I told my social media followers I would answer your questions this weekend, and I thought it might be nice to have something to read instead of watching ten minutes of me talking on Instagram! Don't worry, I'll be back and speaking non-stop in the future, I just thought this could be a nice change for everyone. I love answering people's questions, so please email me anything you're curious about at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @girlbehindthehive.
How do you keep your EpiPens/Auvi-Qs cool in the summer?
This is a stressful question for me too, and it's important to always defer to the manufacturer's instructions. Having said that, in my personal experience, when I go to the beach or pool I always keep my auto-injectors in a light colored bag. I don't want them getting hot in a black bag while they are outside and potentially in the sun! If at the pool, I always look to see where the shadows fall underneath the lounge chairs. I then pick which side of the pool I sit on depending where the shadow is under the chair. This way, I can put my auto-injectors in their cool bag in the shadow so they are not directly in the sunlight. At the beach, my family often brings a cooler bag with frozen water bottles at the bottom. I'll often put my auto-injectors on some of the cool and refrigerated items toward the top of the bag. Do NOT put your auto-injectors on ice!
Any tips for college/university?
So I have written about this before, but a lot of hanging out occurs in dorm rooms. These rooms are small and really only have a desk, chair, dresser, and a bed. Your friends are in and out of your room constantly. As a result, I always had an extra blanket that I kept on top of my comforter. This was so people could sit and I could be "normal," not worrying about what they ate earlier in the day. When I would go to sleep, I would fold up that blanket at the bottom of my bed, so the blankets touching my face were nice and clean. Falling asleep isn't exactly the best time to be worried about exposure to your allergen. I also always kept disposable plates and utensils. These were especially helpful when friends were eating with me. I didn't have to worry about making sure my utensils were extra clean after they used them, and I could just throw them out when we were done. Dining halls were always tricky for me. Eventually, I had to appeal to my school to obtain permission to stop my meal plan. As a result of going off the meal plan, I was given dorm accommodations with a private kitchen. While this definitely alleviated some stress, I found it difficult to adapt to cooking my own meals. In college, I was always running around from one class or activity to the next. Eventually, I learned to cook in bigger portions and have leftovers. The most important thing is not to forget to eat real meals. I was eating snacks throughout the day and completely skipping dinner because I did not have the time to cook. One thing I found helpful was to make cooking an activity with my close friends. We would pick a meal that was safe for me and those with other dietary needs. We then would go to the supermarket to pick out all the ingredients together and have a fun night of cooking! Most people prefer a cooked meal to whatever their dining hall is offering! Hopefully, as more people come to understand food allergies, there will be less of an explanation required. But for now, we have our own personal protocols in place that help us feel safer in the university environment.
What do you wish more people knew about food allergies?
I wish people knew how much they affect every aspect of life, but that does not mean they define us. Being in my own house in quarantine for the last couple weeks has allowed me to think a bit less about my allergies. I have my safe food and don't need to worry about eating out with friends, touching something on the subway, or seeing someone eat something I'm allergic to next to me in class. However, those are things I do worry about on a daily basis. Food allergies affect everything you do and there is not a way to "turn them off" or stop thinking about them. Yet, I am way more than that. I won't spend all day talking to my friends about my allergies. In fact, it usually comes up when I'm first getting to know someone and that's it. When having friends with food allergies, you have to develop your own set of rules. My friends understand if I choose not to eat at a restaurant and most of the time they just ask me to pick the place to begin with! People are becoming more aware, but there is still so much to learn!
What are some things to be cautious of when dating?
Dating is definitely tricky. As well intentioned as someone may be, most people have never had to watch every single thing they put in their mouth. Whether it's mindlessly trying samples from Costco or trying your friend's new snack, people don't usually keep a list. I have essentially had to train my previous boyfriends. Explaining from day one how severe the allergies are and not being lenient about things are incredibly important. The tone set from the start is setting the precedent for the relationship. If you get uncomfortable and say "oh never mind a little is okay" or say you're comfortable with may contain products because his favorite candy has one, that's not okay. Stand your ground, be strong, and know that they like everything about you. They'll be willing to learn, but it is a process you'll have to go through together in your relationship.
What makeup do you safely use?
Lipstick/lipgloss: Winky Lux, Petite n' Pretty
Eyeshadow: Petite n’ Pretty, Urban Decay (Born to Run Palette and Naked Palette)
Bronzer: Kylie Cosmetics, Petite n' Pretty, Urban Decay - After Glow Palette
Foundation: Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation
These brands are safe for me and my allergies. I have found the companies to be very responsive, so please reach out to them and do your own research before using any product!
I know it's a tough time for everyone, and I am here for you! I love engaging with you and answering your questions, so I hope to hear from you soon!