AllergySmartz Duo featured on Eat Allergy Safe Podcast

We were so honored to be featured on Eat Allergy Safe‘s podcast! Haven’t heard it yet? Check it out!

https://www.eatallergysafe.com/2017/10/09/eas-051-kids-allergies-mini-series-shirali-19-yrs-arul-14-yrs-allergysmartz-app/

From Being Different to Becoming Unique

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.

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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!

Exploring a Unique Perspective: Non-Allergic Siblings

Have you ever wondered what it’s like for a non-allergic sibling? We teamed up with Allergy Girl Eats to explore this perspective!

Check out the article!

 


PLEASE SHARE TO RAISE AWARENESS…YOU ARE A FOOD ALLERGY ADVOCATE!!

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Back-To-School Guide

Welcome back #FALFamily! We are so excited to share with you all the amazing projects we’ve been working on for you this Summer.

Are you ready for school to start?! Click here for our ULTIMATE BACK TO SCHOOL GUIDE, designed to help answer any and all of your questions! Enjoy 🙂


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SURPRISE

Happy #FoodAllergyAwareness Month #FAL Family! We’ve got a BIG surprise for you!

We’ve got you covered as you get ready to embark on your adventures and explore the world this summer!

AllergySmartz has just been updated to include 4 New Languages: Hebrew, Korean, Portuguese, and Turkish, and 1 New Allergen: Corn!

Usable without Internet connection, and equipped with 20 Spoken Languages and the Top 13 Allergens, AllergySmartz is the perfect tool to communicate your allergies to restaurant staff while dining abroad!

Be sure to download AllergySmartz and share it with your friends who want to travel this year! Happy Travels 🙂

Click here to Read More


PLEASE SHARE TO RAISE AWARENESS…YOU ARE A FOOD ALLERGY ADVOCATE!!

Tweet us: @AllergySmartz

Instagram us: @AllergySmartz

Facebook us: facebook.com/AllergySmartz

Email us: allergysmartz@gmail.com

Comment right here on WordPress!

 

Thanksgiving 2016 Part 2: How Food Allergies Build Character and Make You a Stronger Person

Food in diverse cultures gets interesting as you move beyond mere sustenance to the ‘paradox of plenty.’

The scintillating aroma of the turkey, pecan pie, mashed potatoes, and the numerous other dishes that go on to making a Thanksgiving Day feast, are a reflection of the hosts’ warmth and hospitality.

While the ambiance is always refreshing, it is the bounteous food that can be intimidating for someone with food allergies.

As a teen or a young adult, the hosts’ fervor for one to sample countless appetizers, the feast at the Thanksgiving table leave one torn. It is a balancing act between saying a polite no to the hosts’ generosity or becoming very sick.

As a food allergy advocate, I cannot reiterate enough that when it comes time to confront a situation where you are unsure of the allergy friendliness of any food item, you MUST speak up.

Striving to understand the multifarious questions people have about food allergies, evaluating and responding in the most accurate and convincing manner, and learning to tactfully and respectfully condemn skepticism, while engaging with the host and politely advocating and reiterating choices you are making is absolutely essential in building a safe environment for yourself.

While food allergies seem and, to an extent, are an impediment in one’s ability to freely explore food culture, or dine at parties or banquets, I have come to discover a hidden positivity- It better equips one to build strong and ethical communication skills.

In order to be safe you have to say it as it is – honestly, accurately with a genuine reason namely, the specific allergy and its implications.

Being honest and unpretentious is a skill that will serve you well in all walks of life.

Consider another scenario: You are out dining with friends at a new restaurant, a test of your ability to be proactive and judicious. For someone with nut allergies a scoop of plain ice cream seems innocuous. Yet you aren’t sure of the risks of cross contamination. “Temperance” here is the key.

The word “temperance” comes from the Latin word Temperantia which means self-control. So when you say no to the ice cream it goes much beyond than the just not eating element. It represents self-restraint in actions and in speech.

In a dynamic world of a teenager with varying scenarios, be it a field trip, camping with your Scout Troop, attending a wedding reception, staying away from home at college or attending a party, the changing environment teaches persistence in problem solving, adaptability, resourcefulness and diligence to determine safe dining options. With advocating, some planning and empowering others around about your allergies you will almost never go hungry. While it may not always be something that you truly enjoy eating, contentment may come with some fortitude but is so instrumental in teaching resilience and grit.

