Be BOLD like a cicada-pipe the heck up! ~Maureen Connolly
I love this quote about speaking up- and when you have food allergies you have to learn to speak up. Speaking up is one of the best tools you have to keep yourself or your kiddo safe. I learned very early in our food allergy journey that advocating for yourself is so important. Even when it might seem scary or even intimidating, speaking up will help to keep you safe and thrive on with food allergies!
If you have food allergies here are four things you should be saying:
"I have food allergies"
If people don't know that you are managing food allergies they may inadvertently put you at risk. I have found that most people are willing to help or make accommodations if you let them know, but people sometimes just don't know what they don't know. Sharing your food allergies and stay safe strategies with an attitude of cooperation and collaboration will keep people aware and ultimately keep you safe.
"Can I read the label?"
Label reading is critical- if you have food allergies you need to be reading labels. ALL.THE.TIME. Don't be afraid to ask to see a package or label so you can verify if it is safe. If there is no label or you are unable to verify ingredients or processing (if you manage for that too) skip it! When in doubt go without! And, check out one of my #thriveonthursday posts about label reading here.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, you should have your epis with you! How many? Two, yes two. They send them as a 2-pack for a reason because you should always have two with you at all times. Develop a strategy for you or your family to always remember your medicine. We have opted to hang a hook by our door. My daughter's epis hang there all of the time. As soon as we enter the house they go on the hook, and when we leave we have to walk by them so is a reminder to grab them as we head out of the house. And, we always know where they are when we are in the house because they are always on the hook.
When you have food allergies it can be easy to focus on the things that you can't have or can't do. But, the reality is you can eat and do so much! Even if your list of allergens exceeds 15 there are still hundreds of other foods you CAN have. Make an "I can eat" list and refer to it often, especially when you feel like you are getting in a rut and eating the same things over and over. Apply "I can" to activities too. Yes parties, social activities like dining out, and travel can present some challenges but it is possible with a little advanced planning, prep and creativity to do all of those things. Check out my blog post about dining out for one strategy to turn eating out into an "I Can" activity.
Learn more about me and my company, Thrive On Consulting, which provides food allergy coaching and training. You can also follow me on Facebook for tips to Thrive On with food allergies.