Friday, November 30, 2018

December Allergy Support Challenge

How Will You Spend Your December? 

While most of us are preparing for the holidays or trying to find the perfect gift for the perfect person, I wanted to share a new idea with all of you. It's a reverse holiday calendar- each day, you don't get a gift but rather, it gives you an option on how to share about food allergies. Those with food allergies sometimes feel even more stressed over the holidays, especially being surrounded by foods and anxious being invited to get togethers. This is my way of being able to ease some of those stresses. This is my way to give back and give someone else the reassurance that someone has their back. One idea for each day of December, will you take the December allergy support challenge with me?

red holiday December nature
Proudly Partnered with Red Sneakers For Oakley

December 1st Eat a Red Apple Day As you know, red is the official color for Red Sneakers For Oakley. Apples are rich in quercetin (a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties and can sometimes help ease allergies).

December 2nd Special Education Day Food allergies are something that require additional support and knowledge, why not share your favorite materials with others to help them understand.

December 3rd Make a Gift Day Imagine the smile on a child's face when they get a gift out of the blue and it's safe for them? Unsure of what is safe to share- how about this allergy-friendly paperweight.

December 4th Dice Day 1 in 13 are diagnosed with a food allergy. Ease the conversation of food allergy statistics with a family-friendly game of dice and let someone win brand new dice.

December 5th International Ninja Day Yes, even with food allergies you can be a ninja! Much like a traditional ninja, you must be stealthy and have a very keen sense of how to react in all situations.

December 6th Put on Your Shoes Day It doesn't matter what brand, type or size- sport your pair of red shoes and tell everyone why Red Sneakers For Oakley loves red shoes.

December 7th Cotton Candy Day Sometimes, someone with food allergies needs a safe treat too! Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy can be found for $1 a bag or go extreme and try a Cotton Candy Phillyswirl pop.

December 8th Pretend to Be a Timetraveler Day Embrace your food allergies! Take this day to go back to a time that you would have done or said something differently to make you even stronger.

December 9th Worldwide Candlelighting Day Is there someone that you would like to acknowledge or let them know they are not forgotten? Light a candle in the memory of the many children and young adults that we have lost to food allergies.

December 10th Human Rights Day You have choices and the right to choose what is best for your allergy needs. Exercise your rights- share your thoughts about health bills, write to a congressperson and let your voice be heard.

December 11th International Mountain Day Agriculture is important to our communities, especially with food allergies. Share how your family feels about the importance of sustaining natural resources.

December 12th Cocoa Day Many children with food allergies cannot enjoy hot cocoa because of cross contamination and allergens. Consider sharing a brand that may be safer for everyone to enjoy.

December 13th Violin Day Food allergies can be very stressful, why not use music to soothe anxiety? Researchers have documented that music can be effective for reducing pain in those with anxiety.

December 14th Lost & Found Day Have you been trying to hunt down ways to keep your food allergy items from getting lost? Visual reminders work best- personalized items can keep allergens from cross contact.

December 15th Cupcake Day DON'T be the person who tells someone it must be awful to not be able to eat a cupcake. Instead, ask them to share their favorite recipe and guide you to make it with them.

December 16th Chocolate Covered Everything Host a get together and ask friends to bring their favorite allergy-friendly chocolate and a side to cover it with. Be sure to use personalized skewers.

December 17th Clean Air Day Airborne allergic reactions are rare but they can occur. Consider where your foods are cooked and how to purify your air as this might affect someone with allergies.

December 18th Arabic Language Day Food allergies do not discriminate and they need to be conveyed in multiple languages. Food allergy translators are available for Arabic and most other languages.

December 19th Oatmeal Muffin Day You want to share an oatmeal muffin with your allergic friend but you know it's just not a safe thing to do. Try stocking up on some of their favorite safe brands.

December 20th Regifting Day Always consider where your gift came from before you regift it. Regifting is completely acceptable unless it is a bag of boiled peanuts or something else that was packed with other allergens or does not have a label listing ingredients.

December 21st Short Story Day Reading is an easy way to become friends with others, bond with your children or even educate about food allergies without added pressure. Choose a book that also has a mission behind it.

December 22nd Be A Lover of Silence Day Words can help or harm- use this day to choose when to speak and when not too. Sometimes those with food allergies don't want an opinion, just someone to listen.

