Food Allergies… Rock?

Last month, I wasn’t feeling very good about this whole food allergy situation. So when this contest came up in my Twitter feed, I wondered if I could honestly answer the question: “Tell us why food allergies rock.”

Good timing, though, because it forced me to think about the good that has come out of my son’s diagnosis.

Screenshot 2017-06-09 at 22.16.34

Since then, I’ve realized that there are more positives than one single tweet would allow for.

So, in response to a post I wrote on how raising a child with food allergies impacts mental health, I decided to focus on the brighter side of things. Kind of like that Kyle Dine CD, I want to take a moment to talk about the silver lining of food allergies, to offer readers a bit of hope (when they’re feeling hopeless) and direct them to avenues of support (if and when they need it).

Here are the top 5 recent events that have made me feel a little more hopeful and lot more supported. If you’re feeling blue or overwhelmed, I highly recommend forcing yourself to write a similar list. It’s an instant pick-me-up, and it makes you realize things aren’t always as bad as they seem.

1. I met the lovely Samara Carroll, who counsels food-allergic children and their parents.

Samara has lived with food allergies since she was a little girl, so she completely understands what our little ones are going through. And she’s the type of person whose friendly personality shines through the moment you meet her. I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that most children feel very comfortable opening up to her about their food allergy journey.

She also works with parents whose anxiety is through the roof since their children were diagnosed and—take note!—she does couples counselling as well. (Because we all know the strain this sort of thing can put on a relationship.)

Now you can meet Samara too! Join us at Jill and the Beanstalk this August for a talk she’ll be hosting on how not to raise a child with food phobias. (Details TBD.)

2. I got my own personal allergy-friendly tour of a supermarket.

If you’ve ever been in contact with food allergy mama Allison Venditti, you probably know she’s one of those people who goes out of their way to help others. She doesn’t hesitate to provide words of wisdom to parents newly navigating food allergies—or give them a (virtual) shoulder to cry on. I’m lucky to know her in a business context as well, so I know just how generous she can be with her time and her advice.

So when I had my mini breakdown last month, Allison sweetly offered to take me on a personalized tour of Fiesta Farms. Since her son once shared many of my little guy’s allergies, she was able to point me in the right direction, aisle after aisle. Thanks to Allison, my son got to try his first store-bought “kuu-kies,” and I have a new list of safe products I can buy for him.

3. I won not 1, but 2, Kyle Dine CDs

Yup, that’s right. HypeFoodie held a contest for Food Allergy Awareness Month… and I won! I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever won anything. Coincidence? I think the universe was trying to tell me something.

The great thing about Kyle’s music is that his lyrics are really empowering. My toddler may be too little to understand right now, but one day, I like to imagine these songs will lift him up when he’s feeling down, remind him that having food allergies doesn’t make him weird or weak, and give him the confidence to speak up in situations when he is feeling uncertain or unsafe.

4. I finally bought a breadmaker.

As I write this, the aroma of fresh bread is wafting around me, making my stomach growl and my mouth water. But I digress…

It’s actually a lot more fun—and a lot less work—than I initially imagined. It’s also a delicious, affordable alternative to store-bought bread. Not only that, but it gives me peace of mind knowing exactly what’s in the ingredient list. (Need I say more?)

A huge thank you to all the people in the allergy community who recommended I purchase this sanity-saver… And to allergy support group founder and writer Pauline Osena for sharing a couple of bread baking books with me!

In case you’re curious, I got myself the Hamilton Beach breadmaker. I love it so far!

5. I was reminded, yet again, how the food allergy community has got each other’s backs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You guys are amazing. I can’t believe how many warm messages I got in response to this post. And then again when I shared my pizza fail with the AllergyBites group.

So many people reached out to me with creative ideas, safe brands, or words of empathy. I have to say I was overwhelmed by your heartwarming messages of encouragement and solidarity.

I’ll end this post by linking to a few supports, either in-person or online, that you can access if and when you’re having a tough day (or month!).

AllergyBites FB Group
Best Allergy Sites
Carroll Counselling
Food Allergy Canada
No Nuts Moms Group of Ontario, CAN
Parents of Kids with Food Allergies in Toronto/GTA
The Friendly Pantry

Any I’m missing? Comment below with a link to an avenue of support you think should be on this list.

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