Have you ever wondered what one piece of advice an allergy adult would give their younger self? Would it be always carry your Epi? Would it address dating? Or would it be about finding their allergy voice? As a way to celebrate Allergy Awareness Week, I asked some allergy adults what they would say to their younger self about managing food allergies.
Food Allergy Advice to Teens
Allergy Advice to a teenage Kyle
Food Allergy Advice: Step up! As a teenager, it’s typical to want to be more independent from your parents, but it’s up to you to prove that you’re ready for it. If you want your parents to stop nagging you to remember your auto-injector, then show them that you’re really on top of it. Communicate with wait staff at restaurants for yourself, research safe products, note your epinephrine expiry date, assist with trip planning. By proving you are responsible, you are essentially starting to take the reigns on managing your own health condition, and gaining desired independence.
Kyle Dine is a food allergy educator and entrepreneur who performs allergy awareness assemblies at schools across North America. He is also the founder of www.allergytranslation.com.
Find more about Kyle: www.kyledine.com
Allergy Advice to a 16-year-old Nina
Advice to young me at age 16. This was the age I had the severe allergic reaction to peanuts I remember and had I taken more ownership of my allergy and not been embarrassed by it, I’m not sure whether I would have had that reaction.
Food Allergy Advice: My advice to 16 year old me is that you will not inconvenience anyone by insisting to know what’s in the food you’re given. You don’t have to feel embarrassed that you might inconvenience anyone by making a fuss because they will feel worse if they put you into hospital. Be your own best friend and just ask a question. If you don’t have an allergic reaction, the worst that can happen is some feelings get hurt, and they’re much more comfortable to repair.
Nina Modak is an allergy coach and grownup allergy kid who knows allergies aren’t about missing out, they’re about doing things differently.
Find more about Nina: www.eatallergysafe.com
Allergy Advice to a 16-year-old Zac
Advice to the 16-year-old me, because it is when the craziness of my food allergy grew exponentially with transitions from driving, dating, college prep, and change in friend groups.
Food Allergy Advice: Zac, the next couple years are going to challenge you to be the authentic version of who you are. What you will learn is to express the voice you didn’t realize you had. You will encounter hardship, setback, and failure. The most important piece of advice would be to continue to persevere towards your passion for travel, the college experience, and the chance at love even if it seems to be insurmountable at the time. Find the detour! Just remember that when you look back on what you’ve already accomplished, it wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed in retrospect. Keep that kind of attitude when you take on this mountain of transition. And finally, always remember to have fun and laugh along the way.
Zac Chelini is an e-commerce engineer and recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno MBA program that has been an advocate for food allergy education and awareness for over ten years.
Find more about: www.zacharychelini.com
Food Allergy Advice to Young Adults
Allergy Advice to a 20-year-old Kortney
I chose to give 20-year-old me advice because I struggled with confidence when talking about my allergies. It felt like allergies were stigmatised as a ‘kid thing’ and I was desperate to be seen as an adult. Having allergies made me worry I would be treated as a child because people I may think I need special treatment.
Food Allergy Advice: Don’t be afraid to tell people about your allergies. Allergies are not just a kid thing, and if you are teased or treated rudely because of your allergies it is not you, it is the other person or people trying to understand what it means to live with allergies. Unless someone has seen an allergic reaction, it is hard to grasp that certain foods are life threatening. Instead of being shy about it use that platform to raise awareness and help pave the way for future allergy adults. Speaking confidently about your allergies will make you feel more like an adult and when that happens people will also treat you like one.
Allergy Advice to a 24-year-old Amanda
I would give advice to 24 year-old-me, because that’s when I had my last severe reaction requiring an EpiPen and hospital trip and it seriously affected my mental health.
Food Allergy Advice: Keep living the way you used to, and challenge yourself, the foods that were always safe haven’t changed. It’s only the way you view food now that has changed, and you shouldn’t allow it to impact your overall physical and mental health. Find ways to relax and direct your focus away from the things that cause you anxiety. Take baby steps if needed, but don’t give up on loving food because it’s much harder to jump back in once you’ve built up a mountain around it. Be confident in yourself and surround yourself with people who understand and care for you.
Amanda is the author and photographer of Everyone’s Welcome, and Allergen-Free Desserts cookbooks, and is the founder of the blog Everyday Allergen-Free, and online shop, Handled With Care.
Find more : www.shopallergenfree.com
*Amanda’s photo was taken by @karriekwong
I focused on 15-25 especially so that they can use this uncontrollable situation to fully awaken themselves and become their healthy authentic self to live this life with the freedom and fulfillment it deserves. I say this because although I had checked all the boxes from an external perspective and everyone thought I was crushing it at 22, this gratification caused me to numb myself from being awake and put me in situations where I was careless with situations that involved food allergies. I was reckless when I traveled and went out on the weekends. But last summer, I completely stopped drinking and it gave me perspective of how lucky I was that I am still alive. Never get comfortable and complacent with your life or food allergies. Always be prepared.
Food Allergy Advice: We can’t let food allergies define us. Let’s use them as motivation to achieve our own dreams and create further purpose for everyone around us. Hearing the words that we are not allowed to have a specific food is quite difficult and will never end. But that is out of our control. What we can do is find ways to embrace our allergies. We can create/prepare healthier and more delicious snacks than those we are told we can’t have. We can come together as a community to make each other’s lives easier, build meaningful relationships, increase education of the severity of food allergies, and become stronger people because of it. Let’s create happiness and positivity from our situations rather than dwell on an unfortunate situation.
Brandon LaBella is a recent cum laude B.B.A graduate from The College of William and Mary an author of “The Journey to Fail Freely”, a world traveler to 45 countries, and an unofficial world record holder for fastest marathon on crutches. With a story crafted within limitations both physically and emotionally, Brandon has taken what life has given him and has become the best possible version of himself seeking new challenges every day and creating epic experiences and memories with those he has met on his journey. He wants you to check out this video about living with food allergies.
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!