is presented.

Financial Investment – As much as you may hate to put a price tag on a child the reality is that infertility can be a very expensive endeavor with no guarantee of a successful outcome. Most people have a limit on what they can spend. It is wise to set a budget early on with an agreement not to go over it without additional discussion. As much as you may dread it you should also discuss what your contingency plan is. It may be that if you are not able to have your own child that you might consider some form of adoption in the future which may have a significant financial cost as well.

Time investment – Life can feel like it is at a stand still when you are going through infertility treatment. Your whole schedule is planned around injections, blood draws, ovulation, etc. Things like vacations are difficult to plan, not knowing if you will or won’t be pregnant. Again, it can be helpful to set a time table for yourself knowing that you will reevaluate your feelings when you reach that point. It is also important for women who are getting older to realize that some of their other family building options such as adoption may be threatened if they wait to long.

These are difficult decisions to make as an individual; they become increasingly complicated when trying to make them as a couple. It is rare for a couple to always be in agreement. Infertility can take an emotional toll on even the strongest of relationships which is why it is important to talk through these issues early on and to continue to communicate throughout the process. If you are really having trouble coming to a consensus get some assistance. Some couples find it helpful to work through these decisions in counseling with a therapist specifically trained in reproductive health issues (you can locate qualified Infertility Counselors at  www.ASRM/MPHG.org)

In the end only you will know when “enough is enough” and you are ready to move on. Trust in your judgment and expect that you may second guess your decisions in the future. “If we had just tried one more cycle…? If you do decide to walk away from infertility treatment be prepared to mourn the loss of the dream you had for yourself. Acknowledging the loss will allow you to grieve so that you can move on and explore other options such as adoption, fostering or deciding to live child free.

Erin Clark is a therapist who specializes in working with women and couples struggling with issues related to infertility, pregnancy loss and adoption. If you found this article helpful you can reach Erin through from our Contact Page

Supporting a Loved One Struggling with Infertility Can Be Confusing

How Do I Support Her Through Infertility?

Supporting a loved one struggling with infertility can be difficult. How do I help? What do I say? When your spouse, friend or daughter is struggling through the ups and downs of infertility it is hard to know how to help.

For the woman who is struggling with infertility the emotional toll, to say nothing of the physical toll, can be immense. Every month brings the opportunity for new hope and despair. It is difficult to accept the fact that there is nothing you can do to fix the problem or to stop the hurt, but there are things that you can do to help:

Offer to lighten the load: Trying to juggle work and home responsibilities in the midst of infertility can often feel overwhelming. Be specific with your intent. Instead of saying, “Let me know if there is anything you need.” Offer to bring over a meal for her on a day that you know will be particularly trying, such as after an IVF treatment.

Ask her about her treatment: Most women are consumed with thoughts about their infertility and would appreciate the opportunity to talk about what they are going through. If she is not in the mood to talk she will likely let you know, but she will be glad to know that you will be there when she is ready to talk.

Keep asking: Unfortunately for many women the infertility struggle can be a long one lasting many months and sometimes even several years. As time wears on the emotional strain deepens. Try to avoid questions like, “Are you pregnant yet?” which can make her feel like a failure if the answer is no, and opt for something more supportive like “How are you holding up? It is helpful to know that you have people that will be there to support you regardless of how long it takes.

Don’t minimize her feelings: A platitude such as, “Well, at least now you know that you can get pregnant.” or “There’s always next month.” doesn’t erase the fact that she is hurting now. What may seem like a small set-back to you could feel huge to her. Don’t assume you know how she feels, even if you have struggled with infertility yourself. Each person’s reproductive story is unique.

Run interference: For a woman trying to have a baby it seems that everywhere she goes there are babies and everyone she knows is pregnant. Handling situations like family gatherings and holidays where it is likely that the focus is going to be on children can be especially painful. Try to anticipate people or places that might be difficult for her. Help her to steer clear of those things or give her an outlet if she needs to escape.

Be present: Sometimes empathy is the only tool in your arsenal. Being a shoulder to cry on or crying with her will help her through her grief and let her know that you care.

You may not always do or say the right thing to your special someone who is struggling with infertility, but what really matters is that you let her know that you love her unconditionally and will be there to support her whenever and however she needs.

Erin Clark is a therapist who specializes in working with women and couples struggling with issues related to infertility, pregnancy loss and adoption. If you found this article helpful you can reach Erin through from our Contact Page

Food Allergies on the Rise

More than 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.  Young children make up the highest percentage by age, with about one in 17 children under the age of 3 (5.6% of that age group) currently dealing with a food allergy.  Children aged 1 to 18 represent about 4% of cases and adults represent a slightly lower 3.7% of cases, according to the Federal Register.  And, while no cure has been officially found, there is new hope with current research that cures will be found in the near future.  Duke University, for instance, is having good results with therapies to eliminate peanut allergies.  And, luckily for many, most milk, egg, soy and wheat allergies are outgrown with age.

