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Tips for Navigating Walt Disney World with Food Allergies #FPIES #Disney

As I shared in a previous post, my kids and I recently visited Walt Disney World (WDW) and had a magical experience.  My youngest child (4 years old) has severe and rare food allergies due to having Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and was able to feel completely normal at nearly every meal we ate. While Walt Disney World itself does it's best to be accommodating of special diets, I strongly believe that it's a partnership with the family and that there are things you can do that help to make it a real success. Below are my top five tips for successfully navigating Walt Disney World with food allergies. 

How Walt Disney World Made Food Allergies Magical!

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with food allergies/intolerances then you know how difficult it can often be to feel "normal" when dining out or attending events. I recently traveled to Walt Disney World with my three children (ages 4, 6, and 8) and my parents. If you aren't aware, my youngest has been diagnosed with FPIES, a rare food allergy disease that causes her to vomit and potentially go into life-threatening shock following the ingestion of certain foods.  Her trigger foods are dairy, gluten, oats, bananas, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and avocados. There are also some gluten-free ingredients such as buckwheat that we have yet to trial and therefore aren't cleared as "safe" for her to consume yet. *You can learn more about FPIES here and more about my daughter's story specifically here.*
I fully admit, that even after joining the Disney Food Allergy Facebook group and reading all of the positive stories of kids with food allergies vacationing at WDW, I was still extremely skeptical that my daughter would in fact be able to feel "normal" and enjoy food safely served alongside for siblings all week long. You see, my daughter has NEVER enjoyed a full meal (including dessert) at any restaurant in her 4+ years of life. So, in my mind I was thinking "How is Disney going to be able to accomplish this when no one else could?"
Well, Disney surely proved me wrong. From the moment we arrived at The Contemporary (Bay Lake Towers) for our first table service meal at The Wave until the final meal the night before we departed at the same restaurant, they really made it magical. I NEVER thought coming into this vacation that I would see them take something that has been such a struggle for my little one and our family and make it absolutely MAGICAL. Below are a few of the highlights of her dining adventures:
Excited about dinner at The Liberty Tree Tavern (MK)

The Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo 2018

If you've been following my blog, you are likely aware that my youngest child is diagnosed with FPIES which involves several severe food allergies. Last year, I was first introduced to the Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo as part of their media team and I'm happy to announce I'll be returning again this year.
About the Expo: The GFAF Expos are the largest and fastest growing special diet consumer events in the US. Started in 2007, the events are professionally managed and have expanded from one to eight cities throughout the United States. In addition to meeting the needs of the Celiac community, the Expo welcomes those with gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/inflammatory diseases and autism.I'll be attending the expo on April 7th and plan to bring you a video of the expo floor, like the one below I filmed last year. You'll be able to follow along on my social media channels, including Instagram and Facebook. Information about the Schaumburg, IL expo: 
Interested in attending? The expo has tickets available via this link.

April 7-8, 2018
10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday the 7th
10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Sunday the 8th
Schaumburg Convention Center
1551 Thoreau Drive North
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Life is a journey and it's led me back to you!

If you've been a follower of my blog for the last few years you'll have noticed that I basically disappeared from writing over the last 362 days. Aside from a random post or two, it's been quieter than a room with a sleeping newborn baby.

Why? Life. That's the thing about life, it happens. Sometimes we have warning and sometimes we don't. Even when things happen that we know are going to happen, we can be completely caught off-guard by the waterfall affect that happens within our lives follow such events. In this case, we're talking about divorce. The long, narrow, often overwhelming road to divorce.

I could write dozens of posts about this (actually I have but those are private for now), but let's just say it's been a JOURNEY. However, what matters to me most to share at this point is where I am today. And today, I'm here, typing this post, ready to come back full-force to the blogging world.

I feel: Stronger. Confident. Wiser, Smarter. Weathered.

So, what does this mean for the future of this blog? Well, it's going to be featuring more about life as a single mom. That'll include posts about budgeting, cooking, etc. plus a few about emotionally navigating this space with three little ones. I'll also be working with many local and country-wide events to bring you photos and videos from such experiences.

I'm truly excited about coming back and can't wait to share with you loads of information both fun and helpful. Thanks for sticking around with me!

While I work to get new content up and running you can follow along on our journey on both Instagram and Facebook

Gluten-Free and Allergen Friendly Expo 2017 - Schaumburg, IL

I recently attended the Gluten-Free and Allergen Friendly Expo 2017 in Schaumburg, IL. This expo was filled to the brim with AMAZING food and beverage companies that offer products fitting into one or both of these categories.
As you may be aware, my youngest child has FPIES. This means that she has a limited diet and is extremely restricted in the products that I can purchase off-the-shelf of our local grocery stores and safely feed to her. One of these companies, which happened to be a sponsor of the event is Enjoy Life. Without this company, my daughter would never even know the taste of chocolate desserts. We heavily rely on their chocolate chip line to create homemade desserts and chocolates for her every day and holiday fun!
In addition to this AMAZING company, there were tons of others offering products from sauces and pastas to desserts and pizzas. All fitting into the gluten-free and/or allergen friendly categorization. Want to see more?! Well lucky for you, I went live from the show floor!