“Food Allergies Rock!” – An Explanation

Food-Allergies-Rock-Logo3

The song and motto “Food Allergies Rock” is one that I get questioned on frequently, leaving people often scratching their heads. Fair enough! It’s an odd statement!

However, I urge you to read this full blog post to see why I’m not crazy for saying “Food Allergies Rock”.

To completely contradict myself, let me start by saying that food allergies do not rock in the literal sense. We know what anaphylaxis is, what it can do, and how scary everything associated with it can be. No one signed up for food allergies, and given the opportunity, no one would. Who would want a relationship status with food that can be best described as “It’s Complicated”??

In my 30+ years of living with multiple food allergies (peanut, tree nut, egg, seafood and mustard), I’ve had a lot of low points and scary close calls. Some days I curse my allergies. Truth be told, I curse my asthma much more.

At the end of the day, I am an individual living with a severe but manageable health condition. I believe how I view my own allergies affects my own quality of life, and the perception other people have of me.

  • Do I want to feel and be viewed as a victim? No.
  • Do I want to feel and be viewed as someone living in constant fear? No.
  • Do I want to feel that life is always unfair and be viewed as someone who lives under a dark cloud? No.
  • Do I want to feel like a confident and normal person who is never slowed down by their food allergies? Absolutely.

I wrote “Food Allergies Rock” to flip my own perspective on my condition. If I can “rock” my food allergies, I will be more confident and empowered to stay safe. I choose not to let food allergies define me. I stay positive while staying safe. I read labels, carry epinephrine, ask the right questions at restaurants and more. I got this.

I know “Food Allergies Rock” a line that might be hard to grasp. But as someone who has the condition, this perception/self-talk/attitude has actually made me less of a risk-taker, and improved my overall quality of life. To me, that rocks!

With all of the other severe and unmanageable health conditions out there, I feel somewhat fortunate to have only food allergies. I’ve learned how to live with them, travel with them, the precautions needed, the ways to deal with frustrations, and how to rise above them to live live life to the fullest. If reading this makes you think, “wow, he really rocks his food allergies”, then you now know the power that a little catchphrase can have on the psyche.

I hope you and your kids can rock your food allergies too!

Song Stories – Gluten Free Blues

Gluten-Free-Blues

“I can’t eat bread, I can’t eat dough, I can’t eat the crust to make my chest hair grow.” And with that one line, a song was born!

The inspiration for Gluten-Free Blues came from my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) who has celiac disease. I had written a handful of songs about food allergies, and wanted to surprise her with a song about gluten. In a strange “food allergy music” kind of way, it was a dedication!

I remember picking up my guitar in my parent’s kitchen and started playing some bluesy chords really fast. I started throwing in a few “oooh oooh’s” and then the fun light-hearted lyrics literally flowed out from there. I think I finished the song within half an hour which is really rare for me. I called up my girlfriend right afterwards to unveil the new song – she loved it! It was such a fulfilling writing session being done so quickly, and having instant positive feedback. For a song with “Blues” in the title, the true intention is to leave listeners with a bit of optimism by having a song they can relate to and have fun with.

When I went to the studio to record the song, I realized that I needed some type of intro for the song, otherwise it’s a crazy fast kick-start to the tune! I wrote a funky little progression that plays on the chords and slowed it down a notch. The end result really packs a punch for when the fast tempo of the song begins.

Nowadays, I typically use this song during dance-a-thon shows or public gigs to get kids dancing fast! Sometimes I’ll incorporate a game of freeze dance or musical chairs and stop the music sporadically. Kids dig it!

I’ll admit that I am not as well-versed in celiac disease as I am not affected by this condition, but I did my best to create some well written verses.

Listen to Gluten Free Blues at:
http://grooveshark.com/s/Gluten+Free+Blues/2sye4a?src=5

Gluten Free Blues

I can’t eat bread, I can’t eat dough, I can’t eat crust to make my chest hair grow
I can’t eat spaghetti, or macaroni, If you ask me it’s all a load of bologna

I can always feel the sign, right in my lower intestine
It gives me pain and tummy aches, it must have been something that I ate

Could have been oats, wheat or rye, could have been the batter on the fish we buy
They call it gluten, and its absolutin’, the reason I get sick inside

(chorus)

They say it’s not an allergy, but an intolerance from my family tree
I can make buns, and I can make bread, I can make anything that you’re all fed

I make things that are sweet or sour, I make it all with special flour
There’s no difference between you and me, except the fact that I’m gluten-free

(chorus)

Song Stories “Smellephant The Allergic Elephant”

Smellephant

Out of all of my “song stories”, this is one of the most needed as I get questioned about it the most…”where did the song Smellephant the Allergic Elephant come from?”. Easy – it started from a rotten paper maché elephant head….

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

Let me back track a little!