December 23rd Roots Day Do you know if someone else in your family had food allergies? Research, ask questions and find out about your family's health. You may find some new answers.

December 24th Egg Nog Day Egg nog used to be an off-limits beverage for those with allergies. Be the host with the most and pick up some possible dairy free nog options instead of your usual brand.

December 25th Pumpkin Pie Day With food, there are no rules and this includes where you choose to use pumpkin. Rather than pie, why not have a no-bake donut holes that has pumpkin hidden inside?

December 26th Thank You Note Day Support and recognition to those who help with food allergies is always something to be grateful for. Write a note, send an email, post a tweet- just say thank you to whoever you feel needs to hear it.

December 27th Make a Cut Out Snowflake Day The perfect allergy-friendly craft for class activities or parties! Local dollar stores carry 500 coffee filters for $1 which makes the perfect snowflakes.

December 28th Chocolate Candy Day Purchase some new candy molds and start being creative with your candy! Don't let food allergies limit you but do let it inspire you to make a new kind of candy.

December 29th Tick Tock Day Truly, every moment that you don't live life to the fullest means that you lost that moment. Allergic reactions can happen at any time- stay prepared and do something to regain a moment that you feel may have been lost.

December 30th Bicarbonate of Soda Day Also known as baking soda, this product can be added to allergy-friendly recipes to fluff and plump your foods. Need a recipe? Try these pancakes.

December 31st Make Up Your Mind Day Today is the day- the last day of December and the last day of the year. How will you start the new year? Will it be positive or negative? Make up your mind~

We are in this together! Do you feel supported? Share the ways that you educate and strengthen the community so that others can try it too. As I have shared before,

"If you say that celebration and life is not all about food, you are wrong. It IS about finding the right foods that are healthy and safest. Food is not something that tears us apart, it brings us together. After all, this is how I have connected with all of you"

~ Tracy Bush, 

I am proudly partnered with Red Sneakers For Oakley. I highly recommend that you visit them on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to understand their mission and the story behind it. My partnership is not compensated in any way other than receiving good karma.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Why Do I Need to Go to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference?

"Do you know the dates for the 2019 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference yet? I don't want to have to choose between several events." ~ A fellow blogger 

food allergy event that I can attendTrying to compare the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference to other events or expos is like comparing apples to oranges. Granted, if you have never attended the conference, then I can understand why someone may not know what sets it apart from other food allergy events. Since knowledge is power, I thought I would shed a little light on this question in hopes that some new faces will join us in 2019 and future years to come.

#FabLogCon The official hashtag for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. The first difference is that this is a conference, not an event or expo. It is open to anyone, not just those with food allergies. This conference welcomes products, organizations, non profits, medical professionals, parents, caregivers.....I could continue but truly, it's an open door for anyone who needs information and support or for those who want to help by sharing information and support. Similar to events and expos, the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference includes an Expo Hall as part of their schedule and speakers for classes. However, let me clarify why these are even better than what you will find at an event or expo.

epinephrine auto injector app
Aterica Digital Health
  • The Expo Hall has multiple advantages for attendees and vendors. Open for two hours the first day and eight hours the second day, the Expo Hall is a one-stop collection where vendors can freely share their products and product information. Samples and giveaway items as well as product demonstrations are also welcomed. All of the attendees can mingle, wander or walk in and out of the Expo Hall at any time and a raffle is also a part of taking time to speak with the vendors (each table gets an attendee one raffle ticket for a giveaway). By having this laid back scene, there is less pressure on exhibitors to feel a typical "rush to fill the attendees with our stuff and give them a few seconds of information" which is typically found at events and expos. At the Expo Hall, attendees love personal interaction with each exhibitor- they want to be able to take their time, find out about your products and are always hoping to form new relationships and/or professional partnerships. From a marketing point of view, most companies would pay a PR agency a lot more to get them the number of potential connections that they can reach out to at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. In the Expo Hall, it's never about competition but it's always about hugs, handshakes, photos, business card exchanges and engaging each other on a relaxed level. 
  • The Classes Yes, events and expos do also have classes and/or speeches that you can sit in on. The main difference is that I find them to be a bit more structured. From the classes that I have attended at other events, very often they are held in large, echoey parts of an auditorium or open exhibit hall. Although I can see it's set up that way to utilize the space that the event has, it very often feels less personable, tends to be a bit more challenging to hear the speaker(s) clearly and doesn't truly lend itself as being an interactive class v.s a listening/watching class. In events and expos, you are more likely to be seated as a large group in front of the
    allergyfriendly plantbased protein drink
    presenter(s) in chairs without a notepad, without a table to lean on and without feeling like you are allowed to ask too many questions. Most of the presentations at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference are in banquet rooms with tables and chairs, extra notepads and pens and an abundance of coffee and water. Audience participation is always encouraged because these classes are not just about people wanting to hear themselves talk- it's also about what the attendees can learn and the questions that they have that they normally wouldn't be able to ask without paying to have a professional answer their questions correctly.
Food allergy bloggers conference sharing support
No Appetite For Bullying

