(Updated April 2017)

We asked food allergy and celiac influencers such as bloggers, entrepreneurs, authors, professionals, consultants and business owners to answer the following question in one sentence.

If you could go back in time, what advice or words of wisdom would you give yourself about living with food allergies and sensitivities, celiac disease, asthma, eczema or gluten intolerance?

Enjoy their inspiring and insightful responses.

It’s YOUR kitchen, there are no rules; you are not limited by your foods, only how you use them.

Tracy Bush – Nutrimom
Owner, Nutrimom Inc.
www.AllergyPhoods.com
@TracyBNutrimom
Facebook.com/NutrimomFAL

 

Don’t let food allergies define you and hold you back from being you.

Lisa Rutter
Founder
www.nonutsmomsgroup.weebly.com
Director of Support Group Development at FAACT
www.FoodAllergyAwareness.org 

I know this all seems overwhelming, but this journey will end up being one of the most rewarding and satisfying undertakings you will ever do. You will find your tribe, your voice, you will advocate, protect, and help others understand how to keep your child safe. You will help others starting on this path. You will eat better, become more socially aware, and empathetic. You CAN do this. You WILL do this and you will AMAZE yourself!  

 

Jenny Sprague
Founder, FABlogCon LLC, Food Allergy Bloggers Conference
fablogcon.com, multiplefoodallergyhelp.com,
@xfoodallrgyhelp@fablogcon

 

I would tell myself that it is completely normal to have food allergies and that you should live confidently with them. At times when I was growing up, I felt like I was an inconvenience to others because of my condition. I wish I would have taken more of an ownership over them then as it’s a hard thing to do later in life.

Kyle Dine
Food Allergy Educator
www.kyledine.com
www.twitter.com/kyledine

 

Don’t over compensate by allowing your children to eat extra “goodies”.  Instead, offer a healthy food option of something they can have and educate as to why. Remember, children don’t miss what they have never eaten.

Lisa Musician, RD LDN
(Founder and President) Food Allergy Dietitian, Inc.
www.foodallergydietitian.com 
@FoodAllergyDiet

 

You are your own best advocate and problem-solver, trust your instincts, ask questions, and think out of the box.

Sharon Wong
Mom, advocate, blogger
www.nutfreewok.com 
@nutfreewok

We need to have a record of the legal bullying that is going on towards food allergic families in the air and if I could go back in time, I would advise myself to record the encounter I had with the United employee who said to my then 8 year old son, “if you think he’s going to die, just don’t get on the plane.  That is the ONLY way the media and legislators will take us seriously and spend time on the topic and create change; unless there is a fatality in the air.

Lianne Mandelbaum
Founder of No Nut Traveler
@nonuttraveler 
https://www.facebook.com/No-Nut-Traveler-248057758676370/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lianne-mandelbaum/
nonuttraveler.com

 

 

 I would say to trust my gut, literally! If I had realized the severe symptoms were an offshoot of my childhood food allergy, I would have saved years of suffering.

Alisa Fleming
Chief Editor, GoDairyFree
http://www.godairyfree.org
@GoDairyFree

 

Advocating for your child’s safety is NOT an inconvenience, and they will learn from your example.

Daniella Knell
Owner, Smart Allergy Friendly Education www.smartallergyfriendlyeducation.com
@smartallergy

When life gets overwhelming, just take it one day at a time…the rest will fall into place.

  

Cindy Gordon
Owner, Vegetarian Mamma
www.vegetarianmamma.com 
@Vegetarianmamma

Don’t ever risk your health, safety and well being because you just want to “fit in” or because you don’t want to be a “problem” at a restaurant or because you are just tired of trying to explain Celiac Disease and/or your food allergy to others. Surround yourself with people who understand and truly support you; then you will find that the above situations are few and far between!

Maureen Burke
Owner
One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli, Bakery
Gluten Free, Allergen Friendly, Vegan Friendly www.onedishcuisine.com 
@onedishcuisine 

I would encourage myself to believe in the power of the body to heal. Sometimes health conditions that might be deemed irreversible by one’s doctors may in fact be reversed!

Theresa Nicassio, Ph.D.
Registered Psychologist (#1541)
Chef & Author of YUM
TheresaNicassio.com
@TheresaNicassio

You will find a new normal managing severe food allergies, but it takes time. It’s almost like a grieving process, and that’s ok. Be brave, rely on credible resources for education, seek support, and as Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just Keep Swimming!”

Susan Kelly BSN, RN
@sheimkelly
Co-Leader of Friends Helping Friends Food Allergy Support Group

 

  I would tell myself to take one day at a time and to trust that everything will be okay.  When dealing with a new diagnosis, it can be overwhelming.  If you begin to think of all the what-ifs or think too far ahead, it can be counterproductive.  I wouldn’t change anything about this journey.  Any obstacles I’ve had to overcome have lead to important learning that was needed in order for me to help others.  

