The Land of Can

Student & Advocate. Empowering children w/ food allergies & their families. “You are who you are & who you can be. Not who you're not.” #foodallergies

Situation Food Allergy: Your son, who is allergic to milk and peanuts, can hardly hold back the tears when he gets off the bus. It was a big standardized testing day at the school, which spent a substantial amount of time the past few weeks preparing the students and stressing the importance of doing well. ⠀ ⠀ You finally get him to calm down.⠀ ⠀ "Mr. Gary is the teacher next door, and everyone loves him because he is cool,” Bobby begins to explain. “This morning when we were all walking down the hall, Mr. Gary was standing in his room yelling to his students, ‘Welcome to Gary’s Grill! The test starts in an hour. Before we begin, grab a plate and enjoy!’ Everyone could hear him. He actually set up a mini buffet in the room, Mom. A mini buffet with donuts and bacon and fruit and everything.”⠀ ⠀ “What?” you say incredulously. “Did Mrs. Janet offer food too?”⠀ ⠀ “No, Mom. Of course not,” he says. “And everyone in my class was upset because Mrs. Janet didn’t do anything like that. She told us that Mr. Gary knows better because there is a strict no-food policy in all classes. You could even smell the bacon from next door!”⠀ ⠀ Indeed, the school has a no-food policy in the classes, but for the high-stakes tests they probably overlooked it, especially since teachers were doing everything possible to incentivize the students. There are no known allergies in Mr. Gary’s class so he wasn’t putting anyone directly at risk. Since some of the kids in his class probably skipped breakfast, he most likely served food with the best of intentions. But the precedent is dangerous. And you can see why your son would be upset, especially since some of his classmates were blaming the lack of food in their class on his allergy.⠀ ⠀ "Jenny even said out loud, ‘Thanks Bobby.’”⠀ (Read the full post & support the Food Allergy School CANpaign. Links in bio.)⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #jjvulopas #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @elijahsecho @redsneakersforoakley @foodallergy @endallergiestogether @faactnews @kidswithfoodallergies
Support the Food Allergy School CANpaign. Link in bio. ⠀ ⠀ New blog post. I am JJ: Food Allergy ‘Problem’ or ‘Opportunity.’⠀ ⠀ During Saturday’s food allergy podcast with my parents, we talked about how living with a food allergy creates opportunities for a child.⠀ ⠀ “I wouldn’t wish this adversity on anyone,” I said during the podcast, repeating a phrase often repeated to me. “But if you’re facing it, you might as well make the most of it.”⠀ ⠀ Making the most of things is at the core of what it means to live in The Land of Can, especially when you live with food allergies. It’s easier said than done, of course. That’s why a child with a food allergy needs others to help. That’s where educators come into play. In my life, I was fortunate to have teachers and school administrators who constantly were reframing my food allergy problems as opportunities.⠀ ⠀ “JJ, I normally do a lesson with M&Ms,” my elementary teacher said. “You’re super creative. Can you work with me to create a safe non-food lesson that’s even cooler?”⠀ ⠀ “JJ, can you join the dance committee so you can make sure we get some safe snacks and offer fun challenges that can include everyone?”⠀ ⠀ As I entered high school, it was my homeroom teacher who suggested I should run for student government. “Then you can be one of the decision makers.”⠀ ⠀ My senior year, I was a member of the district’s food allergy committee at the request of our assistant superintendent. ⠀ ⠀ When a teacher overheard me tell someone that there were no books in our library about food allergies, she suggested I write a young adult novel. Then she worked wth me on it. ⠀ ⠀ After a failed milk challenge, my science teacher worked overtime to find a science fair project that would help explore food allergies. “Since your body doesn’t seem to be growing out of it just yet,” she said, “maybe your mind can help you solve it.”⠀ ⠀ Throughout my schooling, I was surrounded by educators who helped me to see that some problems could be reframed as opportunities. They also gave me the tools, the space — and the inspiration! — to try to solve them.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom
@sass_eaats & @elijahsecho are always inspiring me. It was awesome to see @elijahsecho getting into the schools last week to raise food allergy awareness! If you care about food allergies, please follow them.
