Flying Brussels Airlines with a peanut allergy really depends on where you are flying. This summer, I flew from Berlin to Brussels and then Brussels to Toronto with Brussels Airlines. The European flight and the transatlantic flight had very different experiences for food allergies.
Flying Brussels Airlines with a Peanut Allergy within Europe
The first flight within Europe had food for purchase with one of the items being Peanut M&Ms. The Brussels Airlines website shows what foods are being sold on the flight and from the language of their allergy policy, they will not stop selling items to accommodate an allergy.
To lower any risk of contact with my allergens, I took the first flight out that day. Early flights (before 9am) are safer because people tend to sleep more than they want to eat. If you fly around a meal time your chances of encountering an allergen is higher. As always, I made sure to double clean all the surfaces.
Transatlantic flight with Brussels Airlines
The long-haul flight was different since they provide you with food. There were no peanuts served; however, they are not an allergen-free airline. They admitted to serving nuts on the plane (maybe in business class) and served food containing other top allergens like fish, egg, dairy, soy, and wheat.
The most nerve wrecking part of flying overseas for me is when they hand out the pre-meal snack. This is rarely peanuts nowadays, but I have seen sesame pretzels, almonds, mixed tree nuts and other things like crackers. When they start handing them out, I get really nervous – since who knows what the little packets of savoury snacks will contain. This time around they were a mixed snack of pretzels and crackers that contained poppy seeds. And so is the life of someone with multiple food allergies, more often than not the snack will have an allergen, this flight it was poppy seeds.
A gluten-free meal on Brussels Airlines
Out of curiosity, I pre-ordered a gluten-free meal to see what they would serve and how they catered to dietary restrictions. Since I write about airlines and travelling with food allergies, I felt it was important to know this side of the air travel. If you can believe it, the regular meal had the ingredients listed, but the gluten-free one did not. They did list the bread ingredients however the pudding, salad and main meal remained a mystery. It looked like the GF meal was also dairy free, but contained soy. This goes to show how important it is to bring your own food because the ingredients are not guaranteed to be listed, and you never know what ‘may contain’ statements you will come across.
I did not eat the meal, nor did I plant too. I usually offer anyone around me the chance at a second meal, this time my husband ate the special meal. I also take pictures of my neighbour’s meal (and snacks) if my husband isn’t eating. I ate my own food on this flight.
The warm snack that was served near the end of the flight was a quiche for the GF meal and or focaccia for the standard lunch. This time ingredients were listed.
Overall I think the airline has a lot of room to grow concerning having a better allergy policy, but I do appreciate their honesty about having nuts on the plane. Knowing this can help you decide if you feel comfortable flying with them.
Have you flown with Brussels Airlines? Leave a review on Allergy Travelsto help other travellers make more informed choices when booking their next trip.
Today you get not one but two ways to make hidden veggie overnight oats. Plus when you master the base recipe you can experiment with your own flavour and veggie combos. Really the only limits are your imagination and maybe taste buds! I wouldn’t try broccoli in these, would you?!
If I don’t eat eggs and greens for breakfast, I eat oatmeal. However, lately, I always feel like something is missing from the meal. It feels unbalanced because there aren’t any veggies. Somehow with age or perhaps preference, I need a vegetable for a meal to feel complete. Thus hidden veggie overnight oats were created.
Allergy Friendly Hidden Veggie Overnight Oats
Hidden Veggie Overnight Oats check all the boxes: allergy friendly, gluten free, dairy free, get a serving of veggies in a sweet breakfast, filling, and makes you ready to conquer anything the day brings!
The base for these overnight oats is coconut milk and steamed sweet potato or cauliflower plus the water used in the steaming process. Add in your oats and flavour, either turmeric or cocoa. Let the oats hang out overnight in your fridge. When you serve them top with your favourite things like coconut flakes, a fruit of choice, maple syrup, or nuts if you can eat them.
If you can’t do coconut I would swap in a full-fat milk alternative to make it allergy friendly for you.
2 Variations of Overnight Oats
1. Energising Turmeric
sweet potato + turmeric + rolled oats + coconut milk + a pinch of pepper
Topping ideas: maple syrup, coconut flakes, raisins, strawberries, a drizzle of full-fat coconut milk
Your turn! Choose a neutral tasting veggie and a fun spice to make your own hidden veggie overnight oats. Might I suggest pumpkin and cinnamon or cauliflower and cardamon? What veggie and flavour are you going to try?
