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.