I was ordering a meal in a pub when I noticed a list of 14 items, attached to the menu, which can trigger allergic reactions. I could add a few they’d missed – I once knew someone with an allergy to pepper, and gluten and yeast were not included – but it got me thinking about everyday items which can be harmful to some people.
It also made me think of an odd contradiction. We can be so aware of what our bodies are telling us that we’ll search until we find the cause of an intolerance, and change our eating habits to protect ourselves. This can often be inconvenient, but obviously necessary if sufferers are to avoid allergic reactions, which in extreme cases can be fatal. It takes effort and commitment to stay away from the things that offend us, the more so because the causes of intolerance are often things we particularly like.
The contradiction is that while we are generally sensitive to what our bodies are telling us, we are just the opposite when it comes to what our minds are telling us. Through inattention and neglect, we have a natural tendency to allow what I call ‘dodgy thinking’ to spoil our happiness by triggering all sorts of nasty side-effects. Habits of thinking like, for example:
- Comparing (ourselves with others, for example)
- Regret for things lost (some we never had in the first place)
- ‘If only’ (wanting to be somewhere else of somehow different)
- Harsh judgements (of ourselves, of others)
- Self-criticism (often a habit we’ve inherited)
- Disappointments (being overly focused on them)
- Dramatising and exaggerating the negatives
- Dwelling on failure
- Pervasive pessimism….
There are more, but these are some common ones. Like food allergens, most people can tolerate them in small doses most of the time, which is probably why they go unnoticed. But there are times when any of us can be more vulnerable, and a few people suffer to a point of illness, which can be recurrent or prolonged.
Fortunately there is an antidote, so we don’t have to opt mindlessly for these thinking habits that upset us (if you want to know more, or where to start, type ’thinking’ into the search box on the Welcome page of this site).
There was a time when food allergies were little understood and considered exotic. Widespread understanding now means we can take control and care for our bodies ourselves by monitoring what we eat. Perhaps one day we’ll have common understanding of the daily thinking habits that can trigger and promote allergic reactions to life, and in extreme cases be fatal.