Written by Natalie Rhone of No Nuts For Me
Going into anaphylaxis from a soy latte at Starbucks for the first time ever at 21 years old was shocking and has forever changed my life. As a child, I had environmental allergies – no asthma luckily, but playing outside during recess was usually a nightmare in the springtime. I would always end up at the nurse’s office with puffy eyes and sneezing like crazy. I went on to develop oral allergy syndrome due to the cross-reactivity from my environmental allergies and started reacting severely to carrots at the age of 15. Every time I would eat a carrot, I would have a very deep cough as my throat swelled and I would have trouble breathing. Until 21 years old when my throat completely closed from soymilk. At 22 years old, I suddenly went into anaphylaxis from peanuts and only a few months after that, I started reacting to everything. By everything, I mean that my throat would swell up with every fruit, vegetable, herb, spice or nut. Soymilk was also already out of the question before that started. At one point in my life, I was down to pasta with cheese for one meal and chicken with potatoes for the other. Every single day. Keep in mind, that none of these foods were seasoned with anything more than olive oil and salt.
I saw many allergists all over the world, and they did many skin tests and told me to start on allergy shots for my environmental allergies. They told me there was high risk of going into anaphylaxis from the shots due to the severity of my skin tests, and I was not okay with that.
That is when I found my current allergist, who has completely changed my life. I went on SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy) for my environmental allergies and am currently going through oral immunotherapy desensitization to the foods I am truly anaphylactic to that the SLIT will not be able to take care of. Every 6 weeks I add a new food into my diet and it has been life changing. I am currently eating grapes, watermelon, potatoes, oranges, hummus and more and am in the process of almond OIT and will soon begin OIT for soy protein simultaneously.
Throughout my whole journey, I was shocked at the lack of awareness for life threatening food allergies. I couldn’t believe that there were children dying from experiencing anaphylaxis at school. I couldn’t believe that my food allergies made it almost impossible to go to work. That’s when I decided I needed to make a change and that’s how my documentary film Risk At First Bite came about.
I spent all of 2017 flying around the United States attending various food allergy conferences and interviewing top allergists, researchers and lawyers in the field. I truly believe that this film can help save lives and change the way that food allergies are handled in public. We are currently just starting post-production and the film is set to be released this summer! If you haven’t seen the official trailer yet, you can watch it here and check out our current fundraiser. We really appreciate all the support that we can get, as more funding means that we get to educate more people and keep more children safe!