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How Do You Celebrate Food Allergy Awareness Month?

The entire month of May is Food Allergy Awareness Month with the bulk of the activities and special events taking place during Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 14-20, 2017. When we hear about food allergy awareness week proclamations from our local and state legislators or see special landmarks lit up in teal, it makes us feel validated, supported, and united as a food allergy community.

You can be a food allergy advocate among your family, friends and community. Consider the food allergy awareness month events as conversation starters to amplify the reasons why we have food allergy awareness week at all.

  • Why do other people need to be concerned about food allergies and anaphylaxis?
  • Is it because it affects 15 million people and 1 in 13 children in the United States?
  • Is it because an allergic reaction sends people to the hospital every three minutes?
  • How does this life threatening medical condition affect you?
  • What can they do to help?

Do you have a motto or a one liner that summarizes your life with food allergies? Think of it as an ice break to talk about what’s important to you. Include some facts, a personal anecdote, and a call to action. Make the most of an opportunity to talk about allergies or create your own opportunities to talk about why food allergies and anaphylaxis are so significant in your life. You probably have some awesome ideas of your own and here are a few of mine to get you started:

1)    Wear your teal love. Teal is the color for food allergy awareness; you can wear something simple such as a teal ribbon pin for the entire month. There are also accessories, jewelry, nail art, t-shirts, and silicone wrist bands that you can buy - something to wear, show your support, and help someone’s small business.

2)    Support your favorite food allergy related organizations such as FAACT, food allergy research centers, and other food allergy organizations by participating in their events and inviting others to join you. It’s an opportunity to talk about food allergies, educate others, and make a difference.

3)    Share your food allergy life experiences, recipes, and allergy friendly food finds with your family and friends. You will give them an inside look into what is it like to avoid certain foods and what you can eat. They will learn how to support you, too.

4)    Look for ways to volunteer and get involved in your community to support those with food allergies in your community. Start or join a support group or host an event and it could be as simple as a Saturday morning coffee meet up.

5)    Be involved with food-related decision making situations such as team snacks, school wellness committee, potlucks with neighbors, etc. so that you can encourage awareness on how to read labels, prevent cross-contact, and healthier snack options. Suggest some non-food related activities to build community and have fun as well as include other people with dietary restrictions due to other medical conditions.

Whatever you do during Food Allergy Awareness Week, celebrate and allow yourself to feel gratitude and hope. Find your silver linings about what is going well and share them with others. Write thank you notes to people who have been kind and supportive to you. When you have a positive attitude, other people will pay attention and your words and actions will have an impact on others.

Sharon Wong is the founder of Nut-Free Wok, a blog about “Allergy Aware Asian Fare.”