Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Sweet Friend's Sweet 16

Recently, I attended my best friend's Sweet 16, and it was so much fun! But, as per usual, I had to bring my own food, though that was in no way a problem. (Again, as per usual- I've gotten so used to it that it doesn't even phase me anymore!) Anyway, the reason I'm sharing this with all of you is because of what my friend told me before the party.

Whenever I go to parties, I make a point of asking the host what she is going to be serving. This way, whatever food I bring can be similar to what everyone else is eating. As soon as I asked my friend, she looked up at me and said "Oh yeah! Just so you know, I talked to the manager and told them my friend has severe food allergies and that she has to bring her own food. They told me it wouldn't be a problem and that they can heat anything up. So bring whatever you want!" She said this in such an off-handed manner, but I gave her the biggest smile. Yes, she is one of my best friends, but I have never expected anyone to do something like that -to look out for me- unless I specifically ask them to. When I told her that, she looked at me and said "Of course I would ask! You're my friend!" in a tone that said she's surprised I would expect anything less.

Very often, I find it hard to trust anyone besides myself with handling my food allergies, be it a friend, or even a sibling or parent. However, from this friend, I've learned that even though it may be hard to trust other people with certain aspects of my food allergies, the ones that truly care will try and help; She showed me that even though food allergies are hard to handle, I will never have to do it alone.

So to my friend, thank you for always being there, and helping me even on your special day. You truly are a great friend!

-Alli

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

16 Years of Success

Surrounded by my friends and classmates at 10:38 AM yesterday, January 20th, I celebrated the minute I entered the world 16 years ago. With food allergies, this birthday becomes even more monumental. 

I have:
  • Never used my Epipen
  • Avoided Hospital visits due to reactions
  • Found true friends who I trust to support me
  • Learned the hard way the dangers of food allergies
  • Taught my friends and family the basics of food allergies
  • Been on national television sharing my thoughts 
  • Discovered tasty allergy-friendly recipes
  • Successfuly traveled on field trips 
  • Researched food allergies to further develop my knowledge
  • Proved to myself and others that I have no limits due to my food allergies
  • Realized my ability to help others like me
  • Created this blog to help others achieve an easier lifestyle with food allergies

I am proud of myself and all of the accomplishments I have achieved throughout the 16 years of my life, and I am thankful for everyone who have helped me reach this point of success.

As Jarod Kintz once said, "The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating." So as I continue my journey through life with food allergies, I will continue to celebrate the accomplishments I have achieved over the past years, and  look forward to the ones yet to come and sharing them with you!

-Alli

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Field Trip Fiasco

Last week, I went on a Student Council field trip for a state conference at our state college, which included workshops run by other students explaining different projects and activities that make their schools unique. I was so excited to find new ways to have fun at my school! But then I got the email sent out with the trip information. And this was a part of it:

"If you did not buy the lunch buffet, you will eat in the student lounge or you can buy a ticket for the buffet at the door for $9.00. If you bring your own lunch, you cannot eat in the cafeteria with everyone else."

I stared at the email for a few seconds in shock. As far as I knew, I was the only one planning on bringing my own lunch. I responded asking why this was and my adviser said that it was an open buffet, and they don't allow people in that didn't pay for tickets- the school's rules, not hers. This bothered me, and I immediately wondered, could this be considered descrimination against people with food allergies? But then I realized they probably didn't even think of those with food allergies when they made this rule, and I just let it go and accepted that I wasn't going to be able to sit with my friends.

By the time lunch came around on the trip, I figured I would ask if I could get in. After all, they wouldn't deny someone the right to sit at a table if they have food allergies and are physically unable to eat the food, right?

They did.

I looked around outside the cafeteria. There were no seats anywhere, just an empty hallway. As I was scanning with my eyes to find an acceptable place to sit down on the floor to settle in for lunch, my friend kindly insisted in paying for my ticket. As I handed the ticket to the same woman that denied my original access, she gave me a smile and said "You never know, our cafeteria is very allergy-friendly and probably has plenty of options for you! Just ask the attendants!" I smiled and said thank you.

