By Sarah G., age 15
I was diagnosed with allergies at the age of one and today am allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, mustard and green peas. Throughout the years I’ve seen lots of cool allergy-related stuff, and I have come up with what I consider to be the top five allergy essentials for every teen:
- A MedicAlert Bracelet
MedicAlert bracelets are definitely a must-have! I started wearing a nylon zoo animal bracelet when I was younger and would go play at friends’ houses. Today, I still wear one although I’ve now opted for a plain silver chain that I wear 24/7. They’re incredibly durable and come in lots of different styles (not just bracelets!) and finishes. It gives me and my family peace of mind to know that any medical professional can easily access my allergy info, should anything happen.
- A Versatile Bag for Your Epinephrine Auto-injector
If your parents are anything like mine, they’re constantly telling you to remember your epinephrine. You want a bag that holds a lot of stuff but isn’t too big or bulky. I prefer cross-body bags that sling across your shoulder—just put it on and then you can forget about it. If the crossbody isn’t for you, you can try knapsacks, drawstring bags, other styles of purses, fanny packs, or more creative options, such as a holder that straps to your ankle. Whatever you choose, make sure the people you hang out with know where you keep your allergy meds.
- Insulated Lunch Box
These things come in so handy! I don’t eat out a lot and usually bring my food to restaurants. Insulated lunch boxes give you flexibility; you can prepare food hours in advance and have it still be fresh! I love my insulated lunch box—it looks like a tote bag, and it has tons of room! If the tote bag isn’t your thing, there are some really cool (pun intended) insulated knapsacks available at online retailers.
- Go-To Recipes and/or Menu Items
As I mentioned before, I don’t get to eat out a lot, so having a few go-to recipes is important to me. You want to pick a few core recipes that you know you’ll like and that are relatively easy to make and store. That way if you’re in a rush, you can prepare or heat something up and throw it in your insulated lunch bag! If you find yourself out to eat with friends, it helps to know of a few menu items you know you can order—even if it’s just a bottle of water. Remember to always check the ingredients before chowing down!
- FARE Programs for Teens
Lastly, I would highly suggest taking a look at FARE’s teen programs. Resources such as the Teen Summit and the Facebook group (FARE Teen Allergy Support Group for anyone who wants to join) have really helped me over the years! I’ve made great, supportive friends (which you should have even if you don’t have allergies) while learning more about ways to handle my allergies. I would highly recommend checking their programs out!
Sarah is a sophomore in high school and member of FARE’s Teen Advisory Group. Links to FARE’s teen programs can be found at www.foodallergy.org/resources/teens.
10 March 2014