Taking Control of Your Life with Food Allergies
Hi! My name is Meera Trivedi, I’m 17 years old, and I am allergic to dairy, nuts, eggs, sesame, mustard, turkey, lamb, and fish. I run the Food Allergy Lyfe Project blog and am working on sharing it as much as possible with the allergy community to qualify for a Girl Scout Gold Award. I’m so excited to be able to write a guest post for Food Allergies in the Food Industry and to share my resources! I hope you find them helpful and enjoy this post! ( I spelled lyfe with a “Y” to represent Your journey and also it looks cooler)
I never really thought of having food allergies as being a big deal because I was born with them. And I never had to learn how to make those necessary changes to my lifestyle because I was a baby when I got tested for allergies. My mom and my grandma have cooked for me my whole life, and we’ve been pretty reliant on our culture, as Indian food doesn’t typically have a lot of my allergens in it. However, as I grew up and realized I would soon have to leave home and go to college, I realized I couldn’t keep living so dependently. Soon, I’m gonna have to eat dining hall food! And realizing I didn’t know how to take care of myself on my own was probably the scariest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.
I also grew up doing Girl Scouts, and when you start high school, you’re able to start working towards achieving a Gold Award, the highest honor any scout can achieve. In order to receive it, you have to create a community service project with a significant impact. As I sat with my friends in a lot of brainstorming workshops, I could not come up with any ideas. Usually, people pick their sport or hobby and try to volunteer in that field, but I had a lot of hobbies as a kid! I was into theatre, art, dance, writing, babysitting, tools, and some other things.
But then I got the best piece of advice I’ve ever received: try to become the role model you would have wanted as a kid. And that's when I knew I needed to give back to the allergy community, just like everyone else on this blog!
So, I put together everything I had ever learned, cooked, felt, and experienced into a website. It is a culmination of the recipes I grew up on, my direct allergen substitutes, research, the risks I've taken, what I learned from them, and everything I can possibly share with you. I really wanted it to be more than a basic cookbook because other than searching for food options, there are so many experiences and feelings native to the allergy community that I think are so important to point out. As a kid, I hated ordering in restaurants, having to explain myself at a birthday party, or at a new friend's house, and trying to go to a sleepover without packing “backup food” just in case. Weirdly enough, my being involved in theatre helped me get over that shyness because it made me a lot more comfortable communicating with strangers. Watch my videos (they have their own page on my website!) if you want some tips on how to be more confident when you speak about your allergies. Allergies are a part of who we are, and we can either be ashamed of them and never go out, or go out and own them and have fun!
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read this! And thank you Alexa for the opportunity to share my work on Food Allergies in the Food Industry! I loved writing this post, and I’m really proud of these resources I’ve created and would be so grateful if you could check them out. Read some posts, watch some videos, and feel free to reach out using any of my contact information. I hope you try out some recipes, and that it goes very smoothly the next time you order in a restaurant :)
For an introduction to food allergies, watch my video: Food Allergies 101
To learn how to safely order in a restaurant with dietary restrictions, watch my video: Ordering in a Restaurant - Tips and Tricks for Allergy Kids
To learn how to explain food allergies to kids, watch my video: How to Explain Food Allergies to Kids
To learn all about food labels, watch my video: How to Properly Read a Food Label