My Fox 5 Vegas Interview About Allergy Friendly Halloween Treats

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On Friday a friend and fellow blogger e-mailed me to see if I’d be interested in doing a television interview about Halloween and allergy safe and/or vegan friendly treats.  She’d written in detail about vegan children and Halloween in the past but couldn’t do the segment herself.  My first thought was that I had never done anything like that before and my second was that it would be a great chance to raise awareness.  So I went for it and I’m so glad I did, especially since in the days before we had our children my husband and I used to watch Fox 5 Las Vegas every morning as we got ready for work.

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This morning I arrived at the studio at about 7:15 a.m. (my mother in law was able to watch the kids for me) and met with Celina, an Associate Producer with the station, and we chatted a bit in the waiting area about what the caption should be under my name onscreen before discussing the concerns that parents of children with food allergies share.  I had kept something in mind that I’d read from Marketing Mama a while back on Twitter — she implored people to not say “food allergic children” as opposed to “children with food allergies” because the disease comes second, not first.  It really resonated with me that no one wants to be defined by their circumstances and I knew I wanted to be sure I was a parent of children with food allergies and not a parent of food allergic children.

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At any rate, Celina assured me that talking to morning co-anchor Monica Jackson “would be like talking to your best friend.”  Always an encouraging thing to hear!  Shortly before the segment was set to air, I was able to set up a table with the food allergy friendly treats I was going to talk about (at the area to the left in the picture above).  It was surreal laying candy out while the actual news was being delivered just a few feet away.  Every bag rustle had me worried I was being disruptive but I was also just fascinated by seeing everyone hard at work.  I had the chance to chat a bit with Ms. Jackson before the cameras turned our way so the interview felt like a continuing conversation which I really liked.

 

In case anyone needs it, the link I shared in the broadcast was to the Food Allergy Parent Education group here in town.

I brought treats from Enjoy Life (Mini Chips and all three varieties of Boom Choco Boom Bars), Yummy Earth (Sour Beans and Lollipops), Surf Sweets (Gummies), Go Naturally (Hard Candy), Tasty Brand (Sour Gummies), and Annie’s (Gummies) as well as two cookbooks that I don’t think showed up on camera but are wonderful nonetheless: Learning to Bake Allergen Free by Colette Martin (amazon affiliate link) and Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook.  My Whole Foods Trip yesterday had me both ready for the interview and very much set for candy for the house for a long time.  As always, check and re-check labels because some of the gummy snacks, for example, would be vegan (no gelatin) while other varieties from the same company were not.

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Thank you to Monica Jackson and Jason Feinberg (that’s me standing behind them after my interview!) as well as Kristen, Celina, and the rest of the folks at Fox 5 for making me feel welcome and for letting me share a little bit today.  My husband gave me the advice that I should have fun and I did!

2012 FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Walkers starting off at the 2012 FAAN Walk

We had a great time walking this year at The District for the 2012 FAAN Walk for Food Allergy!  This was our second year participating and I have to say the turnout and number of booths seemed higher than 2011.  I also had more fun not only because of the fantastic friends that joined our family team (thank you Janelle and Erin!) but because of the new friends that I had made in the last year or so that were part of the event.

I volunteered at the FAPE Booth briefly when I arrived and luckily the kids were still in awe of the crowds that they stayed by me until we were free to do some booth visiting of our own.  FAPE is our local Food Allergy Parent Education group.  I’d actually filled out my info at last year’s walk on their sign in sheet but for some reason was not able to follow up until a couple months ago.  A friend of mine that also has a daughter with food allergies was raving about a FAPE event and I knew I had to try getting in touch with them again.  I’m so glad I did!  We’ve (since the October 6, 2012 FAAN walk) had the chance to join other families dealing with food allergies for a food free Halloween trick or treat event.  They had a pirate magician entertain the kids and then after some mingling we walked around the track at Reunion Trails Park to trick or treat for little toys.  Debbie, the founder, did a fantastic job!  I am hoping to become more active with the group because I remember all to well the early days of isolation that came with the food allergy diagnosis.  Which actually leads me to the next friend I was able to see at the walk…

Caroline of Grateful Foodie!  This was our first time meeting but we’ve talked on the phone (the day of the Nevada Legislative Committee on Healthcare meeting) and emailed a lot – she lives in Reno, Nevada but came down to Vegas for the walk and even had her own booth.  She’s also the co-leader of their AAPE group up north.  Since the walk her blog actually achieved top honors in the Circle of Moms 2012 Food Allergy Mom competition!

