When Mason was diagnosed with food allergies, I spent a long time researching and reaching out to other allergy parents for information. It's a pretty scary diagnosis, and it never really feels like I have a handle on it, because theories change, research is being done, products change . . . finding support is so key to keeping sane!
I came across No Nuts Moms Group on Facebook and found so much great information. Though it's American-based, the group is chock full of fantastic information and supportive members, each dealing with different food allergies (though most have peanut and nut allergies). I really enjoy the (calm, reasonable, balanced) dialogue there, and reached out to founder Lisa Rutter on a number of occasions for information, and to ask her if the group would benefit from any of the pieces I write here.
In addition to the NNMG Facebook group, there are also numerous local support groups across the U.S. for families with food allergies, all of which can be found on the NNMG website. Wouldn't it be great to have more of this kind of thing in Canada? I think so!
I'm pleased to have interviewed Lisa about her role in No Nuts Moms Group, and I'm even happier there are people like her out there advocating for those with food allergies. Thanks for everything you do, Lisa!
How did No Nuts Moms Group come to be?
When my son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies, I immediately tried to reach out to anyone in my area dealing with the same type of food allergies. Fortunately, I was able to find a local support group called FACES of Michigan, but I also wanted to find other moms and children in my area that my son and I could relate to. Play dates became a scary place and meeting other moms that didn't have children with food allergies was very hard and uncomfortable. I searched online for food allergy play groups and my search ended in a dead end, so this is when I started No Nuts Moms Group.
What's your personal connection to the allergy community?
My son was diagnosed with food allergies to peanuts and tree-nuts at 3 years old. I started the group because I know how lonely and scary it can be.
What are five of your go-to allergy resource pages for parents?
Is your Facebook group appropriate for those outside the U.S.?
Absolutely! I post stories and news from all over the world.
What is the most rewarding part of running NNMG?
Seeing how much the group has helped and connected so many families from all over.
What's the one thing you'd like to communicate to the world about living with food allergies?
Food allergies can be life threatening and should be taken seriously. Reactions can be unpredictable and may vary each and every time. We cannot go by past reactions as a predicator of future reactions. A person can have mild reactions for years and then have a serious reaction known as anaphylaxis. People shouldn't live in fear because food allergies can be very manageable, but we all need to educate ourselves as much as we can on food allergies. We can all live a happy and full life with food allergies, but we need to arm ourselves with all of the tools and knowledge that we can. "Be prepared, not scared."
What's your biggest frustration as an allergy parent?
I would have to say that dealing with food celebrations at school and after school activities while trying to keep my child safe and included would be one of the biggest frustrations that I have faced. Thankfully, my son's school is very open and willing to work with us.
How can people get involved with NNMG?
Getting involved is so easy. I recommend following us on Facebook and also joining one of our local NNMGs. If there isn't a local group in your area, then we have a Support Group and Forum on Facebook for people from all over with all kinds of allergies.