Amelia was only a year old when her father and I discovered she had food allergies. At that point, it was entirely our responsibility to make sure we always had her epinephrine on hand and that she didn’t grab a friend’s cookie when our backs were turned. She got older and things got easier… in some ways. Amelia clearly knows what she’s allergic to, won’t take treats at parties, and understands the importance of reading labels and not sharing food. But she’s also becoming increasingly embarrassed by her food allergies—they make her feel different, and for school-aged children, different can be tough. She particularly hates bringing her EpiPen with her, insisting, “I won’t need it.”
Turns out Amelia isn’t the only one who hates standing out. Dana Lustbader launched Epi-Essentials, a line of leather handbags and accessory cases specifically for food allergic customers after her daughter hit third grade and told her mother, “I don’t want to be the food allergy kid.” The standard medical bag she toted her EpiPen in all day long felt like a giant “scarlet letter,” her mother says.
The bag ($118) and accessory case ($68) are cute and come in fun colors, and have special compartments that hold two EpiPens, antihistamines and other medications, and a small medical information card. Granted, these are not H&M-style prices, but if it makes a tween or teen with a health condition feel better about taking her lifesaving medication with her wherever she goes, it’s totally worth it.
Andrea Pyros writes often about parenting for publications including Mint, LearnVest and Sesame Street Family. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and is the mother to two children, one of whom has food allergies and the other of whom refuses to eat eggs even though he can.