My husband and I were pretty excited to snag samples and coupons from Enjoy Life, we actually popped into the Whole Foods across the street from The District after the walk to stock up on Enjoy Life’s Flax Cereal and Granola.

E, being 4 this year, was so excited leading up to and including the day of the walk.  She loves knowing that she is not alone and an event where the snacks being handed out are safe for her is always a big win.  We made sure to write individual thank you cards to those that made donations of their time and/or money to support our team – I want my children to know that there are wonderful people on their side hoping the best for them.  I feel like as a mother coping with food allergies in her home I spent the first year or so post-diagnosis figuring out what we could eat but since starting this blog and connecting with other families online I’ve found myself embracing advocacy outside of my own small circles.

My husband took this shot, it is neat to see everyone in action at the walk!

To experience something 365 days a year and then for a few brief hours gather with others to aim for a cause greater than ourselves is a special thing.  The local FAAN walk organizers, Dana and Duane Gordin, do so much work behind the scenes to make the event a success but even beyond that they work during the year to put money raised to crucial use in areas such as the Clark County School District.  In August I received an email from the Gordins announcing that this year money generated by FAAN ($30,000) went “to train and guide all 15,000 CCSD personnel in proactive food allergy management.”  On September 13, 2012 an amendment to district regulation 5150 went through allowing that epinephrine be stored in a secure but unlocked location, removing a dangerous time barrier to retrieving life saving epinephrine injectors.  Duane Gordin made persuasive remarks before the school board voted.  There is as yet another hurdle in the form of NRS 392.425 so there is more work to be done but each step forward is great news!   Their sons’ middle school principal was honored recently for her efforts to help those with food allergies and they have also helped the district implement training policies to raise awareness.  Please watch both parts of the interview with the Gordin family that appeared on October 25th on our local news here, there’s some footage from this year’s walk included!

When Dana talks in part one of the interview about her son touching a book and then touching his eye and experiencing a reaction to trace amounts of peanut butter she especially had my attention because recently E had a reaction from touching a library book and then her eye.  Luckily we were able to use her antihistamine the moment we noticed the rash and I don’t know what the specific trigger was but as Duane mentions in the video, you don’t know if a reaction will just be a rash or much worse next time.  Dana made sure that leading up to this year’s walk I had a full ingredient list of the face paints being used by the free face painter in case E wanted to have her face painted.  The line ended up being too long for us but I was able to assure a fellow mom and friend that her own daughter could take part since the girls have similar allergies.

I wanted to thank all the supporters, walkers, and people who spread the word about how we can protect those that suffer from food allergies.  It is fantastic to see non-profits taking funds raised by the community and using it in that same community but that doesn’t happen without the hard work of people like Debbie with FAPE, Caroline with AAPE, and the Gordins who spearhead organization of the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy.  I always appreciate their e-mail updates and calls to action – it is amazing that what unites us as parents of children with food allergies that it is not enough to just protect our own children, we all share a drive to make others feel safe, included, and to make inroads to improved awareness and accommodation.

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Elsewhere…

Thank you so much to Devin, mom and baker extraordinaire, at Nom Yum & Free for inviting me to be featured in her post “Happy Halloween: A Tiny Trick but a Big Nice Treat” – two other (new to me) bloggers are included as well and I look forward to exploring their posts!  I also can’t wait to read Devin’s teased recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes.

