Food Allergy Counseling: Interview with Tarah Jakubiak, Allergic Traveler
I first met Tarah at a FARE walk years ago when I was promoting my lifestyle guide Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011) (available online or at your local bookstore). Tarah is another adult with food allergies who has create a business that support people with food allergies living their best fullest lives- yay!
Tarah created Allergic Traveler, food allergy chef cards in multiple languages that can be used for dining out as well for your child’s backpacks for when they are away from you or home. From the Allergic Traveler website:
“…what happens when you are traveling, for pleasure or business, and you need to communicate with the waiter that you are allergic to nuts in French? That is the premise behind this Allergic Traveler, LLC… All translations are done by native speakers in order to ensure the accuracy of such an important translation.”
As Tarah says: “My ‘Allergic Traveler’ card has given me the freedom to see the world and I hope it can do the same for you.”
Recently, I had a chance to ask Tarah a few questions about being an adult with food allergies and how she got the idea for her business, Allergic Traveler. Want to read what I said to Tarah? Read more on her blog.
Sloane Miller: What’s your personal connection to the food allergy community?
Tarah Jakubiak: I have lived with food allergies my whole life. As a child I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies after being rushed to the hospital for the umpteenth time; I stopped breathing. Eventually I was blood tested and my parents discovered the root of my hospital visits was due to my allergy to eggs, tree nuts, mushrooms, and shellfish.Today my whole list of allergens comprises of eggs, nuts, mushrooms, celery, peanuts, soy, garlic, chicken, pork, corn, shellfish, sesame and I have oral allergy syndrome (OAS) to most fruits.
Miller: Tarah, tell us about your professional background:
Jakubiak: My background lies in marketing, advertising and sales management. I have spent more than 20 years working for companies to help their business grow. Having an extensive business background and multiple food allergies, I saw a need for our product, and I was completely aware of how to bring it to the market place.
Miller: What does Allergic Traveler do and what was the reason why you created it?
Jakubiak: I have traveled my entire life whether it is for business or pleasure. Around 2010, I went on a Mediterranean cruise. We would be stopping in multiple countries and I needed to be able to communicate my allergies in many languages. I started sketching out some cards. I realized there was a need for this so I created Allergic Traveler to use on my trip.
The reaction I received from testing out my product personally was overwhelming. Waiters actually thanked me for being so prepared. Shopkeepers were able to help me with my groceries. This reaction solidified the need to found Allergic Traveler and in 2011, we launched our online business.
Allergic Traveler produces dietary allergen cards for those in need of communicating their restrictions. Cards are available in English and 17 other languages. Each one is customized. They are available in wallet and luggage format. The luggage format is popular with young kids as they attach them to their back packs while on field trips or sleep overs.
Today people use our cards while eating out, while traveling, while away at college and in many other settings.
Miller: What is the best piece of advice you have for people newly diagnosed with food allergies?
Jakubiak: To the parent of the food allergic child, I would say, “It will be OK. Trust yourself and your child will be well prepared. There are many obstacles that will be put in your way but take comfort in the fact that there are many more resources, including support, out there today.”
To the child or adult with food allergies, I would say, “Make the best of your situation. Become a great cook and spend some time learning new cuisines. Do not forget to give back to the food allergy community as only you can understand what we really need.”
Miller: What are your interests outside of work? What gives you joy?
Jakubiak: I love to travel when I am not working. I like to experience a new culture, to get lost in new neighborhoods, to meet people with different customs, to learn about their cuisine, to absorb whatever they are prepared to teach me. And of course my loved ones bring me great happiness. No matter the situation to spend time with a loved one is always a gift and it never lasts long enough.
Thank you,Tarah, and Allergic Traveler for all that you do to support us getting out there safely!