Hey, my name is Helena and I have an allergy towards brazil nuts. In my daily life it’s very rare for me to come across brazil nuts so I am very lucky in that sense compared to people suffering with allergies to more common foods such as, eggs, peanuts or wheat- to name a few. Consultations with an allergy clinic are/were very beneficial in helping me understand the severity of an allergy as well as normalising them for me while growing up.
Despite only being allergic to brazil nuts I tend to avoid all nuts when I am not at home e.g eating out / with friends for two main reasons. Firstly, just incase I was to have a reaction I am not certain if those around me know how to use an EpiPen and secondly, just to keep things simple for whoever I am with or the establishment I am eating in.
I have only ever had a reaction twice; the first time was mild and sorted with antihistamines
and after that initial reaction I didn’t react again for 9 years as I was able to avoid brazil nuts very easily. This did however make me more lackadaisical about carrying my own EpiPens and antihistamine. My second reaction was as a consequence of eating a granola bar which I had checked for brazil nuts/ other nuts and there was no obvious warning in bold about containing nuts or not being suitable for those with nut allergies - as there usually is on these types of bars. A minute or so after first taking a bite I felt the usual symptoms of a reactions and became quite panicked. Thankfully, I was in a built-up area with a pharmacy where I got some antihistamine from, but it was a wakeup call to start carrying my medication with me at all times. I inspected the wrapper as I was certain there was no mention of nuts and noticed in a very tiny fount, “Brazil Nuts”. Now I was concerned about this as I firmly believe all ingredients/ manufacturing processes should be very clear especially surrounding common allergies. I was lucky in this situation but that easily could have been far, far worse. Overall, I have found restaurants to be very accommodating. Often waiters/waitresses will directly speak to chefs about the contents and preparation methods to ensure everything is fine for me which I am very grateful for. The only aspect I would like to see change in is the transparency and clarity of the contents and preparation methods of off the shelf food brands.
Who am I?
My name is Andrew Taylor and I am currently studying microbiology at the University of Glasgow. I have a severe nut allergy to all nuts except almonds and hazelnuts but tend to avoid them all if I am eating out, just to be sure.
Where did Allos come from?
The idea for Allos review came about in 2018 when I was sitting watching a documentary about food allergies. One part of the documentary focussed on the dining experience for those individuals that have food allergies. It was interesting to hear common themes from patients that were very similar to my personal experiences. I thought to myself: 'I wonder if there is a website like Tripadvisor but just for people with food allergies'. I was shocked to find that there wasn't so I decided to make one.
When I set up the website I called it Allereview and used that for a while, however I found people struggled to say and spell the name the way I wanted it to be so I knew I had to change it. In November 2019 Russell joined the team and agreed we needed to change the name. Over the following months we prepared to relaunch with a new name and brand design, I had meetings in order to secure funding to expand the range of services we provide. Unfortunately we had to make the difficult decision to pause everything and wait and see what happened with the Coronavirus pandemic. We have launched our new name, brand, app and updated our website but we will need to wait a little longer before we can release some of our other new features.
We plan to upgrade our website to ensure it is more user friendly and allows people to quickly and easily find and leave reviews wherever they are. We also have plans to allow users to book tables in restaurants that they have seen on our review page with the click of a button. Lastly we are going to be looking at engaging with restaurants better and plan to offer courses on improved allergy hygiene.
We are always looking for fresh ideas so if you would be interested in joining our team then please get in touch.
Quick fire questions:
1.Facebook or Instagram? Instagram
2. Biggest pet peeve? People patching you in the middle of a text conversation
3. Morning or night owl? Night owl
4. Favourite meal? A good sourdough pizza
5. One thing you couldn’t live without? Chewing gum
6. Eating out or in? Unfortunately it is generally eating in but hopefully we can change that.
Andrew and I have been friends since primary school and when I heard about Allos Review I thought it was an amazing idea as it’s something that I believe will change allergy sufferers eating experiences for the better. In my spare time I enjoy going to the gym and playing rugby as a way to relax as I like being active and makes you forget about any stress and anxiety. I do not personally have an allergy, however many of my family do and I have witnessed the stress that comes along with finding new places to eat. I am half Chinese and my brother, who has a peanut allergy, is often concerned over the use of peanut oil in Chinese dishes while we are out.
I would just like to take this first blog post to say 'Hello' to you all and welcome to our new blog, we will post a new one every Wednesday with each being written by a variety of authors.. I am sure many of you will have been aware of our relaunch. We have streamlined our branding, have a new name and will now have regular updates on our social media platforms.
Our new name is Allos Review and we are delighted with the name and the logo we have made for it. The word 'Allergy' was originally Allergie, created by a German doctor who combined the greek roots: allos, meaning "other, different or strange" and ergon, "activity". To this day we are still unsure of what allergies really are and they are still viewed as medically "strange". It is for this reason we went for Allos as we like to do things a bit differently. we hope you like it almost half as much as we do.
The times we live in are ever changing and at many times can be stressful. We are going through one of the biggest challenges in recent generations and, for many, life will have changed greatly. We hope that you can get back to 'normal' as soon as possible and one of the best ways to do that is to eat with friends and family. It will take time to feel totally comfortable eating out again but that's okay and we hope we can help you on that journey. We really hope you enjoy the new website and make use of the new features and services that we have, and will continue to, update.
I grew up with a peanut allergy in the 90s when it was much less common to be given an allergen menu in a restaurant and people didn’t understand intolerances and allergies like they do now. I’d often be asked ‘Is it just that you don’t like peanuts?’ to which I’d have to respond ‘No I will die if I eat them’. Due to the lack of understanding around my allergy I often felt a lot of anxiety as a child and upon reflection I feel that I had to grow up a lot faster than my peers. When I was a child I used to go to workshops for children with allergies and this made me feel more confident about how to approach certain situations and made me feel that I wasn’t the only one. At primary school I was asked to give a talk to each year group about allergies and how to administer EpiPen’s to raise awareness within the school. I enjoyed the sense of purpose this gave me and it almost felt like a badge of honour to have an allergy for those few days! I remember my best friend being my volunteer to have the trainer EpiPen ‘injected’ into her during the demonstration and she ended up with bruises for weeks after! As a child I spent a lot of time in the children’s hospital in Glasgow going for check-ups and ‘nut challenges’ (yes a real thing, unfortunately not fighting nuts in a superhero outfit) and I think this made me a lot more at easewith the healthcare world than most children, so it’s probably unsurprising that I now work in healthcare.
Once I went to secondary school and university, I was much less vocal about my allergy as I felt like it was something that instantly made me different – not something any teenager strives for! I can see now that this could be a really dangeroustime as you are really independent with your food choices but very unlikely to ask all the right questions for fear of standing out. As an adult, I am definitely much less anxious about my peanut allergy. I still get nervous about eating food on a buffet table that I can’t see the packaging for or going to a new country but I think it’s all about figuring out how you can comfortably managing these situations for you and not letting it hold you back.