And a happy belated 3rd birthday to VegBooks.org!  To celebrate, Jessica has put together some wonderful book selections for three year olds.  My latest review (All the Awake Animals…) is also up, feel free to click over and offer your own bedtime book suggestions!

Book Gift Ideas for Two Year Olds

My son has fallen in love with some books of late and I wanted to share a few here in case someone is searching for ideas for a birthday or holiday gift for a two year old boys or girls (my four year old daughter enjoys all of these as well).  Books are my favorite gift to take to birthday parties!

R has been read to a lot but I am sure being the younger child he hasn’t had as much one on one reading time as his sister enjoyed when she was small.  Even so, his love of books has been sparked in the last 6 months in particular and these titles put the biggest smile on his face.  A note about the links, they all go through my amazon affiliate tag (you can read more about what that means here) but you can search for them at your library or other site by title as well.


Have You Seen My Duckling? (amazon affiliate link) – A classic for many children, this one used to make R cry when the ducklings went to sleep with their Mom at the end.  I’m not sure if it was because he was anti-bedtime or because it meant the story was over but I had to skip the last page for a while.  All along, however, he has loved looking for the lost duckling on each page.  A little duckling goes missing from his mother but is never far behind her as she searches so on each page you can see the little duckling and point him out.


Trashy Town (amazon affiliate link) – With R’s obsession with garbage trucks I wanted to find him some good library books and with her usual perfect timing, Allison over at No Time for Flashcards did a post about 25 Books About Cars and Trucks as I began my quest.  What appealed to me about her suggestion for Trashy Town was that it talks about garbage trucks in a nice way.  R likes to read this one to me and cried when we had to give it back to our library.  A man goes about town picking up trash until he finally takes his truck to the dump and heads home for a bath.  Really cute, I have this on R’s Christmas List this year.


Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (amazon affiliate link) – This is a gorgeous book and another to file under the label “charming truck books.”  Each variety of truck finishes his work, gets ready for bed, and says goodnight.  The prose is great for reading aloud and R loves that one of the trucks has a teddy bear.


It’s Not Easy Being Big (amazon affiliate link) – Random choice, I know, but the story is an early reading book that features Elmo and Big Bird from Sesame Street lamenting about being small and big, respectively.  At the end they conclude it can be easy being small and it can be easy being big as well.  I think what R loves about this book are the scenarios he can related to – Big Bird trying to swing, Elmo throwing a football to Grover, etc.  I think I read this to him about two to three times each evening and then tell it to him from memory once the lights are out.  Any little one that loves Elmo (or “Elbow Show” as R calls him) will get a kick out of this book.


Lego Duplo Ultimate Sticker Collection (amazon affiliate link) – Sticker books are an obsession of R’s right now and I actually bought this one for E for when I was in the hospital to give birth to R.  She loved it but he is the one that has pretty much finished putting all the stickers in various places in the book.  I’ve bought other sticker books but this is his favorite and the easiest for his little fingers to manipulate.  The free play areas (scenes where you can put the stickers wherever you want) let him play on his own a little bit instead of always asking for help finding where a particular sticker should go.


Ten Little Ladybugs (amazon affiliate link) – I bought this for R’s 1st birthday and it is still going strong.  There are little plastic ladybugs that are part of the book and they disappear one by one until all of them are home again in the end of this counting book.

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Speaking of books, here’s a roundup of my latest reviews at the wonderful Vegbooks.org (mostly for the pre-school and up set):

Nature’s Patchwork Quilt – A great book about habitats.

Granny’s Clan – I learned so much about Orca whales from this book.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme – Another cute re-work of the song “Over in the Meadow” that illustrates and counts rainforest creatures.

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration – From the same author as “Over in the Jungle,” this book discusses animal migration in a clear, easy to understand way that kept E’s attention.

Bronto & the Pterodactyl Eggs – I’ll never get used to calling Brontosaureses by their proper name, Apatasaurus, but the author of this book lets me slip up sometimes by calling the protagonist in the book Bronto.

