Living with Food Allergies: The Recalibratory Body


  • Megan Greenhalgh Durham University



embodiment, affect, body, chronic disease, food allergy


As a growing global public health concern, an increasing proportion of the UK‘s population must live with and manage the chronic disease of food allergies. Through a multi-method approach of autoethnography, cognitive mapping, and interviewing, this research investigates what matters to the bodily experience of people living with food allergies. I work with the concepts of embodiment and affect to delineate a theorisation of the allergic body as recalibratory and argue that the adrenaline auto-injector (AAI)—the lifesaving medication prescribed to individuals with severe food allergies—is integral to the allergic recalibratory body. I demonstrate the multiple, dynamic ways in which those living with food allergies “affectively relate” to the AAI and what contributes to this. An account of the body as recalibratory is advanced to account for the dynamicism of the body‘s affective relations. The recalibratory body becomes a valuable tool for understanding the ways that macro-issues of AAI production shortages and the tragic occurrence of allergy fatalities as well as micro-level everyday experiences matter to those living with food allergies. The essay concludes by exploring how the concept of recalibration can expand beyond allergic bodies to understand what the body—any body—can be, do, and mean.