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. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Vegan Cookie Dough Is a Thing

You know how everyone tells you not to eat raw cookie dough? Yeah, yeah you can get sick and with food allergies, eating cookie dough is typically a no no because it usually contains egg. But what if I told you that there is a cookie dough that may be safe for you to eat, raw or cooked? And what if I told you it was also vegan and gluten free? Are you excited now?

I got a request from the San Clemente Cookie Dough Co. to give their products a try. These are single-serving sizes of plant-based cookie dough that come in three flavors- Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Brownie. I know you must be curious so here my thoughts and the ingredients plus a bit more:

Chocolate Chip I have to say, I was a bit hesitant to try it...I don't know why, just being honest here. I was pleasantly surprised that the texture was good- not gritty, oily or dry. Often with gluten free products, I fear any or all of these as some products try to overcompensate. The chocolate chips had a good flavor and the overall cookie dough itself was reminiscent of a chocolate chip cookie that I had enjoyed as a child. Ingredients include whole grain oat flour, chocolate chips (cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder), cane sugar, brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, filtered water, vanilla extract (vanilla bean, alcohol, water), baking soda and sea salt.

Snickerdoodle Without meaning to repeat myself, I am happy to report that the consistency was equally as good. Upon opening a package, I was met with the immediate smell of snickerdoodle including cinnamon and just plain goodness. Never in my life would I have expected to tell people I was eating vegan snickerdoodle cookie dough. Ingredients include whole grain oat flour, cane sugar, filtered water, brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, cinnamon powder, baking soda, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extractives, alcohol and water) and sea salt.

Chocolate Brownie So, sometimes you just want a fudgy brownie and sometimes, you just don't want to prepare it. This is where you open one of these self-serve guys and dig in. The best part (in my opinion) is that having the single-serve size also means a little more portion control and a little less guilt. Of course, some of us may choose to open a second package and I find nothing wrong with that's still better than eating a huge bunch of brownies. Ingredients include whole grain oat flour, cocoa powder, cane sugar, sunflower oil, filtered water, brown rice syrup, baking soda and sea salt.

Additional Thoughts That I Needed To Share

  • Definitely scoop worthy and definitely easier to open an already-made container in a pinch when you need a snack or just a fast cookie fix. I mean, if you're going to make a vegan cookie dough, you must make it smell and taste like the cookie dough and this was achieved. 
  • I do want to say that each flavor is a distinct flavor and they are not all similar. 
  • The single-serve cups are surprisingly filling so I am willing to bet that one would satisfy anyone's cookie dough cravings. However, if that's not the case, absolutely no judgment (please refer back to the above paragraph for the Chocolate Brownie cookie dough). 
  • When baking the cookie dough, you may be tempted to bake them longer- DON'T. Follow the directions! They will come out looking as if they aren't baked enough but they will be (no cooking required to eat, remember?). How do I know? Because I did over bake them and they quickly turned too hard to even  bite into...nobody wants to waste a product like that. Be responsible. Read and follow the directions. 
  • Allergen Warning- the original packaging contained a warning "The ingredients in this product are processed on machinery that also produces soy and tree nuts." When I reached out to the San Clements Cookie Dough Co., they assured me that the statement on the packaging was originally due to sunflower oil being processed on the same equipment as soy oil. Though it is processed on the same equipment, they have confirmed that scheduled lab tests are performed that verify no cross contamination and that the sunflower oil is void of any chemical residue or protein numbers that would verify contamination. Because they did not want their consumers to be alarmed or confused, new packaging is being printed and the warning will read "Produced on the same equipment as soy" and their products are not produced with any other allergens including nuts of any kind. 
Of Course, A Recipe You know I can't help myself... I love to share how to utilize products in different ways to remind everyone that allergy-friendly foods ARE fun! So, I say, what's better than cookie dough? How about a Cookie Dough Cone! It's the best of both worlds for a frozen treat or you can fill it with allergy-friendly candies or goodies as a party favor. It's super easy (which I always like).

  1. Preheat the oven as directed on the San Clements Cookie Dough Co. package
  2. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet
  3. Spread your choice of cookie dough on an ice cream cone, leaving the bottom uncovered
  4. Place upside down on the baking sheet
  5. Bake as directed
  6. Let it cool
  7. Fill and enjoy (or don't fill and enjoy!)
Ready To Find Them? You can read all about them and find out how to get some of their cookie dough into your hands (or mouth) at and follow them on Instagram.  Thank you San Clemente Cookie Dough Co. for getting in touch and sending me samples and also for making a product for those who are craving cookie dough but couldn't enjoy it until now. 

As always, never a charge for product reviews other than the products that are sent as my opinions are my own.