Tag Archives: awareness

The Month of Georgia

We’ve now entered the month of Georgia.  Plane tickets have been purchased, hotel has been booked, tours picked out (we’ve settled on a trolley tour, although the Segway tours looked pretty cool too).  The last step is here… calling restaurants and planning food.

I recently went on a more local trip, to Washington, DC.  As travel goes, this was an easy trip.  I brought car food (with wraps made from scratch – including the tortillas), and we were able to cook dinner.  The only meal not made by me was brunch, which is by far my safest (and favorite) meal to eat out.  And even with all that, it was exhausting!  It was a good reminder to me that sometimes we have to be patient with ourselves and remember to measure our success by our own ruler, rather than to compare our situation to that of those around us.  It’s true for food allergies and it’s true for everything else – it’s not always a good idea to compare to “normal!”.

So as I prepare for Georgia and plan my food, I’m keeping in mind that I need to be gentle with myself and my limitations.  I often tell clients in counseling to break down big goals into more manageable ones.  I need to do that too.  I don’t have to be ready to get on a plane tomorrow, or know the ins and outs of every restaurant in the state.  What I do need to do is call a few restaurants whose menus I’ve found to be Johanna-friendly.

I called the first restaurant, and discovered a couple of things: 1. Talking to the chef or sous-chef is the most reassuring and 2. Calling at an off-hour has a greater likelihood of a calm and successful conversation.  I spoke with K, a sous-chef, who answered my questions and told me with Southern charm that she looked forward to my visit.  She informed me that most restaurants in the area are trained for food allergies and cook from scratch.  I found I was more self-conscious about my harsh Northern accent on the phone than about the food allergies! K’s kindness put me at ease, and I hope to meet her when we go to her restaurant at the end of the month.

Maybe this trip can be the first step towards continuing travel adventures in my life, after all!


Lessons in food allergic travel:

-Don’t compare yourself to “normal” eaters

-Be gentle with yourself

-Break down big goals into small tasks

-Call restaurants at off-hours and ask to speak to the chef


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Breakfast is my favorite meal

I’ve never considered myself a big fan of the Bed and Breakfast experience.  Paying money to stay in someone else’s house, with (potentially) someone else’s pets that might make me sneeze, eating food directly from someone’s kitchen… the thought of it kind of weirded me out.  Why would I do that when I could stay in a standardized hotel, one maybe even with a pool?

Well, I’ve given it a try a couple of times now.  The first time was in the Irish countryside near Killarney and the Ring of Kerry.  That place was hard to beat, complete with Irish rain, tea, and owner John’s Irish brogue.  Short of an Irish B&B, I didn’t have plans to try another.

That being said, there is something romantic about staying in a B&B in the nearby Finger Lakes of upstate New York in autumn, with the leaves in full color.  I wanted to try an overnight without the stress of a big trip, to see if it would be possible to travel with food allergies and have a good time.  We stayed at the 1897 Beekman House in Dundee, NY, just off Seneca Lake.  I talked with the owner Chuck earlier in the week to discuss my complicated food situation with him, and he told me he might just plan to make the blueberry-stuffed French toast.  Yummmm.  A trained chef, I trusted that this home-made breakfast would be safe, and it turned out to be as delicious as it was safe.

My boyfriend, “A,” and I arrived on Friday night to the quietest town I have ever seen.  We explored the 1897 house with its several parlors, took a short walk (mostly to hear the leaves crunch and explore the one-block town), and settled in for the evening.  The next morning, we walked down the grand staircase bleary-eyed and looking forward to our breakfast.  I had seen the menu and faltered on the rum-caramelized pineapple (rum sometimes uses unsafe spices).  After a whispered conversation with “A,” I decided to say something.  Hesitantly, I spoke up to Gerry, clenching my hands with the nerves of a potentially awkward conversation.

“Gerry, I noticed that the menu says the pineapple is caramelized with rum.”

“Oh, yes, it’s delicious!”

“Well, I actually often stay away from rum, just because it sometimes has spices.  If you don’t mind, I think I’ll pass on the pineapple course.”

“Oh, well let me tell Chuck.  I think this rum is okay, but if you’re not comfortable, we can whip something else up…”

“I’m fine to just keep enjoying my cranberry-orange scones with honey butter, so don’t even worry about making something else!  Thank you so much.”

Gerry went back into the kitchen, and quickly Chuck appeared (in his chef’s coat) through the swinging door, holding the rum.  We repeated the conversation, and I assured them that I didn’t mind enjoying the (fabulous) home-made scones and tropical fruit smoothie with my coffee.  (Mind you, this is all before the main course of blueberry stuffed French toast had even arrived!).  They accepted my statement with ease and retreated back to the kitchen.

Minutes later Gerry came through holding two plates – one with the caramelized pineapple rum for “A,” and one with a fresh slice of pineapple for me.  The scoop of lime coconut sorbet sat clean in the middle of the pineapple, surrounded by thin slices of strawberry.  With a moment’s notice, they had found a way to accommodate my needs – and all without making me uncomfortable or feel at fault for my food allergies.  We finished the breakfast with the blueberry-stuffed French toast, our own stomachs stuffed to the brim with breakfast.

“A” and I then set out for the nearby craft market and to hike Watkins Glen.  Our bellies were full, my nerves over breakfast were easing, and the experience of Chuck and Gerry’s B&B set our adventure off on the right foot.

I knew that we would be home for dinner, and having only one real meal to worry about allowed me to enjoy the rest of the day.  Traveling by B&B allowed me to be a part of a mini-travel (and culinary) adventure, with the safety of trusted Chef Chuck’s home-made breakfast leading the day.

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Emotional Self-Care

What is emotional self-care?


To follow up on last week’s Post-It post…

Emotional self-care is taking care of and having compassion for yourself.  When you are having a difficult time, or if you’ve had a recent allergic reaction or a bad dining experience, or if you’ve had some other emotionally and physically challenging experience, it can be helpful to figure out the best way to take care of yourself.  Some people take a moment to be in nature or work in a garden.  Some people need alone time, others need to talk it through with a friend.  Some people might take a warm bubble bath, others will go for a run.  Thinking about past experiences, and how you have gotten through difficult times before, may give you ideas of how to best tap into your strength.

Tips for self-care:

-Accept help when you need

-Focus on what you are able to do or eat, rather than what you cannot do

-Set personal health goals

-Consider the ways you re-charge emotionally – and do them!

-Get connected! with each other, and with outside resources, if you need them.

Personal questions:

-What has helped you to deal with difficult situations in the past?

-Where are your “safe” places?  What are your “safe” foods?  Who are your “safe” people to be around when you’ve had an allergic reaction or a bad dining experience?

-How do you treat yourself with compassion when you are feeling drained or overwhelmed?

-How do you re-charge?  Do you need personal time, or social time?  What activities help you to process through emotions after a tough day?

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