@foodallergypi and her awesome kids reviewed my book Land of Not recently. After watching the review on her Youtube channel, Food Allergy P.I., I’ve been smiling all week! ⠀ ⠀ It’s the coolest book review I’ve ever seen! (Link to my blog post that includes her video is in my bio)⠀ ⠀ There’s a lot of talent at Lisa’s house. Playing the piano and the harp and chess and golf… coloring and making comic books and singing in the choir. A homeschooling mother, with 5 kids 10 and under, she is the ultimate teacher. You could tell just by the way she introduced Land of Not to her children and how she used the book to help her children dive deeper into their talents. ⠀ ⠀ It’s one thing for me as the author to say what messages I hope children get by reading my book. It’s another thing to actually hear them saying what messages they got after reading it. Wow! Lisa’s family absorbed the messages!⠀ ⠀ According to her site,, Lisa is a food allergy mom to a homeschooling, traveling, Disneyland loving, foodie family. "Reading labels and asking questions to uncover food allergy friendly finds is my mission,” the former on-air radio DJ says. “Don’t hesitate. Investigate!”⠀ ⠀ If you haven’t “investigated” Food Allergy P.I.’s Youtube channel, Website, or social media accounts do so now. They’re all filled with food allergy finds, reviews, recipes, tips & tricks, ⠀ ⠀ Her family’s positive, inspiring, fun outlook is one we all should aim to emulate!⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @endallergiestogether @elijahsecho @redsneakersforoakley @safeandfair @foodallergyfund @foodallergy
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 on my blog, I get that chance...⠀ ⠀ I’m sitting in the coffee shop waiting for Mr. A., my food allergy, to arrive for our weekly talk. On the table in front of me sits a plastic teal pumpkin I just bought and a few bags of non-food treats.⠀ ⠀ I’m looking at one of the non-food treats — a glow stick — when he arrives.⠀ ⠀ “A teal pumpkin?” Mr. A. blurts out when he approaches the table. “Did they run out of orange ones?”⠀ ⠀ “Just preparing for Halloween,” I say. ⠀ ⠀ He laughs.⠀ ⠀ “Yeah right,” he says. “Kids with food allergies can’t do Trick-or-Treat.”⠀ ⠀ I begin to explain about FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project®. He acts like he’s not listening, but I know he is. As I’m talking, he grabs the glow stick from the table and starts waving it in the air.⠀ ⠀ “Anyway, it doesn’t matter,” he says. “Teal pumpkins. Green pumpkins. Blue pumpkins. The kids still can’t eat most of the candy…. and that’s what Trick-or-Treat is all about, the candy.”⠀ ⠀ “A treat doesn’t have to be candy,” I say. ⠀ ⠀ “Yes it does,” he insists. “That’s what Halloween is. It’s in the rules.”⠀ ⠀ “We are changing the rules,” I say. “And besides, kids like toys.”⠀ ⠀ He doesn’t answer me. He is too busy marveling at the glow stick. Suddenly, he notices the bag of other toys.⠀ ⠀ “Look at all these!” he says excitedly. “Is that a mini slinky? I haven’t seen one of these in years. May I have one?”⠀ ⠀ He begins to reach into the bag. I quickly pull it away.⠀ ⠀ “What do you say first?” I ask.⠀ ⠀ He pauses a second before muttering, “Please. Please. Please.”⠀ ⠀ “Nope.” I smile. “Pretend it’s Halloween and you’re knocking at my door…”⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign
Every time I see one being used for something else I think, “What food items were placed in it when you brought the groceries home? Was that food safe or unsafe?” Am I the only one with a food allergy who thinks about this? Am I being too paranoid? #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergiessuck #foodallergymom #foodallergylife #foodallergyfamily #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykid #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #allergymom #canpaign @endallergiestogether @redsneakersforoakley @foodallergy @safeandfair @faactnews @kidswithfoodallergies @allergiclivingmag