So, what did I do this year? I have to say, as a food allergy mother/blogger/consultant/author/Volunteer Manager and whatever else I am currently doing with insane passion, I felt like I did just about a little bit of everything this time. In past years, I felt like the days were too short (or the conference was too short) because you are trying to keep up with the scheduled classes that you want to take but wait, then it's time to eat (again) but WAIT I need to take a picture and hug this person....AFTER I eat more of this amazing Vegan chocolate whatever. Truly, my head is always spinning with a mixture of passion, gratitude, happiness, support and the feeling of regaining or recharging my empowerment. I do not attend the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference for myself only- I attend because I have this unstoppable need to continue to help others. So, while I am meeting new people and scheduling business meetings in between my flight and the beginning of the classes, I am also using all of this knowledge to empower myself for others around me as well. I always tell people that when I began blogging, I wanted to help. Not one single day has gone by that I woke up and said "I can't do this anymore, I'm tired of it." Instead, when I have days when I question my abilities, I get confirmation from a simple email or comment from someone that says "Thank you, you helped me today". It's like new layers that you never knew you had because knowledge keeps growing and changing and so does our community. This is what keeps me coming back for more. This conference is my battery backup- just when I think I am losing momentum, I am regenerated from the people that I meet.

food allergy supportIn conclusion (there has to be a conclusion otherwise I will continue to ramble and most of you will probably not want to read anymore) I want to thank Jenny Sprague who began this amazing event for all of us. She brings us together every year and her energy and passion is simply magical. I want to thank Backpack Health for sponsoring me at this year's event but also for carrying the same passion to help others by engaging our community and guiding them to be empowered as well. But most of all, I want to thank our entire community network who continues to push us forward, to not give up and to make us believe that answers can only come from all of us when we come together to share. To keep things simple and neat, I have posted all of my event photos here so make sure you click through them. 

In the words of Carl Jung:

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."

patient health empowerment engagement app

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Got Allergies? Get Support!

Do you remember when your child was first diagnosed with a food allergy? Do you remember how your brain just froze and the room became too bright and too warm and the doctor's voice seemed like it was a million miles away? And do you also remember the rush of feelings that happened all in just a few seconds: fear, anxiety, helplessness, sadness, anger and the need to protect your child. A food allergy diagnosis can be crippling and turn your world upside down..but, from the darkness, there will always be light.

Yes, light- it will start out as something dim, far off in the distance but over time it will become so bright that you won't know how you got there from where you came. You will meet people who will be a part of that light and others that will not. You will learn new coping skills and you will find out that you have a protective rage that you never knew was hiding inside. This is what being a food allergy parent feels like. The question is, how do you get to the brighter side of food allergies and how do you know what will work for you and your family?

I highly recommend that you consider attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. This is not just for bloggers.This event continues to offer support every year. This will be my fifth time attending the conference and I continue to attend, but why? Because you can never learn too much, you can never over advocate and can always improve how you choose to handle your own health and allergy situations. I am proudly sponsored by Backpack Health this year because I make it a point to surround myself with companies and organizations that have a parallel path to mine. I may only be one person but what if all of those "just one person" people got together once a year to support each other and learn together?

