I recently asked Sloane Miller, "Allergic Girl," for some advice on living with food allergies. As a mother of a child with food allergies I read her blog, Please Don't Pass the Nuts: Eating Allergy-Free One Meal at a Time, religiously. She is a licensed psychotherapeutic social worker who has had multiple food allergies her whole life. She has also written a book, Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies, about living a full life with food allergies. If you or a member of your family has food allergies you will want to get a copy for yourself as well as friends and family. She proves that with some prior planning, a back-up plan and the willingness to ask questions it is possible to eat in restaurants and attend social functions safely.
What kind of allergies do you have and at what age did you discover your allergies? I'm severely allergic to tree nuts and salmon. I've had food allergies since infancy, they were discovered when I ingested that particular food, so I've been (coping/managing/) living with food allergies for over thirty years.
Tell us more about your blog and your upcoming book. My blog Please Don't Pass The Nuts is a way for me to connect with the food allergic community about issues that are important to us: trust, dining out, friends and family. My book ALLERGIC GIRL compiles all of my best strategies and secrets for living well with food allergies, feeling confident, secure and happy, and having fun.
At this time of a year there are endless family get togethers both near and far. Do you have any tips for navigating the upcoming holidays with allergies? Holidays are a wonderful family time but they can often be stressful, for people with allergies and without! So my best tip: your goal when getting together with family over the holidays is to manage risk and have a good time, not engage in any past or current family squabbles. Remember the focus of the holidays is to be together; food allergies are just one component.
Your "Worry-Free Dinners" are a great way to meet others with food allergies. Tell us more about series and other resource that you offer for children suffering from allergies. Worry-Free Dinners is a membership organization where we can come together as a community and practice safe dining out protocols as well as connect with each other. It's important to not feel isolated when you have a child with unique needs and I created Allergic Girl Resources to offer private coaching/counseling to families as well as group setting events like Worry-Free Dinners.
Allergies seem to be much more common than when you were young, but it is still tough to have unique needs as a child. What advice can you offer to both parents of children with allergies and children? I think it's important to recognize that every child is unique but also that everyone (child and adult) has “something”. Having a happy healthy child is the goal, and having food allergies is just one of the many aspects of life that we need to deal with.
Do you have any family-friendly and allergy friendly restaurant recommendations in lower Manhattan? I created a dining-out protocol which is incredibly effective to use when dining out anywhere. The bare bones of it you can find on my website, and I go into much greater detail in my forthcoming book. Essentially it's about creating a dialogue with a restaurant about your needs and about their ability to meet them. I use this protocol and teach it with great success.