The Top 10 Challenge invites participants to promote food allergy awareness by going a “day in the plate” of someone with food allergies and raising donations for food allergy research. I’ve been proud to support the Top 10 Challenge since very early in AssureTech’s history and had another chance to take the Challenge this year while visiting Taiwan. I’ll break down how this year’s challenge went while living and working in a different country and share some great ways to get involved.
You can watch a video recap here or read on to learn more about the experience:
My decision to go a day in the plate of someone with an egg allergy was largely inspired by the fact that eggs are a staple in my daily diet (in the U.S. and Taiwan), and I wanted to get a better understanding of what someone with this allergy could find while traveling to Taiwan.
My breakfast usually consists of 2-4 eggs in the morning, so adapting my lifestyle started early into the Challenge—in fact, it started the night before. Grocery and convenience stores are easy to find in Taiwan, and I think that prepping your first meal for the day can take a lot of the stress out of navigating in a foreign country with food allergies.
I started with some delicious nut & egg-free yogurt with granola that I found in the grocery store the night before.
Finding the Right Tools
There are plenty of great resources available when traveling to a new country with food allergies. You’ll find a lot of information about them on this site or in our previous blogs. One of the other ways I prepared to take the Challenge was by setting up my translations in the AssureTech Mobile App.
Finding Lunch: Consistency > Venturing Out
I haven’t traveled too much, but one of my favorite things about going to new places is trying different cultures’ foods. But it’s also very comforting to find a reliable option that you know fits with your allergy. In Taiwan, that’s going to be possible with convenience stores (like 7-11, Family Mart, and others). These types stores are EVERYWHERE throughout the island (as many as 2-3+ within a single block) and offer you a consistent experience once you find allergy-friendly food you like.
That’s where I decided to go for lunch when taking the Top 10 Challenge, and I picked up lunchbox that included chicken, rice, and veggies that was free from my usual and new allergens.
I got ready for my evening workout by finding a safe-to-eat snack for before the gym, and finished with a healthy, allergy-friendly meal. The office I was working in offered a protein-packed bag of chips (I’ve only ever seen the brand in Taiwan) that was free of all the allergens I was avoiding that day; and I returned to a different 7-11 outside my gym after the workout where I enjoyed my usual chicken breast + sweet potato to recover.
I made it back to the place I was staying in Taiwan where I helped prepare a simple-yet-delicious kimchi soup dinner. The recipe was easy enough to follow, consisting of kimchi, chicken breast, sliced pork; & vegetables. Kimchi (for anyone that may not know) is cabbage in a spicy sauce. I had never had it until my first trip to Taiwan, but it’s quickly become a favorite of mine because it’s a light meal/ingredient that’s packed with flavor, and safe to eat for me, even when I’m avoiding egg.
I think the Challenge accomplishes its intended goal of raising awareness about the struggles people with food allergies face—even if you have them already. I personally get so accustomed to living with my own allergies, that you sometimes forget about the different challenges people face based on what they need to avoid. Foods I initially thought, “No way, this won’t have egg!” ended up containing or sharing manufacturing lines with egg. I’ve had my allergies my entire life and never really had an adjustment period. For my parents, friends, girlfriend, other families affected by food allergies, and people that develop them later in life—suddenly having to avoid an allergen that’s been part of your life is very real. This was a great look into that side of food allergies.
Get Involved & Support the Top 10 Challenge
The Top 10 Challenge offers a number of ways for people to get involved.
Take the Challenge & Spread Awareness
Whether or not you’re personally affected by food allergies, you can go a “day in the plate” of someone else and get a deeper or renewed understanding of their impact. You can get friends and family involved, too, by inviting them to join you or by simply sharing your experiences with them. You can register for the Challenge here.
Donate & Support the Challenge
You can help the organization meet its goal of raising $25,000 to support food allergy research by making a tax-deductible donation here.
IMPORTANT: Thanks to a secret sponsor, all donations up to $5,000 will be doubled!