Travelling abroad opens a new plethora of excitement. The trail blazer in you will raise curiosity, that sense of wonder and optimism knowing that cultural nuances will impact your dietary restrictions strengthens positivity of character, the respect for diversity and courage to take on the challenge.

To embrace a struggle and to extrapolate it to make you stronger is the elixir for all success.

“So this Thanksgiving as you express gratitude remember that the highest appreciation for what you have is not to just utter words. The strength of persona that you have developed over the years, consequential to your food allergy and that you continue to hone every day is the silver lining in the challenges that the food allergies pose. Look back and marvel at how far you have come. Your biggest asset and strength is your power over your mind!!”

 


PLEASE SHARE TO RAISE AWARENESS…YOU ARE A FOOD ALLERGY ADVOCATE!!

Tweet us @AllergySmartz//Instagram us @AllergySmartz//Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/AllergySmartz//Email us at allergysmartz@gmail.com//Or comment right here on WordPress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2016 Part 1: A Letter to Family [RERUN]

As the holiday season approaches, it is imperative that we educate relatives on food allergies, and communicate the severity of an allergic reaction. While relatives do not wish to do harm to their loved ones, food allergies can be difficult to understand. Therefore, we’ve decided to rerun this post. We have received very strong feedback from the day it was first posted, and hope we can help even more people!


Here at FAL we want to educate as many people about food allergies as we can.

Sometimes family members are not very accommodating of food allergies, especially elderly relatives. It’s not because they don’t care, they do, they simply don’t understand.  Today, we have for you a letter template to fill out and send to relatives before you meet them. Here it is!

Dear [NAME OF RELATIVE],

There are few others in this world who love (NAME OF CHILD) as dearly as you do. We are thankful that you are such an important part of his/her life.

As you know [NAME OF CHILD] is allergic to [ALLERGEN]. Therefore, I wanted to discuss with you briefly what [ALLERGEN] allergies mean.

What the food allergy means is that [NAME OF CHILD] body treats even a minuscule amount of  [ALLERGEN] as an enemy. If [NAME OF CHILD] eats or is exposed to [ALLERGEN] he/she can get very sick.

[ALLERGEN] allergies are NOT a disease. [NAME OF CHILD] is a normal, active child.  

The signs of an allergic reaction are:

  •       abdominal pain or cramps
  •       diarrhea
  •       difficulty breathing
  •       difficulty swallowing
  •       dizziness
  •       fear or anxiety
  •       flushing of the face
  •       heart palpitations
  •       itchy red spots (hives) on the skin
  •       itchy/watery eyes
  •       loss of consciousness
  •       nasal congestion
  •       nausea/vomiting
  •       pain or tightness in the chest
  •       scratchy throat
  •       swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  •       wheezing

Sometimes, exposure to an allergen could cause the windpipe to swell up, and the blood pressure to drop dangerously low.  This could develop just seconds after exposure to [ALLERGEN]. An allergic reaction is an EMERGENCY…it needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY! If left untreated, it could be fatal within minutes.

When we meet, we can talk about what the course of action is, if this were to happen to [NAME OF CHILD].

It is for this reason that I view and handle [NAME OF CHILD] diet very differently.

While at times it may seem I am very overprotective of him/her with regards to food, or it may seem I am not letting [NAME OF CHILD] savor and enjoy food like other children, I HAVE TO DO THIS in order to keep [NAME OF CHILD] safe.

I am requesting your support for while we are together, so that while having a good time, together we can do everything to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction.

For reasons due to allergy, he/she may miss out on a family recipe or other goodies. Regardless of the food, he/she always enjoys being around you.

If you would like to cook using a recipe that is allergy safe for [NAME OF CHILD], please let me know what you need. I will get the allergy safe ingredients. Having food cooked by [RELATIONSHIP OF CHILD TO RELATIVE] is always so special and I am sure [NAME OF CHILD] will always treasure this.

We are looking forward to the visit. Thank you for honoring this request.

Warm regards,

[PARENT/GUARDIAN NAME]


PLEASE SHARE TO RAISE AWARENESS…YOU ARE A FOOD ALLERGY ADVOCATE!!

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