Live Courageously with Food Allergies: Online Summit Nov. 3-6

Avoid eating those foods.

That’s the only direction the doctor gave me when I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and celiac disease as an adult. Little did I know then that eliminating dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and many more foods from my diet would be as challenging as climbing Pikes Peak with a backpack full of rocks.

The first thing I did after leaving the doctor’s office was go grocery shopping. Big mistake. Reading the back of packages, looking for processed foods that didn’t contain dairy, soy, or gluten, tears streaked my face. Even the organic health foods in the special freezer section contained soy! What was I going to eat? How would I feed my family?

Then came my first meal out. By the time I eliminated all my allergens, I was left with steamed broccoli and applesauce.  I’ll never forget my first plane trip after diagnosis when I didn’t pack any safe food.  All I could find to eat in the airport was a bag of potato chips.

Food Allergy Wellness Summit

I was alone with my food restrictions and stressed and maybe even a bit depressed. In my circle of family and friends, I was the only one with “food issues.” I felt like an outsider at social events and family gatherings and became somewhat reclusive. These weren’t my best years.

That’s why I’m so excited about the Food Allergy Wellness Summit, Nov. 3-6, that Crystal Sabalaske of Cluttershrink started. A busy mom with a house full of food allergies, Crystal dreamed up this Summit as a way to help families like hers. The Summit is online and free, so you can listen to the topics that interest you at your convenience.

You’ll learn how to:

  • travel and navigate social situations while staying healthy
  •  save money while buying gluten-free and allergen-friendly foods
  • send your kids to school and college with the know-how to keep them safe
  • apply updated medical expertise to help you manage your food allergies
  • reduce food allergy-related stress in family, friendship, and romantic relationships
  • enhance your well-being through nutrition
  • cook and bake sans allergens
  • organize your kitchen into a giant “safe zone”

An Allergic Foodie will share tips for the college celiac on Nov. 6, 2014 during Food Allergy Wellness Summit

I’m humbled to be speaking about college life with food restrictions with such a prestigious group of food-allergy experts, including:

This Summit is the guidance I wish I’d have after hearing the doctor say, “Avoid eating those foods.”

Sign up TODAY.

Food Allergies have many symptoms

We Didn’t All Grow Up with Food Allergies

Sitting at the hotel bar during a recent food allergy conference I was surprised–no, shocked– when two mothers of food-allergic children told me that adults shouldn’t need help coping with their allergies. They were wondering why I was at the conference. Now before you get angry, let me explain their side. They assumed all adults with food allergies had developed them as children. Hence, by adulthood, food-allergic folks should be experienced–physically and emotionally–at handling restrictions and reactions.

Imagine! I had no idea some people thought this way! Of course, I quickly took this opportunity to tell them how wrong they were.

I explained people can develop food allergies and celiac disease and other health issues requiring food restrictions at any time in life. I shared that my symptoms started in my late thirties, though it took nearly ten years to find out multiple food allergies, celiac disease, and eosinophilic esophagitis were the cause.

My kids ate everything–and I mean everything!–when they were little. Their food issues developed as teens. My oldest son realized dairy and eggs were off-limits in high school, and my youngest started showing signs of celiac disease his first year in college. I also mentioned one of my adult friends couldn’t eat dairy and gluten due to Crohn’s Disease and another developed life-threatening reactions to many foods in her thirties. Oh, and by the way, one of my favorite attendees at the conference was a spunky senior citizen with over 40 recently diagnosed food allergies and intolerances.

Adult with 40+ Allergies

After we were all on our second glass of wine, I may have suggested that getting diagnosed with food allergies as an adult may actually be more difficult than being diagnosed as a child. What I was trying to say is the food-allergic adults needed the conference as much as the parents of food-allergic kids did.  Figuring out all the foods containing soy, dairy, gluten and corn fell on my shoulders–I didn’t have mom and dad to guide me. My young adult sons taught themselves how to negotiate school cafeterias and participate in social activities with peers who didn’t get that food could make them horribly sick. My oldest even figured out how to eat dairy- and egg-free in Italy, the land of pizza and cheese.  After years of not needing to worry about allergy-friendly menus, or planes with peanuts, or explaining to family members why they couldn’t double-dip, becoming  “the weird person who can’t eat anything” is like being a foreigner in a new land–yet the doctors don’t offer any counseling.

I think the women were kind of tired of me by then. They wanted to get back to talking about preschools and camps. But this conversation opened my eyes to how some people may view adults with food allergies.  Will a waiter or chef who thinks I’ve managed celiac disease all my life  have a false sense of security that I know what I’m doing when ordering my food? Will my co-workers and friends not believe me when I become sick from food; after all, shouldn’t I know how to eat by now? My own mother doesn’t understand my health issues because I didn’t have food allergies as a child, so how can I expect strangers to understand?

Fortunately, there are those out there who do get it. The next few blog posts will focus on resources for teens and adults, starting with Erica Brahan’s “A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions: A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy.” Gotta love the title.

Please be sure to let me know of any resources I miss. And remember, I do know how difficult a later-in-life diagnosis is–I am here to help.

We Didn’t All Grow Up with Food Allergies first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.