I consider myself lucky. 🍀🍀🍀🍀 4 kids and no food allergies. Trust me, we’ve had our share of random things: a 6th nerve palsy diagnosis👀, a supernumerary tooth, kidney surgery, bad eczema and now as of today I found out Shane is extremely allergic to trees? 🤕🤒🌲🌳🍂🌸 But the one thing that scares the CRAP out of me is food allergies. I literally can NOT imagine it. 😰Makes me have an anxiety attack 😳😱 just imagining dealing with it, and I give the utmost respect and admiration for all of my friends who deal with this on a daily basis with their children!! ❤️
When I realized that this week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, I thought it was a great chance to sit down and talk to my friend, Food Allergy advocate and guru, Stephanie Sorkin.
She is my walking google search for food allergies, and is also a mother of 3….always there to share information and answer any questions that I may have ranging from how to throw a party 🎉when I have FA guests coming to what safe snack to bring to school for a birthday party! Just today when I got Shane’s allergy report 📝Stephanie was in my driveway dropping off a gift and I told Shane to show his red itchy eyes to Dr. Stephanie, my unofficial “allergy” Doctor! So I thought up a few quick questions that related to this week…
AS: You have a child with multiple food allergies. Tell me how you initially found this out.
SS: It was my daughters first birthday and she tried cake for the first time. Within minutes, her eyes started to swell, she was lethargic and she broke out in hives from head to toe. Looking back, I should have called 911, as it was a textbook allergic reaction. Even though I had two older children, at the time we had no experience with food allergies. Even the doctor initially thought that it was a reaction to the vaccinations that my daughter received at her 1 year check up a few days earlier. He later confirmed an allergy to eggs and a warning that eggs rarely travel alone. Upon further testing, we discovered allergies to multiple foods.
AS: You are the author of an award winning children’s book, “Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel” has a food allergy theme. What is the book about and how did you come up with the idea?
SS: Nutley started out as a simple bedtime story. It’s about a squirrel who is allergic to nuts. Upon sharing the news of his allergies with his friends, he discovers that some of his friends have allergies too! My kids loved it! After telling it so many times that we all knew it by heart, I decided that I wanted to share it with a larger audience, which led me to publish it.
AS: Nutley is a fundraiser. What made you decide that you wanted to donate 100% of the books proceeds and how did you choose FARE as the beneficiary?
SS: I decided to donate the proceeds to FARE, an organization dedicated to Food Allergy Research and Education, as they play a tremendous role in the food allergy community. I felt strongly that I didn’t want to benefit financially from my daughter situation. I was thrilled that the money that I raise will bring us that much closer to finding treatments and ultimately a cure. It is so rewarding to use my book Nutley as a tool to spread awareness and acceptance in classrooms across the tri-state area. (to find out more info about a school visit, please visit Stephanie’s website at www.stephaniesorkin.com )
AS: Tell me about your biggest obstacle since publishing your book
SS: Since publishing Nutley, I have gone from an anonymous food allergy mom to a food allergy mom with a voice. Overnight, my opinion started to matter. With notoriety, comes a huge responsibility. I have to think before I speak now…as everyone is listening!
AS: I know that you have an arsenal of food allergy friendly recipes! Is there one in particular that is always a hit? Please share!
SS: A fan favorite appears at the back of my book, Nutley! It’s a Nut-free, Egg-free banana bread, with instructions on how to adapt the recipe to be gluten-free and/or dairy-free too!
AS: When you don’t have time to bake from scratch, are there products that you’d recommend?
SS: I always refer people to the Snack Safely website to find 100’s of allergy friendly items
When visiting NYC, I love to go to A La Mode Ice Cream on 360 East 55th Street. It has the look of an old fashioned ice cream store- yet it doesn’t have the allergens ! http://www.alamodeshoppe.com
I also love:
Izzi B http://www.ibcakes.com
Enjoy Life Foods http://www.enjoylifefoods.com
Vermont Nut-Free http://www.vermontnutfree.com
Amore di Mona http://www.AmorediMona.com
Elenis Cookies NYC http://www.Elenis.com
Store bought safe items like Oreos, Mrs. Thinsters Waffle Crisp Cookies and Herr Pretzels are always on hand at my house. If my kids and their friends want something semi-homemade, I’m always happen to make S’mores in the toaster oven!
AS: Lastly, what would your advice be to a family with newly diagnosed food allergies.
SS: The initial diagnosis is scary and overwhelming. The mere thought that your child is in danger is a lot to bear. When you take it one step further and really think about it …that FOOD is what can cause a life threatening event, it seems unmanageable, as food is everywhere! With extensive planning and organization, it is manageable and gets much easier as you go along. For those who feel that they’d benefit, there are a number of on-line support groups that they can try. Always communicate with friends and family, as you cannot assume that they understand the extent of your child’s condition. Cross contact and contamination are always something to think about . For example, my daughter is not allergic to steak, yet in a restaurant I wouldn’t dare give it to her, as the grill is a minefield of food allergens. Same holds true for a soup and salad bar. Make every effort to not transfer your anxiety to your child. That may prove to be a very difficult task, but it’s so important to remain calm and find things that they can eat, rather than make a big production about what they cannot eat. Always have safe snacks on hand and remain positive. Try to live in the now and take it day by day. And last but not least, always carry 2 epi-pens and Zyrtek.
I gotta tell you. When you talk to Stephanie 👸🏼she really has an amazing way to make something that is so scary and crippling become something manageable and realistic and doable. I have sent several friends to her who have had newly diagnosed kids with allergies. It’s great to have someone to talk to that gets it and can act as a coach and mentor! Stay tuned for some more amazing info from Stephanie in the future on food allergy info…🍤🧀🍖🍦🍳✖️ For more information here is her bio: