Traveling with Allergies

Have you found yourself in a “pickle”, trying to weigh pros and cons and decide whether or not you will be able to travel safe? Ever turned down opportunities without trying to find a work around for your food allergies?

Here’s an article I wrote for the AAIA a few yrs ago, that is still very valid. Have a read, let me know what you think! =)

A Lifetime of Experiences - By Erika Ladouceur

 

Tips for teens when eating out, a short article I wrote..

A short Article I wrote for the AAIA in 2007… from the following link on the Allergy/Asthma Information Associations website: http://aaia.ca/en/tips_for_teens_when_eating_out.htm

Tips for Teens When Eating Out

by Erika Ladouceur, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

There are a number of different ways of approaching different situations from eating out, to going to a friend’s house etc. These are a couple things I keep in mind when I eat out. Precautions are a good thing.

  • If you or an adult is calling the restaurant ahead of time for a reservation, you might want to mention your allergy then. This way the staff/chef will know in advance and possibly set up a meal for you and if not, they will be more prepared when you go for supper etc. (Less to worry about the night of, especially if it’s a birthday party or celebration.)
  • Make sure that you carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you.
  • When you arrive at the restaurant, you can mention to the waitress who is serving you about your allergies, so it doesn’t come up at the same time as all the other orders. (Simply means the waitress is more likely to find out from the chef immediately because he/she doesn’t have to place other orders etc. You have their attention…)
  • Make sure you use the words “fatal” or “deadly” or “anaphylactic” when specifying your allergy. This will have a bigger impact then if you simply say: “I have an allergy to peanuts…” They will be more likely to understand the situation better.
  • Ask for sauces or salad dressings on the side… That way if you see you can’t have the dressing or sauce, you won’t have to return the entire meal. They can just give you vinegar or oil or something else.
  • When in doubt STAY AWAY! If you don’t think something is safe even though the waiter or waitress seems to think it’s ok, avoid it. We know and understand our allergies as well as the foods that usually contain them..
  • Double check, even if you have been told prior that the food is safe.
  • Stay calm if you’re not feeling right, but tell someone right away even if you’re not sure if it really is relevant.

There are a number of different ways of approaching different situations from eating out, to going to a friend’s house etc. These are a couple things I keep in mind when I eat out. Precautions are a good thing…

Allergy food labels and warnings

As you may already know, there is a lot of discussion in the news about food labels and warnings for any of the common allergens. What are your thoughts? Here are a few of mine…

In my mind, moving to ONE phrase for every manufacture would be ideal.
There are soooo many different labels out there and the wording of these can go from extremely simple; “contains milk ingredients” to “strict manufacturing processes have been used to segregate … “at
It would be so nice to see all products having the same label AND I also believe the warning should be at the same place on all labels. Sometimes the warning is nowhere near the list of ingredients and can be small and easily missed.

What are your thoughts?

When we first started dating…

I thought this might be a reasonable topic for Valentine’s Day. :-)

Dating is something that used to worry me. When I was in high-school, I used to wonder how I could possibly have a boyfriend with all the allergies I had. The fear kept me pretty content with my “single” status, because at the time, I couldn’t imagine taking any extra risk.

I always told myself that the right guy would come along at some point. I always thought I would end up in a relationship with a guy who had multiple food allergies. In my mind, it just made so much sense! If we had similar allergies, then he wouldn’t have to change his diet very much, and I wouldn’t be a “burden” on him (whoever the guy might be).  My friends always joked and said that they would find me someone with just as many allergies as me.

I now find myself in a long term relationship with a guy that doesn’t have any allergies or asthma, and I am the happiest I have ever been!

When you have allergies, the thought of entering into a relationship with someone can be scary. It can feel embarrassing to bring up the topic, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time. But in my experience, it’s important to talk about your allergies and asthma right from the start before the relationship develops further. If you bring it up in conversation, speak with confidence, and discuss the implications, then everything is on the table. It is important to show that you know how to manage your allergies, and that you are ready to share ideas, suggestions, and tips for them to help you avoid a reaction. If the other person is really interested in you and cares about you, they will ask questions and be willing to accommodate! Trust me on this one.

:-)

I am extremely lucky, because my boyfriend isn’t a big peanut or nut fan. When we first started dating, I showed him my epinephrine auto-injector and sent him home with a list of all of my major food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, soy, lentils) and less severe intolerances (dairy, wheat). We mostly cook together, but he also buys groceries and has made me dinner. If he’s not sure about an ingredient or food item, he’ll send me a text or call me. It has grown to be a very strong relationship in a very short period of time, because we have learned to trust one-another.

Communication in any relationship is key! If the guy or girl you are falling for truly cares about you, they will find ways to make it work. And you need to know that you are NOT a burden. That was my biggest challenge!

A Life’s Journey…

Tonight, I thought I would share a little something I put together a while ago when I was struggling to find a place to live, while being a full-time student at the University of Victoria. I am sure others can relate to the challenges and reality I mention below… I am once again trying to find a new place to live and well, once again, I am realizing how tough it is to find a “safe place” to call home. 

Living with anaphylaxis, severe food intolerances, allergies and asthma since childhood has had a major influence on my life. The cost of living for someone with severe allergies and asthma is much greater than the norm. Finding a suitable apartment within a students’ budget when you have severe pet allergies (dander) is challenging and almost impossible. When you add in sensitivity to molds, dust, etc. the search does not get any easier. The apartment has to be carpet free to ensure that there are no residues from past tenants (pet dander, smoke). The furniture in your apartment has to be free of any possible triggers, which means new furniture for the most part. Travel can be an issue, especially air travel when pets are allowed in the cabin. I wear a mask when I fly but am still extremely concerned and have symptoms related to peanut/nut residue, pet dander and/or strong scents/perfumes which are circulated through the ventilation system on the plane. Allergies/anaphylaxis and asthma should be considered as a disability. It makes life trickier and more of a stress financially, especially for students. If I did not have allergies, I could live with roommates, share on groceries or stay in residence and follow a meal plan. Without allergies and asthma, I would not spend so much time reading labels and having to travel to 3 different stores for groceries. I would not get sick (occasionally causing me to miss school) after being around someone with pets/had smoked or was wearing perfume.

A safe place to live:

No smoke
No pets around and No roommates who may have dander/hair on clothes
New furniture so there are no triggers (pet, smoke)
No carpets
Windows for ventilation
Ideally not have forced air (have separate ventilation system)
Proper kitchen since everything is cooked from scratch
Newer building/house where there is little/no mold and is not “stuffy”
Proper air purifier to remove possible allergens
No Perfumes/ strong scents

Healthy Lifestyle (Extra time to prepare and more costly):

No processed foods/ foods with preservatives (soy)
No Gluten, wheat, nuts, peanuts, legumes