Back in 2005, I was working at a summer camp in northern Ontario and was selected for the ultimate and most prestigious job a camp staff member could have – “World Games Captain”. My friend Lisa and I were captains of Team India and we were in charge of not only leading 200 campers, but creating a full opening and closing ceremony presentation among other random things (including a coordinated Bollywood dance!)

Image128

Our secret weapon…a homemade Indian elephant that we created out of paper maché called Smellephant. It was a life-size elephant head  that we put onto a wooden frame including a canoe yolk so people could hoist Smellephant up on their shoulders. Our big closing involved ME riding Smellephant! In other words – Kyle hanging on for his life on a wooden frame while a bunch of canoe trippers tried to portage him around a slippery hill! It was hilarious and epic at the same time. It all ended smoothly and India ended up winning World Games that summer.

At the end of camp that summer, the offseason staff got in touch with me regarding Smellephant’s head. They found the poor guy in a corner of the theatre and he was now completely rotten and filled with mould.  They could smell him throughout the theatre and asked if it was okay to toss him. I thought it was a poetic that his short life would come to such a smelly end. Poor smelly smelly Smellephant.

In order to make him a bit more immortal, I decided to feature his character in a song! The messaging was simple – elephants eat nuts, Smellephant cannot, and he must find other things to eat. The song itself is very fun and does not go very deep into what allergies are all about. With all of my songs, I like to have some really silly ones that kids can just enjoy without thinking too deeply into it, and wave their “arm trunk” around freely!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

It’s a random story, it’s a random song, but it’s one of my faves and I hope your family enjoys it that much more knowing that Smellephant was born out of creativity and always lived up to his smelly name! 😉
Smellephant the Allergic Elephant

There once was an elephant
Whose name was Smellephant
Whose trunk was always stuffed up
He ate so many peanuts that he figured that one got stuck

Kyle playing the sitar!

Kyle playing the sitar!

He hoped it’s not an allergy
So asked a good old pal to see
If anything was stuck in that trunk
But everybody knows that ol’ Smellephant is allergic to nuts

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time
But until then…. Oh Smellephant, oh Smellephant You gotta blow your nose!

The elephants they all agreed
That Smellephant should take the lead
And try something else like worms
Because everybody knows that when you sneeze you’re spreading germs

They wanted to get rid of ya’ And kick you out of India
But Smellephant said “hey wait!”
I’ll trade you all my nuts If you trade me all your grapes

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time

Now there’s not an issue Because there’s lots of tissue And Smellephant has never felt better
But it’s hard to stick to gum when peanuts taste so yum!
When you’re dancing in the moonlight, you don’t want to say gesundheit!
When you’re trying on your clothes, you don’t want to blow your nose!
Because everybody knows that all you have to say is no thanks, I have allergies

Song Stories “Epi-Man”

The original "EpiMan" and "EpiMan Jr."

The original “Epi-Man” and “Epi-Man Jr.”

Do you ever browse the Internet with some type of purpose, but then find something else and completely forget about what you were initially looking for? I remember doing research for my company www.allergytranslation.com when I stumbled upon a picture of two boys dressed up as super heros. Little did I know that after reading their incredible story my life would be changed forever…

Let me backtrack.

I had written one allergy song while working at summer camp, “That’s a Peanut”, that started my journey of writing ditties about food allergies. I never expected that song to leave the summertime campfires. At this time I wasn’t planning a CD, a tour, let alone a live performance for a group of non-campers! I figured it was just a one-off song in my repertoire.

Once the camp flag was lowered and we all went home, I started working away at launching my own business. I was following the steps I learned in business school and conducting  market research to complete my business plan. I surfed the net browsing websites when one link jumped out at me. It was for a website titled “Epi-Man“. Intrigued, I clicked on.

Epi-Man? What an awesome name for a character! I wondered what genius thought of this epinephrine slinging super hero! I read on to find that it was in fact a 6-year old boy and his 4-year old brother. Wait, what!? Here were two allergic children with a very long list of allergies who had made their food allergies into something positive – and fun! Their homemade costumes were brilliant, and their “super poses” were just awesome. These were truly two kids that didn’t let their allergies slow them down. I was also amazed that they helped get Sabrina’s Law passed in Ontario by advocating on Parliament Hill in their costumes!

Feeling immediately inspired, I picked up my guitar and started strumming while singing “Epi-Man….Epi-Man……” and then out popped the rest of the chorus: “A dose of epinephrine carries in his hand”. The rest of the song practically wrote itself in the span of 20 minutes. I recorded a quick demo and sent it to their mom Karen via the email address I found on the website. Within 10 minutes I received a response from her that she loved the song and wanted to chat on the phone! We had a great phone call that night and she planted the idea in my head to actually record the EpiMan song and more! AND THAT was when the idea was planted to create a CD of music about food allergies. Karen’s support group in Ottawa soon after hosted my very first public concert. I owe her and her group so much gratitude.

