Have you seen me use the mantra from Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming” or a add a little fish emoji to my social media posts?

What in the world does this have to do with parenting a child with food allergies?


I am a big fan of Finding Nemo.


I am a mom, who has been through a lot while raising 4 children, including one who manages multiple food allergies, and another who manages EOE.

I am also a registered nurse, and a graduate student of public health. Growing up, I was a cheerleader.

From combining those experiences, here is my advice:

✅ Watch Finding Nemo.

✅ Put yourself in the character of Marlin.

✅ Bring tissues. Get ready for a few belly laughs too, while taking in the sorrows, struggles, and joys of life in the ocean.

✅ Let the music fill your heart, as you drift away on a parenting adventure.

Think of Nemo as your child, and Dory as your inner voice, with her simple phrase, “Just Keep Swimming!”

Appreciate her ability to keep moving forward. Ironically, it’s her forgetfulness that allows her to live in the present moment.  Her kindness and sense of humor are also her greatest strengths.  She doesn’t hold onto stress and she’s slow to anger.

Dory keeps swimming, asking for help and helping others along the way.

Let’s face it. Marlin and Nemo have been through a lot-

There are deep mental scars left behind from their shared trauma. As a result, Marlin develops perceived limitations of Nemo, to protect him from experiencing any more harm or discomfort.

Marlin’s anxiety and struggle for total control escalates. He constantly reminds Nemo to, “STAY SAFE!”

Sound familiar?

Like Nemo, our children with food allergies long for adventure.  They want to be part of their school of fish and explore the world around them.

It’s scary out there in the big blue sea, if we choose to see everything as threatening.

As parents, we have the fear of the unknown and all of those “what ifs” lurking in our thoughts, pulling us back.

We are afraid to trust others.  When the time comes to send our kids to school, we are somewhat terrified. Much like Marlin does on Nemo’s First Day of School, we put on a brave face, and push through our fears.

In school, Nemo tries to prove himself and touches “the butt” or rather the boat! Unfortunately, Nemo gets trapped Yet this is when Marlin and Nemo truly discover themselves.

Similarly, when we are faced with a food allergy challenge, we make a choice. We can either freeze with fear, or swim deep down inside ourselves, and discover our strengths.

It’s often in the face of adversity, we find courage!


“We’re not afraid of you, Bruce!”

We meet some incredibly inspiring people along the way, who show us how to get back out there and surf the wave of food allergy life.

“Duuuude!” We wish we were as relaxed and carefree as Crush.  We envy him, and his happy and unfazed little turtles.

We learn surfing the waves of food allergy life takes practice, experience and patience… By the way, Crush is 150 years old!

In the end, Marlin and Nemo find each other, safe and sound. They’re even more confident and laughing! Marlin finally sees Nemo for his strengths.

EPCOT_Living Seas

Our Family Vacation. We had a lot of laughs

As Marlin eventually does, we learn to trust ourselves and our children in this food allergy life. We do our best to trust others too.

We strive for balance and gain confidence. We dust off our sense of humor and find joy again, in the simple things. When a wave knocks us down, we get back up, embracing both our children and ourselves.

We celebrate our kind, smart, cool, resilient and brave kids. We show ourselves some grace too, as we stumble, fall and get back up again, and again.

After all, parenting a child with food allergies is not for the faint of heart!

Most importantly, we Remember:

Courage is a Decision.

As the First Day of School jitters set in, remember, You Can Do This!

“Just Keep Swimming!” Food Allergy Family.

I’ll be there in spirit, cheering you on.

For more food allergy empowerment, evidenced based information and support, you can find me on Facebook, where I co-lead the Friends Helping Friends Food Allergy Support Group.

follow me:

Facebook @FoodAllergyLife

Twitter @sheimkelly

2 thoughts on “My Food Allergy Mom Mantra: “Just Keep Swimming”

    • Thank you! It’s most definitely a process. But as my girl is now in middle school- it’s time I let go a bit. She’s ready. I’m
      Ready. Our relationship is wide open for conversation. We have to trust each other and keep swimming ❤️🐠. Thank you!


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