Happy Monday Everyone,
Some of you know that I have suffered from food allergies my whole life. This makes eating out in restaurants and at events very challenging. The thought or going off to college this fall and being restricted to dorm food is absolutely frightening. In my quest to be prepared and armed with knowledge I decided to attend the Food Allergy Research and Education convention held in Orlando this past weekend. While I was there, I attended several workshops such as Preparing for College: A session for Teens, Transforming the Devastating Diagnosis: For caretakers, and Ask the Allergist, where I had the opportunity to ask world renown allergist, Dr. Mustafa, questions about allergies and advancements in treatments for patients with food allergies.
Throughout the conference I had the opportunity to interview Allie Bahn, a motivational speaker about gaining independence with allergies, Calli McIntyre, Miss Garner’s Outstanding Teen, author of The Anteater that Couldn’t Eat Ants, and Ellie Pearlman, Delfina Sitar and Karen Schmit: three young women working on a Masters Project at Northwestern University.
When I was younger and even today on certain days as a young adult, I find myself bitter towards my allergies. While attending the conference though, my attitude was put into perspective. Since I was raised to be aware of my allergies and educated myself on how to deal with them, I have thankfully never gone into anaphylaxis. Unlike others with allergies, I can touch the food I’m sensitive to and I can even be around it. The degrees of sensitivities span a broad spectrum.
I learned many helpful tips while I was at the conference. One that stood out in particular is a “chef card”. While interviewing Allie, she told me about her travels and I asked how she deals with her allergies during her adventures. In addition to learning some of the language, she enjoyed the food during her travels. In order to ensure her safety in restaurants she always carries laminated chef cards printed in the language of that particular country. The card indicates all her food allergens and can be passed on to the chef so that the kitchen can be fully aware of what to avoid. A template of how to make one is in the link below.
Throughout the next few weeks, I will be posting the videos and interviews I conducted while I was at the conference. This knowledge is not just for those suffering from allergies, but everyone. Every three minutes, someone is sent to the Emergency Room due to an allergic reaction. This isn’t because they consumed the food, but often due to cross contamination. By being conscientious of the dangers of food allergies to those that suffer from them and raising our own awareness of safe food preparation we can help to minimize the risk to other people’s lives.
Check back on Wednesday to see Allie’s story!