May’s Allergy Teens Talk features Daytona, a seasoned pro at living with food allergies. Daytona shares the challenges that he has encountered related to socializing and dating, but his brave advocacy and willingness to speak up is inspiring.
He looks at advocacy from a whole different perspective, and for anyone who has struggled to stand up for themselves, this is a must-read. Daytona also touches on some of the positive experiences and attributes that food allergies have given him, which are insightful.
I hope that reading about Daytona’s thoughts and attitude help give us all a little bit of newfound strength.
Take care of yourselves and stay healthy!
Allergy Teens Talk: Daytona
Name: Daytona Hodson
Allergies and when you were diagnosed: Peanut (since 1st Birthday) and tree nuts (1st Birthday until 5th grade-ish)
Age/grade: 17/Senior in High School
From: Olathe, Kansas
Teens with food allergies talk!
Q: What is the main struggle you faced growing up or being a teen with food allergies?
Daytona: Socialising has been the biggest struggle for me. Oftentimes, hanging out with friends also means food. To try to avoid this, I first try and find things that don’t include food. However, if my friends want to go to a restaurant, I will often be the one to make reservations so that I can talk to the staff and ask about my allergies.
Q: How does having food allergies affect your social life (dating, parties, etc.)?
Daytona: Dating has always been a little interesting with food allergies. If we go out for dinner, I pick a restaurant that I know doesn’t use my allergens at all. Not only does this keep me safe, but if we were to kiss later, I don’t have to worry about what she has eaten.
Q: How do you advocate for yourself as an allergy teen?
Daytona: I’m always vocal about my food allergies. If I don’t feel comfortable in a situation, then I will speak up if I believe there is a way for the activity to be inclusive.
The most significant piece of advice for others I have is having confidence in yourself. Allergies are very serious, and you should never feel unsafe when a simple change can put everyone at ease.
Q: What advice would you give to other teens with food allergies?
Daytona: Don’t be afraid to speak up about your allergy (or allergies). Even though at times it feels that you are the only one with an allergy, there are 32 million others who have your back. When you speak up about your allergy to make it more inclusive for you, and this often makes it more inclusive for other disabilities as it is fresh in the mind of the individual you told.
Q: How do your friends treat you when it comes to your food allergies?
Daytona: Over the past several years, I’ve seen various responses to my allergies from different friends.
I’ve had some great friends that have safe food at their parties. Some have even stood up for me when I was being bullied due to my allergy. It’s important to teach your friends about your allergy because they can be your biggest advocates in teaching others.
Q: How have you become more responsible in handling your food allergies, and have you experienced a shift of responsibility from your parents to you?
Daytona: My parents have always taught me to be an advocate for my allergies. Even when I was young, I remember reminding the waiter about my allergy when going out to eat. Even class parties in Kindergarten, I would often remind other parents about my allergies.
As I have gotten older, I have become more responsible for looking at food labels, carrying my epinephrine, and communicating with my school.
Q: How do you handle your food allergies at school / in college?
Daytona: At school, I have a 504 plan that ensures that my classrooms don’t have any food in them. This helps make sure that I can focus on learning without the danger of reacting. I also have a food allergy table that is available to me, but I feel extremely safe with my friends who are aware of my allergen.
I’m planning on going to Oklahoma State University in the fall. I have already been in contact with the campus dining and housing service, and I look forward to a safe college experience.
Q: What advice would you give to the parents of young children with food allergies?
Daytona: Have trust in your child. We see and learn a lot more than what parents may think. Encourage your food allergic kids to speak up for themselves. Sometimes the message becomes more impactful from a child that has experienced it daily.
Q: What positive things have come out of having food allergies (have you benefited from them in any way)?
Daytona: I have become more responsible due to my food allergies. I have had several adults comment on my maturity (although sometimes I beg to differ lol), and I attribute that my maturity has come from having food allergies.
My food allergies have also given me a chance to become an advocate for something that I am passionate about. I have spoken at several FARE National Conferences as well as taught students and staff at local schools on how they can be prepared for food allergies. Without my allergies, none of these positive things would have happened.
🍽 Favourite restaurant: Chapala-Local Mexican Restaurant
🍝 Favourite food: Homemade Lasagna
🛒 Favourite allergy-friendly product or brand: Safely Delicious-Allergen Friendly Puppy Chow
👍 Which social media platform is best? Instagram (@d_h500hd)
👨💼 Dream job: CEO of a large business
📱 Texting or talking? Texting
💙 Describe yourself in three words: Sometimes I’m funny.
Kortney is your typical atopic triad! She manages asthma, eczema, environmental and 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!