(The link to the survey is on my blog. My blog is linked in my bio)⠀ Sesame reaction? Let the FDA know. ⠀ Have you had a reaction to sesame? Do you know someone who has?⠀ ⠀ The FDA wants to hear about any serious reactions to sesame, regardless of how the product might have been labeled.⠀ ⠀ This survey was passed along to me from @endallergiestogether who, along with other food allergy advocates, went to Washington DC with representatives from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to petition the FDA to add sesame to the labeling laws. ⠀ ⠀ CSPI has created a tailored survey page asking questions specific to sesame allergy, complete with a place to upload images of products and communications with companies. Information submitted using this survey will be forwarded to the FDA as submissions to the agency’s adverse event reporting database. ⠀ ⠀ Currently, only eight allergens — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy — are listed on food labels. Allergens not on that list, such as sesame, are sometimes called non top-8 allergens. Sesame allergy ranks ninth in prevalence. All of us in the food allergy community should continue to advocate so that people with sesame allergies are able to safely make everyday food choices. ⠀ ⠀ Many in the food allergy community believe the FDA will be acting soon on sesame (most likely in the form of a draft guidance). Agency staff have asked for more adverse event reports related to sesame, most likely as a way of supporting the need for the guidance internally. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign
I’ve written several blogs about the importance of finding balance. As I demonstrated in the above video, you can’t pour 34 ounces of water into an 8 ounce cup. It simply won’t work. And yet we try to do it every day. We pack too much stuff into the limited time we have. But for this post, I don’t want to focus on all the stuff we do every day. When talking about food allergies, finding balance also means finding a way to balance how much space the allergy takes up in a child’s mind while at school. Kids must balance being a student with a food allergy vs. being a student. Period. It’s tough at times because students with food allergies have to be on high alert. I’m not suggesting a child with a food allergy forgets about the allergy. But there are ways we can minimize it in the mind, and parents and teachers can help. • Sometimes it’s simply a matter of a teacher reminding the student that in English class the student can focus on learning English. Sometimes kids think their teachers forget about the allergy… so an inadvertent “How’s it going with your allergy, Bobby” comment every once in a while may be a powerful tool for a teacher. • We also must teach children that not every food allergy battle has to be fought at the exact moment. We should teach students to assess the immediacy of something. Some food allergy battles can be fought later. • And fighting those food allergy battles? They definitely don’t have to be fought by the student every time. Sometimes parents can intervene and take care of the issue without the child even being aware. • A child with a food allergy does NOT have to know about every disparaging or insensitive thing the school says or does... Read entire post & support the school CANpaign. Link in bio. #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @endallergiestogether @redsneakersforoakley @foodallergy @parents @allergiclivingmag @kidswithfoodallergies @faactnews @safeandfair
Podcast link in bio. ⠀ ⠀ Food Allergy Podcast w/ Mom & Dad: This week, we talk about why it is important for a child with a food allergy to have balance while in school. Duration 4:30. ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @redsneakersforoakley #endallergiestogether #foodallergyfund @dontgetnutty
Food Allergy CANpaign Opener: Red Sneakers for Oakley, 100 books! ⠀ ⠀ @redsneakersforoakley has been one of my strongest advocates, and I am excited to announce that they just ordered 100 Land of Not books for their school program! Those 100 books will reach a lot of kids! It’s our biggest day by far for our CANpaign. ⠀ ⠀ What’s even more exciting is that those books will be a special edition. The characters in Land of Not: Red Sneakers for Oakley special edition will be wearing red shoes throughout the book. In addition, the book will feature a foreword to parents and teachers and a special note to the kids explaining why the characters are wearing red shoes. I’ll be writing much more about the Land of Not: Red Sneakers for Oakley special edition in a future post. I’m excited. ⠀ ⠀ As we enter the last few weeks of our Food Allergy school CANpaign, I want to thank those who have supported us by buying and donating a book (and 136-page online Teacher’s Guide and resources) to a school. I also want to encourage others to help. It’s $24 per school. We still have a long ways to go to meet our goal of 1,000 schools, but I’m confident our community will make it happen!⠀ ⠀ If there are any organizations or food allergy businesses who would like their own special edition, email me directly and we’ll make it happen. ⠀ ⠀ Link about the #canpaign in bio. ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @endallergiestogether @elijahsecho @childrensphila @safeandfair @foodallergy @foodallergyfund
