The international diversity of metropolitan cities make them a mecca of culinary innovation. The combination of a dynamic food scene and a preference of most to dine extempore often poses a huge challenge for teenagers with food allergies.
Every time friends decide to delve into exotic cuisine, it is a recurring dichotomy, between a premonition and the hankering to blend in.
Dining out with food allergies, in new settings seems like solving a jigsaw puzzle which is laid out differently every time. In managing my tree nut allergy, I have learned and grown from my countless interactions and dealings with situations and people.
I have learned to be gracious without trying to please. The feedback of my own actions as they form a loop in my brain have taught me traits that have positively impacted me in more ways than one. Advocating for myself and working against the odds has made each circumstance an opportunity to learn and teach.
I am a “people person”.
When I was fifteen and learning to navigate the social world without my parents accompanying me, I found myself arriving at friends’ sweet sixteen parties with sweaty palms and a racing heart. As I went through my sophomore year I began to reflect. After careful rumination, I was convinced that the anxiety was purely associated with the uncertainty around the food. The primary goal of parties is to socialize! What every host or hostess most desires are gracious, vibrant, and lively party guests.
Convincing people about the severity of food allergies isn’t easy. In their defense, most people at best have only encountered finicky eaters or those with religious restrictions. So, the fact that even trace amounts of an allergen can be deadly if consumed directly or through cross contamination, seems illusory to them. I have learned to share perspectives, clarify preconceived notions, and if we still disagree be able to appreciate others’ viewpoints, knowing that pleasing others should not impact my decisions.
Dealing with my allergies has taught me decisiveness and that if one is reluctant to assert viewpoints you are bound to miss out on opportunities and amazing experiences.
Obtaining allergy information is imperative to minimize the risk of a reaction. While to an onlooker it may seem like sweating the small stuff, it was necessary I do so, and has taught me to be detail oriented. Each time I successfully assert with grace and grit that ‘I can’t eat nuts!’ it is empowering – an affirmation of my willpower and determination.
The character, strength, inner security, and unique interpersonal skills I have learned have had a very positive influence on me. As I burnished latent potential, it helped me rise in ways I could never have imagined!
Managing food allergies is a work in progress. I could never have imagined that saying “NO” would be so empowering!
Hey #FAL Family!
We’d like to extend a warm welcome to our official new writer – Arul Nigam.
Arul is currently our Public Relations Strategist, but being the talented writer he is, he has also been a Guest Blogger on our site before. Arul is a young, enthusiastic writer, and has won awards for excellence in writing at state-level competitions.
Here are a few select posts he has written for us so far.
Arul’s posts have received a tremendous response – you guys LOVE what he writes!
Therefore, he will now be one of the two Official Content Producers for FAL!
Stay tuned for his upcoming posts!
Attention College Bound Students!!
Have you heard of the FARE College Food Allergy Program?
FARE started a campaign in 2014 to not only help educate college staff on how to best accommodate children with food allergies, but also compile a database so prospective students can learn how each college plans to handle food allergies.
This new database is expected to be available by late 2016/early 2017.
For more information, visit: http://www.foodallergy.org/collegeprogram
If you’re heading off to college sooner than the database release, reach out to the colleges you’re considering for more information!
Many colleges already have established programs (such as mandatory staff trainings and additional allergen-free dining facilities) to ensure that their students with allergies can have a fun and safe time on campus.
Stay tuned for next week’s post: Allergy-Safe Airlines! More Going to College posts are on the way too!
With several of our readers heading off to college this year, we are excited to announce our college series!
Get ready for a series of blog posts, interspersed between other helpful posts, about how to manage food allergies in college!
We’re honored to share this journey with you!
Want to spice up your snacks? Tired of plain old potato chips? Check out PopChips!
These healthy, not fried, snacks are delicious and perfect for parties! With the variety of flavors, from sour cream and onion and sweet potato, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love.
Their labelling is very thorough, and clearly lists allergens. From what we can tell – the only main allergen PopChips contain is Milk. All PopChips are peanut and tree-nut free!
Find them at your grocery store today!
For more information visit: http://popchips.com
With Spring Break just around the corner for most people, FAL is bringing you 7 MUST KNOWS for Traveling! Enjoy 🙂
- AllergySmartz, our food allergy travel app, is designed to help users convey their food allergies and the precautions needed for safe food preparation to restaurant staff, in the US, and abroad, despite language barriers. The App requires NO internet access, and currently features the Top 12 allergens and 12 languages to translate from and into. For more information check out: http://www.foodallergylowdown.com/AllergySmartz
- Download it Now!
- Grab-N-Go Meals: Looking for a quick bite on your road trip, or just in the mood for a quick lunch? Check out posts from previous FAL Restaurant Weeks for ideas:
- Dining Out: Celebrating something big in the city? Looking for a nice dining experience with delicious food? Check out some #FALfavs below!
- Snacks for the Trip: Whether you’re taking a road trip or a 14 hour long flight food is always good company! Here are some snack ideas for the trip:
- Hotels: Wondering where to stay that will offer a fun and allergy-friendly experience? Check out our hotel recommendations below!
- In the Air:
- Wipe! Wet Wipes are perfect for air travel – wipe down your seat belt, tray table, and remote in case there is any food residue left. This will eliminate the risk of a later, ‘unexplained’ reaction.
- Often times Airlines will give you a hassle about carrying on a Benadryl bottle. Walgreens’ Wal-dryl is the perfect solution! Whether you are trying to combat this airline issue, want to travel light, or are just looking for more convenient options, Wal-dryl (single doses) are the way to go.
- Bring a note from the doctor! It’s rare, but I have had an official at security tell me I could not take my Epipen on board as a carry-on item. Thankfully a doctor was in the security line and gave his authorization that I should be able to carry the life-saving drug. Next time I went to the Allergist I asked for an authorization note and always take it on trips with me. I’ve never had another encounter like this one, especially as allergy awareness grows, but I still recommend one.
- On the Safe Side:
- Bring extra Epipens and make sure they are kept in the right temperature environment.
- Just in case something goes wrong, know your nearest Emergency Room, and the local emergency number (e.g. 911)!