April’s Allergy Teens Talk features Livia, a teen with a creative spirit who has made a very positive impact with regards to food allergies.
Livia shares how she is handling the tricky shift of responsibility from her parents to herself. She also discusses how to be very careful and cautious about food allergies while also being able to have fun and fit in. Something amazing has come out of Livia having food allergies, she started her own family baking business and YouTube channel!
I hope Livia’s positivity and kindness bring some joy to your life during this difficult time.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
– Sophie 😀
Allergy Teens Talk: Livia
Name: Livia Murray
Allergies, and when you were diagnosed: I’m allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, peaches, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. I was diagnosed at 9 months old.
Age/grade: 14 years old, 9th grade
Teens with food allergies talk!
Q: What is the main struggle you faced growing up or being a teen with food allergies?
Livia: A struggle that I faced growing up with food allergies was definitely going out to eat at new places. It can be scary if you have never eaten there, but my advice is that if you are unsure or uncomfortable about a new restaurant, just leave. You are the one with the food allergies, and sometimes it just isn’t worth the risk.
Q: How does having food allergies affect your social life (dating, parties, etc.)?
Livia: If I am at an event or party, oftentimes, there aren’t many food options that are safe for me. I have learned to bring my own food and treats. It isn’t worth the risk of reacting just to feel included.
Q: How do you advocate for yourself as an allergy teen?
Livia: I make sure to let people who are preparing my food know (letting them know to change gloves, wash a blender, etc.). If someone near me starts to eat something with my allergens in it, I let them know that I have allergies and ask them nicely to eat it later when I’m not around. Most of the time, people will put their food away and apologize for not knowing.
Q: What advice would you give to other teens with food allergies?
Livia: Some advice that I have for other teens with food allergies is to always bring your Epipen with you wherever you go. You never know when it could save your life.
It is also important to always be aware of what is in your food. This means reading labels on everything, even things that you have eaten before. Making sure to ask people preparing your food to clean their workspace and pans is also very important.
It never hurts to speak up when it comes to something life-threatening like food allergies.
Q: How do your friends treat you when it comes to your food allergies?
Livia: My friends are very nice when it comes to my food allergies, and they are always looking out for me. My friends make sure to not eat things with my allergens when I’m around and are always asking me if different foods are safe for me before they eat them. It is also comforting to have friends who are comfortable with administering my Epipen in case of an emergency.
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?
Livia: I have become much more responsible with my allergies than when I was younger. My parents used to be the only ones who spoke up about my allergies, and now that I am older, I can speak up for myself.
I think that it is really important that teens with food allergies can be confident about going out to eat, reading labels, and making food for themselves without their parents’ help. Soon enough, they will have to be on their own without always having their parents to rely on.
Q: How do you handle your food allergies at school / in college?
Livia: I am currently homeschooled, but I play sports at a public school. When going on team bus rides, I make sure to ask my teammates politely to put away food that has my allergens in it. I know that it is also important to wipe down surfaces that you are eating on, because you never know what the person before you ate there. Having friends, teachers, coaches, and others that can look out for you is also great.
Q: What advice would you give to the parents of young children with food allergies?
Livia: Pack food for your kids when going to a social event, and always make sure you talk to teachers, coaches and guardians about your child’s allergies. Something helpful and comforting for me is to carry my Epipen with me wherever I go. Depending on the age of your kid, you could either give the Epipen to a guardian or they could take it on their own. For girls, maybe they could carry a purse, and for boys, they could put the Epipen in their pocket or a small bag.
Q: What positive things have come out of having food allergies (have you benefited from them in any way)?
Livia: Positive things have definitely come out of having food allergies. This past year, I, along with my two sisters, have started L.I.V. Freely, an allergy-friendly baking business in Minnesota. We are currently working on creating some products so that everyone can enjoy them across the U.S. My sisters and I have our own YouTube channel as well, where we have product reviews, tips, baking videos, and more!
🍽 Favourite restaurant: Punch Pizza
🍕 Favourite food: Anything Italian. Probably pizza!
🛍 Favourite allergy-friendly product or brand: Lauren’s Hope Medical ID jewelry
👍 Which social media platform is best? Instagram for sure!
👩🍳 Dream job: Continue L.I.V. Freely and become a full-time YouTuber
📱 Texting or talking? Texting
💙 Describe yourself in three words: kind, creative, passionate
Sophie is a sophomore in high school and our Teen Editor who lives with multiple food allergies . She created Food Allergy Alliance, a virtual allergy support group. She loves to bake and babysit. Sophie hopes you find the positive side of an allergic life.