But, inside I was enraged. She doesn't know anything about food allergies, let alone mine! As I looked around at the different buffet options, the only thing I saw that might have been acceptable if I hadn't brought a lunch would have been the salad bar. But upon closer inspection, everything was a mess and mixed together due to the self serve option, and definitely a hazard with my carrot and dairy allergies.

As I went to sit down, I shook my head in frustration. But while eating my own safe lunch, I happily ate my sandwich, knowing that I was safe, and I had friends looking out for me, even if the people at this school weren't.

-Alli

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Supposedly Clean Frying Pan That Wasn't So Clean

The other day in a rush, I was frying some chicken dogs on a pan for dinner. When they were almost done, I noticed some spots on the pan that looked like some sort of sauce. This immediately caught my attention as I knew it could be an allergen threat. It came straight out of the cabinet, so it should have been clean. Someone must have washed it, and not realized it wasn't completely clean! Even though I was hungry, I gave the hotdogs to my mom because I knew it was better to be safe than sorry. (I ended up having some meatballs instead.)

Everything worked out and I stayed safe. I was just happy that I caught the accidentally dirty dish!

Has anyone else ever been caught in a situation like this? Share in the comments below!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Coffee Cake in a Mug (Microwaved!)

I was bored today after school, and decided to find a recipe that I could cook in a mug, and I found this on Chocolate Covered Katie: The Healthy Dessert Blog, and I absolutely loved it! I followed the recipe below, and as seen in the picture, it only filled half of the mug. (I suggest doubling the recipe to completely fill the mug.)

Milk, Egg, Soy, Nut, and Peanut Free


Batter:
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/16 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp water
2 tsp melted milk free, soy free margarine (can be substituted for oil or applesauce)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Streusel:
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 and 1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp melted milk free, soy free margarine (can be substituted for oil or applesauce again)
Tiny pinch of salt

Combine dry batter ingredients and mix. Add wet batter ingredients in and mix. In a separate bowl, mix streusel ingredients. Put half of batter in the mug, then layer on top half of the streusel. Add the second half of the batter, and on top of that the other half of the streusel. Bake in the microwave for about 1 minute. However, the time may vary depending on your microwave, so add 10 seconds on until you find it desirable.

Please remember to double check all ingredients for your food allergens. Enjoy!

-Alli

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who Am I?

“What do you eat?!?” is a question I’m commonly asked. But to me, living with food allergies isn’t about what I can and can’t eat, but the attitude with which I handle them. I’ve been living with food allergies ever since I was diagnosed at 4 months old. Yet within my life, I have never once gotten out of bed with a groan thinking that it was just going to be another day where I couldn’t eat like everyone else. Granted, I’ve woken up groaning due to bio tests or a long day of chores ahead of me, but I promise, never because of my food allergies. How have I done it, you ask? I just realize that there is more to me than just being "The Girl with Food Allergies". I just take a step back and remember who I am. 
But, who am I?