A dedicated online shop for all things beauty and snack-y vetted for allergy-friendliness and curated with love. Could an allergy girl ask for anything more!?
I’m excited to announce that I’m an ambassador forHandled with Care, an online shop full of beautiful, unique, and tasty products for food allergy folks. Handled with Care was launched by Amanda, who you may know from the blog Everyday Allergen-Free. She is on a mission to curate food allergy friendly products that even someone without allergies would want. From a cheese-less pizza pendant to safe lip gloss and healthy on-the-go snacks she has you covered.
To get a taste of the shop, Amanda sent me a sampling of the products. Since my food allergies are more than the top 10, she stuck to beauty supplies, which has made my skin a very happy organ. I received three No Nuts Beauty scrubs and face mask, a lip balm from Kiss Freely, and makeup removers fro Niu. What I love about the products she sent is they are all made out of natural ingredients, which is perfect as I am working to eliminate chemical based products. Plus they are made by companies who genuinely care about you.
It’s like an allergy friendly spa day at home!
No Nuts Beauty
I’ve tried the No Nuts Beauty Bergamot Coffee Scrub before so I was delighted to see it in this care pack. I just ran out, hello perfect timing. It exfoliates using coffee grounds and leaves your skin so smooth! The lip scrub is delicious in more ways than one. I get really dry lips after travelling, and in the winter, instead of picking at them I use the sugar lip scrub which also leaves a thin oily coat, so the lips also remain moisturised.
It says it all in the name! I met Jennifer, the boss mom behind the brand, at FABlogCon last year in Denver. I love how, like Rebecca of No Nuts Beauty, they wanted their daughters to have a normal experience with makeup and skin care. I never used makeup until I was forced to learn in theatre school. So to know there is an option for the allergy community makes me excited for future kiddies dabbling in dress-up and young adults heading out for the night.
I’ve never seen Niu before Handled with Care and am officially a convert. I tried their makeup remover which is gentle and effective. This is a perfect find since I am trying to go all natural for my eczema. I used up the sample I received and have already reordered!
Wait there’s more!
Not only does Handled with Care have a fabulous selection of beauty products, but it also has delightful trinkets that celebrate food allergies and allergy-friendly snacks. We love FreeYumm and GiddyYo. I can’t eat FreeYumm because it contains sunflower oil, but my hubby loves them, which goes to show that even someone who doesn’t need to eat allergy-friendly wants to eat these treats!
*I received the No Nuts Beaty and Kiss Freely products for free as an ambassador for Handled with Care. All opinions are my own.
Food allergy menus can cause a false sense of security
Have you dined out lately and received an allergy menu? More and more restaurants are becoming aware of food allergies, which is reflected in the rise of food allergy menus available. However, from my experience having a dedicated food allergy menu does not mean the waitstaff and kitchen know how to handle allergies.
More often than not I’ve noticed that waiters hand over the menu and think they don’t need to ‘deal’ with the customer’s allergies anymore. In reality, it should be the first step in creating a friendly and safe dining experience. Having an allergy menu should not mean that the restaurant staff is off the hook!
Allergy menus don’t replace talking to the restaurant staff
Time and time again I will say that I have allergies and before I can even finish my sentence the waiter has either passed me an allergy menu or says that allergies are stated in the menu. Finito. But here’s the thing, I like to talk about my allergies and how the restaurant can or cannot accommodate them.
When I dine out, I have a few things that need to be in place to make sure it will be a safe and enjoyable experience. I will look at the allergy menu and may even order off it – many times I can find a safe option from the regular menu. Most important to me is that the waiter takes my allergy card (in picture above) in their hands, reads it, and acknowledges that I have multiple food allergies. They need to relay that information to the kitchen and ask what can be done to work with my allergies. These are vital conversations an allergy menu cannot replace.
If you order off the allergy menu without this conversation how do you know the kitchen is aware of your allergy?
What makes me nervous for allergic dinners is how a food allergy menu can cause a false sense of security. Remember, an allergy menu does not take responsibility for your food allergies. You do! Don’t get lulled into the safety blanket that is the allergy menu.