Support Support for food allergies is a necessity! What is important to remember that what one person feels is their best support may not be your best support and that's ok. You can ask as many questions as you need to get that answer. Those questions may change over and over but you must keep asking until you feel you have the right answers. Never let anyone tell you that you are wrong for the way that you handle your choices because you will always be the first and best advocate for your allergic child, nobody else. If you are not sure how to share your voice, then just listen, meet other people who are speaking and see firsthand how many product sponsors are waiting to meet you.

Choices You DO have choices! So many choices and you will be amazed at how much they increase over time. From allergy-friendly products to the doctors that you see and even how to handle health information to stay up to speed. With food allergies, having everything when you need it in a moment's notice can sometimes be the difference between life and death. You will even have choices about how to share your child's food allergy journey to help others because once you get to the point that you are on the bright side of food allergies, your heart will grow and you will again, ask questions about how to share what you have learned along the way. Sharing within your food allergy network is what gives you answers but also gives others answers. Backpack Health is one of my favorite tools to both keep track of our family's health information and a way to contribute to what is normally difficult information to collect from people dealing with health issues. Backpack Health is more than just an app, it's a patient empowerment tool. We all know that patient empowerment is the key to progressing on so many levels. Your choices are literally the help that will be used for others to be given more opportunities and more choices.

Register now to attend the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference to become a part of your future food choices and to "come to learn and leave with an army of friends". Still not sure? This year's sponsors include Kaleo, DBV Technologies, Enjoy Life Foods, Aimmune Therapeutics, Belay, Gem City Fine Foods, FARE, Mabel's Labels, Flax4Life, OWYN, AllergyEats, Nima Sensor, MadeGood Foods, E.A.T. (End Allergies Together), FreeYumm, FAACT (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team), Jones Dairy Farm, SnackSafely, Zego Foods, Allergy Alert, Allergy Force, Aterica Digital Health, Siitch, Allergic Living, Amanda's Own,  Deliciousness, Home Free, Allergy Superheroes, Latitude Food Allergy Care, Hungry Harrys, Chebe, Path of Life, Canyon Gluten Free Bakehouse, Natralia, Namaste FoodsReady, Set, Food!Gluten DetectiveAAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)Kids With Food AllergiesModern TableFree2BFoodsRed Apple LipstickSunButterAmerican Gluten FreeAllergy & Asthma NetworkAllergy CookieSweet Elizabeth's OrganicsHolidaily Brewing CompanySouth Point CasinoSmashmallow, First Light Home Care, Schar Gluten Free, Follow Your Heart and Attendify.

Special thanks to Backpack Health for graciously sponsoring me for this event. I am amazed at the passion that they have for advocacy not only food allergies but for other health issues as well. They believe in our communities and embrace the power of patient engagement. If you haven't already visited them, you can find them on the web at as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

Monday, October 22, 2018

You Can Be MORE Dairy Free

Is it possible? Is this an actual thing that someone can do- be MORE dairy free? Yes. Absolutely. And you can do it with more pizazz than you thought, with more tantalizing foods than you thought and even more education than you thought. How did this begin? Let's take a tiny step back to 2016 when I reviewed the first Go Dairy Free book written by Alisa Fleming. I adored this book, truly! I never lie, I never extend the truth because their is no need to do so. Life is short, you should love your foods (even with food allergies) so why tell people about crappy products and information. I don't. Her book made me identify with the passion to help on so many levels. With so much information, I knew that she was trying to jam pack so much into one book so that whoever was reading it would know that living a dairy free life is not a negative thing. It's just a new thing. And that life as a dairy free person should mean that it's time to take a look at your foods because your body is telling you to do so.

Flash forward to now, 2018 when I have the second edition of Go Dairy Free in my hands. The same amazing information but MORE. Because being dairy free and having food allergies has changed and improved so much over the past few years, why not share more? This may be a silly, non existent thing to some but I love the new cover. I am admittedly visual so the fresh new look with an undertone of muted teal looks inviting but  empowering at the same time. No, a book cover does not mean every book is what you need but it's a darn good start when you have just been diagnosed and need some reassurance that your foods will not break you.

So, I have both editions... what do I think? Let's get right to down to it.

Size Does Matter It's true. Knowledge is power and having 467 pages versus 288 pages means you automatically have 179 more pages of what you need to direct yourself to where you need to begin. When anyone is newly diagnosed with any type of food allergy, they need MORE. Sadly, physicians are limited on what they can give their patients to start out with. Alisa's book is not just a cookbook but it's also "the ultimate guide". Go Dairy Free is like a dairy free manual that everyone should receive with their diagnosis. And when people are diagnosed, yes they can Google information until their ears bleed but they don't want too. They want someone to just hand them one thing and say "This is all that you need to begin." 

