By Kristen Chandler
One of the things that I always worry about as a food allergy parent is what will happen when my kids grow up, but don’t outgrow their allergies. I can’t accompany them on every trip they go on during high school or go to college with them. As they get older, they are showing more independence and responsibility. Still, as their mother I will worry. Have I been sufficient in teaching them how to manage their allergies on their own? Are there enough resources out there for teenagers and young adults like there are for parents of children with food allergies?
This latest Friends of MKFA Spotlight is on the website Everyday Allergen-Free, co-founded by Amanda Orlando and Joella Almeida. Everyday Allergen-Free is a site for teenagers and young adults who have food allergies. Amanda started the site because she is severely allergic to dairy, nuts, peanuts and legumes. She has had allergies since birth, and the list of her allergies was even longer a few years ago.
In early 2015, Amanda had a severe reaction so some bread that wasn’t labeled properly. She decided to do some casual blogging to share her experiences and frustrations. She also wrote a cookbook entitled Allergen-Free Desserts to Delight Your Taste Buds: A Book for Parents and Kids that she published in April of 2015. Amanda photographed the food for her cookbook. In fact, she had been doing some freelance photography for a while and decided that blogging would be a way to bring sharing her experiences, her cookbook and her photography hobby all together.
In April 2016, Amanda wrote an article for The Huffington Post that gained a lot of popularity. She realized that, as I mentioned previously, there are a lot of resources for parents of children with food allergies but not many for teenagers and young adults. So, Amanda, along with her good friend and former roommate Joella Almeida, gave her blog a makeover. Joella does not suffer from food allergies, but because of her friendship with Amanda, she is dedicated to promoting food allergy awareness. She’s also a fan of Amanda’s culinary skills.
So why the name Everyday Allergen-Free? Amanda and Joella really wanted to stress to non-food allergy sufferers how challenging life with food allergies is. They, as well as others with food allergies and food allergy parents, want people without food allergies to understand that managing food allergies is a daily struggle. It’s not just avoiding certain foods, and it’s not just treating the rare allergic reaction, it is a lifestyle. The word “everyday” serves as a reminder of that fact.
On Everyday Allergen-Free, Amanda and Joella provide information on navigating everyday life, recipes, beauty tips and reviews and much more. They often team up with other people or brands that can bring new perspective to the website and share information and helpful tips. They let reader responses guide their content and have discovered that collaborations and editorial posts seem to be the most popular, so they have started to shift their focus more towards that type of content.
Not only am I the parent of food-allergic children, but I suffer from allergies myself. Among those are almonds and walnuts. People do not understand that a lot of allergens, such as egg, dairy, and tree nuts, are found not only in food but in non-food products as well, such as soaps, lotions and body scrubs. I have found helpful tips and products through some of the Everyday Allergen-Free posts since I discovered their site. Of course, I buy all the soap, shampoo and lotion for our household right now, but when my children get older, this is a responsibility they will have. I am worried about my son because even though he does have severe allergies and knows to read labels on everything, he is still a boy. He may grab a bottle of shampoo or liquid hand soap without looking at it, only to get home and use it and discover it has milk in it. Now, he may just buy whatever brand I normally buy for him, or call me and ask me what he’s supposed to get, but it still helps to know that there are websites out there like Everyday Allergen-Free that are geared toward the teens and young adults.
What does 2017 look like for Everyday Allergen-Free? Amanda and Joella say they have some great collaborations coming up in the new, such as food bloggers and guest chefs. They will also be representing some new food brands. Be sure to check out Everyday Allergen-Free yourself, so that you can stay in the loop.