I am a teenager.
I sometimes can’t believe I’ve grown up so fast.
I am a mathematician .
Okay I just like math,especially algebra. (But NOT geometry!)
I am a writer.
Whether its entries in a journal, releasing my emotions in poetry, or adding to my blog
I am an extrovert.
I walk/skip around my house (okay-in public too) singing because it makes me happy.
I am a discoverer.
I enjoy going for walks to take in the beauty around me.
I am a photographer.
I capture single moments of that beauty with my camera. I’m pretty much obsessed with photography.
I am an actress.
I love acting in my school musicals and Shakespeare club, along with summer shows.
I am a sister.
I enjoy teasing my little brother at every chance I get. I miss my sister in college and enjoy the time and laughter I share with my other sister who's a senior in high school.
I am a daughter.
I love my parents and always hope that I am making them proud.
I am a friend.
I'll go through everything and anyone to help and protect my friends.
I am a scaredy-cat.
I’m easily scared. Really easily. I’ll hear my sisters sneaking up behind me and still jump a mile when they say “boo”.
I am a midget.
I’m 4’11” (and ¾”!) I pretend to be annoyed by short jokes, but really I find them just as funny as everyone else.
I am a memorizer.
I can quote practically all of Nemo and Up (along with many other Disney Pixar movies) and I am not ashamed.
I am a bookworm.
I’m a “hiding-under-the-covers-flashlight-on-promising-myself-to-read-only-one-more-page-until-2am” kind of girl.
I am a cheerleader.
I have a happy and peppy personality to match! (proven by the exclamation point)
I am an appreciator.
I think sunrises and sunsets are the most beautiful things a person can witness.
I am an advocator.
I speak up for what I believe in. And I’m loud...now that I think about it…probably too 
loud.
I am a mariner.
I love boating on the ocean. I love the sound of the waves splashing against the hull of a boat, the smell of the salty air, and the wind whipping around me.
I am an achiever.
I set goals and work hard day in and day out to reach them.
I am a perfectionist.
Everything I create or do has to be done a certain way...I guess I’m a little OCD.
I am a musician.
I sing and play trumpet. I live on music. (Seriously...I don’t remember life before my
iPod.)
I am an architect.
Not yet, but I hope to be!
I am a daydreamer.
I imagine what my life will be like in 30 years, and what it will be like tomorrow.
I am a romantic.
I wonder what its like to fall in love and wonder when I will and who it will be with. I hope for a love like my parents’.
I am an optimist.
I always look at the bright side of any situation.
I am an individual.
I ignore what other people say about me because I am happy with who I am.

All these aspects make up who I am- NOT just my food allergies. Don’t get me wrong, my food allergies are a huge part of me; without them I would not be where I am today. I’ve found real friends and people that I know care about me because they are careful with my food allergies. I’ve learned to stand up for myself; my food allergies have given me confidence I never would have had otherwise. I’ve learned how to help others by helping them understand their food allergies through my blog and by being a member of FARE’s Teen Advisory Group. I raise awareness by incorporating my allergies into school assignments. I’ve done a presentation on the FAAN/ FAI merger into FARE, and I’ve even written a poem for my English class (Never Make Me Cry) about living with food allergies that brought strangers to tears.

When I’m asked the question, “What do you eat?!” I never once think that I’m lacking anything in my life. I never let this question get me frustrated or upset. Because I know that I express myself and live with my food allergies by doing what I do best.

By being me.

Plain, and simple.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

False Sense of Security

After 15 years of living with food allergies, you would think that I would know exactly what brands I am and am not allergic to. And you would be right. Generally, anyway. However, this belief that I know every single brand that is and is not safe has given me a false sense of security.

Friday night, I was cheerleading at my football team's game at a field an hour from my home. A parent brought bags of chips for us girls to eat during halftime since we were missing some girls and therefore weren't able to perform our halftime dance. I grabbed a bag of chips that I've had frequently in my school cafeteria. I read the ingredients at the beginning of the school year and they were safe. I ate them quickly in my hunger, but almost immediately upon completing the bag, my tongue got itchy. Believing that the chips were safe, I hoped that it was nothing. But following my instincts, I checked the ingredients again anyway. My heart stopped when I read "Contains: Milk" in dangerously bold letters. I asked my friend sitting next to me if these chips had always contained milk and when she responded yes, I was befuddled!

How could something that I've eaten so many times before, believing them safe and never having had a reaction to, all of a sudden cause me to react?