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What are some of your favorite books for children right now?

Food Find – Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies

I received a most welcome e-mail a few weeks ago from one of my favorite companies, Enjoy Life Foods, offering some products for review on the blog.  I had to say yes, even though I already knew I loved all four varieties of Crunchy Cookies, having previously purchased them when grape products became okay for E as well as some corn derived options (I am not sure if these have any corn derivatives, I was avoiding them up to this point because of the grape juice sweeteners).  By the way, some of my other Enjoy Life Foods reviews include Plentils, Granola, and Chocolate.  While we were on vacation in San Diego in September, what should arrive but these beautiful boxes:

To say the kids were excited would be an understatement.  They are lucky I limit myself to a serving (2 cookies, 110 calories for most of the varieties) when I indulge in cookies these days because there was more for them to share with one another.  The Vanilla Honey Graham cookies (amazon affiliate link) are not vegan if honey is an issue for you but we took some we’d purchased camping with us in July and heated them with Enjoy Life chocolate chips on the open campfire for a wonderful treat.  Highly recommended.  I think they are R and E’s all time favorite, they are not too sweet and the vanilla flavor comes through nicely.

For me I think my favorite is a tie between the Double Chocolate (amazon affiliate link) and Chocolate Chip (amazon affiliate link) varieties.  Chocolate wins me over, what can I say?  While I pride myself on home baked treats, when it comes to food allergy cooking and baking it can get exhausting with cooking and baking every single day so having “fast” treats is wonderful.  I wouldn’t be able to bake up crunchy cookies like this on my own anyway so they certainly fill a void!  My husband prefers the Sugar Crisp cookies (amazon affiliate link) so we have all our bases covered.

If you can’t decide which to start with I think you can’t go wrong with the Sugar Cookies.  And if you get a few crumbled cookies here and there (which I’ve only had happen when they’ve shipped in the mail, the ones on the shelves at stores like Fresh and Easy or Whole Foods seem to be fine) just save them in a bag and use them to make a pie crust later on.  I have plans to try a sugar crisp pie crust sometime soon, actually.

Thank you Enjoy Life Foods for sharing these with us, I know to some people four or five dollars for a box of cookies seems like a lot and it is a luxury in a way but when you’ve been buying food allergy friendly foods as long as I have you know the price point is on par with other products out there.  When I pay $11.99 for 3 lbs. of superfine rice flour I know that these allergy friendly ingredients cost a lot more than just plain wheat flour would.  Another great thing is that these cookies are potato free for those trying to avoid potatoes for inflammation reasons or allergies.

All in all, every single variety is a wonderful treat – just the right amount of crunch and sugar in each!

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As an aside, my blog is up for voting at the Top 25 Food Allergy Moms list at Circle of Moms. There are many much better blogs than mine on the list that I’ve been making sure to vote for but if you feel inclined to pop over and vote once a day (no need to register, just click the thumbs up) until October 17, 2012, here’s the link to my listing (or click here for the current standings).

One Hour Runner Review and What I’m Doing Next

I finished Couch to 5k at the end of July 2012 and followed up with a 10 week training plan called “One Hour Runner” (see my previous post for more details about why I chose One Hour Runner over Bridge to 10k).  Half an hour of running had seemed daunting at the start of Couch to 5k and starting 10k training was just as daunting.  How could I run an entire hour without walking?

The other issue with looking ahead and thinking about that hour run was that it was still really hot here in Vegas despite being 4 or so in the morning when I’d head out.  Many mornings the night air never cooled below 90 degrees before it started ticking up again for the new day.  The mental game for me with running seems to occur at the start of my runs.  I have read that for some people it is the getting out the door that is the trick but I viewed that as a practical matter.  Long nights with little children make you no stranger to early wake up calls, after all.  The first five to ten minutes for me are usually the hardest.  That is when I have the whole distance ahead of me and I am not feeling my best.  Then the minutes start to tick by and with each one that I’ve put behind me the run is more manageable.  After 15 minutes into a 30 minute run, for example, I just think to myself, “I just have another set of 15 minutes left and I just showed myself I can do it.”

