FARE Leadership Spotlight - July 2021
Meet Lauren Soltwisch, a member of FARE’s Rising Leaders Committee, and learn a little more about her!
- What's your name, where are you from, and what is your food allergy connection?
I'm Lauren (Reiniger) Soltwisch and I'm from Mason, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati. When I was 9 months old, my parents found out I was allergic to milk after their first time giving me formula. When I was 6, I found out I was allergic to tree nuts after my first handful of cashews. Both food allergies result in anaphylaxis.
- What drew you to FARE? Why do you support FARE?
My parents turned to FAAN (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) for resources when I was a kid, before FAAN became FARE. I've turned to FARE for almost 30 years to help me through various parts of life and to stay up to date on news and research. I support FARE because they've supported me my entire life.
- When you think of FARE, what first comes to mind?
Progress. When I was a kid in the early 90s, there were no allergen-free lunch tables in school cafeterias. Reading ingredients was extremely difficult (this was years before the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004). Thanks to many FARE initiatives and FARE's lobbying over the years, it's becoming a lot easier for me to live my food-allergic life.
- What is one thing you would tell any food-allergic person or parent/guardian of a food-allergic person?
Don't give up hope. Continue to get tested and explore your options with your doctor. When I was a kid, my milk IgE levels were over 100. The doctor said he'd never seen a more severe allergy. Twenty-some years later, my milk IgE levels are 21.8. I'm going to explore oral immunotherapy at some point in the next few years. (I had my first baby 11 months ago, so I'm a little occupied these days! Speaking of, if anyone has advice about being a parent with food allergies to a kid with none – fingers crossed it stays that way for my son – I am all ears.)
- What is the best food allergy advice you ever received?
Not everyone is going to believe the severity of your food allergies or take them as seriously as they should, and that's okay. I've saved myself so many headaches and frustrations by just letting it go if someone questions or shrugs off my food allergies. It's not easy; I'm guilty of getting mad at comedians for making fun of anaphylactic shock. But I try to keep in mind that unless it directly affects my life or safety, just keep living with a smile on my face.
- What is your favorite hobby or pastime?
I love to write! I even crossed an item off my bucket list and wrote a book, Crying Over Spilled Milk, which navigates food allergies through common "chapters" of life – from elementary school to college to the office, from dating to wedding planning, etc. If you’re interested, you can find it on Amazon; proceeds go to FARE!
- With summer upon us, what is your favorite Top-9-free summer treat?
Cado Avocado Frozen Dessert (the deep dark chocolate flavor). In fact, I just finished a pint of it while typing this.
While FARE does not endorse products, we support and appreciate enterprises and organizations that are committed to serving the food allergy community.