I am JJ: Kids with food allergies must know what they can control
In a CANspirational video I filmed for young people this summer, I walked through the rain without an umbrella to reinforce the importance of knowing what we can control and what we can't.
"People who live in the Land of Can stay dry not because it doesn't rain for them but because they bring an umbrella," I said. "You can't control if it rains. You can only control how you respond to the rain."
When you have a food allergy, knowing what you can control is a big part of living your best life. It's a big part of finding the balance between safety and normalcy.
I can 99.99999 percent avoid having an allergic reaction today if I stay in my bedroom and only eat apples. (And if I make sure the apple is thoroughly scrubbed just in case they used some odd wax coating, etc.) But that isn't living. So I will venture out from my apartment this morning, and I will live, and I will indulge in foods that are not just red and round and grow on trees. And the second I make that decision to venture out, I need to make sure I am prepared.
If I want to avoid getting wet while walking in the rain, I better check the weather forecast and bring an umbrella. If I want to avoid having a reaction while eating out or going about my day, I better be vigilant and double check ingredients and how the food is prepared. BUT even the best weather forecasts are wrong. So when the storm clouds open, if I happen to inadvertently eat something I'm allergic to, I better have my two Auvi-Qs with me. And I better be prepared to use them just in case. That I can control.
JJ Vulopas is a senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com and follow him @thelandofcan on Twitter and Instagram.