The moon and I had some nice times together on my runs, with the right music and the sky to look at I can see now why people are able to run longer distances.  It doesn’t get boring and sometimes you get zoned out enough that it breezes by.  I don’t mean to make it seem like this is something I count the minutes to the end of, I think there’s that right mix of feeling challenged but also hoping you have enough energy to finish strong with each mile you get under your belt.

The temptation hit near the end of the program, I think I had 3 or 4 weeks left in the training plan, to push myself to longer times than I was required to.  At the end of week 7 or 8 I ran 1 hour 15 minutes and 15 seconds to accomplish my first ever 10K distance.  It felt empowering to figure out I was capable of so many miles.  Knowing I could do an hour helped me not stress about the rest of the program.  The temptation hit again the next week when I wondered if another 15 minutes (90 straight minutes of running) could carry me even further.  I was able to do over 7 miles that day!

For the final “graduation” run I actually only did another 10K but the big thing was knowing I had decided what training I was going to tackle next: a half marathon.  Now, I wanted to try for one in December of 2013 but my husband was looking into sprint triathlon training and wanted to get a half marathon in during March of 2013.  One day before our wedding anniversary at same area where we got engaged, to boot.  I wasn’t going to miss out on that one even though we’ll probably be running at our own respective paces.

So I have about 23 weeks to train for my first half marathon.  I have a 5K this month, I had planned in January that my goal 5K would be in October so it is funny that I am way beyond that distance 10 months later.  I also have a 10K race in January 2013 even though I hit that distance sooner than I thought as well.  So why not a half?  Besides, so many inspiring people I know run them all the time.  I can do this…right?

My goal is to complete the 13.1 distance with little to no walking.  All my upcoming races are pretty hilly so I will be trying to get better at handling runs uphill which is a weakness for me.  My husband has been out on some of my runs at the same time which is great, especially since I haven’t been feeling too great about running in our neighborhood this past week.

The above shot I took while running and played with some Instagram filters a little bit.  I like how it just looks like a random texture.  All these photos are ones I’ve shared along the way as I worked to complete the training program.  I can’t compare it to Bridge to 10K because I didn’t go that route but the 10 week gradual increase worked out great for me.

With cooler weather I just felt better all around but I am glad to know I got through the entire summer, start to finish, getting out there and running at least three mornings a week.  I haven’t been cross training but I’ve been continuing to count calories and am about 20 pounds down now!  I was a size 14 when I started and now I am a size 8 pant and even that is getting loose on me.  My initial goal was to lose 30 before I turned 30 in February 2013 and I’m on track to do that and then some.  I believe my new weight loss goal will be 40 pounds total but I’ll see how I feel at each stage.

My husband and I were able to run in San Diego while on vacation and the cool air was lovely even though the humidity was something I could have done without.  During our stay the San Diego Triathlon went by our hotel which was very neat and I believe sparked my husband’s idea to do the Las Vegas Triathlon next September.  We also had some treadmill time which was new to me – I discovered that my pace is way over what it should be – you’re supposed to run at a conversational pace heart-rate wise and I have been pushing too hard when I run.  I need to work on a more measured pace but luckily with more running my pace has improved anyway.  12 minute miles used to be much more of a struggle and now 11 minute miles feel the way 12 minute miles once did.

With Couch to 5K included I have run for 19 weeks straight and before that I was running off and on without a training plan since the end of January 2012.  Time passes so strangely – it feels fast when I just rattle off that I started in January but it took a lot of work to get where I am right now.  At the same time I wonder what other goals I can set and look back on.  55 days ago (I am 155 days into tracking everything I eat on My Fitness Pal) I committed to not eating potato chips at all.  I couldn’t be trusted to weigh them accurately.  Other chips I was fine with but not potato chips.  Here I am and I am still going strong.  I want to make more resolutions to be healthier, I am so pleased with just feeling better about life when I am active.  I don’t feel like I was just dealt this hand where I am the out of shape one, I can make my own destiny (to a point, of course).

