Food Allergy Awareness Month 2015: Because No One Should Feel Alone

Spring is here—the sun is shining, pollen is reducing us to tears, and everywhere people are preparing to band together to raise awareness about food allergies. May is Anaphylaxis Canada’s Food Allergy Awareness Month. FAAM began in 2010 as an effort to promote a sense of community and belonging, and to educate people about food allergies.

I remember the isolation I felt as a kid growing up with allergies. It wasn’t until my teens, when I started mentoring kids who had allergies and asthma, that I understood that there were others like me. Not everyone has that kind of opportunity, so it’s important to start early to help promote a sense of inclusivity and understanding.

But what can you do to help? Why Risk It?, Anaphylaxis Canada’s teen-centric site, has a whole list of ways you can participate, but I’m going to challenge you to my own version:

  • Tweet a funny, sad, or inspirational140-character story about your allergy experiences using the hashtags #FAAM2015 or #NoOneIsAlone.
  • Tell at least one person a day about food allergies or FAAM during the month of May.
  • Post about allergy awareness and FAAM on Facebook or your own blog.
  • Share this post with family and friends.

Dating with Allergies: Don’t Kiss Until You Tell

Dating with Allergies: Don’t Kiss Until You Tell

You’re on a first date.  Your date leans in. It’s going to happen: the first kiss. But instead of thinking of him, you’re wondering if you’re about to have an allergic reaction. You meant to tell your date before now, but it’s so awkward to bring up when you don’t know each other. You don’t know how he’ll react. Telling a new partner that you have allergies is never easy. Your allergies put responsibility on your partner’s shoulders, as well as your own, and not every potential partner is up to the challenge.

The first time I went out with my boyfriend, he asked me out for frozen yoghurt. I said no, and had to explain to him that because fro-yo places use nut toppings, I couldn’t eat anything there. Luckily, he was supportive, and agreed to go out for tea instead. By taking food out of the equation, we were able to focus on getting to know one another without the stress of dealing with my allergies.

Sure, instead of training someone how to deal with your allergies, you could try to date someone with the same allergies as you. Sites like Singles with Food Allergies and Allergic Attraction exist to connect singles with allergies. But so far they’re only available in the US, so we Canadians had better get in training mode.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up from many years of floundering in the dating pool:

  • Tell your date about your allergies BEFORE you go out. This won’t work in every circumstance, but the general rule here is, the sooner the better. Be upfront about the severity of your allergies, and what impact they have on your life. Maybe it’s not the spiciest topic of conversation, but getting it out there before anything physical happens ensures that your partner can avoid your allergens on your date, so you don’t have to be scared when they lean in for a kiss.
  • Keep your first date food-free. If you take food out of the equation, you can focus on getting to know one another, without the added stress of checking with a restaurant.
  • Always carry two or more Epipens or Allerjects. Yeah, the small clutch may be cuter, but it’s not worth the risk.
  • Train them how to use an Epipen or Allerject. You can get free trainer kits through the Epipen and Allerject websites. You can even have fun with it. Guys have a surprising amount of fun pretending to stab you in the leg. (Warning: layer up. The trainers may not have needles, but they will make your leg sore if your partner tries it twenty times. Make sure to stress that they just have to hear the pen “click”. No need to re-enact the shower scene from Psycho.)
  • Let them ask questions. A good partner will want to know how to keep you safe. Ask them what their concerns are. Yes, allergies are serious, but they’re also easily navigated if you know what you’re doing.
  • On that note, keep them informed. I’ve found the best way to get your partner comfortable with allergies is to give them up-to-date information about your allergen triggers, how to read labels, etc. My boyfriend even went so far as to research allergy information himself—but since the internet is full of misinformation, make sure they have access to accurate allergy websites, such as this handy list of resources from Anaphylaxis Canada.

Do you have any tips or tricks for dating with allergies? What’s your best (or worst) allergy story?