Europe v. America on the Allergy Menus
The difference between an allergy menu in the USA and Canada versus one in an EU country is that by law (Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011) all restaurants in the EU must have the top 14 allergens labelled. Awesome, yes. But note that, most restaurants only have an allergy menu because they have to. They have no training on how to cater to an allergic customer. For the most part in North America when a restaurant has an allergy menu, they have chosen to do so, which says to me they actually have some sort of allergy awareness.
This is yet another reason why a food allergy menu is not the solution or promise for a safe meal. I can’t reiterate it enough, you need to make sure that everyone handling your food knows how to manage your allergies. Make it a friendly informative conversation. If you don’t feel confident in their understanding or they don’t seem to get it – it may be a sign that’s not the right place to eat.
If you notice a gap between what you read (menu) and what how your allergies were handled, use it as an opportunity to educate the staff on how to create a safe environment for food allergies. Restaurants are starting to make dining accessible for food allergies, now let’s help them get even better!
One type of food I absolutely love and just cannot recreate at home is Indian food. As many cookbooks I buy and recipes I try I just cannot duplicate it. So once in a while when the mood is just right, and I am feeling confident in talking about my allergies, we go out to eat Indian. As you may know, Indian food does not have the best reputation for being allergy friendly. Many of the dishes are sophisticated using various ingredients and spices, takes time to cook, which means it may have been prepared by another chef earlier in the day, and it uses tree nuts in many sauces.
A few weeks ago, I was in the right mood and craving something spicy. We have one Indian restaurant that is great with my allergies, and I have eaten there multiple times. As we entered the restaurant, we saw a large buffet set up, and we were greeted by the owners. It was a Hindu Festival, and they were inviting guests to eat for free from their buffet. I asked them if it was possible to order something off the menu because I have multiple food allergies and do not eat at buffets. The owner/chef told me that they only had the buffet, which is free, and that it was all safe.
Ok, I am going to take a minute to explain that buffets are one of my worst nightmares. Thinking about the cross-contact that can happen makes my heart race, even as I type! Needless to say, I was not going to be eating from that buffet.
I let the chef walk me through the buffet, partly to see if I would be able to eat and partly to be polite since he was adamant on feeding us. I told him my allergies and tried to explain that it was to risky for me. He listened, but was overly very confident none of my allergens were in the dishes. When I looked at one of the items it appeared like a mix of vegetables and could have sworn I saw peas or green beans. Since I had reacted to 1 gram of peas at my oral challenge a few weeks before I was not taking any chances.
Being Polite vs. Staying Safe with Food Allergies
When I get in a situation like this, where someone is being super friendly and really wants to feed me, I start to panic. I can feel my breathing begin to shorten and my fight or flight response kicks in. Basically, I want to get myself out of this situation as fast as possible – flight. It gets challenging when you don’t want to be rude because they are being genuinely nice, but apparently don’t understand the severity of allergies.
I did not feel safe eating from the buffet and was not going to risk it. I thanked the owner multiple times and slowly backed away (I literally backed away as I was thanking him – this was how much I needed to get out before having a meltdown). They wouldn’t take no for an answer and sent my hubby home with a doggie bag.
So you see, it was a tough situation for me to navigate. It was a holy day for them, and they were inviting people to dine for free. I didn’t want to offend their generosity, but I also didn’t want to eat something just to please them, which was how I was feeling hence my inability to stay cool and the mini freak out.
Once we were outside, I could take a big breathe and feel my energy settle back down. When this happens, I always need to decompress and talk out the whole scenario. It helps me prepare for the next time I encounter something similar, and it helps me feel empowered about my decision. I was proud I didn’t take any risks out of politeness, and I was pleased I stuck to my guns and didn’t betray my ‘no buffets’ rule.
Dining out can takes a lot of mental prep for me. One second I am gung-ho and the next I just want to be alone in my kitchen in full control. I think the ups and downs of dining out/eating food someone else has prepared is normal for those with food allergies. As long as you are confident in yourself and have a strict set of dining principles, you will be able to navigate these situations.
Have you also heard that bee pollen could help with seasonal allergies? Is it true? I wish I could tell you.
I remember as a kid I would eat honeycomb, like the legit waxy honeycomb, to help with my seasonal allergies. Eating honeycomb didn’t last very long for me since it was pretty hard to get a 6-year-old to eat it. But the whole local honey idea has stuck around and over the last year I kept on seeing it pop up on the internet.
