Ambassador Highlight: Meet Allergy Mom with a Mission, Michelle!
We'd like to introduce you to our newest ambassador, Michelle Isban! We asked Michelle to share a bit about herself and her advocacy work for the allergy community, as well as share her tips for managing food allergies in her household.
Talking about myself does not come naturally to me. I don't know about you, but it is easier for me to talk about others. However, I would like to let you know more about who I am as a person and as an allergy mom.
I was a special education teacher for over 12 years in New York City. I have two beautiful children aged 12 and 8 (she likes to say 8 and a half). My oldest has no allergies and our 8.5 year old is allergic to eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and shellfish. I am also allergic to tree nuts and I have oral allergies to many raw fruits and vegetables.
When my daughter was diagnosed with allergies as an infant I was nursing and cut out all of her allergens from my diet. It was then I realized how difficult it is to eliminate so many foods from your diet.
I first became a part of the allergy world through co-chairing walks for FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). As time went on I realized that I wanted to become more immersed in the food allergy community.
I had the idea of holding an event called Shoot for a Cure to benefit food allergy research. I reached out to End Allergies Together and convinced them to allow me to hold this event. Breezemont Day Camp graciously hosted this successful, fun event and we raised over $60,000. The event hosted over 300 people and helped spread food allergy awareness to all that attended.
After this event I became the Community Events Director for End Allergies Together. I was responsible for running their community fundraisers, teen and college ambassador program, mission ambassadors and building relationships with allergy safe products.
As EAT wound down last year I looked for a new way to focus in on the food allergy community. That is when I began my Instagram page, @allergymomwithamission. The idea was to help continue spreading awareness, advocacy and sharing both advice and products that are allergy friendly with others.
Currently, I work with Food Equality Initiative on allergy safe food procurement. It is so important especially during these hard and uncertain times to have support where communities can come together. I’m grateful and thankful just to be a part of the allergy community!
ICYMI, we interviewed Michelle on Instagram during Celiac & Food Allergy Awareness month, and her comments were so helpful, we wanted to share them again here.
Q: How do you avoid cross-contamination in your household when you're managing food allergies?
A: We have labeled shelves in our pantry saying "Lexi Safe" or "Justin Only" to ensure that snacks and pantry items are clearly separated. We also have a fun sign in our kitchen to remind everyone to wipe or wash hands after and before eating. I have a 3 "R" rule for reading ingredient labels: read at the store, read when we get home, read before ingestion.
Q: How do you nourish your family while managing food allergies?
A: We generally stick to the same brands that we trust when using packaged products. Most of our meals and snacks contain fresh fruits, veggies, proteins and whole grain items with as few ingredients as possible.
Q: What are your favorite allergen-free cookbooks or recipe blogs?
A. There are so many great recipe blogs and cookbooks out there, but my top three go to's are: Amanda Orlando of Every Day Allergen Free and her cookbook "Everyone's Welcome", The Zestfull recipe blog and Allergy Awesomeness. Their recipes are not only allergy friendly and easy, but kid approved as well!
Q. What are some of your favorite/most trusted allergen-free resources?
A: I truly respect and admire our food allergy community. Many of my followers have become my friends and support system!
For more allergy resources, information on supporting the allergy community, and to stay connected with Michelle, please give her a follow on Instagram @allergymomwithamission. We're grateful to partner with Michelle this year and further advocacy for the allergy community together.