So, Allergy Awareness Week UK is over, and Allergy Awareness Month USA is here! During Allergy Awareness Week I got some messages asking about how to travel with allergies and live with allergies, this has spurred me on to develop the Allergy Coaching and make some e-books and resources. So to make sure these resources cover everything and that they are useful to you I have created a short 10 questions survey. Please can you fill it in with as much details as possible and pass it on to any other allergy mums or allergy sufferers you know?
Last week I published my Open Letter to Allergy Teenagers and it received an overwhelming amount of attention. It was part of a series of articles talking about different aspects of living with food allergies for Allergy Awareness Week 2018.
The post had a mixture of some positive, some negative and some comments which hurt me personally and made me question whether I’d gone too far. Especially as the most vehement comments came from people I had interviewed on the podcast, who had supported and shared my other posts and had never mentioned that they had a problem with what I said.
When the comments were coming in thick and fast I felt a bit like this…
Now that I’m over the personal nature of some of the comments (and I went through a whole gamut of emotions: shock, sadness and [lots of] anger), and feel of a more rational mind I wanted to respond to some of the valid points. Although many were accusatory and attacked my character, they raised an important issue surrounding how we help food allergy kids and teenagers feel empowered.
The Open Letter was inspired by an instagram post I saw last year and later compounded with conversations I had with kids & teenagers at the Allergy and Free From Show in Liverpool 2017.
Now first up, I admit the facebook post I wrote was inflammatory and as pointed out by a fellow allergy blogger, perhaps had a negative slant whereas the the article had a positive message, in her opinion.
I’ve got a bone to pick with allergy teenagers…
Read all about it in my open letter for…
Although there were in total about 28 comments on the post, these two get at the heart of the issue:
Commenter 1: “A 16 year old was expressing how she felt about her allergies at the time […] to actually judge her for her comments or any other comment you could be referencing now I feel is rather harsh […] Please assess this was the maturity it deserves. Don’t put people off sharing their thoughts on Allergy. Not everyone has the confidence to talk about it!”
These first comments I must admit took me by surprise. I hadn’t written it from a place to judgement or to berate, how could I judge those who feel now what I had felt before.
It is true when you are a teenager, your world feels like it is falling apart all the time. I remember how each conflict or challenge was life and death, the dramas were so real. Life is chaotic for teens!
As commenter 1 rightly says, “not everyone has the confidence to talk about their allergy” and how they feel about it. I certainly didn’t when I was a kid or a teenager!
Commenter 2: “We, the adults need to help them navigate their worries about fitting in […]and it is we who can show them that their allergies definitely do not define them. Less judgement for our vulnerable age group and more support in getting them where they need to be”
Commenter 2 is absolutely right, we as grown up allergy kids and allergy parents do need to lead by example and show kids and teenagers that allergies don’t have to define them if they choose not.
We do need to guide them and help them process the challenges of feeling like we belong, and what teenager truly knows where they belong? There are so many hormones and things (friendships, body, school etc) changing all the time!
Most teenagers are worried about “fitting in” and while most people will try and give advice for how they can fit in, I am suggesting rather than trying to “fit in” to someone else’s mould, make your own.
I question the idea of following the herd. Why we would we let our allergy teens settle for trying to “fit in.” Why wouldn’t we challenge, encourage and support teenagers to forge their own path in life?
And sometimes, when we are going against the flow, when we forge our own path, we have to bare our teeth or draw our sword. Just like dragon tamers. To bare our teeth is not about trying to start a fight, but to show those who might stand in our way, whether verbally or physically, that we mean business. That we mean what we say and are willing to stand up for ourselves.
My approach is different not wrong. I wrote the open letter in a way that, I hope, would encourage action. You might even apply this philosophy to not just how we live with allergies but life in general…
Unfortunately, these commenters blocked me on instagram in the end, which is sad because it ends the conversation. Without conversation we cannot move forward nor find ways to help our allergy kids and teens who don’t have the confidence to speak out when they need help.
There isn’t a one size fits all way to raise food allergy kids. Nor live with food allergies. We all live different lives, learning and adapting in our own way. My way might not be your way and vice versa. As such, discussions on these ideas are vital for us to help our allergy community and the many more children and adults who are developing allergies.
How do you help your allergy teens and kids? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.
Disclaimer: I annoyed my boyfriend for a week about this before I finally sorted out how to respond to the personal attacks vs idealogical attacks. I have done my best to separate them and present as rational a response as possible and leave out those feelings that could divulge this post into a slinging match.
To read my posts from Allergy Awareness Week UK, including my open letter, click on the links below:
- What Allergies Are NOT
- How to Build Confidence in Your Food Allergy Kids
- Backpacking With Allergies: Travel Hacks
- Open Letter to Allergy Teens from a Grownup Allergy Kid
- Life is More Than Allergies..And Here’s Proof!
When you have a food allergy, there are misconceptions. But they are exactly that misconceptions. Here are 5 myths that I’m going to set the record straight about.
Food allergies cannot be cured with probiotics.
An allergic reaction is an autoimmune response in the body to a protein. Allergic reactions can range from mild too extreme. The extreme form of allergic reactions is called anaphylaxis which in the worst case can result in death. The research for the link between the gut and allergies is still very new. Food allergies cannot be cured by simply taking probiotics or those good bacteria yogurts you can get at the supermarket. Always talk to your doctor or a medical professional about allergy treatments.
Food allergies are not a fad or phase.
