Happy February! Since it is Valentine’s month we are going to get our monthly dose of allergy inspiration from someone who loves chocolate (if you see his Insta you will understand). Meet Dan Kelly, the guy behind the ‘May Contain’ magazine, a concept he came up with for University. You may have seen mock-ups of the magazine floating around the interwebs a while back, or scroll down to see an excerpt from it. It’s pretty rad/inspiring.
Dan wants to take the awkwardness/stigma young adults may feel when it comes to carrying their adrenaline pens with them. Whether they are in a fanny pack, a jean pocket or hidden under a ball gown, your epi should always be with you.
Enough from me, let’s hear about what Dan has learned and would tell his younger self about managing food allergies.
Name: Daniel Kelly
When were you diagnosed: 5 Years Old
Dan’s Allergy Advice
Q: Biggest struggle as a kid & advice you would give to help overcome it
Dan: When I was a kid always worried about being safe when I went to birthday parties or family occasions. I remember my parents had to speak to the other parents to make sure there were no nuts left out, or baked into cakes etc. They were usually very understanding about my peanut allergy, and this was during a time when it was unheard of to have a food allergy in your school.
I think the best piece of advice is making sure your friends and teachers are aware of your severe allergy, and know what symptoms to look out for if you’re having an severe allergic reaction.
Q: Biggest struggle as a teen & advice you would give to help overcome it
Dan: One of my biggest struggles was moving away from home and going to University. I had to take on more responsibility for my allergy, like cooking for myself and remembering to consistently read the packaging to make sure what I was cooking didn’t contain nuts.
I think it’s really important when you start University to have confidence in telling your housemates about your allergy as soon as you move in. Living with people from different cultures and nationalities, it’s always best to be clear upfront about your severe allergies, so they are aware not too cook nuts in the kitchen if you’re around and make sure clean up after themselves if they have cooked with nuts. Remember to show your housemates how to use the Epi-Pen – this is really important too.
Q: Biggest struggle now & advice you would give to help overcome it
Dan: Now, it’s getting on public transport with an allergy. There’s been times, for example, when someone sat next to me on the tube and has taken out a peanut snack bar. I’ve had to be confident and tell them I have a severe allergy and ask that they refrain from eating next to me. A lot of the time they understood.
As I have got older, I feel more confident talking about my allergy, whether it’s speaking to a close friend or a stranger. The piece of advice I would give is always be confident to speak up about your allergy, and that people are a lot of the time more understanding than you might think!
Dan’s Allergy Inspiration
Q: What was the best piece of advice you got?
Dan: Taking your allergy seriously and being aware at all times of what you eat. If anything does occur, it’s essential to ensure everything is in place and your friends know how to use the Epi-Pen.
Q: What is your food allergy moto?
Dan: Breaking the stigma around allergies and giving young people a voice to be heard. If I can make even one person feel more confident and empowered to speak up about their food allergy, then I’ve done what I set out to do.
This is an awesome campaign that Dan made to de-stigmatise carrying an Epipen.
Quick Fire Round
Favourite food: Homemade Lasagne
Favourite allergy friendly snack or product: I love treating myself to Galaxy Chocolate
Texting or talking? I’m so bad at texting, and much prefer to call someone instead
What’s for dinner tonight? Chicken and pepper wraps
Last picture you took on your phone: A burger I ate this weekend…it was so good
Kortney is your typical atopic triad who manages asthma, eczema and multiple food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!