CFL Star Thomas Miles' Food Allergy Story
Mediaplanet: When did your family find out that you had a peanut allergy, and how was it discovered?
Thomas Miles: I was one year old. My parents gave me a peanut butter sandwich and I broke out in hives. That was the first major reaction I had and since then I’ve had to avoid peanuts.
What was it like as a kid growing up with a peanut allergy?
It was hard when I was younger. I felt left out and frustrated by being unable to eat what other kids were having. Luckily, my mother’s an outstanding chef and baker, and always sent me off with treats that often greatly surpassed those that I was “missing out” on. I learned from a very young age how to manage my allergy and still be able to take part in everyday events like birthday parties or going out with my friends.
What advice would you give to children and their parents when it comes to living with a food allergy?
To not allow allergies to limit you or define you. Certainly, you need to make adjustments and take precautions, like reading food labels, asking about ingredients when eating out, and always carrying an epinephrine auto-injector. I’ve found that by planning ahead and being prepared, I’ve been able to travel and play all over the world.
What precautions do you take in your everyday life to ensure that you’re being safe with food and eating only safe options?
I always carry an epinephrine auto-injector, and I try to assess and minimize the risks involved with eating out. If a restaurant seems unsure of its allergy policy or doesn’t have specific safety procedures in place in their kitchen, I won’t eat there. It’s important for me to know what’s in my food and how it’s prepared so I can avoid an allergic reaction.
Did your allergy have any impact on your path toward becoming a professional athlete?
Not in the slightest. I’ve always focused on pursuing my football career and not letting my food allergy stop me.