As a dietitian, I am seeing more and more clients trying to manage a food allergy…and it seems there is more to the story than just a higher diagnostic rate.  There actually seems to be an increasing number of individuals developing food allergies.  The CDC reports food or digestive allergy increased 18% among young people between 1997 and 2007.  And, between 1997 and 2002, childhood peanut allergies doubled.

Theories about why food allergies are on the rise include (but are not limited to):

  1. genetic susceptibility;
  2. the “hygiene hypothesis”(overuse of antibiotics, vaccinations and antibacterial cleaners leaves our immune systems open to attack other perceived toxins, such as foods);
  3. a lack of vitamin D, which plays a role in the immune system;
  4. an imbalance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids;
  5. and, the way foods are heavily processed.

Food allergies occur when the body mistakenly identifies a particular food as a health threat.  Unlike a food intolerance which causes a digestive response, an allergy involves a complex immune response.  Ranging from mild to life-threatening, the severity of a food allergy differs depending on the individual.  For some, a minute amount of food ingested or inhaled (perhaps if a child smelled a nut) can cause a reaction – even anaphylaxis (multi-factorial body response that can be fatal).  For others, it takes a larger volume of allergenic food for a reaction.

Food allergy causes about 30,000 ER admits and 150 deaths annually, according to the FDA.  Peanut and tree nut allergy represent the leading causes of fatal and near-fatal allergenic reactions.  And, although there are more than 160 foods that can cause an allergic reaction in humans, the top eight allergenic foods include peanuts, milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.  The top eight cause about 90% of reactions.  New evidence points towards sesame as the 9th most allergenic food.

Sensitive individuals may react with hives or an eczema flare from skin contact.  In others, eating an allergen could trigger runny nose, coughing, wheezing, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure or a change in heart rate.  If someone has asthma, it increases the risk of a severe response.

Although there are different types of immunological responses, one of the most common causes the body to produce antibodies to attack the allergenic food protein.  These types of allergies are also called immediate onset, type 1 hypersensitivity or IgE-mediated food allergy.  They cause symptoms within seconds or up to a few hours after eating an allergenic food.  These allergies can be diagnosed with the usual medical tests such as skin prick test or RAST blood test or via an elimination diet (where the potential food is avoided for 1-2 weeks and then re-introduced to determine if a reaction occurs).  This type of food allergy is often inherited.

One type of immediate onset food allergy is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).  This condition is caused by the cross-reactivity between pollens and the certain raw fruits and vegetables upon which the pollens are found.  Itching, burning, tingling and sometimes swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat can occur.  In severe cases, it is possible to have an anaphylactic reaction.   Common foods implicated with OAS include: apples, almonds, apricots, bananas, carrots, cherries, cucumbers, hazelnuts, kiwis, melons, parsnips, peaches, plums, potatoes, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, various spices and zucchini.  For the estimated 36 million people with ragweed allergies, for instance, it is important to be aware about OAS.

In the “delayed onset” or “non-IgE-mediated food allergy”, delayed onset of symptoms occurs after a food is eaten (usually 4 to 24 hours).  While there are several types of this allergy, symptoms often exist in the first few months of life (infancy) and most are outgrown in one to three years.  An infant may refuse food, have failure to thrive, seem colicy, pull legs up or have reflux, diarrhea or blood in the stools.  Diagnosis is achieved with an elimination diet.  If an infant is breastfed, the mother would need to eliminate trigger foods from her diet (or use a hypoallergenic or amino acid-based formula).  Elimination of milk products is usually done first.  Since at least half of infants with a milk allergy are also usually allergic to soy, it may be recommended to a nursing mother to avoid both milk and soy.

Other types of food hypersensitivities (allergies and intolerances) exist and involve varying responses from the immune and/or digestive system.  Several GI disorders have been linked with food hypersensitivities, including irritable bowel syndrome, eosinophilic esophagitis and celiac disease.  Additionally, other diseases and conditions, including fibromyalgia, atopic dermatitis, migraines and even depression may have connections with how our bodies respond to certain foods.

Various therapies and/or treatments exist to manage food hypersensitivities.  If you or your child suffer from food hypersensitivity (or suspect one), here are some tips:

  • Work with a specialist, such as a board certified allergist to do appropriate testing in order to get a correct diagnosis.
  • Work with a dietitian specializing in food allergies to develop a safe eating plan.
  • Read food labels diligently to ensure you know what is in your foods.
  • Choose cosmetics like California Baby and high quality supplements (such as Nature Made vitamins) that do not contain allergenic ingredients like milk, soy or nuts.
  • Research! Learn about treatments and educate yourself.

Excellent sites to learn more:

Julie Whittington is a Registered Dietitian in the Lake Norman area. Contact her at juliewhittingtonrd@yahoo.com.