Allergy life-line

7th June 2016

News, Alumni news

Food allergies have been a normal part of life for 'Allergic Girl' Sloane Miller (Sarah Lawrence Programme, 1993).

  • Sloane Miller

But seeking a radical career change, Sloane decided to make lemonade out of lemons and create a dynamic career as an author and psychotherapist specialising in food allergy management.

Sloane’s award-winning blog Please Don’t Pass the Nuts, has made her the go-to food allergy expert for people seeking food allergy advice in New York City, and across the world. Her blog and website offer help and information, from advice to those recently diagnosed with food allergies to recipes and resources for those who, like Sloane, want to live well and safely with food allergies. Her critically acclaimed book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (John Wiley & Sons) was published in 2011 offering tested strategies and practical solutions to everyday food allergy concerns.

Sloane entered college firmly believing that she wanted to be a writer and a psychotherapist. “My concentrations at Sarah Lawrence College were poetry and psychology and I continued those courses during my senior year at Wadham.”

After graduating from college, she became a writing fellow at Columbia University for a year and then headed directly into a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in writing and literature. She then entered a second Master’s, this time a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.  

“The summer out of social work school, I landed my first job in outpatient mental health in one of the oldest and most revered social service institutions in New York City, as a direct practice social worker i.e. a psychotherapist. This was the dream job, everyone in my year wanted this placement and I won it. It should have been perfect - except I hated the job. The workplace was toxic, my co-workers were sick and miserable and the clients were sick and miserable. It felt like a career disaster. This was my vocation; how could I hate my vocation? I felt like a failure for hating the career I thought I’d love.”

After months of hoping the workplace conditions would change, and seeing that they wouldn’t, she quit.  

“I felt lucky to get a temp job at a publishing house, which quickly turned into a permanent job for nearly five years, as a book editor.” Although successful in her publishing work, Sloane did not feel passionate about that either.

“After over ten years post-college and in the working world, I had pursued two jobs within my chosen, ideal vocations: mental health and the world of letters. And both made me miserable. When I took a step back, I realized that I overlooked one crucial aspect of both of these situations: by taking jobs within a larger corporate structure, I thought I was escaping personal failure, especially as I had no agency and limited influence on the policies and procedures that could make the most impact. What I realised is that is what I craved most. My core nature is to be creative, resourceful, innovative and multi-layered/multi-directional in thinking, qualities corporate structures commonly discourage.  So I concluded, maybe the problem wasn’t my vocational choices (writing and psychology), but the bureaucratic avenues through which I pursued them.”

“Realising it was time to embrace my true nature, and with the emotional support of my family, in 2006, I started an entrepreneur business, Allergic Girl Resources, a consultancy devoted to food allergy awareness. I’ve become a leading voice in the food allergy community: I write a popular weekly blog, I authored a book, I work in direct practice with motivated clients in need, I consult with government, non-profits, restaurant and hospitality industries about how to better serve those of us with severe life threatening food allergies. In essence, I took all of my natural talents and combined what I learned from my two-mini corporate careers to create a more satisfying entrepreneurial whole."