Same Chapters, Updated Lingo I noted that the original chapters are still included but Alisa updated them with some new wording. Was that necessary? I believe so. Times change, people change and our attention span gets smaller and harder to captivate so yes, I feel the slightly revised chapter descriptions were just enough for the new edition. I mean, if you already had the first book and you got the second book, you would be looking for a reason to have the second book in hand, yes? This includes new words so readers understand that the original ideas are intact but improved.

MORE Recipes! What I did notice was the expanded recipe section. As I mentioned above, more information means more knowledge and more power. I am willing to bet that with the selection of ideas all captured here, the person picking up this book will be smiling. Not only are there recipes, but there are detailed charts of items that are also labeled with the page number and if they are also Vegan, egg free, gluten free, nut free, peanut free and soy free. In essence, this newest edition of Go Dairy Free is a surprise within a surprise. It's not just dairy free- it's more. There are even recipes that tell you how to make your own dairy free milk (and if you don't want too, there are plenty of suggestions on what you can purchase right off the shelf). 

And, My Continued Personal Pet Peeve STILL, no pictures!!! If you follow Go Dairy Free you know that the pages share brilliant, amazing, delicious looking dairy free photos every single day. So why are they not in the book? Or, perhaps even one photo per chapter? So much pride was taken in this book, so why not flaunt your photography skills as well? And, again, most people are visual creatures so why not entice them when they are flipping through your book? Alisa, you work hard and the people want to see what the recipes look like before they make them. Come one....

Please take a moment to check out all of the Go Dairy Free pages (yes, it's more than just a book!). You can visit on the web, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn. Thank you Alisa for sending me an updated copy of your book Go Dairy Free and for being super patient (I know, you sent it off to me weeks ago but I didn't forget about you!). Don't forget, with the holidays coming, this book would make a wonderful holiday gift as well! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Plant Powered Gone Awesome

"Hey Tracy, I have this new product do you want to try it?" 
I love these emails! 

Food allergies. It's been a journey for me both with my son and myself. So why not get excited about new products? Foods have changed so much over the past 17 years since my son was born. People should love their foods, even with food allergies. But what I have also learned is that what you eat needs to be healthier, in more of it's purest form and your body will thank you for it. Do I eat this way always? No. But I do my best to continue to find products that fit into my lifestyle that are also a better product.

Enter Frooze Balls So I got this adorable box that had six varieties of Frooze Balls. My initial thought was "These are some tiny packages". There are five in each bag and as a mom whose children eat non stop, I couldn't help but be just a bit hesitant. Yet, nothing is better than eating my own words, literally. I have to say, just one of these plant-powered guys is filling! Brace yourself for my thoughts on their Peanut Butter variety (yes, my son is allergic and yes, I ate them then proceeded to wipe everything down including myself). Why? Because my son is 16 and he knows not to touch his allergic foods. I have learned that this should not limit me from trying products that I like or that may be liked by others as long as I am careful. The taste- a mild hint of peanut butter. It's hearty and what I initially thought was sugar was actually coconut.

Because Frooze Balls also contains fruit, most of the flavors are (in my opinion) mild. The size of the product is good- not so big that you feel as if you might choke on it if you eat the entire thing..which I may or may not have (snicker). The consistency is good- not dry or chalky and no weird aftertaste as sometimes can be found in some products. As far as the Salted Maple ..oh my! when you open up the bag, it smells like pancakes (well, to me at least). Although I noticed that I mainly tasted the raisin versus the maple. Still tasty but I had hoped for more maple... I guess that would also mean more sugar, which would defeat the purpose of the product.

STOP right here! 
The Salted Maple inspired a new recipe that takes a forever-favorite snack and ramps it up with extra protein.

Recipe Here

The flavor of the Salted Maple mixed with the cream cheese reminds me of the date nut bread my grandmother used to top with cream cheese.... there must be something with Frooze Balls and my childhood. You can use any of the Frooze Balls products for this snack but this was my choice.