They are a bodily reaction to a protein that your immune system sees as a foreign invader, it is an autoimmune response. Allergies are not in your head, they’re not something you’re dreaming up. Food allergies are serious and need management so that you can stay allergy safe.
Food allergies do not make you weak.
The beauty about allergies about you know what makes you sick. This means is really easy to avoid those foods that make you sick. You are healthy just long as you avoid those allergens. It does not affect your ability to have friends. It’s your choice how you think about your allergy and what it means in your life.
Your food allergy does not rule your life.
Just because you or your child have an allergy does not mean you will miss out. You are the one in charge of your allergy, you are the one who can take ownership and you are the one who doesn’t need to let it define you.
Having a food allergy does not mean the world has to cater to you.
There are lots of people with allergies some with multiple severe allergies. Restaurants hotels and catering companies do you not have the responsibility to ensure that you have safe food to eat. These are privately owned businesses meaning they can do what they like. This will sound harsh but it’s true. Your allergy is your responsibility. Don’t give up the control over your life.
So what next…?
Sometimes when you don’t know where to start, it’s good to rule out what things are not. When you’re first diagnosed with a food allergy it can feel like the end of the world. The simple task of going food shopping is now a maze of the potentially deadly. Just starting out is frustrating but it wont stay that way.. Living with allergies is a constant process of education and like anything the more we practice the better we get.Living with allergies is a constant process of education and like anything, the more we practice the better we get. Click To Tweet
Tomorrow’s blog post is number 2 in my Allergy Awareness Week series, I share the 4 most important things you can do to build confidence in your food allergy kids, a question that comes up regularly in coaching sessions.
Make sure you sign up to the newsletter to receive it straight to your inbox. (see side bar on the right)
Start conquering your food allergy anxiety with these 6 quick steps:
- write out what your anxious about
- google the stuff you don’t know
- buy health/travel insurance & an allergy translation card (be sure to call and confirm your allergy is covered)
- always have your medication
- tell someone about your allergy
- keep practicing!
The more we practice managing our allergies, the more we figure out what we can do to own our food allergies, the more control we’re going to have over our allergy anxiety.
What a wonderful weekend! It was my first time going to and exhibiting at the Allergy and Free From Show in London. I didn’t know what to expect of the weekend. I only knew it would be long, working an exhibition stand 3 days in a row is basically 3 days of standing up 10am to 5pm. But you know what the aching limbs, the tired voice and the work of putting the stand together was SO worth it!
Parents, kids, adults and businesses all in the business of allergies! I loved getting to meet all of you! And I know my parents did as well!
We loved all the allergy kids sharing their allergy wins and decorating the stand with their drawings! You allergy kids made the Eat Allergy Safe stand stand-out more than everyone else! So thank you!!
For those of you who are regular listeners of the podcast, you may remember that at the beginning of this year I made announcement on the podcast. I announced that this was make or break year for me. It was the year I really tried to make Eat Allergy Safe my profession.
When you are trying to make a startup work there are so many times that you can feel completely unmotivated and at a loss with how to move forward. I had been feeling like this before the show, to tell you the truth. It’s sad but true.
Since the end of the first day of the show I have been feeling SO motivated and bursting with ideas. Ideas you have suggested, ideas from comments you’ve made, motivated by all your feedback! I have so many ideas that I now have the opposite problem of needing to get organised to put all these ideas into action! 😀
So to everyone of you who came and said hello, thank you! You made my weekend, you have motivated me and I hope you will get involved and enjoy all the great things I have planned over the rest of 2017 and into 2018!
And to give you a little teaser of what’s to come, check out below!
Coming soon in 2017:
“The Real Cause of Allergies, Eczema and Asthma” Book Giveaway August to September!
Allergy Kids Podcast Mini Series: hear what allergy kids think about having allergies
I’m going to start teaching allergy education in schools!
As the Christmas Season is upon us and the 2017 will be on it’s way very shortly, we are taking time to think about what our new year’s resolution should be.
Our allergic lives can be overshadowed with fear, doubt and frustration. How many labels do we have to check every single bloomin’ day?! Repeating again and again about allergens, what is and is not ok. Watching everything that you haven’t prepared and making sure there is no cross contamination.
Anyone ever had to quickly shout “Wait! Don’t use that knife on that piece of food too, you could kill me or at least make me really ill…!”?
But life with allergies doesn’t have to focus on these negative parts.
Here at Eat Allergy Safe we believe life is made up of SO much more. That’s why we want and need to celebrate our #allergywins!
And you know what?
We did just that.
Back in early November we attended the Allergy & Free From Show in Liverpool. Our aim of the show was to celebrate YOU! To celebrate the things that go right with our allergies! Maybe it was an allergy free birthday cake, a special allergy free dinner prepared by friends or family. If you felt special, it was an #allergywin!
We had a WHOLE wall of our stand dedicated to your #allergywins. It was so inspiring to see and read all of your posts.
One of my favourite #allergywin posts was by a little girl who has coeliac disease, she wrote “My family took me to a restaurant to show me what I can eat.” How wonderful is that!
Yes living with allergies can be stressful. Yes living with allergies can take a lot of organising. Yes living with allergies you do say the same thing over and over again. But there are so many wonderful things that should be celebrated.
Many of the #allergywins put on our wall were quite small. But in our lives, the lives of allergy sufferers and free fromers, the small things are what mean the world to us.
And, the small things should be celebrated!
Resource Mentioned in the Video:
So how are you going to start 2017?
Start celebrating your #allergywins by sharing yours using the comment box below! 😀