Kyle's zany puppets are always a crowd favourite

Kyle’s zany puppets are always a crowd favourite

Looking back I find it incredible that I had to encounter a character created by allergic children before I truly became empowered to use my own voice to educating about allergies through music.

Since then, I continually have children tell me that Epi-Man is their favourite song. I have also had two puppets (Epi-Man and Epi-Man Jr.) made that accompany me at every performance.

But the best part, is that every now and then I show up at a performance and there is a child dressed up in their very own homemade Epi-Man costume. I also receive lots of costume pictures every Halloween! To me this is amazing as the character that these boys have created has become timeless. It is a character for allergic children to call their own and brings with it a sense of empowerment every time you put an “E” on your chest, a cape on your back, and of course… your underpants on top of your pants!

I encourage you to learn more about the great story behind Epi-Man and Epi-Man Jr. on their website: http://www.epi-man.com/

Lyrics to “Epi-Man”

Kyle testing EpiMan's true strength

Kyle testing Epi-Man’s true strength

Looking for someone to save the day,
Looking for someone with super strength,
And if I eat something that I shouldn’t have
There’s a man in a cape who will fly in,
Food Allergies do not phase him.

Epi-Man, Epi-Man.
A dose of epinephrine carries in his hand,
And Epi-Man doesn’t need gratitude,
Just be careful when you eat your food,
Or Epi-Man, will save the day.

If you have a reaction on a ferris wheel ride,
Your hero will come and by his side,
Is Epi-Man Jr. His trusty sidekick,
Together they’ll save the day,
Fighting so you’ll be o.k.

Epi-Man, Epi-Man.
A dose of epinephrine carries in his hand,
And EpiMan doesn’t need gratitude,
Just be careful when you eat your food,
Or Epi-Man, will save the day.

In his Epi-Jet, they fly all over the world,
Just to save every allergic boy and girl.

Epi-Man, Epi-Man.
A dose of epinephrine carries in his hand,
And Epi-Man doesn’t need gratitude,
Just be careful when you eat your food,
Or Epi-Man, will save the day.

Song Stories – “I Wrote a Song About Allergies”

song-stories

Welcome to my first “Song Stories” post! This is something I’ve meant to do for a long time as I often receive questions about my songs and the stories behind them. It’s fun for me to reminisce about writing my songs because song-writing to me is like collecting old pictures. They provide memories and a snapshot of that period in your life.

First up, the 1st song from my 1st album: I Wrote a Song About Allergies which was written in 2006.

Camp shananagans

Camp shananagans

Working at a summer camp was one of the best decisions of my life. I never went to overnight camp as a kid – mainly due to allergy concerns. However at age 19 I got a job teaching guitar at a camp and felt like it was the greatest summer job (plus the camp was nut free). I knew camp was a fit for me right away. It’s a fun and friendly environment that really stirs creativity by making fun programs for kids.

My sole guitar staff member Daniel and I came up with the idea to have a camp wide song-writing contest for the campers. However our dilemma was how to promote it. What better way to promote a song-writing contest than writing a song about it! And that’s when we grabbed our guitars, strummed a G chord, and out came “I wrote a song….and it’s all mine, no one else’s, it’s just mine”. We then rambled along where the song was coming from in addition to the heart. “And it comes from my ears and toes and my itty bitty nose etc. etc.”. It was a hit when we played it for the entire camp! A few weeks later we were swamped judging all of the amazing songwriting entries from creative campers.

To me, this song spawned creativity in others and that made me happy. When I decided to put together a CD of songs about allergies, I naturally chose to rework this one as I knew it had a catchy melody, it had a fun tempo, and could easily list off so many allergens! After a few edits, presto!

The most common question I get about this song is “Are you really allergic to all of those things?”. My answer: “No, but even if I was, a song about all of the foods I CAN eat would be so much longer”.

Lyrics to “I Wrote a Song About Allergies!”

I wrote a song just for me
All about my allergies

Cuz I’m allergic to
Eggs and wheat and nuts and meat, avocado and kiwi aren’t a treat
Milk and cheese don’t feed me please, dairy, cherries and all the other berries

I wrote a song just for me
All about my allergies

Cuz I’m allergic to:
Shrimp and juice, and great big moose, I can’t eat birds but I’ve never tried goose
My lips feel numb when I eat a plum, but apples and bananas make my tummy say yum!

I wrote a song just for me
All about my allergies

Cuz I’m allergic to:
Sour cream dips and chocolate chips, corn on the cob gives me swollen lips
Mould and moss and soya sauce, mom’s meatloaf is no big loss

I wrote a song just for me
All about my allergies

Cuz I’m allergic to:
Leafs and greens, and lima beans, I never had potato with sour cream
I can’t eat beats, or tasty treats like broccoli and cauliflower or anything that’s sour

I wrote a song just for me
All about my allergies

But at least I’m not allergic to… quick, what’s your favourite food?

PIZZA!