Mediaplanet: When was the first time you became aware of your allergies and how did your parents ensure you understood their severity?

Alex Tagliani: I was just a baby when my parents first realized I may have a food allergy. They soon found out that I was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. From a young age my parents taught me how to avoid all nuts and understand how serious my allergy could be.

MP: I understand you have a daughter with allergies, how did you help her understand her own allergies and how severe they can be?

AT: The good thing about my daughter’s allergies is that she’s allergic to raw eggs. Being away from raw eggs is quite easy for us and for her. Right now she’s more educated about my allergies than her own. I think in time, when she gets older, we will teach her more about what allergies are.

MP: What words of wisdom would you give to the community of people who aren’t affected by allergies?

AT: The one thing I would want people to know is that food allergies are serious. It can be challenging to manage your allergies, especially for kids, and having the support of people around you can make all the difference.

MP: What are your tips for parties or get-togethers where people may bring in homemade food?

AT: It’s important to let people know about my allergies in advance and talk to them about the food being served so I understand what I may be able to eat before I get there. To avoid any issues, I usually bring my own dish to share with others so there’s always something I’m comfortable with.

MP: Seeing as you travel often for work, what are some travel tips to help keep you safe from harmful allergens?

AT: When you’re away from home it can be challenging, especially if you’re travelling to an area with different food options than you’re used to. You need to be extra vigilant when you’re eating out and always ask about ingredients and food preparation. It’s also very important to always carry your EpiPen with you at all times in case of an emergency. I carry extra snacks/food with me when I travel to make sure I have a safe option with me, especially when I fly.

MP: How have you been involved in raising allergy awareness?

AT: I am currently a spokesperson for EpiPen® and a media ambassador for Food Allergy Canada. Working together with both groups on important community education and media projects has helped me raise awareness to the importance of food allergies all across the country over the past 5 years. My favourite part is talking to kids in schools and my race events and letting them know that they can safely manage their allergies and that doesn’t have to stop them from   becoming anything they want to be, even a race car driver.