A busy summer is winding down…

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Yeepers! For the last few weeks I’ve been telling myself it’s time for a new post, however it’s been very hectic over the summer. This morning I was surprised to see that my last post was July 3rd! I guess it has been quite some time…

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer! Our summer in Victoria British Columbia has been quite a nice one! We had a whole lot of sun which was wonderful. As a kayak coach, I was lucky enough to spend a good part of the summer on the water in a coach boat. A real treat. What was your summer like? Any family vacations or camping trips? This summer I’ve been dealing with injuries and it’s meant that I wasn’t as active as I would have liked to be, however I’m hoping next summer can make up for this one, with hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and camping trips.

One of the major highlights of my summer was a visit from a family in Calgary who has a child with severe food allergies, which, I met through this very blog! They had read my blog early in may and had reached out to me asking if I had any tips on things to do in Vancouver or Victoria, restaurants that were allergy conscious and safe and places to stay. We corresponded for 2 months and the family decoded they were Victoria bound! I was extremely excited to meet one of my readers and supporters from Calgary!

Combining two busy schedules was tricky, however we managed to spend their last afternoon in town together out on the water! We took the kids out for some kayaking and canoeing. It was so inspirational for me to meet a reader who so strongly believed in what I write and who I aspire to be. To meet her family was wonderful. It was almost magical. We had only corresponded by email, yet it felt like I already knew them . They were my friends. It was an experience like no other. I look forward to the next time we will meet! Perhaps I’ll visit Calgary next. :)

Though this summer has been a busy one, it has been a great one. I have spent much more time focusing on me and trying to overcome injuries and other health challenges. My asthma symptoms have also been significantly better over the last 2 months which is extremely exciting! Throughout this busy time, the two things I never skipped were my immunotherapy treatments. Both sublingual and subcutaneous, as they have continued to make a HUGE difference in my allergies and asthma and I know that skipping them will make my allergies and asthma worse. Immunotherapy is one of my biggest health priorities! What is your biggest health priority?

 

 

 

A Healthy Snack!

Today is a beautiful sunny day, here in Victoria, BC. I woke up bright and early to get an early start on the day. With an early breakfast, I was craving a snack… What was my go to? Seaweed! Yes, you heard that right! :)

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Have you ever had seaweed? You may want to consider it once you read the nutritional benefits. There are a great deal of resources out there that discuss benefits of seaweed. Here is one I like. http://paleodietlifestyle.com/eat-this-seaweed/ I recommend reading about seaweed, if you are considering joining the “seaweed bandwagon”, so to speak. I must admit however, that the taste is pretty unique, and it’s not for everyone… So if it’s not quite your cup of tea, I get it. Personally I love it. They are like a chip replacement for me! A bit of salt, with the savoury of olive oil. Nowadays, there are different varieties out there.. The brand I love currently makes a few different varieties. So shop around and see what you can find!

The seasnax brand I LOVE uses olive oil as opposed to other oils. They have small packages as seen below and larger sheets. I usually buy the larger sheets and break them up.

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What are your thoughts on seaweed? Already part of your diet? Considering trying it? No way? Let me know!

PLEASE know that if you have a shellfish allergy, seaweed may not be an option for you. Always read your labels, know what you are eating, and ALWAYS do your research if it is something completely new. Be AWARE.

Training Camps and Food Allergies

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When I was younger, I competed regionally and provincially in sprint kayak. Now, I am coaching athletes, here on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia. I was recently invited to join the provincial team for their training camp, over on the mainland, which I attended this past weekend.

This camp was the first one I have attended as a coach. When I competed in kayak and cross-country skiing, I attended numerous training camps. Planning food for these camps became almost second nature for me, as I attended so many of them. Attending this camp, even though I was not an athlete, brought back memories of when I used to plan out meals, how to keep my food safe and away from others who ate peanut butter and other nuts as protein, at these camps. Being an athlete with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and lentils, means you are constantly surrounded by those allergens.

Often times I would bring my own coolers and keep things out of the fridge. If we had a kitchen, I would bring a separate sponge, my own cutlery and have a separate drying towel, so I did not dry my cutlery with a towel that may have some peanut or other residue on it from an improperly washed plate or other. There are many things to think about when you are in a different environment, surrounded by others that live off of the foods that can cause anaphylaxis for you. My first camp, I was terrified. I quickly learned ways to stay safe and learned the best ways to communicate my food allergies to my fellow athletes. The coaches always new, however it was hard to get other teens to understand how serious it was for me…

I’ll be writing more on this topic soon. I figured it was time for a post and thought this topic may spark some conversation.

Have any of you been to training camps? What have you done to stay safe, or how have you helped your children stay safe if they went to training camps away from home? Whether it be a day, two days, or a week, there are many similarities in planning, communication to fellow athletes and coaches. Are there challenges you have faced when trying to communicate the severity of food allergies?

How has your dad supported you?

