While speaking at a food allergy workshop recently, I watched a woman in the audience with tears in her eyes almost the entire time. At the end of the workshop, I sat down next to her and asked if we could talk.


I thought we might mosey over to the side of the room but something about her manner told me we needed privacy.


Tucked away in empty auditorium, through tears spilling down her beautiful face, she shared her story...the guilt, the terror, the overwhelmed feelings, the heartbreak over her other child seeing her in such a state. All of this so familiar to me and many other moms.


I can so easily go back to the day my son was diagnosed...when the full realization of what one wrong bite could mean.


Or riding in the back of an ambulance with him, looking into eyes thinking “This is not the life I ever imagined for you."


If you are part of the food allergy community, I may not know you, but I have been in your painful shoes.


After 18 months of conflicting diagnoses, reflux, eczema, hives, and various medical tests, my son was diagnosed with over a dozen food allergies. As the doctor scribbled a prescription for life-saving epinephrine, my life changed.

As we walked out of that doctor’s office, I saw people laughing and joking on the street. And I was filled with fear and dread. I did not know how I would feed my child. I did not know how he would ever attend a play date, a birthday party, or school.


My overwhelm did not end on that day. Regrettably, I went to battle with most everyone in my life, as there was almost no one who I felt I could trust to care for my son. I tore through relationships, then felt abandoned and alone.


At my worst, I was depressed, anxious, overweight (then underweight while nursing my son and avoid 12-plus food allergens), and not sleeping. I was estranged from my husband, fighting with siblings and in-laws, yelling at my kids, feeling resentful and angry at the cards I’d be dealt.

When I decided to reach out for help, things started to shift. I found support online and eventually in person. I started to become active in the food allergy community, and I made friends with some allergy moms who had been-there, done-that. They weren’t living in terror. They were balanced in their approach. I welcomed their calming words. I let them influence me.


As I became better and stronger, I wanted to help others. I founded my own support group for moms and began to help parents in person and online. In 2006, I started Allergy Moms to share information through my newsletter and interviews. I loved the research because I believed—and still do—that the body can heal from this life-changing disease. But my real passion was the emotional toll.

Around 2009, my friend Janet recommended the book “Expecting Adam” by Martha Beck. I recognized the name as Martha Beck, PhD, who writes a column for Oprah magazine. In “Expecting Adam,” Martha shares how her son Adam’s diagnosis of Down syndrome turned her life upside down. But this breaking point, ultimately (but not immediately) led to a whole new richer and more authentic life. In the book, Martha was funny and brilliant and compassionate. I loved her. I wanted what she was having.


As I stalked researched her online, I found out that she had a life coaching program. Life coaching? Okay, that sounded pretty hokey. But when I got on the preview call with Martha, I found her to be the same as her writing. She was so silly and lighthearted yet insightful and compassionate. I was in. And a year later I completed my master coach certification as well.

I’ve done a ton of other training since then, but more than anything, these tools have helped me become a happier person, a better mom, and someone who can help my son put his allergies in perspective.

I’ve healed relationships (including my marriage), and although I work in the food allergy world and am passionate about it, food allergies play only a small part of my and my son’s day-to-day life. Today, I travel for fun with girlfriends and even by myself for workshops and seminars. My house is decorated. I take time for myself.


I’m not perfect. I still snap at my kids and my husband. I stay up too late and drink too much coffee. I stop exercising or watching what I eat, and have to get back on track. I have an occasional pity party for myself (or my kids). But my life is worlds apart from where it was and so much better now. I know now that any life change that you get through can make you stronger and more effective in ALL the areas of your life.


So if we can go back to the original story for a minute, the woman, the one with tears in her eyes at that workshop was a real person but she was also me. Maybe she is you too. I know for sure that “she” is at every workshop I teach.

 There is very real pain in this diagnosis. There is fear. It is unimaginably hard at times. And you can get stuck. Or you can get help and discover ways to get through the adjustment period more quickly. You can actually come out happier on the other side. (I did!)


In addition to the overwhelm and emotional toll, there is a whole new way of life to learn. Ways to manage food allergies in the home, with relatives, at camp, and especially at schools.

I have done all of this myself (mostly the wrong way initially), and I’ve also coached and taught thousands of parents (as well as teachers, nurses, camp counselors, physicians and others) the tips, tricks, and shortcuts I’ve learned over the past 12 years.



One of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me is, “You gave me hope. I feel like I can really do this now.” My wish for you is to find hope here too.


So let’s stay in touch. Sign up here and you’ll hear from me on occasion with information, interviews and updates on programs we offer. (link to newsletter sign up)


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