The Royal Treatment
My parents always made sure I knew that it wasn’t just me, that it was all of us together. They helped me see that having less processed food and cooking from scratch not only keeps me safer, but it’s healthier for me.
Taking the Reign
Now that I’m 16, independence is key to managing my allergies on my own. Part of that is being prepared, so if I have a sports game, I’ll pack my bag the night before with my epi-pen, inhaler and allergy tablets. When I’m in a restaurant, I communicate with the waiter or waitress, something my parents taught me from a young age.
Putting it All on the Table
At first, I didn’t want to carry my EpiPen around, but I’ve realized you have to own it. I recently went to Dinnio Restaurant and I just put my epi pen right on the table! They immediately asked me what my allergies were and brought over allergy menus. It’s important to not shy from asking questions about your food.
Advice on eating out with your friends?
Sometimes we go out, but I’m always encouraging my friends to cook—it’s not only safer for me but healthier for all of us. My friends have been so supportive about that. I’m allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and was recently diagnosed with wheat, gluten and yeast allergies. With cooking, I can control what I’m eating, I enjoy it and I’ve gotten to be a good cook!
A Tale of Two Cities
I fly from England to California six to eight times a year. I make sure I always have my epi-pens, bring my own snacks and I always tell the airline about my allergies before the flight so they’ll make an announcement. I recently flew Virgin Airlines and they were very good.
Are both your homes nut-free?
In England, my step brothers love peanuts but my mom is quite strict and it’s a peanut-free house. At my home with my dad and Christina in California, they always make sure to put away any nuts when I’m there. Christina is gluten free, so that helps.
Queen of Label Reading
It’s tough reading labels in two countries. The same bag of chips in both countries—the same brand and flavor—have totally different labeling. I find England is more allergy-friendly because things are less processed. Chocolate in England is definitely more clearly labelled.
The U.K. seems to be ahead of the U.S. in labelling laws
I agree, especially with the recent passing of Natasha’s law. It’s a starting point and I’d like to see even stronger labelling laws. “May contain” annoys me…either it contains it or it doesn’t! Companies don’t seem to understand the real consequences of it.
Why did you start posting about food allergies?
I’m a lot more open about my food allergies compared to when I first got my EpiPen. I think it’s important for teens with food allergies to realize it’s not just you, it’s all of us together. I’ve started posting about it on my instagram because if you tell one person and they tell another, you can create a ripple effect to raise awareness.
Best advice for other allergic teens?
There’s so much more to life than your allergies. Go around the world! Try new places and new foods and don’t hold back. Having allergies can build your confidence massively if you let it. You’re a bit different and so what? You have to own it. We’ve traveled to Africa, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Hawaii and New York.
Craziest place you’ve found an allergen?
I have a friend who used a face mask and broke out in a rash and she discovered it had hazelnut in it! You always have to check labels, even for things like that.
What do you love about Spokin?
When I discovered the Spokin app, my dad and I looked at it together and we thought it was genius. Spokin creates a platform for everyone to come together to make a difference in each other’s lives.
There’s more to life than food allergies
Allergies are just a small part of my life. I love being active and my main sport is netball, it’s similar to basketball without bouncing the ball. I play a lot of other team sports as well, like volleyball, basketball and field hockey. I really enjoy drama and acting in my school plays. I’m learning American Sign Language. I learned little bits while volunteering with disabled children and it really interests me. You could make someone’s day by being kind and respecting other people. It’s easy to be kind.
Favorite hometown restaurant?
The Sea Tree Ware is one of my favorite places because they have gluten free fish and chips…even gluten free vinegar!
Best way to carry your epi-pens?
My bag was always too big or too small. I got a Kata Revy Orenda Crossbody bag and it’s simply amazing. It makes carrying around an epi pen easy and stylish for teenagers struggling with carrying their epi pen. It’s a must-buy!
Most surprising find?
I went to a local music festival, Standon Calling, and their website has food booths labelled for nut free options or gluten free options and more. I had a delicious gluten free brownie ball from Bad Brownie and they were good with my nut allergy.
Favorite food find?
Schar Crispbread is one of my favorite healthy snacks. It’s perfect with some Philadelphia cream cheese and smoked salmon. Quick, easy and delicious!