The Fudgetastic was something that I brought to work with me one day. I've gotten into the bad habit of needing something sweet so I thought this would be better than my current sweets. I paired them with some apple slices and yes, my fudge craving was met with a lot less calories and sugar.

When you were little, did your mom ever get you those mini lemon pies? Or make lemon chiffon pie? Yes, those mass-produced, most likely GMO filled pies that had the gooey lemon center? UGH I loved them!!!! So when I got to the Lemon Cheesecake Frooze Balls, I was torn. On one hand, I was like "Oh yeah, lemon!" but then I was like "Hmm, lemon and all of these other flavors? I dunno". Opening the bag was like taking a whiff of my childhood... is it the way they make the bags maybe? I see a pattern here of when I open the bag. Whatever works, right? I am happy to report that the flavors did not overpower each other as expected.

Dark Forest...let's talk about this one for a minute. I think this may have been my personal favorite. These smell and taste like the most decadent chocolate ever with a hint of cherries. Only the cherry flavor doesn't hit you for a minute to two. It's like a bonus tasting. Either way, still a little piece of yumminess and something that I would eat again. I mean come on, chocolate!

In the midst of all of these sweeter tasting products, Frooze Balls also has a Mint & Cacao flavor (quick quiz- do you know how to pronounce cacao?). This was like tasting your favorite chocolate covered mint cookie or breaking open that little chocolate and green candy. Although very minty, it still wasn't overboard on the flavor.This is a definite possibility for when you need something a little on the lighter side or even to both curb your sweet tooth but also soothe your stomach.

ALL of the Frooze Balls contain dates, raisins or sultanas (it's a white, oval seedless grape... I Googled it), sunflower seeds, coconut and Himalayan salt. Depending upon the variety, there are some that contain peanut, cashew, almonds, cacao, lemon, mint, etc. I typically don't review products that contain nuts but as I stated above, I am looking at items for me as well (time for mama to see what is safe for her too).

I am super grateful for Frooze Balls sending me all of these goodies. In my true fashion of honest product reviews, I have some things that I would like to suggest as a consumer. Obviously, my suggestions may not be the same as other consumer suggestions but I always share them. One of the ingredients mentioned is "natural flavor" please be specific as to what this is. Natural flavor can mean anything and transparency always gives a product extra points with the consumers. Not to mention that something as simple as this may mean a huge something to a person who is allergic to that natural flavor.

Second suggestion (and bear with me because this may seem so trivial) - the tear on your packages pulls downward. This means that the likelihood of a consumer spilling all of your product on the floor and wasting it (or, using the 5 second rule) is very high. Maybe consider having it pull across the top which would more likely leave your Frooze Balls safe and sound until they are ready to be eaten.

All in all, these are a hearty little snack and I am thankful that Frooze Balls asked me to try them out. You can also find a 6 pack variety on their website at and you can visit them on Instagram and Facebook. Give them a try and tell them you heard about them here (I just get a nice thank you). Because at the end of the day, it's all about food and sharing ~

Sunday, September 23, 2018

How To Break Up With Your Support Group

I don't hide my feelings well at all. But I always ALWAYS try to remain as polite and professional as possible. But this article...this is something that has been stewing inside of me for many, many years. I typically let a lot of things slide but this is something that just keeps coming back and doesn't seem to be noticed as the sheep in wolves clothing. I believe that good people get noticed for what they do and how they help and I also believe that those who are not doing well for the community will (eventually) be seen for who they truly are. Then a thought occurred to me- what if the people that are noticing these inexcusable behaviors just don't know what to do to fix it? I am all about having some answers to offer rather than just sitting around complaining about it.

My hope is that this article will help someone who is unhappy with their support group leader. I am sharing because it is NOT ok for someone to be unhappy in a support group, especially with food allergies already being so overwhelming and confusing. Let's look at some for instances...

