We will be introducing you to the speakers and attendees of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference by sharing their responses to a few questions. We have asked them to choose to answer 3-5 of these questions:
1. Who do you look forward to seeing/meeting most at FABC and why?
2. Which of your blog posts are you most proud of and why?
3. Which panel topic do you look forward to hearing most and why?
4. What is the best thing about food allergies?
5. What motivated you to start blogging about food allergies?
6. What is the best thing about the online food allergy community?
7. What other blogger would you most like to meet and why?
8. What other blogger has inspired you?
9. What is one of your favorite posts written by another blogger and why?
10. If you didn’t have or deal with food allergies, what would be your 3 favorite foods to eat/try?”
I had the great pleasure of first meeting Colette Martin at BlogHer in NYC last summer. She was the first Food Allergy personality I had met. She has been a mentor to me both with her advice in planning this conference, and her advice with dealing with my son’s dietary restrictions and EoE. Colette Martin is the author of Learning to Bake Allergen -Free, she is on the web at http://www.learningtoeatallergyfree.com/ and on Facebook and Twitter @ColetteMartin. Here are Colette responses:
I’m so excited! When Jenny Sprague called me earlier this year to ask me what I thought about a conference for food allergy bloggers, she may have thought she needed to convince me it was a good idea. But it took less than 30 seconds of describing her vision of the conference before I jumped in with, “I’m there!”
The truth is you couldn’t keep me away from the conference. It’s a chance to meet people that I only know online – and yet in some ways I know them better than my next-door neighbors. I’m looking forward to the people, the food (I hear the chef at the hotel is marvelous with food allergy cuisine), the ideas, but most of all I am looking forward to the community and being with people who truly get it. But I’m supposed to be answering questions, so let me get to that.
Q. What motivated you to start blogging about food allergies?
A. Some of you may know that my son is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, and peanuts. My son was ten before we had a real diagnosis for his illness (EE plus food allergies). While I’ve had my food issues all my life, it wasn’t until I eliminated the foods my son couldn’t eat that I determined my own allergies to wheat and soy. At the time of my son’s diagnosis he was in middle school and I was working full time. I had to overhaul our pantry and come up with options for my son to have for breakfast and take to school for lunch – overnight. I can see you nodding your head, because you’ve been there too. Simple things like breakfast and bread for lunch were big issues for us. In 2001 the food allergen labeling law didn’t exist, and there were few products available off the shelf. I had been baking all my life with wheat, milk, butter, and eggs; I quickly realized I had to start from the beginning. After baking, cooking, and managing food allergies for a decade I decided to start Learning to Eat Allergy-Free. My motivation was simply to share what I had learned to make it easier for other parents with the same challenges.
Q. What is the best thing about food allergies?
A. Trick question, right?
You might be thinking there is nothing good about food allergies. Nevertheless, there has been a benefit to my family – we eat better. Once I started reading every detail of every label and understanding what was really in my food I got a lot smarter about what to eat. Today, my family eats healthier; whole foods including gluten-free grains, seeds, beans, vegetables, fruits, and non-dairy milks make up the bulk of our diet. I rarely buy processed foods anymore, I avoid GMOs, and choose organic when I can.
Q. What is the best thing about the online food allergy community?
A. In a word, support. When you’ve had a bad day because the school refuses to work with you, when you can’t figure out the right ingredient to substitute in your favorite recipe, or when your daughter comes home from school with a tale of bullying, there are food allergy veterans who have been there and understand. The food allergy community is always supportive, helpful, and most of all – they get it!
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting a few food allergy parents at events or book signings, but just a few at a time. What I look forward to most in November is being with everyone – advocates, doctors, food vendors, parents, bloggers – in one place! I hope to see you there, too!