The situation complicated when I realized I had moved all my medicine from my cheer bag into my work bag, and forgot to put them back after work. I went up to my coach asking if our first aid kit had any Benadryl, and it didn't. We then looked through the football team's med-kit and still, nothing. Fortunately, one of the parents in the stands had overheard the issue and had Benadryl in her car. I ended up taking two pills. At this point I had a stomach ache as well. I called my mom, who was over an hour away picking my sister up, and informed her about the situation, but was confident in telling her I was fine. And fortunately, I was. By the end of my game, about 30 minutes later, I felt fine. On the bus ride home, I was completely knocked out by the dose of Benadryl, but I felt 100% better when I woke up back at the school.

What has this reaction taught me?

Never trust any brand, no matter how many times you've eaten it in the past. You could have misread and got lucky, like I did, or the company could change the ingredients without any notice.

I had a false sense of security when I opened and devoured that bag of chips. By the end of the bag, I realized that nothing is ever 100% safe.

-Alli

Post-Note: I was able to determine with my friends that the brand of chips that I reacted to at the game is different than the brand that I always have safely in school. They both have similar packaging and that's what confused me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Friendly "Ghost"

Last night, my family arrived home from a long day out, and were happily surprised when we discovered that we were "Ghosted". As most of you probably know, this is when you leave candy and treats at someone's doorstep and anonymously ringing the doorbell. Upon being ghosted, you then have to ghost 2 other houses within 48 hours.

This "Ghosting" was different than any other my family has ever received in past Halloweens. The treat we were given was graham crackers and marshmallows- a s'more minus the chocolate, making it allergy friendly. To top it off, within the zip-lock bags containing the crackers and marshmallows, there were the ingredient labels as well! Someone out there, a family friend and neighbor, took into consideration our food allergies while putting together their secret "Ghosting" and my brother and I definitely appreciate it!

If our "Ghost" is reading this right now, thank you! I hope you understand how much it means that someone knows and cares about our food allergies!

If you have been "Ghosted" and are about to pass it on, find out if the children have food allergies and take it into consideration when choosing the treat.

Have a happy and allergy-friendly Halloween!

-Alli

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Field Trip Support Team

A question posed to me yesterday asked how I deal with going on field trips by myself.

Now at the age of fifteen, I like to believe that I am independent and can take care of myself. On the other hand, I'm sure every teenage girl says the same thing. However, with food allergies, independence becomes much more necessary with my own safety on the line. So, when it comes to going on field trips, I've learned the best way to stay safe. What is it you ask? I simply bring all my own food and medicine. Last year, as a trumpeter in my school's wind ensemble, I went on a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia for three days. Before the trip, I planned and packed three meals per day that I could easily heat up, along with plenty of snacks. By talking to my trip's coordinator, I made sure that I would have access to a microwave. Coincidentally, the microwave that I had access to ended up being conveniently in my own room! Every morning when getting ready for the day, I heated and placed my meals in containers to bring along with me in my backpack. Also in my backpack, I kept my inhaler, Benadryl, and Epipens easily accessible.

Even though the question that was brought to my attention asked me how I handle going on field trips by myself, in reality I am never alone. My independence and understanding are key to my success on field trips, but my support team- made up of my teachers, friends, and family- is even more important. On this trip, another set of my medicine was kept with one of my teachers who volunteered to be my administer if it became necessary and I was unable to do so myself. I showed my friends where my medicine was being kept and asked them to help me if I needed it and the teacher was inaccessible. My friends easily agreed to this and were even "fighting" over who was the most responsible and therefore most trustworthy with my Epipen. I also had both of my sisters on the trip, as they were in the band as well.

So even though I was figuratively alone on this trip without my parents to guide me, I was never truly alone. With these people as my support team, I was able to feel safe and stay safe during my trip. Whether the field trip is for 3 days or 3 hours, someone is always there to support you and help you with your food allergies. You are never alone in this fight.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

7000 and Counting!

Thank you to everyone that follows me! I have reached over 7000 views on my blog and have 164 likes on my corresponding Facebook page! Follow me on both for the most information!

When I first started this blog, I thought no one would ever actually take the time to read it, but over a year later, I know differently. The positive comments and feedback is amazing to me, and it's because of everyone reading this that I have continued to post on this blog! I'm glad you all enjoy it!

