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A Guest Post from Jenny Kales of The Nut-Free Mom

It is Food Allergy Awareness Week!  For some, it is a golden opportunity to educate those outside the food allergy community.  For some, it is the perfect time to raise advocacy and research efforts.  And for some, it is time to band together within the food allergy community and share our stories, ideas, and recipes with each other in this seemingly, and sometimes literally, never ending food allergy journey.
No caregiver can ever REALLY say that they know everything there is to know about food allergies because the learning curve is ever changing.  In addition to a FARE membership, one of my favorite ways to continually educate myself and stay connected is to follow the blogs of fellow food allergy moms.
Today, I am honored to share a guest post from Jenny Kales, a freelance writer and author of the blog The Nut-Free Mom.  Jenny has been writing about food allergies and sharing her journey with other moms and caregivers for several years now.  I am so excited to share her guest post today about the importance of being a “plugged-in” member of the food allergy community.
Thank you, Jenny!
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By Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales Family Pic
“I feel alone.” That’s the number one thing that I hear from parents who have just begun navigating the world with a child who has life-threatening food allergies. I understand that feeling. In fact, it was that sentiment of feeling alone and wanting to connect that prompted me to begin writing my blog “The Nut-Free Mom.”
My family’s food allergy story is probably similar to many of yours. When my daughter was four years old, she ate one bite of a peanut butter sandwich and suffered an anaphylactic reaction that quickly became life-threatening. It was a truly frightening experience.
I was lucky that my allergist pointed me towards FAAN (now FARE). This group provided a huge amount of information and support to me at a time when I had a lot of questions. I also discovered Kids with Food Allergies Foundation and their corresponding web site, another great source of info.
In the early days of dealing with my daughter’s life-threatening food allergies, no one in my circle was in my same situation, but I knew others had to be out there. Being a writer by profession, writing about food allergies seemed like a natural way to connect with others while also spreading awareness. I began with Chicago Parent magazine who published my article about navigating play dates and parties.  Then, to connect even more directly with food allergy parents and inspired by the struggles of my daughter, I decided to start a blog.
Eventually, I found readers who had their own food allergy blogs, and we became a source of support and information to new food allergy parents, as well as to each other. All of us can now benefit from a devoted parent-to-parent network of information and support that was unavailable to me when I first started writing my blog five years ago. The many writers, readers and advocates with online forums continue to be a wonderful source of food allergy news, recipes and product info for both me and my fellow food allergy parents. Perhaps most important of all, connecting online allows us to find helpful emotional support about the sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking situations we find ourselves in as parents of kids with life-threatening food allergies.
Especially rewarding to me is when readers tell me that the information and support I’ve shared has helped give them courage as they approached their schools, family and friends with their food allergy needs. But it’s a two-way street. Hearing from others – readers, other bloggers, food allergy advocacy groups – gives me a boost too, because every time I’m faced with a difficult situation with regard to food allergies, I know I’m not the only one.
Raising a nut-free kid in a nutty world is not easy, but it certainly helps to know you’re not alone. Thanks to all of you who have helped create this online parent support network! And thanks to Kimberly for hosting me today on The Food Allergy Mom.

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