We have a local honey guy who sells bee pollen, so I asked him what he knew about honey and seasonal allergies. He told us that a lot of people buy the pollen for just that. So, this winter I thought what the heck, why not give it a try. I have mixed feelings about natural remedies and know that these don’t always have hard science to back them, which is why I rarely write about them or try them.
Honestly, I am not sure if the bee pollen has helped. This year was one of the better spring allergy seasons for me concerning a runny nose, but my asthma was certainly not great. My hubby, on the other hand, is having his worst spring allergy season since we moved to Berlin. Both of us have been ingesting bee pollen since December, so the jury’s still out on whether it works.
Bee Pollen Green Smoothie
One thing that’s for sure is that bee pollen is an excellent addition to green smoothies! It may not be a way to get our season allergies under control, but it certainly has added a new dimension to our green smoothies. The pollen lends a creamy sweetness to the smoothies, which is perfect because I’m trying to lessen the amount of sugar that goes into them from things like juice. This green smoothie recipe actually contains no fruit!
Kombucha Green Smoothie
I’ve also started to swap in kombucha instead of juice. Kombucha is a fermented tea. I drink it to help build up my gut health – I’ve had a troubled tummy since we can remember. You can google ‘benefits of kombucha’ to see how many people love this stuff!
I’m not sure how much fermented-foods (kombucha) or bee pollen have helped to heal my gut health and inflammation, what I do know is they are tasty and won’t be going anywhere.
p.s. Bee pollen also tastes great sprinkled on oatmeal!
p.p.s. Bee pollen can make your mouth itchy – if you have seasonal allergies or OAS. It made mine itchy at the start but now I can have it without a problem.
Farm to table is a food trend I can 100% get behind and one that I’m happy seems to be gaining even more popularity.
Farm to table is a food philosophy that focuses on ingredients. They are the stars of the dishes, which means a lot of the food is not complicated, instead, it does just what it needs to highlight the main ingredient(s). This is perfect for someone with food allergies because farm to table restaurants know exactly what’s in their food and you can be guaranteed they aren’t using any mystery ready-made sauces or the like. Since the kitchen takes pride in every detail of their dishes, they tend to be able to cater to allergies without much hassle.
Allergy Friendly Farm to Table
If you are looking for fresh, simple, beautiful food, I would highly suggest calling up your local farm to table restaurant to see what they have to offer. For now, you can check out my review of three farm to table restaurants we visited in Northern California this past April.
I honestly had no idea what Chez Panisse was until Shahla (from My Berkeley Kitchen) pointed it out to me and explained that it was one of the first farm to table restaurants. When I told my mom I saw Chez Panisse she freaked out and said she has always wanted to dine there. We had a free afternoon and I took my chances to see if we could get a reservation. The stars were aligned and we got in! I called ahead to make sure my allergies wouldn’t be a problem and the person on the phone was more than competent.
Her positive impression on the phone carried right over to the actual dining experience. The first dish I was hoping for was made on the same line that uses walnuts, so they suggested a few other options for me. That small attention to detail eased any nerves, so much so, I opted for a glass of prosecco to start the meal off on the right foot (I normally don’t like drinking when dining at a new place).
Everything was simple and perfectly prepared. I started with a simple salad of mixed greens, radish and kohlrabi. The main I chose, prepared in a safe area of the kitchen, was lamb with polenta. And! I even got to have dessert, which is a very rare thing. I finished with David Lebovitz’s molasses cake with orange cream.
I can see why this place is an institution. They are so professional, I felt like I was in good hands the whole time.
I saw the Shed cafe on Instagram and really wanted to go because of its focus on local ingredients and fermentation. They also have a wonderful food philosophy of eating in season. The menu had a lot of my allergens on it (nuts and sesame), however, they were able to make some small adjustments and I was in full on food heaven!
I started with a beet and yoghurt salad (first pic in post) followed by a pizza to remember! The pizza had onion blossoms on it, which brought this subtle flowery onion flavour that paired perfectly with the melted comté.
The food was fantastic, the waiters didn’t discuss my allergies as much as I had hoped at the start, but the manager brought out my food and told me about the adjustments that were made to accommodate my allergies. So overall a win!
The Shed also has a fabulous shop full of food products, cookbooks, and the most adorable cookware. Luckily I only travelled with a backpack so I couldn’t buy anything or else I would have seriously gone crazy and broke!
