Keeping friends who understand food allergies close

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A few days ago, I wrote a post about my emotions around food allergies and how I have learned to from my experiences. I shared with you that I cope with fear by asking for help. I am not afraid to ask for help and know that if I don’t feel safe, then I don’t challenge or question that feeling. I have learned to trust my gut. There were a few comments shared around people who truly understand your allergy, or that of a loved one. About trust. These comments had me thinking… I am very fortunate to have the friends I have, who I can trust with my food allergies. They are the ones who will go out of their way to make sure I am safe and feel included. These are the friends we all need to keep really close.

I little while back, a good friend of mine invited me to her child’s birthday party. My friend knew I would not be able to eat the cake and asked me what cookie or muffin would be safe for me so she could get it for me. She went searching for the one brand of cookie I completely trust; Benjamin Bites. Little did I know, she had driven to several different grocery stores to try and find the cookie which they sell in individual packages, because it was not sold in every store or was out of stock. She is one of the friends I trust with my life. A friend I know will take every possible precaution when having me over for dinner to ensure that the meal is safe. A friend who will wipe down every single surface before I arrive to make sure that there wasn’t any peanut butter from the day before on the table, or a counter top. A friend who is not afraid to pick up the phone to call and double and triple check ingredients with me and precautions to take.

I have several friends that I often think might even take more precautions than I do; and I love that. I always feel safe. Even though I feel safe when these friends cook, I still ask questions, as I never want to let my guard down. That’s when accidents happen, accidents which could cost me my life. If my friends prepared the food without me in the kitchen, I ask about the prep, I ask about the ingredients that went into the meal, if there are labels, I re-read them all. Good friends never judge. They never question. They never feel that you don’t trust them because you want to re-read labels or feel uncertain about the utensils used to make the food. They want you to feel safe, and have a safe meal. They want to make sure you feel relaxed, and are not stressed. These are the friends we need to keep close. The friends we need to send thank you cards to out of the blue, just to let them know that their caring means so much to us. Openness, gratitude and appreciation go a long way.

Which friends would you trust with preparing food for you, or a loved one? Do they “get it”? How do you know when you can trust someone?

A roller coaster of emotions for those of us with food allergies

Erika Profile - China Beach

Anxiety. Fear. These are some of the things that those of us with food allergies feel or have felt on numerous occasions. Fear of a severe allergic reaction. Anxiety over the fact that the food may not be 100% safe for us to eat. We have all felt it. Sometimes we might even question how safe food prepared by a loved one is. And that is not because we don’t trust that person, might it be a parent, family relative or really close friend. It’s hard to explain. I’ve questioned food prepared by loved ones before. No one ever gets hurt by my asking. Often times, I just need to know what is in the food. I need to know exactly what went into it, what knives were used, what surfaces the food was prepared on and who prepared it. To some people it may seem like we are crazy. And that we are extremely anxious. Some might think we are too anxious. That we are worrying too much. Please do not worry about what others think. Let them think whatever they want. I know from my own experience that if I feel unsettled or feel some nerves before eating something, that the only way to settle those nerves is to find out exactly what I am eating, who prepared it and what was used to prepare it.

When you live with severe food allergies, there are times that you start to question everything. You wonder if the cereal you eat might have been made in the same facility that other products you are allergic to are made in, even if you or your parents called the manufacturer to inquire. We all have times in our lives, whether you have food allergies or not, where we feel more vulnerable. Sometimes we are scared of letting our guard down due to a recent close call. Other times, we are just in a different head space and anxiety kicks in. We start to question everything. When that happens, having family and friends close by to re-assure us and be our eyes and ears is the most important. We need to feel safe.

We hear about safety in the media; safety precautions with severe weather and when in dangerous neighborhoods after dark, safety at work, and staying indoors when there is a threat, only to name a few. For those of us with food allergies, we also experience fear over our own safety. No one can compare levels of anxiety or fear from one situation to another, because each situation is unique. Each situation likely had very different triggers or circumstances. It isn’t even fair to compare two different allergic reactions, even if it was two of my own reactions. I am always reminded to focus on the present. Not to dwell in the past. I use experiences from the past to help me in my present and in my future, however I do not let it consume me. Allergic reactions I had when I was a child have stayed with me. I remember exactly what happened, the drive to the hospital, and the fear that I might not make it to the hospital.

When I am extremely anxious about my food allergies, or get stressed out in a situation when someone is trying to make me safe food, I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster. Do you ever feel like that? I can feel calm, confident and collected one minute, then the next, I can be anxious and emotional. I don’t understand it. Someone out there might… I cannot explain it. All I know is that it’s ok. It’s ok to feel scared. It’s ok to be worried. It’s ok to feel emotional, and to shed a few tears. We are all human. We all have emotions. And we all have different triggers.

For those of us with food allergies. We fear a severe reaction. I have always told myself to embrace fear. To not let it overcome me. To use fear and anxiety in a positive way. To use it as a learning experience. When I look back on times when I feared a reaction and was emotional about it, I see the actions I took to make sure I was safe. I give myself a pat on the back for asking questions, for making sure everything was safe. When I am anxious, I tell someone. I don’t go it alone. Sharing the reason for your fear and anxiety with someone is the best thing you can do. So I urge you to please talk to someone when you feel scared. When you feel worried or anxious. You do not have to overcome that fear alone. Talk to your parents, your friend, someone you trust. Together you can figure out ways to manage your feelings and cope. Asking for help takes courage. Please do not be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone.