The other thing that has struck me is that I need to run for those that can’t.  I think about people I care about a lot when I run, I also compose blog posts in my head which is odd considering how September only had one post here but I promise I think about how I am processing life in general and how communicating that may be of use to someone, somewhere.

I considered two main plans for half marathon training, one by Jeff Galloway and one by Hal Higdon.  Miriam over at Sometimes I Veg is a hardcore half marathoner and told me the Galloway method includes walking which is fine but I have been sticking with running goals all this time so her suggestion was to check out Hal Higdon’s plans.  I have noticed that all training plans have gradual increases of weekly mileage so with about double the time to train (Higdon’s plan is 12 weeks) I have a lot of flexibility.  Which is good considering it has gotten cooler and it is tricky some days to get out the door, run, and come back in time so that my husband (who is watching the kids) can go to work.  We’d like to run together more too since the neighborhood feels less safe and it is darker in the mornings.  At any rate, the big plan right now is to do two “short” runs per week of increasing amounts – from each being 3 miles to 4, to 5, etc. as shown in the Higdon plan and then also increase the longest weekly run as well.  Higdon’s book (amazon affiliate link) is one we’ve gotten from the library and though it is about a longer distance, his writing is engaging and has helped focus some of my plans for approaching distance running. I would love to know I am capable of 13.1 before the race out at Red Rock and also do a training run on the actual terrain.  There’s the 5K and the 10K to look forward to as well.

I think what I’ll do is keep track of my runs as I have been all along and check in on the blog at the point of each of the upcoming races leading up to the half marathon.  I’ll have to explore fueling and hydration options as well as phone carrying ideas as my mileage increases.  I also need to get properly fitted for running shoes as my pronation in my neutral shoes is putting stress on my ankles.  I don’t want to get injured, that is for certain.  The other cool thing is that the half marathon is just a week or so after my 30th birthday so I am already excited about what the next few months holds.  I have been seeing an increase in my caseload at work and working on our new firm website so that is taking time and attention but really there’s nothing like going into a court hearing after having run in the morning.  I feel confident and ready to take on the world.  Whether or not that is actually the case, I don’t know, but feeling good is part of the battle, I’m sure.

Favorite running songs of late include:

Sia – She Wolf (amazon affiliate link)

The Script – Hall of Fame (amazon affiliate link)

Passion Pit – Take a Walk (amazon affiliate link)

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (amazon affiliate link)

Karmin – Hello (amazon affiliate link)

Demi Lovato – Give Your Heart a Break (amazon affiliate link)

Calvin Harris – We’ll Be Coming Back (amazon affiliate link)

In fact, “Little Talks” is on my playlist multiple times – I have fallen in love with the lyrics.  Here’s a link to the music video but maybe listen just to the music first since the video might be distracting at first.  The song has a male and female vocalist and the female vocalist sings “There’s an old voice in my head / that’s holding me back,” to which the male vocalist responds, “Well tell her that I miss our little talks.”  I really like the idea of treating that voice of “can’t” as if it is just something to talk yourself out of.  I realize this may not be the intent of the writers but in this moment of time it had that particular meaning for me.  My runs are turning into little talks with myself to prove that I can be stronger than I thought possible.  I’d especially like for my children and husband to be proud of me.  Here’s to reaching 13.1 (and beyond)!

