Newly diagnosed food allergies. Moms of kids with food allergies. Third-generation food allergy family members. Foodies with food allergies (!). Food allergy medical experts looking for cures.
And companies like SunButter looking to be part of the solution.
All these people (and more) gathered at the very first Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABCon), the brain-child of Homa Woodrum, who blogs at OhMahDeehness and Jenny Sprague of MultipleFoodAllergyHelp.
Homa and Jenny.
SunButter was proud to meet so many of the people who have taught us so much over the years, from how to make clever allergen-free lunches to advocating for kids–and smiling with empathy at the folks who “just don’t get it.”
The one big thing we learned at FABlogCon?
You’re not alone.
It may feel like it. The world is full of nuts (no comment), wheat, hidden dairy, masked eggs and other allergens. How do you avoid what you can’t have yet still eat healthy? How do you help your child(ren) safely navigate school lunch rooms, snack time, grocery aisles, sleepovers, restaurants and summer camp?
Here are some of the best resources for those dealing with several prominent aspects of food allergies. We couldn’t include every detail, but we are sharing some of what we learned at FABlogCon based on several of the conference speakers. After all, that’s served us well so far in this great community: Sharing the best information so we all benefit.
What (and how) do you feed your family?
One of our favorite FABlogCon sessions was “The Art of Recipe Development,” which featured three amazing bloggers:
- Cybele Pascal, the allergy-friendly cook, is our go-to source for delicious, allergy-friendly recipes. We also learned she uses two (count ‘em, two) thermometers in her oven. We see more fool-proof baking in our test kitchens on the horizon, thanks to Cybele’s great tips!
- Like you, Colette Martin had to re-invent her family’s eating styles when her son was diagnosed with food allergies. She’s now working on her second cook book. Turn to her at LearningToEatAllergyFree.
- Kelly Rudnicki is The Food Allergy Mama, and she has easy, fast family meal ideas and more info on her blog.
How do you dine out?
Dr. Lama Rimawi of Tasterie and Nona Narvaez of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota teamed up with tips for safely dining out. Communication is key. When you make a reservation, detail your food allergies. Also mention them to the host or hostess and your server. “A good restaurant will send the chef to your table. If they don’t, ask to speak with the chef or manager.” If you or someone in your group does have a reaction, tell the restaurant. If it doesn’t get reported, there’s no tracking so others are at risk. Good restaurants want to accommodate all diners.
How will you ever go on vacation?
Veronica LaFemina and her team at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) have great tips on traveling with food allergies.
FABlogCon attendee Sarah Norris has you covered, too. Her blog, Gluten Free and Dairy Free at Walt Disney World, gives you reviews and practical tips for navigating this family getaway spot.
How do you effectively advocate?
A panel and conference discussions produced proven approaches to dealing with family members, schools and other audiences so those with food allergies are safe–yet their parents don’t become “that annoying person.” If you need guidance on building alliances, consider visiting these speakers’ blogs:
- Caroline Moassessi at GratefulFoodie
- Elizabeth Goldenberg at OneSpot Allergy; Elizabeth is a leading allergy legal expert, allergy mom and brand advocate who posts reliable allergy alerts and spot-on practical information
- Daniella Knell of SmartAllergyFriendlyEducation, who has mastered using well-placed, positive energy to keep food allergy kiddos safe while educating even the most reluctant other parents
What new medical research can help me?
Dr. Eric Edwards shared his story: He and his twin brother were diagnosed with food allergies as kids. By the time they were teenagers, they were tired of lugging around the cumbersome epinephrine injector in case either had an allergic reaction. They set out to create a more compact version, carefully planning their college courses and undergraduate projects. Auvi-Q (Allerject in Canada)was approved last year. Read Dr. Edwards’ story in his words.
Henry Ehrlich presented encouraging research on food allergies. If you don’t already subscribe, his AsthmaAllergiesChildren site offers accurate, timely information and reliable resources. His cousin, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, is a leading allergy physician, too: think Henry has the inside track on info? Several conference participants told us they’ve used info from Henry’s site to ask their own doctors about best meds and other approaches that have helped their kiddos with allergies.
How do you maintain a smile?
For an empathetic view of dealing with food allergies, look to:
- Erica at Celiac and the Beast, for reviews of gluten-free products, restaurants and new foods (she’s the first to admit she is not a cook), plus helpful info–all with just the right refreshing level of sass as she deals with celiac and other food sensitivities.
- Susan Weissman, author of Feeding Eden, a candid, powerful yet also humorous account of her family’s adaptation to food allergies. We think Feeding Eden ought to be required reading for everyone dealing with food allergies.
- Tiffany Glass Ferreira at Food Allergy Fun; our personal favorite of her creations:
For more information on FABlogCon, check out their conference wrap-up blog post.