Since we a great first experience with the Shed, we thought we would continue with the farm to table theme. I called ahead and asked about my allergies, they reassured us that it would be no problem and there would definitely be something for me.
When we got to the restaurant they immediately knew that our table had allergies and pointed out some safe options. Even though they seemed great at the start, it got a little overwhelming for me. I like to have one waiter that takes my order and who discusses all the allergies. Throughout the evening we had so many people serving us that I felt my allergies could easily get mismanaged.
For instance, my sister and I wanted to share some dishes so we asked if they would check. When our appetizers came, I thought it would be ok to share since they said what I ordered was safe, but they must not have heard that we wanted to share. Thank goodness we always look at the food carefully to see if there are any traces because we spotted sesame in her dish. I would normally ask a waiter once more before digging in, but we saw the sesame before this was possible. Since they said my dish was safe I didn’t try anyone else’s that evening (which honestly I never do),
The food was very good and they were able to accommodate my allergies by making creative substitutions, always a win when they can make an interesting dish and not just a steamed vegetable. But the service made the experience less enjoyable than it could have been. The waiters had too much of a cool demeanour for me to feel 100% safe. Next time, I would probably ask to talk to one waiter and make sure they check in with me about the dishes and if the kitchen has any questions. The reason is that I always ask about my allergies when my food is brought out, but when it is brought out by a new person every time this gets tricky.
A Quick Wrap-up
There are so many great farm to table restaurants in the Napa Valley that I’m not sure I would head back to The Chartered Oak. I would go back Chez Panisse and Shed without a doubt!
Have you been to a great farm to table restaurant? Share your experience in the comments below!
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of joining over 100 people on Capitol Hill to help raise awareness and *fingers crossed* pass four bills that impact the lives of people living with allergies and asthma.
The day before we took to Capitol Hill, I was invited by Allergy & Asthma Network to the first Asthma Bloggers summit. There I learnt about asthma as a spectrum disease and how we tend to normalise our asthma. If you have asthma and have brushed it off before, you have normalised it. Does “it’s just asthma” sound like a familiar phrase to you? It is for me, and since the summit, I will be looking at how I treat my symptoms differently. More on this at a later date… now on to Capitol Hill!
Allergies and Asthma on Capitol Hill
Spending the first day in DC learning more about asthma and feeling empowered to take care of my health, was the perfect set-up to take on Capitol Hill. On the day, I was grouped with the allergists, patients, and activists from New York. We met with the staffers of two senators and two members of Congress to discuss four bill addressing allergies and asthma.
Here are the bills, so you know what laws are being proposed that impact your health:
H.R. 2077 “Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act” – this bill asks for a more transparent process for medication subject to Step Therapy (when your insurance company changes your prescription without warning).
H.R. 2285 “School-Based Respiratory Health Management Act” – developing disease management plans in coordination with patients, families, physicians and school personnel. This also refers to action plans in daycares.
H.R. 4 “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization” – re-evaluation of emergency medical kits on plans to include epinephrine auto-injectors.
H.R. 5425 “Food Labeling Modernization Act” – to update food packaging requirements and add sesame on ingredient labels of processed foods, making the US have top 9 allergens.
Advocating for Allergies
You don’t have a lot of time to talk to the staffers and you are also not guaranteed an office to meet in. In the picture above we actually met with Senator Gillibrand’s staff member in the hall! At the meeting, we each took turns talking about why one bill was vital to us and shared personal stories to help drive home why these are so important to pass.
Allergist Dr Payel Gupta addressed H.R. 2285 and told the story of Elijah Silvera, the 3-year-old boy who was fed a grilled cheese sandwich at his New York City preschool and died of anaphylaxis.
Francine Ingrassia and her 10-year-old son Luca spoke about Luca’s first ever anaphylactic reactionthat happened on a plane. If two passengers on the plane didn’t have their EpiPens to give to Luca, his mom might have been telling a very different story that day. They also have a petition going to get two adrenaline pens on all planes. It was so awesome to see Luca advocate for allergies and tell his story. He also did a great job at demonstrating how to use an EpiPen, which makes the whole thing that much more real.
I spoke about the challenges of having a sesame allergy and how it’s becoming more common. The USA is one of the only countries with a clearly defined allergen list that doesn’t include sesame; it’s time to catch up! I also addressed the uncertainty of eating packaged foods and how much work is involved when you can’t rely on them. The stories I have heard from you are what guided me through that day, my dear readers!
