Jo Frost, known for her television shows and bestselling books (“Jo Frost Toddler Rules,” Family Matters, Supernanny and Family S.O.S.) was recently named as FARE’s first National Ambassador for the FARE Walk for Food Allergy. We recently spoke with Jo about her connection to food allergies and her role as a National Ambassador.
What is your personal food allergy story?
Like most with life…
We invited past attendees of FARE’s Teen Summit to write about their experiences at one of FARE’s most popular events. Here, they share their stories.
Gaby and Emily
Gaby and Emily met when they served as speakers on a panel at last year’s Teen Summit. Gaby, 10th grader at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering, and Emily, an incoming freshman at Harvard, became fast friends.
Gaby: Going to the FARE Teen Summit has become an annual tradition for me. Last year, I was honored to be a guest speaker. On the panel, I was paired with a very poised young woman named Emily. Little did I know that soon Emily and I would share a bond and become dear friends. Emily and I met the morning of the big event, and my first impression of her has not changed. Emily is strong, inspiring, witty, and wise beyond her years. After learning about the amazing work that she had done, I knew that she was my perfect role model—a real inspiration.
Despite our age difference, I know I can always count on Emily if I am having a bad day or just need to talk. We chat through Facebook and messaging, but our distance in no way limits our friendship. Teen Summit allowed me to meet Emily, and for that I will always be grateful.
Emily: When Gaby and I met the morning on the panel, I instantly knew
that I wanted to be this amazing person’s friend. Gaby is by far the bravest, kindest, and most genuine girl I have ever met. She blew me away with her bubbly personality, extraordinary friendliness, and bright outlook on life, and her strength and positivity as she faces her medical challenges are inspiring. During the panel, I learned about the incredible work that Gaby has done in the food allergy community, and I became even more impressed!
In the months that followed, Gaby and I have stayed in touch. The world needs more people like Gaby, and I am so thrilled that Teen Summit brought us together.
Isabel and Frankie
Isabel and Frankie also met at last year’s Teen Summit.
Isabel: Before I went to last year’s Teen Summit, I only knew my friend Katie whom I had met at the 2011 Teen Summit. I had hoped to make new acquaintances at the 2013 Summit, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become close friends with some of the loveliest and most fun people you could ever meet.
Frankie: I was the outspoken one in our group. At first everyone was really shy, but they were all willing to socialize, and after talking for a while, we all bonded pretty quickly. It helped that we were the same age, but what was really the clincher was our food allergies.
Isabel: I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is to be able to get to know someone who actually understands your food allergies. Last year, our group went out to eat, and every one of us made sure that the others’ meals were safe for them.
Frankie: We were probably the most protective friend group you could meet, but us becoming so close in a matter of days, only made the rest of the Summit super fun. Those of us staying at the hotel had a super fun time hanging out at the pool, and the dance was by far one of the coolest parts to the Summit. Together, we even made it through those long lectures…ha ha I’m just kidding; we all found the discussions to be super interesting too.
Isabel: We actually learned a ton from the lectures. As a high-school student, I was super interested in what college students had to say about managing their allergies at their respective universities. Several of our new friends had also undergone food allergy clinical trials, which were fascinating and uplifting to hear about. After listening to their positive experiences, I would be very much inclined to try such a trial if I could find one local to me.
Frankie: It was a blast! We all still keep in touch, and we’re becoming even closer.
Isabel: I cannot wait to see everyone at this upcoming Teen Summit!
The 9th Annual Teen Summit is a 3-day event, being held November 7-9, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. You can register for Teen Summit now!
Today, FARE debuted new food safety resources in collaboration with Chef Joel Schaefer, including a recipe competition, two new YouTube cooking tutorials, and more! You can find these resources on the FARE website. Also released today is a “Creating a Food Allergy Safety Zone in Your Home,” booklet, which includes this list of “Dos and Don’ts” for safe cooking.
- Use only thoroughly cleaned…
Dr. Fred Finkelman (McDonald Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) has received a FARE research grant for a study that could lead to an innovative treatment for food allergies. We spoke with Dr. Finkelman about his distinguished career and his…
by Andrew Cheng, FARE Teen Advisory Group Member
As many of you with food allergies know, it can sometimes be difficult to find safe places to eat when you are on the road. Ever since my anaphylactic reaction last year, my parents have been even more wary about going to new places where we don’t have complete control of the food and cleanliness of the place. So, imagine my surprise and apprehension when mom and dad said we were going on a cruise to Alaska.
This past June, we started our vacation in Vancouver, BC. Vancouver is a fun city. We wound up staying there two days before the cruise. Our biggest challenge was finding restaurants that could accommodate my peanut, tree nut and lychee allergies along with my two younger, very loud siblings. Our hotel concierge recommended a restaurant that wound up having peanuts, cashews, almonds, and/or walnuts in every single dish. We literally walked a few blocks to the restaurant, looked at the menu posted outside, and left.
The problem with eating out with food allergies is that you never know if a restaurant “gets it.” Many restaurants have small kitchens where the chance of cross-contact is high. Or the server or cooks simply don’t understand (due to a language barrier or just a plain lack of knowledge about food allergies).
Thankfully, our family found a cruise line that gets it. We boarded the Disney Wonder in Vancouver and spent a week cruising in Alaska. The Disney Wonder was able to handle my food allergies (and even my very loud brother and baby sister). The boat has three main restaurants where the kitchens are huge. The chefs were able to cook my food separately and safely. It was awesome that I could order food off the adult menu and eat without worrying about whether the food was safe.* Too many times we go to restaurants where the “safe” food is just plain pasta or chicken nuggets.
Although we felt safe with the food onboard, I still carried my epinephrine auto-injectors in a big waist pouch. At school, I always have them in a waist belt under my shirt (my other medications are in my backpack). I thought having the waist pouch would be a pain on the cruise, but it worked out fine. I was able to have my emergency medicines, camera, wave phone, and daily schedule in it. I usually snuck some candy in it too.
One day on the cruise, my younger brother really needed a nap. He wound up seeing me eating candy and immediately threw a temper tantrum. He complained that “it wasn’t fair that you get to eat candy and I don’t.” He went on and on and on. So, I told him that lots of things in life aren’t fair - like how I have food allergies and wear a hearing aid. I also reminded him how he gets to eat lots of really yummy foods that I often can’t even try. I admitted that sometimes, I feel jealous about others without allergies or hearing aids, but I have learned to deal with the fact that life isn’t fair.
When you think about a “normal” life for a tween, you think about a guy waking up to go to school. He brushes his teeth, gets dressed, eats breakfast, and then leaves the house. In my case, I have to do the same things, except I have to get my hearing aid, put on my allergy alert bracelet, pack up my emergency meds, and put my waist belt under my shirt too.
Yes, living with food allergies can be a challenge…I like to think that food allergies won’t stop me from enjoying life - especially on a Disney Cruise!
Editor’s note: Individuals with food allergies should inform their server, a restaurant manager or the chef about their food allergy every time they dine out – even if they have safely dined at the same restaurant in the past. For more information and tips, visit safefare.org/for-diners.
You have friends you exercise with, go on vacation with, and spend nights out with, but do you have friends who are also managing food allergies? Whether you branch out and make new “food allergy friends” in your town, or you connect online, it’s beneficial to build your support network. Having someone to talk to about challenges you’re facing, swap recipes, and trade tips is invaluable in the…