Gina Mennett Lee
Food Allergy Consultant & Educator
FoodAllergyConsulting.com
@MennettLeeLLC

The most important action you can take when faced with a diagnosis of food allergies is to completely avoid the foods that you or your child are allergic to. This can be daunting, but once you understand how to replace traditional ingredients with safe ingredients, the stress dissipates and you can start enjoying food again!

Facebook: Allergen-Free Baker
Twitter: @colettefmartin
Pinterest: Colette Martin
Blog: Learning to Eat Allergy-Free
You Tube: AllergenFreeBaker
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/colettemartin/
Instagram: AllergenFreeBaker

Living with food allergies will sometimes feel like an obstacle course, with hurdles, challenges and surprises, but if you adopt the mantra, ‘Knowledge + Support = Success’, you will help empower those you care for with food allergies to have the confidence, and the capability to live safely – and fully.

Jan Hanson, M.A.
Founder, Educating For Food Allergies, LLC (EFFA)
www.foodallergyed.com

 

I would tell myself to take a deep breath and find a way to lessen the anxiety that comes with the diagnosis. Live life to it’s fullest and don’t let the diagnosis hold you back from doing what you want to do.

Kristie Serio
Owner- KBS Food Allergy Consulting
www.kbsfoodallergyconsulting.com

 

When living with food allergies, know you are not alone in the community, and that you are your (child’s) biggest advocate to educate, empower, and navigate a world filled with food.

Kristin Osborne
Food Allergy and Disability Advocate
www.theprioritizedgroup.com
@kristinmosborne Twitter/Instagram
@theprioritizedgroup Instagram/Facebook

I am blessed to not live with food allergies, but if I could go back in time I would have been more aware and would have Implemented life saving standards in all of the Restaurants that I have been fortunate to work in years ago. I am excited to be a trend setter and advocate for so many. Looking forward to spreading awareness this year in a way that impacts the Culinary Industry for years to come.

Keith Norman
Executive Chef
@normank5

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that learning how to manage food allergies is  a loooong process (one that I’m still on).  I’ll need to be patient, open minded, understanding, trusting and willing to cook…a lot.  I’d suggest never making elaborate birthday cakes because then they expect some extravagant cake each year that takes hours to make. Seriously!!! Just stick with cake and colored frosting and never ask them what they want, especially if they’ve seen any cake making shows!!!

I’d also tell myself that it’s not all bad (even if it feels it in the beginning), it has its rewards too. It teaches compassion, a healthier lifestyle and how to advocate for yourself, which are pretty amazing traits!!!

Elizabeth DiBurro
Author of EBL Food Allergies
EBLfoodallergies.com

 

If I could go back to the beginning of this journey towards what has turned out to be a pretty hairy combination of food restrictions for myself and my kids, I would tell myself that no matter how rare your combination or diagnosis, you don’t have to do this alone: there is much you can learn from folks who have food needs utterly unlike your own; there are doctors out there who actually “get it” – and more science is on the way; and when you start sharing what you are figuring out along the way, you will find your food restrictions shift from that thing that tries to isolate you into your connection to a new community.

Cheryl Viirand
Founder & CEO
Accept that this path is not a one size fits all life change, be prepared to chart your own path, but allow – encourage or even demand of – yourself to lean on others.

Jen Burch
Owner, Blue Bear Aware; Founder, Food Allergy Families; Support Group Lead, No Nuts Moms Group of Ann Arbor
bluebearaware.com
FoodAllergyFamilies.com

You are a strong Mother and you’re now a leader; trust your gut instinct, don’t be afraid to ask questions more than once, educate your caregivers, empower your child, build a support system for you and your family, but most of all…ALWAYS have a sense of humor as it will encourage you to focus on the joy and buoy your spirits during the most challenging times.

 

Kristin Beltaos, M.A.
Consultant / Licensed Trainer
http://www.agiftofmiles.com

If I could visit myself 16 years ago when my son was diagnosed, I would say, “Caroline, be honest and tell people that you never intended for them to be part of your story and your son’s health situation. BUT, the reality is that by not sharing you’re avoiding a relationship based on honesty”. Over these years I’ve learned that when I am honest and asked for support, the out-pouring of help was overwhelming. Whenever I tried to act like it’s no big deal, it always turned into a big deal. I always told my children to be who they are, but I forgot to tell me myself regarding their allergies in the beginning.


Caroline Moassessi
Founder, Gratefulfoodie
www.Gratefulfoodie.com
@Gratefulfoodie

 

How about you?

What advice or words of wisdom would you give yourself?

 

 

AUTHOR

Donna DeCosta, Founder FoodASC.com

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