author of Feeding Eden

The Food Allergy Om

When I first began writing a memoir about my family and food allergies, I didn't have time to attend workshops or writing retreats because, well, one of my children (Eden) had food allergies and asthma. Manging those conditions felt like a full time job. Plus, since he, along with his non-food allergic sister, Dayna, was the inspiration for my writing, straying off with a notebook and cell phone felt wrong. I wrote where and when I could, during Eden's naps, Dayna's playdates, at the kiddie gym with my laptop and so forth. And read I a lot of memoirs. About 50 or 60. One trend I noticed: Many female memoirists (who were soul-searching types to begin with) engaged in soul searching forms of yoga.

So with my back aching from too many improvised writing moments on hard benches, I went to a small yoga studio a few blocks away from our apartment for a Level One Hatha Class. There, I listened to the urgings of the posture-perfect young instructor in a purple half-tank top and matching drawstring pants..

“Clear the clutter of your mind and think of nothing but your breath,” she intoned.

I tried. But with each breath I realized that my “clutter” was all food. What will Eden eat tonight for dinner? I wondered. Didn't Dayna say she missed having tacos? Oh sure like Eden’s not going to figure out that that his tacos are really his hamburger falling off corn chips . . . Om . . . God why didn't I try baking a corn tortilla into a real taco shell yesterday when I had that time in the morning? Anyway without beans or cheese he is just going to end up asking for chips if he sees Dayna’s shell . . . Om . . . But I promised her and she’ll end up eating more much lettuce and beans that way. She hasn’t had vegetables in so long . . . Om . . . So maybe I’ll feed them separately. Dayna can watch one extra T.V. show but I’ll still make hamburger and season Dayna’s meat after so that’s one less pan . . . Anyway I'll need to pick up sweet potatoes so Eden has something with the meat and shoot I’m low on his bread flour and that oatmeal so I’ll have to stop at the health food store and the supermarket . . . Om . . . maybe the one on First Avenue so I can get my vitamins . . . but I really need to call that company and find if Eden can have that other oatmeal . . . Om . . . I'd better start that list of food questions for the allergist . . .

And then I heard, “Slowly open your eyes and we will begin with a neck roll to the right.”

Meditation time was over. And mine were the meditations of most newly diagnosed food allergy parents. If that's you, my next recommendation is subjective: I went to jazz dance class the next week instead of yoga and I loved it. There was no time to think between the steps. Now that my children are older, I try to fit in more dance classes. Food allergy parents need to "clear the clutter" more than most people so whether you move fast, sit still, draw, sing, write or bake your worries away - it doesn't matter. Just find your Om.