We had three amazing meetings and one so-so meeting. The three successful meetings were so positive because the staffers we spoke to either new about allergies or had allergies. Not only were we able to talk about the bills, but we were also able to help people on their allergy journey. The last person we spoke to had multiple food allergies but didn’t carry an Epi. After being gently scolded by all of us, I do hope he gets to the doctor and gets his Epis.
After a full on day of advocating for food allergies, I have never felt so lucky and proud to be a part of this community. Not in a zillion years did I think this blog would grant me the opportunity to take what I think and say to someone who can make a difference. Let’s hope that what we brought to Capitol Hill was heard.
Have you ever wondered what one piece of advice an allergy adult would give their younger self? Would it be always carry your Epi? Would it address dating? Or would it be about finding their allergy voice? As a way to celebrate Allergy Awareness Week, I asked some allergy adults what they would say to their younger self about managing food allergies.
Food Allergy Advice to Teens
Allergy Advice to a teenage Kyle
Food Allergy Advice: Step up! As a teenager, it’s typical to want to be more independent from your parents, but it’s up to you to prove that you’re ready for it. If you want your parents to stop nagging you to remember your auto-injector, then show them that you’re really on top of it. Communicate with wait staff at restaurants for yourself, research safe products, note your epinephrine expiry date, assist with trip planning. By proving you are responsible, you are essentially starting to take the reigns on managing your own health condition, and gaining desired independence.
Kyle Dine is a food allergy educator and entrepreneur who performs allergy awareness assemblies at schools across North America. He is also the founder of www.allergytranslation.com.
Find more about Kyle: www.kyledine.com
Allergy Advice to a 16-year-old Nina
Advice to young me at age 16. This was the age I had the severe allergic reaction to peanuts I remember and had I taken more ownership of my allergy and not been embarrassed by it, I’m not sure whether I would have had that reaction.
Food Allergy Advice: My advice to 16 year old me is that you will not inconvenience anyone by insisting to know what’s in the food you’re given. You don’t have to feel embarrassed that you might inconvenience anyone by making a fuss because they will feel worse if they put you into hospital. Be your own best friend and just ask a question. If you don’t have an allergic reaction, the worst that can happen is some feelings get hurt, and they’re much more comfortable to repair.
Nina Modak is an allergy coach and grownup allergy kid who knows allergies aren’t about missing out, they’re about doing things differently.
Find more about Nina: www.eatallergysafe.com
Allergy Advice to a 16-year-old Zac
Advice to the 16-year-old me, because it is when the craziness of my food allergy grew exponentially with transitions from driving, dating, college prep, and change in friend groups.
Food Allergy Advice: Zac, the next couple years are going to challenge you to be the authentic version of who you are. What you will learn is to express the voice you didn’t realize you had. You will encounter hardship, setback, and failure. The most important piece of advice would be to continue to persevere towards your passion for travel, the college experience, and the chance at love even if it seems to be insurmountable at the time. Find the detour! Just remember that when you look back on what you’ve already accomplished, it wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed in retrospect. Keep that kind of attitude when you take on this mountain of transition. And finally, always remember to have fun and laugh along the way.
Zac Chelini is an e-commerce engineer and recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno MBA program that has been an advocate for food allergy education and awareness for over ten years.
Find more about: www.zacharychelini.com
Food Allergy Advice to Young Adults
Allergy Advice to a 20-year-old Kortney
I chose to give 20-year-old me advice because I struggled with confidence when talking about my allergies. It felt like allergies were stigmatised as a ‘kid thing’ and I was desperate to be seen as an adult. Having allergies made me worry I would be treated as a child because people I may think I need special treatment.
Food Allergy Advice: Don’t be afraid to tell people about your allergies. Allergies are not just a kid thing, and if you are teased or treated rudely because of your allergies it is not you, it is the other person or people trying to understand what it means to live with allergies. Unless someone has seen an allergic reaction, it is hard to grasp that certain foods are life threatening. Instead of being shy about it use that platform to raise awareness and help pave the way for future allergy adults. Speaking confidently about your allergies will make you feel more like an adult and when that happens people will also treat you like one.
Allergy Advice to a 24-year-old Amanda
I would give advice to 24 year-old-me, because that’s when I had my last severe reaction requiring an EpiPen and hospital trip and it seriously affected my mental health.