Allergy 101: 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...⠀ ⠀ I decided to change it up and meet Mr. A, my allergy, at my Uncle Jon’s restaurant. ⠀ ⠀ Jon is actually my dad’s first cousin, and he’s always been one of my fiercest advocates when it comes to my food allergy. Uncle Jon owns the The Hill, a restaurant in Ephrata Pa, which is about an hour and a half from Philadelphia. Growing up, I always knew that I had a safe space whenever I wanted a meal. Long before any restaurant was accommodating food allergies, Uncle Jon made sure I could eat in a restaurant like every other kid I knew. When I was little, he walked me through his kitchen and told me every thing I could eat. Then he made sure it was made safely. ⠀ ⠀ Even last week, when I was home, he made sure my hot wings were awesome and safe! ⠀ ⠀ I thought it would be cool to meet Mr. A here. And so I sat there waiting for him to arrive. When Mr. A walked inside, Uncle Jon approached him and put his arm around his shoulder. They talked. And that’s when Uncle Jon showed him the door. ⠀ ⠀ “What happened?” I asked as Uncle Jon returned to my table. “Why did Mr. A leave?”⠀ ⠀ “It’s my restaurant, and Mr. A is not welcomed here,” he said. “Your wings will be right up!”⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign #thehill
Where’s that EASY button? Teacher. Click. Teacher. Click. Teacher. Click. I better try another way. If you know any elementary teachers who teach Kindergarten through 4th grade, please introduce them to our CANpaign. (Or purchase a book for them!) I know they will immediately embrace the CANpaign, spread food allergy awareness, and empower all young people to be who they are and who they can be, not who they’re not. CANpaign Link in bio. #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @redsneakersforoakley @endallergiestogether @safeandfair @foodallergy @dontgetnutty @foodallergyfund @uofpenn @childrensphila @elijahsecho
Situation Food Allergy: The Teacher’s Desk⠀ ⠀ Your fourth grader loves Mrs. Able. He thinks she is the most creative and caring teacher he’s ever met. And this is why he was shocked when, returning to class after lunch, he saw a few M&Ms on her desk. Because of his food allergy, you had talked to Mrs. Able and the principal at the beginning of the school year to stress the seriousness of the allergy. It was understood that students would not be eating unsafe foods in the classroom. You never said anything about the teacher, though. ⠀ ⠀ “She was busy and was eating lunch at her desk,” he says to you when he recounts the story over dinner. “The M&Ms weren’t even in a bag or anything. They were just sitting there on the desk… directly on it.”⠀ ⠀ You look at your son. “What did you do then?” you ask. ⠀ ⠀ What does he say he did? What, if anything, should he have done? ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergiessuck #foodallergymom #foodallergylife #foodallergyfamily #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykid #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #allergymom #canpaign @safeandfair @endallergiestogether @allergiclivingmag @foodallergy @kidswithfoodallergies @faactnews @redsneakersforoakley @dontgetnutty
When you have a food allergy, Character & Integrity are key...⠀ ⠀ Two of the 13 words of CAN are Character and Integrity. Character is knowing what’s right. Integrity is doing what’s right. These two traits, which are part of our Food Allergy School CANpaign, are important for all kids to possess. They’re even more important when you have a food allergy. We need our kids with food allergies to be people of good character and good integrity. ⠀ ⠀ Put simply, if they are going to expect others to be people of good character and good integrity around them as they grow older, they better possess and exhibit those traits as well. As someone with a food allergy, I constantly am having to trust how others respond to me. Did you wipe this down with soap and water? What ingredients did you use again? Is that a new “safe” butter in your refrigerator or an older one? Do you ever drink from the punch container in the fridge? ⠀ ⠀ If someone sees us as someone who cuts corners and lies to get around things, they just might be the person who lies to us to get around something. ⠀ ⠀ If someone sees us as someone who lies or exaggerates, they just might be the person who doesn’t believe us when we need them to.