The Importance of Food Allergy Awareness (or: Why We Walk)

I really try to stay positive here since I view the recipes, activities, and stories I share as a keepsake for my children someday but even I am not positive all the time.  The world isn’t always a positive place either.  In fact, a dear friend texted me a few weeks ago to vent that there was a discussion on the social networking site, Facebook, that had her angry on my behalf.  Apparently the hot button issue was food bans in schools and the usual arguments were rearing their heads like “my child likes peanut butter and jelly” or “that is all people can afford to send to school” or “what if people’s religious beliefs dictate that they eat peanut butter?”  I know even parents of food allergic kids are divided on the subject of food bans, it isn’t an easy thing.  My personal approach is that nuts are such a narrow aspect of food that the limited burden of eliminating them from school campuses is outweighed by the substantial safety benefit, not to mention the inclusion of more children in learning environments.  I know this is informed by my legal background both in reading portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and in risk assessment that takes place in products liability cases but the concept of balancing burdens and risks is not new.

I mention all of this because I want to, no, have to believe that many of the comments that come across as hurtful in their disregard of children or even adults with food allergies comes from a position of ignorance.  “If people just knew we aren’t talking about sniffles, we are talking about anaphylaxis and death, then they would join in the fight,” I would think to myself.  Of course, something came along that made me doubt that position:

“I was on an airplane once where they told us we couldn’t have peanuts because someone on the plane was deathly allergic. I ate my peanut m&ms anyways because I am a selfish a**hole and I hate flying, and my only condolence [sic] when flying is peanut m&ms.”
How do we combat perceptions like the one above?  Here is someone that was informed that a person would be put in danger by the presence of peanuts on an airplane and did not care.  I generally don’t try to convince irrational people but what would you say to an attitude like this?  (Or this criminal act I recently read about on the Onespot Allergy blog?)  I was pretty angry but then thought about the friend that was angry for my sake when she read this and the other comments on the subject of nut bans.  I thought about what her caring and consideration meant to me and that though there was not much I could do about all the potential bullies in the world, my family and I are fortunate to have some pretty special friends on our side.

My daughter started once a week half day pre-school three weeks ago just to see how she would handle it and to see how the school would accommodate her allergies.  I planned and prepared and planned some more.  I wrote a six page allergy plan (a special thank you to Jenny Sprague over at Multiple Food Allergy Help, she read my draft and gave me pointers as well as suggesting I buy a SafetySack, which is a child proof bag for epi-pens) and talked in depth with E’s teacher.  I still cried at leaving her there, wondering whether she would be okay even though the school is nut and egg free (a nut free campus was a must for me, I can breathe a little easier knowing E’s worst allergen should not be present).

Rice Flour play dough

I pick E up each time before lunch is served so one little classmate asked why she couldn’t stay.  “E has food allergies and comes home for lunch,” I said.  He asked, “what are you having for lunch today?” and I responded, “rice.”  His face lit up and he said loudly, “We have rice for lunch too!”  Children just “get” it.  It is almost like they have to be taught to exclude – at age four this little boy had more heart and presence of mind than many adults.  He wanted to make my daughter feel safe and welcome and tried to think of how he could accomplish that.

While focusing on the positives it is important to be aware as food allergy advocates that there will be attitudes we cannot change, that the phrase “life-threatening” just leaves some people emotionless.  Much like other drives for awareness, there are numerous layers to shining a light on food allergies.  I’d like people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of food allergies so children can be diagnosed as soon as possible.  I’d like people to know how serious food allergies are, that they don’t just involve ingestion but can involve any contact with an allergen, even in non-food products.  I’d like people to know that I am not interested in telling them what they can or can’t eat at home, or in a restaurant, but in environments where there is a public interest in access for all, like schools or on public transportation, I expect accommodation.

My daughter, the niece and granddaughter of fantastic teachers, wants to go to school and I will not keep her home just because someone else would rather send a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school instead of some healthy alternative.  This coming Saturday, October 6, 2012, we will be walking for food allergy awareness and to raise money for FAAN here in Las Vegas.  With each passing year the FAAN walk feels more crucial and I think it is because I see how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go.  I think it will be a wonderful event, last year’s funds went in part to helping provide training in the Clark County School District regarding food allergies.  I am proud to walk and continue to raise awareness.  Thank you again for everyone’s continued support and I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

(Edited to add: Check out Caroline’s post on Grateful Foodie about the walk and the booth she’ll have there!)