Photo Credit: Noelle Nelson
My name is Noelle, and I am a Board Member/Staff Writer for Just Allergy Things Magazine, Red Sneakers for Oakley Ambassador, founder of Teach Teal: Food Allergy Awareness, founder of Best Buddies Wear Teal & Red, and a FARE Teen Advisory Group Member. I’m allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and certain medications. Today, I interviewed my younger sister, Natalia (who has no food allergies), about her experiences with an older sister who has food allergies.
What is it like having an older sister with food allergies?
“It’s really scary. I feel worried for her even when she’s not there with me. I wish I could help her in some way, but I know that I can’t.”
What is something about food allergies that many people don’t know?
“I feel like it’s the littlest thing that could happen. A lot of people think you have to deliberately eat a peanut for it (an allergic reaction) to happen, but it could be anything. People have to be more considerate about what things they do. Cross contact is really bad… and if you just touch someone’s food with peanut traces on your hand it could be just as bad.”
What is your favorite allergen safe food?
“Katz Donuts, the glazed ones! I’d say Ripple; the vanilla Ripple milk is really good. I mostly only drink Ripple.”
Katz Donuts: https://katzglutenfree.com
What is the most important thing you think a person should know to help their friends or siblings who have food allergies?
“Don’t be mean about it. If someone has food allergies, making mean jokes can make them feel worse… It’s really bad, so you should take it seriously even though sometimes the media or other people don’t. You should be supportive and take it seriously even if they (people) are being nonchalant about it; it’s someone’s life.”
What is one piece of advice you would give to a younger sibling of someone with food allergies?
“I know you are going to want to eat out but be nice. Think about how your siblings feel. Really appreciate your siblings. This is something out of their hands. You being supportive is the least you could do.”
What was your favorite food allergy friendly/food allergy advocacy experience you’ve been a part of? (Red Sneakers for Oakley Days, Thanksgiving, Trips to Sensitive Sweets, etc.)
“Cooking (an allergen safe) Thanksgiving dinner because it was fun being with my whole family in the kitchen. Knowing that you (Noelle) could taste everything, and there was no chef we had to ask.”
Thank you, Natalia, for sharing your experiences and for being an incredibly supportive sister!