⠀ ⠀ Knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are two entirely different things. It’s often difficult for kids to recognize the importance and to follow through, especially when lying seems like the easiest solution. Kids learn about character and integrity from parents… so be on guard! ⠀ ⠀ People with food allergies are constantly trusting others. We must be people others can trust as well. ⠀ ⠀ CANpaign link in bio. ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign @redsneakersforoakley @dontgetnutty @safeandfair @allergiclivingmag @faactnews @kidswithfoodallergies @foodallergy
Food Allergy Podcast w/ My Mom & Dad. Link in bio. ⠀ ⠀ This week my parents and I talk about the importance of knowing what you can control.⠀ ⠀ Duration: 4:16⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergiessuck #foodallergymom #foodallergylife #foodallergyfamily #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykid #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #glutenfree #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #allergymom #canpaign
Honk, share & like this post if you agree that school nurses are true CAN Openers! School nurses are pivotal for helping young people with food allergies navigate school. Connect them to our Food Allergy School CANpaign. I have the perfect book and banner for their suites. Link in bio. #safeandfair #foodallergies #foodallergy #milkallergy #anaphylaxis #schoolnurses #schoolnursesrock #schoolnursesofinstagram #nasn #allergies #noappetiteforbullying #endallergiestogether #redsneakersforoakley #milkallergymom #allergyfamily #pasnap @endallergiestogether @foodallergy @redsneakersforoakley @faactnews @kidswithfoodallergies @safeandfair @joeysalmingo @foodallergyfund @allergiclivingmag @todayparents @megyntoday @jerome36bettis @spokininc Food Allergy CAN Openers: School Nurses.
Throughout the first month of the Food Allergy School CANpaign, I took a break from having my weekly talks with Mr. A., my allergy. As many of you know, on my blog each Thursday, I have an honest talk with an imaginary Mr. A. We usually talk about what I’ve learned from having an allergy over the years. Today, I am supposed to meet with him again. In fact, here he comes now.⠀ ⠀ “Where have you been?” Mr. A. says as he walks into the coffee shop. “I’ve been coming here each week, and you haven’t been around.”⠀ ⠀ “I’ve been busy,” I say. “We have our Food Allergy School CANpaign underway. It’s been taking up a ton of time.”⠀ ⠀ He laughs.⠀ ⠀ “Oh, that’s right. You’re trying to get that little book of yours into 1,000 elementary schools,” he says rolling his eyes. “How’s that working for you?”⠀ ⠀ “We still have October,” I say. “It will happen.”⠀ ⠀ “It won’t,” he says matter of factly. ⠀ ⠀ It’s what I would expect from him. Mr. A. doesn’t want me to succeed, of course. He wants to silence my voice. He wants to dismiss me. He wants me to quit. I’m not having it. ⠀ ⠀ “We will transform schools,” I say. “The more schools we reach, the more kids with food allergies we strengthen. The more schools we reach, the more kids who don’t have food allergies and their teachers we educate. And the more we strengthen and educate, the healthier we are as a food allergy community.”⠀ ⠀ He laughs.⠀ ⠀ His tone hurts. But when you have an allergy, you’re used to it. People are constantly minimizing what you have and how you feel. People are constantly dismissing your allergy as a preference or as something that will give you a rash or a tummy ache. People are constantly dismissing your concerns and your anxieties, especially if you’re younger...⠀ ⠀ Read the complete blog post. Link in bio. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #thelandofcan #thelandofnot #jjvulopas #canspirational #foodallergy #foodallergies #foodallergymom #foodallergyawareness #foodallergyfriendly #foodallergykids #foodallergymama #peanutallergy #dairyfree #anaphylaxis #canpaign
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