Food Allergy Blogger Summit

Last week I had the honor of mixing with a great  group of food allergy educators and advocates in New York City.  Lauren Kashtan of Mylan Specialty hosted our event and we had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Ruchi Gupta and  Sloane Miller (Allergic Girl) in separate presentations. 

There is such a warmth and joy in meeting "in-person". We were 16 bloggers and food allergy parents who all "knew" one another online, but sitting together and enjoying meals and talking directly to one another really was, well...priceless. 

And, let's talk about those meals for a moment. Chef Kelvin prepared the most delicious dishes for us. Several in the group deal with their own food allergies, so the ingredients for each dish were clearly labeled and the servers were ready and able to make sure everyone got a safe meal. The salad was delish, the ribs at dinner just melted in your mouth, and the chocolate cake...well, it was simply a little slice of heaven. Food allergy families should feel very comfortable eating from Chef Kelvin's kitchen. If you've got a New York City trip planned, talk to Kelvin (kfernandez@thestrandnyc.com) before you arrive and let him help you plan a great meal at The Strand Hotel.

I took lots of notes during the scheduled sessions and I'd love to share the ones that jump out at me:
  • EpiPen turns 25 this year. It was approved in December 1987. Isn't it hard to imagine managing food allergies without having EpiPen?
  • Over 20,000 schools are participating in the EpiPen4Schools program.
  • Chicago schools used the slogan, "We're Prepared, Are You?" when rolling out their EpiPen4Schools program. This was an effort to ensure that parents continued to send in their child's medications and didn't rely on the school to have it.
  • "Anyone can be allergic to anything at any time."- Dr. Gupta
  • "I will not eat for someone, ever." -Sloane Miller
  • People with food allergies need to communicate (about their allergies) in a clear and factual way. Be firm in tone, without question and without apology." (This is also from Sloane.)
  • Parents need to gradually allow their growing food allergic children to own their food allergies. They need to be given opportunities to speak to their allergists, to restaurant staff, teachers, friends and others so they have practice in communicating and feel comfortable doing it as adults. (This is what I took from Sloane's talk). 
  • "We finally have better insurance reimbursement for food challenges," said Dr. Gupta. The hope is that this will result in more allergists conducting food challenges, the gold standard in food allergy diagnosis.
  • 30% of anaphylaxis has no skin symptoms (hives, redness, etc.) (Dr. Gupta)
  • Using an EpiPen is a hard decision, more so because we are aware of the chain reaction that follows- ambulance, hospital, waiting to see if there will be a bi-phasic reaction. We had a great (and sometimes emotional) discussion around this. We wondered, could there be an anaphylaxis hotline to help provide support?
  • Everyone at risk needs an anaphylaxis action plan. Talk to your doctor to come up with a plan that works and then make sure that everyone is aware of the steps to take.
A huge THANK YOU to Mylan for sponsoring this event, to our speakers (including Ritesh Patel who conducted a fantastic blogging workshop), to The Strand Hotel (especially Chef Kelvin and his restaurant staff) and to  my fellow attendees: Caroline of Grateful Foodie, Ruth from Best Allergy Sites, Cybele Pascal of The Allergy Friendly Cook, Tracy from AllergyPhoods, Elizabeth  - Easy Breezy Life, Missy  - The Marketing Mama, Heidi - Brooklyn Allergy Mom, Jenny - Multiple Food Allergy Help, Libby from The Allergic Kid, Lisa from No Nuts Moms, Irene and Sarah - Get Allergy Wise,, ,  Kelly- Food Allergy Mama, Kimberly- The Food Allergy Mom, and Lindsey Steffensen - Frugal Food Allergies.

We'll always have the Rooftop...


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