Erika and Dad

Today I’d like to dedicate my post to my father. An amazing man who has been there every step of the way. He’s always stood by me, whether it be in -30 degrees or + 30 degrees! My dad has been my rock. Living with food allergies and asthma, there are ups and there are downs. As a teenager, my dream was to make it to the Olympics one day and to race internationally, in cross-country skiing! My family and friends were always extremely supportive and I am extremely fortunate.

Winters were always EXTREMELY busy, with races pretty much every weekend when I was at the more competitive levels. My dad and I were constantly away. We were a two man team a lot of the time, he would wax my skis and I would race my heart out. When I was in competitive sport, I never felt sad about my food allergies, or frustrated about my asthma. My dad would remind me to take my inhalers 30 minutes prior to my race and within a few minutes of my start as prescribed by my doctor. And he would have safe snacks for me after my race when I was needing energy! Together we made a terrific team! My dad would give me pep talks before each race and help me ease my nerves leading up to larger races. I loved hearing about how in the wax hut he had heard of a new trick to make my skis even faster, and other tips he’d gotten from other coaches or parents.

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He was always on the sidelines cheering me on and he was always there to cover me in a blanket or bring me my coat after the race.

My dad has always known how to enjoy the moment. We’ve had some fairly competitive races around the tracks and I will never forget those! Our family seems to get really competitive in Go Karts! I love it! :)

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In the summer it was cross-training in sprint kayak and training camps. He was always driving me around, just like the cross-country skiing races. I am fortunate to have a dad who goes out of his way to make things work, to find a solution and to keep us all smiling. So thank you dad. Thank you for being there for me every step of the way.

What are some of the greatest things your dad has done for you? Or perhaps moments you will always remember…

 

Another TERRIFIC Social Support Opportunity for Children and Youth across Canada with Asthma!

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The University of Alberta Social Support Research Program is looking for Aboriginal Children and Youth to participate in an 8 week online social support program led by Aboriginal Peer Mentors from across Canada!

They are currently recruiting:

  • Aboriginal Children (7-11 yrs)Aboriginal Youth (12-16 yrs)
  • Aboriginal Peer Mentors
  • Health Professionals

Benefits to children and youth include:

  • Practical/Informational, Emotional & Affirmational Support
  • Decreased feeling of isolation
  • New friends
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased coping skills

They have recruiting flyers and other great resources on the Downloads page of their website! Two Videos await you !!!

Be sure to visit the Asthma-riginal website for more information :)

 

 

A weekend of safe meals away from home!

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This past weekend, I felt extremely safe with all my meals, even though I was far from home! The conference I attended was held at Kingbridge Conference Centre & Institute. The kitchen staff had been provided a list of all my allergies by the conference organizers prior to the conference. Meals were buffet style for starters and breakfasts, and plated for the main meals. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would mention to a waitress that I was the one with multiple food allergies. They would nod, tell me to have a seat and shortly after, one of the kitchen managers would bring my plate out to me. The food was great and the staffs attention to my allergies and full understanding and appreciation of the severity of them was one of a kind.

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Each meal, I felt included. My meals were almost identical to everyone else’s plates! They did a wonderful job at every meal. They even had a sorbet for me and a nice strawberry and mint fruit cup.

I had dessert with every dinner! A real treat :)

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Thank you Kingbridge Conference Centre & Institute for such wonderful service. The staff were friendly and always smiling! Good safe food, attentive staff, a beautiful venue with squash, tennis and basketball courts, indoor and outdoor pool, an indoor running track and walking trails makes this Centre the perfect getaway!!!

If you are looking for a place to stay somewhere near Toronto I HIGHLY recommend a visit! The staff will take great care of you.

For food allergy and environmental allergy accommodations, I rate them as a 10/10.

 

A good night’s sleep ahead!

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Tonight I am staying at the Kingbridge Conference Centre & Institute for a conference. Upon arrival I had a few questions I asked the hotel staff to ensure I would have a good night’s sleep, and a safe stay. I asked whether the hotel was entirely pet-free, and whether or not there were windows in the room. Lucky for me, no pets, and large doors instead of windows! We’ve had the door open ever since we arrived and the room is less stuffy and my allergies are not too bad, in comparison to other hotels I’ve stayed at. The staff have been EXTREMELY accommodating with my allergies and have made my first day here a success.

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These are a few questions I normally ask when I first call in and book a hotel.

  • Do you allow pets in the hotel? Are there rooms that have never had a pet?
  • Do the windows open in the rooms?
  • I have severe allergies to cleaning products and chemicals/perfumes. Can you please have them no spray any perfumes or use other scented fragrances and possibly clean the room with a mild cleaning agent, or vinegar?
Often times I’ve “shopped around” if there are no windows or patio doors that open. When I arrive to check-in, there is usually special attention given and on several occasions, I have had a note from managers sitting on the desk when I entered the room. 
Have you ever stayed in a hotel? When you are planning a trip or heading to a conference, what do you do beforehand?
Tonight is bound to be a good night of sleep! Time to call it a day. :)