Managing social influences with PKU by Annie Skidmore
The PKU diet can make socialising a stressful and anxious time with people often being worried about what others are thinking about them, questioning what they are eating or feeling like you’re making a fuss. However, there are ways to reduce this association and to feel more at ease when you are out and about but still maintaining your PKU diet and routine.
Personally, I try to embrace the PKU diet and if people start to ask questions or look intrigued I don’t take offence I just take it as an opportunity to educate them on the condition and what I need to do to keep healthy. Most of the time people are fascinated, impressed and supportive – so don’t always think people will be judgemental as this is usually NOT the case! Whether these are schoolmates, friends, waiters in a restaurant or even family members try to explain as best you can what you can/can’t eat and why – trust me you’ll be amazed at their reaction! Try not to hide from the diet – it’s part of you and your closest friends/family will respect you more for owning it! So next time you go out remember to order/take what you can have to make sure your healthy and happy and not something that is off limits to simply please someone else or to look ‘normal’!
MY TOP TIPS:
- Educate – whether this is those around you, friends, family members or staff at restaurants/cafes/hotels let them know and try help them understand more about the PKU diet. This will help to put you at ease and trust them making your food or even to feel less judged or awkward.
- Embrace – you have been given this diet because you are strong enough to manage it. So why not embrace it? Be proud to have PKU, be proud to be different and embrace this by positively accepting it and making PKU a part of your personality.
- Enjoy – finally, you only have one life, so you need to ENJOY it! By educating and embracing PKU you will truly be able to enjoy going out and socialising but not feeling pressured to be someone you are not and having fun with the ones around you whilst keeping happy and healthy!
So, remember PKU is part of you. It is a positive addition to your personality, and you should be proud to be different – it’s what makes you YOU after all!
By Annie Skidmore