Meet Jennifer Thoman, one of our incredible 2023 Equal Eats Ambassadors.
Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist
What are some of your favourite hobbies, interests and activities?
Skiing, scuba diving, photography, and exploring new travel destinations!
What countries have you travelled to?
Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Iceland, France, Switzerland, French Polynesia, Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Dominican Republic and a whole slew of Caribbean islands via cruise ships
What's your dream travel destination?
Antarctica or African safari
What's your relationship to dietary restrictions? (e.g. you/your child, allergy/celiac)
My daughter, Georgia, had her first allergic reaction around 9 months of age after eating baby yogurt. We subsequently found out that she was allergic to eggs, dairy, peanuts and all tree nuts (in addition to environmental allergies to animal fur, trees and grasses!). She has since grown out of egg and dairy after many years and lots of food challenges at the allergist's office.
What led you to become an Equal Eats ambassador? (why is their mission important to you?)
As an Speech Therapist for almost 20 years and as an allergy mom, I truly believe that communication opens all doors! Giving someone the ability to be able to communicate in a language that they don't speak is so powerful. I love that the mission of the company mentions inclusion because I think in the end, that's all any of us want for ourselves and for our families... to eat safely and to be fully included!
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of managing a dietary restriction?
My daughter LOVES food! She has the potential to be a total foodie! Unfortunately, she's often limited by her choices... at the grocery store, in restaurants, etc. It can be frustrating, especially when it's something that could easily be made without nuts or without cross contamination!
What's the one bright side you have found of managing a dietary restriction?
I've been moved to tears more than once by just the pure kindness of people (sometimes total strangers). I once ugly cried outside of daycare when a Mom that I had never met stopped me in the hall to let me know that she brought in Oreos instead of cupcakes for her own son's birthday celebration so that my daughter could be included! We've had so many friends and family who've gone out of their way to make sure that Georgia is safe or included in meals, parties and celebrations. Whether it's picking up safe cookies or texting me from a grocery store or a teacher reaching out about providing a safe snack/reward in class, it always makes me emotional. You often only get to hear the horror stories and nightmare scenarios with food allergies, so we've always felt very lucky to be surrounded by such a caring community who want to do best by her!
What's your goal or impact you'd like to achieve being an Equal Eats ambassador?
I think back to my daughter's first reaction and how overwhelmed I was by her diagnosis. If I can help guide anyone along the path or make things easier for anyone following in our allergy footsteps, I'll be so happy. I just discovered Equal Eats last year and I'm so proud to be part of a company that is advocating for allergy awareness and improving communication within the allergy community and beyond.
Where can people follow or connect with you?
@JennThoman on Insta; Jennifer Spellissy Thoman on FB and @jenniferthoman on Twitter