The Story Behind The Dare
PAK Mom, Kerrie Sperduto, and her daughter, Gabriella, were playing truth or dare when her daughter said to her, “I dare you to be…just like me!”….which meant Kerrie would eat exactly the same as Gabriella eats every day; foods that are completely free of Gabriella’s food allergies. Amazingly, Gabriella’s Godmother, Colleen Pirraglia also participated in this dare, too. For a month, Kerrie and Colleen ate just like Gabriella. They ate food completely free of Gabriella’s food allergens, carefully read food labels and did without eating many things those without food allergies take for granted. The result was deep awareness and true understanding of what it is like to live with a life-threatening food allergy. The lightbulb went off! Kerrie thought how incredible it would be for others to spread awareness and compassion towards the growing food allergy community by stepping up to this challenge. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
So, we dare you! We Dare You to Be…Just Like…your student, neighbor, grandchild, niece, nephew, and friend. There’s a learning curve to this allergy life. We are here to guide you for this finite period of time, whether it be a couple days, a week or a month. We will help with the steps you’ll need to take to strictly avoid your allergen(s) and keep yourself safe!
How To Get Started With The Dare
Please share with your family and friends via email & social media.
Use this jpeg picture for social media, i.e. Change your Facebook profile picture for the duration of your Dare. Picture for Social Media Post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to let us hear how your journey into the food allergy community is going.
You can donate 5$ or other amount by going to http://www.pakcharlotte.org/donate
2. Talk to your friend/family member
Talk to your friend/family member you are representing to understand which foods you will need to strictly avoid from your diet for a certain amount of time. The “Top 8” food allergens are: milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Some people may have to strictly avoid foods beyond these most common food allergens.
3. Learn to Read a Label carefully!
There is no cure for a Food Allergy. The only way to prevent a serious reaction is by “Strict Avoidance” of the allergen. By reading labels carefully, you will learn to identify the allergen(s) you are avoiding. Read every ingredient listed in the label to check for a potential allergen. Sometimes common foods have many and/or very uncommon ingredient names. Ask your friend/family member to help you learn to read a label carefully and identify your allergens. If you aren’t certain whether the food has safe ingredients or was prepared safely, don’t eat it!
4. Cross Contact
Cross contact means that even a trace amount of an allergen in a food can cause a serious allergic reaction. The meals that you make and/or are made for you must be made not only with safe ingredients, but also in an environment that has not been contaminated with unsafe foods.
5. Carry your life-saving “Medication” wherever you go.
People with food allergy must carry two epinephrine autoinjectors EVERYWHERE they go. Why? A person must act quickly if having a severe allergic reaction and epinephrine is the drug of choice for anaphylaxis. A second epinephrine device may be needed if the first does not inject properly and/or if the symptoms reappear after using the first device. Persons with Food Allergy may also have asthma and/or carry an antihistamine for minor symptoms.
We suggest you use two very fat markers tied or taped together to represent the shape of two epinephrine auto injectors. A glue stick is just about the size of a quick relief inhaler for asthma. Ask your friend/family member how they carry their medication and do the same, every day and everywhere you go – just like them!
6. Going to Restaurants requires thorough planning.
Having a food allergy can sometimes feel isolating and lonely. Food is not only sustenance, but is incorporated culturally into how we celebrate and meet with others. Don’t stop going out, but DO learn firsthand how challenging this can be.
- Explain this pledge to raise awareness about food allergies and experience the challenges faced when ordering from a restaurant. We never want to “fool” staff that you have a serious allergy, when you do not. Bring your pledge to raise awareness
- Call Ahead– Spontaneity will temporarily be a thing of your past. People with food allergies know to call the restaurant ahead of time to check and see if there are proper allergy procedures and policies in place to ensure safety. Ask for the Manager and call at a less busy time of day. This process takes planning ahead and a few minutes, but it is better than arriving and finding out that they cannot accommodate a safe meal.
- Ask Questions:
- Do you have allergy procedures in place? If so, please describe them.
- Can you ensure a safe area for cooking the meal, separate utensils, pans and fryers where the food would not come in any contact with the allergy foods? (i.e. Cross Contact)
- Oils, spices and seasonings count! Even if a safe oil, make certain other foods with allergens have not been cooked in that same oil. (Cross Contact)
- When is a good time to arrive? (Going right at lunch or dinner time is not a good time to go out to eat. Less busy times = Greater Safety for You!)
- Be polite and friendly. Most people are kind and will want to help.
- Get the name of the person you spoke with, so that when you arrive, you can say you spoke with ____ and they said they can accommodate cooking without your allergen.
- If you do not get to call ahead, ask for a manager upon arriving. The manager can let you know the policies and procedures in place.
- Order, check and double-check with your server and always involve the manager and/or chef.
- Some find it helpful to type and print their own “chef card” to hand to the server when ordering. Here is a sample: (just lay out the format).
7. Be prepared and Think Ahead.
Carry safe food with you and be prepared to say, “No, thank you” to food that you weren’t planning to be offered. Also plan to simply do without and not find a safe alternative in some circumstances. (Movies, mall, places of worship, work, parties, friend’s houses)
***Check what items they substitute the allergy foods with to ensure you are getting your required daily vitamins and minerals, even if removing for a short time.