I have learned to speak up and ask for help. That is my greatest lesson learned.

Will you ask for help?

Spring time sweets!

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http://www.surfsweets.com/our-candy/spring-mix-jelly-beans/

If you live in Victoria, British Columbia, you know that spring is here! The Cherry Blossoms are in bloom as are many other flowers and trees. Unfortunately for many of us this means our seasonal allergies are starting to ramp up.

Looking for something to brighten your day from all your sneezing and nose blowing? Surf Sweets has a Spring Mix Jelly Beans which includes flavors like Tropical Punch, Lemonade, Watermelon, Mixed Berry, Tangerine and Pineapple! I don’t know about you, but I will be sure to pick up a bag. :)

Surf Sweets are the ONLY candy I eat and here are a few reasons why I love Surf Sweets so much!

  • Free of the 10 Most Common Allergens
  • Made in a Nut-Free Facility 
  • Dairy Free/Casein Free
  • Soy Free
  • Gluten Free

Homemade Valentines Day Chocolates with Strawberry Ice Cream! A Success!

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Wow! My attempt to make chocolate covered strawberry ice cream bonbons in the shape of hearts was a HUGE success!

I’ll post the recipe shortly! I had to make a few small changes to the one from Allergy Free Alaska as strawberries don’t have as much juice as raspberries do.

Did you have a safe Valentine’s Day?

Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bon Bons for Valentine’s Day

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Last year on Valentine’s Day I went looking for something I could make for my Valentine. The first place I went looking was Allergy Free Alaska‘s website as she has wonderful recipes and every single one I have tried to date turns out to be delicious! If you have never visited Allergy Free Alaska’s website, I highly recommend that you head on over there! A whole recipe index awaits you!

I went out and bought a mould for chocolates in the shape of hearts! They made perfect bite size chocolate bon bons! Our favourite were the raspberry ones! This Valentine’s Day, I am making a strawberry filling. Stay tuned to find out how they turn out :)

If you want to have a look at the recipe, click here!

These are free of the top 8 allergens! A must have! I make them with Enjoy Life’s small chocolate chips. Mmmmm off to the kitchen I go to make these delicious treats!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

A Valentine’s Day you will Remember – For all the Right Reasons!

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, wherever you go, you are likely to see boxes of chocolates in heart shapes, pink and red decorations and flower bouquets on sale for the special day. To be quite honest, I prefer a nice home cooked meal in the safety of our own home. No stress. And for flowers, my boyfriend is always careful as some smell very strong and can trigger my asthma. We like to keep Valentine’s Day simple. On Valentine’s Day, I like to stay in.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Click one of the following links below to see a few tips to prepare you for a wonderful Valentine’s Day, if:

You are the one with Food Allergies

Your date has Food Allergies

** Remember, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about food. You can go on a romantic date without any food! Like a nice skate, or ski or walk in the park. Perhaps even a hike, or if you live in Victoria, BC where there is not snow… A nice paddle. :)

Be safe and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

I know I will! :)

Valentine’s Day if your date has Food Allergies

If your date has Food Allergies, I have a few tips for you below.

Going out for a Valentine’s Day dinner?

  1. Your date may want to call the restaurant ahead of time to find out if they can accommodate their Food Allergies; some restaurants will not.
  2. Even if you wanted to keep the name of the restaurant a surprise, if your date asks, know that they will feel safer and more relaxed knowing that it is a restaurant where the staff is prepared to accommodate their Food Allergies.
  3. Lastly, order a meal that would also be safe for your date to eat. Your date will feel wonderful knowing that you want to eat something that is safe for them, and will make the evening more relaxed. Who knows, might even mean you get a nice kiss for being so thoughtful :)

Staying in for Valentine’s Day?

  1. Be sure that the ingredients used for your dinner are safe and there is no cross-contamination
  2. If your date asks to help you in preparing dinner allow them to help, even if you wanted to make dinner for them. Or, show them all the ingredients you plan to use and have your date help you ensure the kitchen is clean and they feel safe with the utensils, pans and dishes you plan to use. Personally, I feel safer using metal cooking utensils over plastic in a kitchen where my allergens may be present.
  3. If your date would like to clean utensils, pans, cutting boards and dishes before making dinner, go with it. Help them feel safe and relaxed. It’ll make the evening even more romantic and enjoyable if they feel supported and understood.
  4. Avoid eating things your date is allergic to for the one night. You can have them tomorrow. Keep this evening relaxed, fun and safe.
  5. If your date asks to have the evening free of all foods they are allergic to, don’t question it. You will have a wonderful Valentine’s Day evening without worry.

Wanting to give chocolates or another edible treat? 

  1. Double and triple check the labels – Look for a may contain statement which may not be close to the ingredient list.
  2. If you feel uncertain, skip the chocolates. Make homemade chocolates or buy some roses, write a nice card or be creative. Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to be about chocolates and candies.
  3. Tell your date that you tried to find chocolates however you were not sure if any of the ones you had found would have been safe. Your date will appreciate knowing that you wanted to find chocolates or candy or other however at the end of the day, you chose a safer option.

When in doubt, just speak up! :)

Have a safe and romantic Valentine’s Day and please leave your thoughts and comments below!