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Nov 8, 2013

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference :: 2013 Recap

When I first began writing this blog nearly a year ago, I never imagined the amazingly supportive community of bloggers and advocates that exists. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Food Allergy Blogger Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, with so many of them. You may have seen my posts on various social media platforms about how excited I was for this journey, but those posts cannot truly capture the excitement I was feeling.

View of the New York New York Hotel & Casino

The Bellagio fountains

I have never been to Las Vegas before and I knew it would be fun to check out the sights. I had a good time seeing all of the lights and shiny things I've only seen before in pictures. But the real exhilaration came from spending nearly three days with a group of individuals whom I admire so much!

Spending time with fabulous ladies. From left: me, Cheryl (founder of Freedible), Selena (Amazing and Atopic), Sarah (Don't Feed My Monkeys), and Colette (Learning to Eat Allergy-Free)

I am fairly new to the blogging world (my one-year "blogiversary" is in just a few days!). I've been following some other bloggers for a long time. It was such a surreal experience to actually meet them in person. Everyone I met is truly genuine and inspiring. 

The best part of being in a room with over 100 other food allergy bloggers? We all "get" where the others are coming from. When you live with life-threatening food allergies, every day of your life tends to include starting over at the very beginning. Whether it is an explanation of food allergies in general, specifics to your or your child's allergies, or staying safe from allergens, the conversation isn't typically with someone who has walked in your shoes.

My sis-in-law Sarah (Don't Feed My Monkeys) and I at FABlogcon!

Although those conversations are a very necessary and integral part of bringing education and awareness to food allergies, it can be exhausting. There is something very refreshing and exhilarating that happens when you are around so many like-minded people for an entire weekend!

I learned so much more than I even expected to while sitting in on discussions about how to successfully advocate and educate in our schools, how to work with the brands that provide us with so many safe options, tips on the creation of new recipes and learning more about how to use my big-girl camera (finally!).

Amazing cookbook authors: Kelly Rudnicki (Food Allergy Mama), Cybele Pascal (The Allergy Friendly Cook) and Colette Martin (Learning to Eat Allergy-Free)
Final session: "Filling the Gaps." Discussing where we go from here as food allergy advocates. (From left: Nona Narvaez (Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of MN) , Veronica LaFemina (Food Allergy Research & Education), Jan Hanson, M.A. (Food Allergy Ed), and Cheryl Viirand (Freedible)

We also received enormous "swag bags" full of allergy-friendly goodies and products from some of our favorite companies. On the first day, I was already planning recipes in my head to use some of the items. I picked up a few really great books as well, and I will be excited to share those with you in a future post.

I love this. The "table of contents" in the No Biggie bunch book: Everyday Cool with Food Allergies.
It was wonderful to have a chance to talk with advocates from FARE, meet the authors of some of the best children's books and allergy-friendly cookbooks, and just have heart to heart conversations with people who know what you are going through. These are the same people I know without a doubt will support each other with whatever the future holds for the food allergy community. I also know that no matter where this path leads me as a blogger, I will be supported and encouraged by some incredible people, whom I wholeheartedly consider my friends!

Out on the town with: Sarah (Don't Feed My Monkeys), Selena (Amazing and Atopic), Elizabeth (Onespot Allergy), and Jennifer (It's an Itchy Little World).

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