  • It is NOT ok for a support group leader to be belligerent to others or to take action for the chance of prestige for themselves when in reality, support groups are all about the community, helping everyone and all working together. It's a group- there is no single pat on the back, there is no "I have this all planned out and it doesn't matter what you say". 
  • It is NOT ok to be malicious and tell outright lies about others around you to try to bring additional members to your group, thinking you are the only one in the spotlight to help these people that place their trust in you. Eventually, your group members will see through you.
  • It is NOT ok to use anger or negativity as a power play within your group. If you are supposed to lead, then lead with positivity. Such is the saying "You catch more flies with honey".
Why do we need food allergy support groups? Because food allergies are something that can be both positive and negative. If we rally together and unite, we do amazing things together. We raise awareness, we meet new friends, we develop new methods for coping and most of all, our unity saves lives. So what about those who don't feel supported but rather, bullied? What about those who don't know where to turn and they just go with the flow because they don't want to make waves? There is a word that describes leaders that have these behaviors- it's called egotist. There is an amazing article written by Chip Scholz that shares the reasoning of an egotist and their actions. How much of this sounds all to familiar?
  • "Egotists regard themselves as superior, set apart from everyone else
  • They are entitled and important simply because they want to be
  • They know everything, or at least don't believe they can be taught anything of significance in their immediate world
  • With a rear-view-mirror perspective, they rely on past accomplishments, convinced these are enough to carry them wherever they want to go.
Because of the need to protect their sense of superiority, egotists are disconnected from the world, often naive about its workings. In their minds, everything is simplified to conform to their personal perceptions.

They are blind to "uncooperative agents, or refuse to deal with them. They refashion the truth to better support their egotistical self-image. This causes the egotist to carve out a false life to be lived out in a false world. The resulting blind spots lead to a distorted worldview and behaviors that aren't appropriate or effective. 

Since it can't be their fault when things don't go their way, egotists resent the people or systems they feel have let them down. They may adopt a persecution mentality, playing the victim of "unfair" treatment. Caught up with distorted thoughts and imagery, they ratchet up the superiority even more, to regain position."

What Can YOU Do As a member of a support group, you DO have rights and you CAN do something to try to better your group. Before you get caught up in support group drama, reach out to other members to see how they feel and what they would like to see changed for the better. It may seem as if you are ganging up on the support group leader but this is simply not the case- you may need to check with yourself to make sure that you are not seeing into situations that are not actually there. Safety in numbers is best, even if it's just for a reality check.

-Petition to have the support group leader step down. You may need to have very thick skin to do this but if you feel this is necessary and you feel strongly that it's best for the group's mission, then it is an option. Point out the purpose for your petition but also offer recommendations on how removing the current support group leader would be beneficial. Ask other group members to stand with you when you present it or to sign it as well. Keep in mind that if this request is denied, you may need to search for a new support group.

- Ask people with authority to join you. Is you support group broken down into different levels of leadership? Approach one of those who have more authority than you and discuss your thoughts with them. A true support group will welcome any and all thoughts of a member but (again) be prepared to offer suggestions of how to improve the situation as well. Sometimes when support group leaders are caught up in their day to day, they don't realize that members are not happy with the current setup.

- Alert national non-profits. Many food allergy support groups strive to be recognized as national non profit support group. If a support group leader is not a positive role model, doesn't seem to have a true mission to help vs. gain popularity or if they have  reputation within the community to be impossible to approach or work with, this also reflects badly on any national non profits who have given that group their seal of approval. Sometimes these national non profits need a little bit of a heads up to investigate on their own, especially if a valued member of the food allergy community feels that their group leader is less than what the non profit expects.

If you feel that your food allergy support group is not sustaining what you need for your community, ask yourself what the cause is. Find someone who will support you. Find a leader that is pleasant to speak to. Above all, don't put up with anyone's crap- there is too much to worry about already and so much better that we can accomplish together.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This May Save Your Life (Epi)

Back in 2015, I met an amazing group of people at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference who were working on a new product called Veta Smart Case & App. Imagine, something that would immediately tell you if you were separated from your auto injectors. I was excited then but three years later, I am so ecstatic to see this product on my doorstep, being able to test it out to see if it's all that I hoped it would be.

Why Did It Take So Long This may be your first thought, 2015?! What the heck people? I can tell you from personally meeting the team of Aterica Digital Health in my opinion, they are a rare breed of people who actually believe in perfecting a product for the good of the people. They care about making sure their consumers are as safe as possible and they wanted this to be a product that would have everything covered, leaving very little room for error. Less chances for error means less chances of a life being threatened by food allergies or an allergic reaction. Less of a chance for another unnecessary death due to food allergies. More importantly, more of a chance for us to become educated about what is needed to stay within that margin of close to zero error.

