It was the night before a national cheerleading competition. I would typically be hanging out with my teammates in our hotel rooms doing all types of pre-competition rituals – making up dances to trendy songs, playing Taboo, or playing with our hair trying to figure out the perfect style for the next day – anything to get our minds off of the competition and reduce our nerves. But that particular night, I had something else to distract me from the competition. I was laying in a hospital bed covered in hives with two IV’s in my arm, as doctors tried to treat my allergy attack.
Rewind a few hours earlier, I was out to dinner with my entire team at an Italian restaurant. I awkwardly had to share with the waiter that I was allergic to all types of nuts and to make sure that there weren’t any nuts in my dish. He looked at me like I had five heads since I ordered baked ziti … but hey, better confident and safe than sorry! After dinner I felt a small hive developing under my eye and I quickly went to the bathroom and noticed hives starting to pop up all over my body. Even though it only happened once before in my life, I knew this was the start of an allergy attack. I immediately took a Benadryl and kept far away from my teammates as I didn’t want them to see me like this. Of course the medicine didn’t work and I felt my throat start closing up – it was hard to breathe, and I frantically shot myself in the leg with my EpiPen. At this point I had to tell someone what was going on. I found my best friend outside our room and after one look at me her mouth dropped wide open – I looked like sloth from the goonies. She had my coach call 911 so that I could be taken to the hospital. I was so embarrassed as I was wheeled through the entire hotel on a stretcher in front of every other team that we would be competing against.
I couldn’t believe this happened – I had specifically told the waiter I had an allergy. Turns out, the bread on the table had been prepared with peanut oil – something I could have never known, or even thought to ask about.
It was this horrific experience that made me very cautious and aware of my nut allergy. But having a food allergy should not shoot your confidence. It is so common and something that you can easily adapt to. The most important thing to remember is to always stay positive! You are not a freak because you can’t eat a specific food. You should never feel deprived of foods that you can’t eat – there are so many different alternatives. Having an allergy is just an excuse to get creative in the kitchen.
My friends always say how horrible it must be to not to eat peanut butter or snack on almonds – but I have my own versions of these things! I’ve recently gotten into sunflower seed butter, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds – the perfect, healthy alternative to any nut based snack! (**Check out the recipe below for my favorite nut-free cookies!!**) So, don’t be discouraged by your allergy – embrace it as something that makes you, YOU! And if you’re ever like me and feel like sloth, just know it’ll be something you can laugh about later (after you get over the ultimate embarrassment ☺).
Recipe adapted from food.com
1 cup quick oats
7⁄8 cup spelt flour
1⁄2 cup sunflower seeds
1⁄3 cup pumpkin seeds
1⁄4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1⁄8 cup flax seed
1⁄2 cup granulated unbleached cane sugar
1⁄2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
3⁄4 cup dark chocolate chips
5⁄8 cup raisins
1⁄8 cup water
1⁄8 cup blackstrap molasses
1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Combine dry ingredients : from oats to raisins.
- Combine wet ingredients: from water to soy milk.
- Stir dry and wet together until just combined.
- Portion cookie dough using 1/3 C measure and place on baking tray.
- Gently flatten cookies.
- Bake for 24 minutes or until lightly browned.
Samantha Chatkin is a student at the University of Miami where she is studying Marketing and Business Law. Sam has a passion for exercise and wellbeing. Whether she is exploring a new exercise class, going on a hike, practicing yoga, biking, or participating in her new favorite thing .. mud runs!, Sam loves to stay active. She also loves to cook and bake and has recently started creating healthy alternatives to popular dishes and desserts! With a love of traveling, her dream is to explore the world and go to every continent on the globe. With drive, a strong work ethic, and confidence Sam is Fit to Lead and excited to be a part of the SFTL team!