Food Allergy Advice: Keep living the way you used to, and challenge yourself, the foods that were always safe haven’t changed. It’s only the way you view food now that has changed, and you shouldn’t allow it to impact your overall physical and mental health. Find ways to relax and direct your focus away from the things that cause you anxiety. Take baby steps if needed, but don’t give up on loving food because it’s much harder to jump back in once you’ve built up a mountain around it. Be confident in yourself and surround yourself with people who understand and care for you.
I focused on 15-25 especially so that they can use this uncontrollable situation to fully awaken themselves and become their healthy authentic self to live this life with the freedom and fulfillment it deserves. I say this because although I had checked all the boxes from an external perspective and everyone thought I was crushing it at 22, this gratification caused me to numb myself from being awake and put me in situations where I was careless with situations that involved food allergies. I was reckless when I traveled and went out on the weekends. But last summer, I completely stopped drinking and it gave me perspective of how lucky I was that I am still alive. Never get comfortable and complacent with your life or food allergies. Always be prepared.
Food Allergy Advice: We can’t let food allergies define us. Let’s use them as motivation to achieve our own dreams and create further purpose for everyone around us. Hearing the words that we are not allowed to have a specific food is quite difficult and will never end. But that is out of our control. What we can do is find ways to embrace our allergies. We can create/prepare healthier and more delicious snacks than those we are told we can’t have. We can come together as a community to make each other’s lives easier, build meaningful relationships, increase education of the severity of food allergies, and become stronger people because of it. Let’s create happiness and positivity from our situations rather than dwell on an unfortunate situation.
Brandon LaBella is a recent cum laude B.B.A graduate from The College of William and Mary an author of “The Journey to Fail Freely”, a world traveler to 45 countries, and an unofficial world record holder for fastest marathon on crutches. With a story crafted within limitations both physically and emotionally, Brandon has taken what life has given him and has become the best possible version of himself seeking new challenges every day and creating epic experiences and memories with those he has met on his journey. He wants you to check out this video about living with food allergies.
Happy food allergy awareness week! This week is a chance to reflect and celebrate progress made as a food allergy community and as individuals!
I am reflecting on my food allergy journey after being diagnosed with an anaphylactic soy allergy two years ago. I can’t believe it has been two years already! So much has changed in my life, from the diagnosis to adapting back to normal life, and now planning for an exciting future.
When I was first diagnosed two years ago, I didn’t want to travel, eat out, or try new things. I was afraid of my own shadow. As I plan for a future filled with adventure, I now have a different perspective of how my food allergies have made me a more adventurous person.
How have food allergies made me a more adventurous person?
I am inspired to think globally.
Before my diagnosis, I didn’t have much of a view into different places in the world outside of North America. Today I have done crazy amounts of research into all the continents in the world to understand how I can get to them. I follow some amazing allergic travel bloggers that show me it’s possible!
I connected with a new community.
During the rough first few months of my diagnosis, I felt I had no one to talk to or relate to. I eventually built up the courage to connect with some fantastic food allergy bloggers like Kortney, as well as get involved with Food Allergy Canada. I found so much support through the food allergy community!
I gained a brand new role: food allergy blogging!
After connecting with Kortney about a year ago, she asked if I’d be interested in trying out blogging for the first time. Since then it has become a new hobby and therapeutic outlet for me. Not to mention I get to help others through my writing!
I fell in love with weightlifting and fitness for the first time in my life.
Being allergic to soy essentially means not eating any fast food, processed foods, or bread. When I first started my new diet, I was dropping weight fast. That’s when I decided to get a personal trainer and get strong. I learned to deadlift, do pull-ups and real pushups. I become addicted to the feeling of getting stronger!
I’ve tried more new foods, ingredients, and snacks than ever before!
Having a soy allergy means being creative with food. I have dabbled with many new cuisines including Asian (using a coconut based soy-free “soy” sauce) and Indian (making our curry). I have also tried many new allergy-friendly snack brands which I adore including FreeYum, Made Good and Enjoy Life.
Wow, look how adventurous I’ve been in the last two years. It surprises me! Now I am planning my next adventure challenges, which include:
• Knocking an allergy-friendly travel destination off my bucket list
• Learning to cook (I am a terrible cook!!)
• Trying new sports like swimming
How has your food allergy made you more adventurous? What are your next adventure challenges? Let us know in the comments!