Interview: Eat Allergy Safe With Nina Modak
Today I’m with Nina, she runs the blog and podcast www.eatallergysafe.com about eating with allergies. As someone with allergies she has focussed her career into helping others navigate the minefield out there! An author, public speaker, and Allergy Travels ambassador, she wants to make it clear that allergies aren’t about missing out, their about doing things differently.
What is your number one tip to someone who has just discovered they have an allergy?
Don’t panic! Take a breath.
Secondly, know the names of your allergies because they can come up in a lot of different places and under a lot of different names. I’m allergic to nuts and can find them in all kinds of different places- food, medicines, make up! So, it’s always important to check the ingredients labels on every product you buy.
How’s best to eat out with allergies?
Firstly, google the places your going to go and check out the menu, see if they have an allergy specific one, or an ingredient list.
Email and call the restaurant, call first and check with manager and make sure they can or can’t cater to you. Better to know they can’t over the phone rather than while having a reaction!
If it's ok, book a table and ask them to leave a note on your table with your allergies. When you arrive, let the manager know who you are and that you have the allergies.
When choosing things on the menu, choose the safe and simple option! I tend to choose the less processed food choices, like a meat or fish with vegetables, it means that the process that has gone into making the meal has less chance of cross contamination.
Finally, carry a chef card with you, that you give to the waiter to hand to the chef, especially if you have many allergies- it can be very useful!
How is the best way to tell your friends and family you have allergies?
Calmly and plainly is the best way. Get straight to the point. You can’t do anything about it. Sometimes older generations will take some time to understand what that means. So, take the time to explain in more detail what your allergy means you can’t eat, especially if it appears in lots of places they may not realise.
People are naturally curious, the news often provides sensational stories over facts, so try to give them the facts. For people who don’t believe you straight away, when it comes to family, you just need to be persistent. I’ve found it useful to get my medication out of my bag and show them how to use my adrenaline pen.
When it comes to work colleagues, try to make a joke about it to make it more understandable in the beginning, it is serious, but you don’t need to act scared. You need to be in control of the situation as much as possible, for example making sure you always take your lunch to work and being ok with that.
Is there anything you wish you had known in the beginning?
No one is going to look after my allergy as well I can, and I must do that to keep myself safe. I’m responsible for my allergy.
What resources do you recommend?
There are loads of amazing blogs available a simple google away.
I have a recipe book called ‘chocolate treats, decadent delights, free from the top 14 allergens.’ You can find it here.
Follow me on my blog for recipes, how to articles, personal experiences, resources for allergen lists and coaching services. I offer coaching for parents and individuals around mentoring how to live with an allergy, from safe food shopping to food preparation, just to make the whole process a little less daunting. My podcast is available on most podcast providers.
Written by Rachael Mole.
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