Please don't forget, I would love to hear what YOU want me to write about! Do you have questions that you want answered? Does your child/friend/parent? I am here to help!

Thank you again!! <3

-Alli

Friday, September 20, 2013

Endless

The one question I get asked a lot, second only to "What do you even eat?", is "What is a reaction like?" Whether it is coming from my friends, moms of food allergic children, or even my own mom, I've never really known how to answer it. And if you're one of the people that have asked me, then you have probably noticed how I tend to skirt around the question or that I'm just incapable of answering. Honestly? I did that not because I didn't want people to know, but because I really just didn't know how to put it into words and be able to describe it accurately. And I've lived 15 years never knowing how to describe it. Until now. So this is to everyone that has ever asked me: "What is a reaction like?"
Here is your answer:

Endless

Poison

Danger
It lingers in the distance.
It settles in the pit of my stomach.

Hope 

Prayer
The silent wish that I am wrong.
The overpowering evidence that I am right.

Realization 

Doom
The tears lingering behind my eyes.
My refusal to let them fall.

Strength

Acceptance
Admitting to my mistake.
The shame found hiding within my words.

Regret

Apology
The fear behind my mother's eyes.
The love felt within her comforting touch.

Pain

Exasperation
The cry that wants to escape my unparting lips.
The longing for everything to disappear.

Relief

Freedom
The gasp of air as the pain slowly releases its unrelenting grip.
The sigh that falls with the strength of my body.

End.

Temporary.



-Alli

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

America's Candy - All Natural, Vegan and Allergy Friendly

My cousin discovered this and shared a link with me so I can inform all of you! There is a new candy possibly coming out called No No's. It is an M&M-like candy that has a milk-free chocolate coating and a marshmellow center. What do you think? Will you back up this product? Why or why not?

America's Candy - All Natural, Vegan and Allergy Friendly

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Braving Boy Scouts

Today my brother was sent off to a week of boy scout camp for the second time. Except, the difference between last year and this year, is that my brother is alone. Well, that is, without my mom or dad. Dealing with food allergies by yourself for a whole week all by yourself is hard; at the age of 12, its even harder! He is the first to go on a trip by himself for longer than 3 days, but my mom packed all his food and created a whole schedule of when he's eating what. He was a little nervous, but super excited. I know he'll be fine, and I'm really proud of my little brother and I hope he knows it!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vacation Bible School

Today was the start of Vacation Bible School and I was so excited to be a crew leader and volunteer for the second year! What made today even more exciting was when the woman in charge of snacks came up to me and told me she specifically requested me to be in charge of a group of preschoolers. Why? Because one of them has a severe dairy allergy. When I met the little boy, he was absolutely adorable! When I told him at snack time the snack was safe for him, he gave me the biggest smile. That made my day! I am so glad adults are becoming more aware of food allergies when planning snacks at events like this. I'll give you more updates on how the rest of this week goes.

Wish me luck!

-Alli

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Allergy-Free Trip Follow Up

I just returned from my 4 day Wind Ensemble trip on Sunday, and everything went very smoothly! There were no issues with the food at all! A bonus was that my roommates and I ended up with the largest room out of everyone that came with a mini fridge AND a microwave! I was able to easily store and cook my food as necessary!

A short story that I'd like to share from this trip:
While on the bus ride down, I decided to show my friends I was sitting near where my Epipen was and how to use it if it became necessary. Even though I already had a trained chaperone and my sisters with me, I thought it would be good to have them as backup. As it turned out, most of them already knew how to use it! Not only that, but they were fighting over who would take the responsibility of injecting me. They showed me that they weren't afraid to step up and help if it became an emergency situation (which fortunately it didn't!) I have good friends and it was a fun trip!

If anyone has questions on any specific details of my trip, just comment and I'll tell you!
Thanks for reading!

-Alli