Explain This To Me I am a self-professed tech-challenged person. I am also very visual and I thought it may help to show you first what happens when your epinephrine is removed from the Veta Smart Case. This is one of two things that happens IF someone is having a reaction and needs to remove the auto injectors, if a teacher is opening the case or even as a heads up if someone (such as a small child) is opening the case when they should not -

The second part is where the app comes in. A simple download of the Veta app and the cases are connected via Bluetooth to keep everything in check. But it's NOT just to alert someone that the case is being opened. As I stated above, Aterica Digital Health wanted to cover any type of situation that might happen so that an immediate answer could be given as to also prevent panic over situations that may not need extreme panic.....I think we can all agree that there is more than enough of that so less is wonderful. All you need to do is look for this and proceed with the download.

Remember, I am challenged so I was a bit hesitant...seriously, opening the Veta Smart Case box as if I would break something or install it and it would start spitting out things that I couldn't understand. Not the case at all! You see, when you open the box there are several things inside. Not only is everything secured with easy-to-open plastic (that you can recycle, extra bonus in my book) and no scissors needed (so also no cuts, another bonus) but there is a Getting Started booklet included. It goes step by step so app and case setup are super easy. Your box even includes the batteries that you will need to get everything started (yes, they literally thought of everything).

What's in the Box One Veta Smart Case box includes 2 smart cases (because, as everyone knows, you should always carry two), instructions for getting started, 2 sets of tops (different colors in case you want to differentiate your auto injectors such as yellow for adult dosage and green for children's dosage), 2 silicone bands to hold secure two cases together, stickers to label each case (Mom, Dad, Suzy and Steve), a booklet of The Fine Print (care of cases, etc.) and even a card that gives you all of their contact information in the event that you are not happy with the product OR if you are happy, you know it and you want to clap your hands (joking but true).

What About the App Once it's installed, you can set up a bunch of different options. You first receive an email to verify the account then you can update the app with all of these functions:

  • You can set up a profile for everyone's smart case. This includes notifying you when the case is not in range, if the temperature is too hot or too cold, if the battery is still functioning and when the epinephrine in each case expires. 
  • There is an assist option that can call the person the Veta Smart Case is labeled for and there is even a location device on it.
  • A support circle can be set up. This means that mom, dad or whoever else you choose will be get notifications as well.
  • Not sure how to use an auto injector? There is even a Resources option that explains visually and verbally how to administer it!
Veta Smart Case & App vs. Other Options Oddly enough, while I was just getting into the beginning stages of using the Veta Smart Case I received an email from another company that offered an "emergency sharing app". Not a tracking device, not a controlled case to let you know if your epinephrine was in good standing just a network of people who would share their auto injector IF they could find you and IF they chose to even look for you. When I rooted around for opinions, I got a very solid answer from a person who shared "Someone who is diagnosed with anaphylaxis and chooses to install this other app, forgot to carry their own auto injector and chose not to go back for it is a serious red flag. Epinephrine will save you, not an app." I am the mother of a child with multiple food allergies and the last thing that I would want to encourage is NOT carrying epinephrine. Do we all forget it sometimes while we are in a hurry? Yes but that's what the Veta Smart Case helps us out with. In today's world where everyone is tied into their devices, why not utilize your normal routine to also have your epinephrine as your normal routine? Why not be the parent that gets notifications BEFORE anything might happen- to me, that is infinitely better than getting a horrific call from someone who has just watched your child have an anaphylactic reaction without any epinephrine. I want my child and everyone else to LIVE with food allergies.

To end, I cannot stress enough how important this product is and how much I trust my son's life with this product. Will the Veta Smart Case save his life? It just might. I know that Aterica Digital Health has given blood, sweat and tears to make this product the best it can possibly be. I am all about companies who make products to ensure their consumers live and I am all about sharing products that I support. Food allergy parents have to be picky and I am and you should be too. The Veta Smart Case and app may not literally save my son's life but one thing is for sure- it is the next best thing to me being there when I cannot be. 

For more information and details about the Veta Smart Case, visit them at as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase the Veta Smart Case at some CVS locations , on Amazon or order online now. 

* I received free product for my opinion. No charges for product reviews as my opinions are always honest and my own.