Food Allergy 101: Vent, don't dwell


What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...

BLOG POST #89 — Mr. A., my allergy, looks shocked as he backs away from the table.

“You didn’t have to yell at me,” he says, wiping tears from his eyes. “I thought you were nice.”

I had just spent the last 10 minutes laying into Mr. A. I’ll spare you what I said to him. It was definitely out of character for me. But I felt it. I said it. And I don’t feel guilty.

I learned a long time ago that it’s OK from time to time for me to get mad at my allergy, to vent at Mr. A for being in my life. But, and here is the important caveat, I also learned that I can’t dwell on that negativity. Dwelling on the negativity for an extended period of time, adopting a victim mindset, is not a place I reside. Dwelling on negativity is not healthy.

When I am speaking with young people who have food allergies and their parents, I focus on the positives, all the things they CAN do. And that is my mindset 99 percent of the time. But when I speak with young people and their parents, I also have an obligation to be honest with them about the emotions they might feel. No matter how optimistic a family with a food allergy is, “Why Me?” days will arise. Accept. Don't dwell. And move forward! 

Anger arises when something is wrong, when something needs to be done. When my emotions start to rise, I have learned over the years to turn anger into action. 

Yes, I yelled at my allergy today. It was rough and it was honest and it was raw. But I felt it. I said it. And I don’t feel guilty.


JJ Vulopas is a rising 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 Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.