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FeaturesOct/Nov 2013 Issue

Food Allergies and Teenagers

Living with a special diet while navigating the at-risk teen years

© Aleshyn_Andrei/Shutterstock

© Aleshyn_Andrei/Shutterstock

Adjusting to celiac disease or food allergies can be challenging at any age but for teenagers, it can be particularly difficult. Studies show that adolescents and young adults have the highest fatality rate from food-induced anaphylaxis. And more celiac teens suffer from depression and disruptive behavior disorders than their non-celiac peers.

Specialists speculate on reasons why the teen years are high risk for those with food issues. When adolescence collides with a food-related diagnosis, it can create a perfect storm, a clash of basic needs. Adolescence is a developmental period when fitting in with the group holds psychological sway. Food-allergic teens must bring their own food to social events, eat food that’s different from their friends, carry epinephrine auto-injectors. They must be hyper-vigilant when their peers are being spontaneous, even impulsive.

These differences can be embarrassing—even agonizing—at an age where most kids don’t want to stand out from the pack. What’s a parent to do?

Next: Making Adjustments

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