April 29, 2009

Time to Stock up with allergy free foods

With a possible swine-flu pandemic coming our way, it may be a good time to stock up on allergy-free food! For quick and easy allergy free snacks and meals, it's helpful to bake and cook in large quantities and then freeze the food in individual size containers. That way when you need a fast fix, you can just pop something out of the freezer and into the microwave. Presto!

Posted by Ann Marie at 3:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2008

Braces and food allergies

Who knew that being the parent of a child with braces and being the parent of a child with food allergies would arouse the same feelings? I was doing some shopping for Easter candy the other day, and as always, I was diligently reading the ingredient lists. Then I picked up some jelly beans. Being familiar with so many different jelly bean brands comes with years of experience! So I knew right away many bags would carry the label "may contain traces of nuts, eggs, etc."

Then an odd train of thoughts popped into my head: hey, if I buy jelly beans than my daughter with braces won't be able to eat them, and she'll feel bad because she usually likes them, and this will cause negative feelings not only on Easter morning, but every time thereafter that my other kids want to eat something from their Easter baskets.

Hmmm, there was something strangely familiar with this thought process. Except this was the first time it didn't fall under the big umbrella of food allergies, even though this particular daughter has food allergies. I guess it must pull at the parenting strings of "try to make every child feel as though they are the most important." I weighed it out in my mind: how bad the child with braces will feel if the others get jelly beans vs. how bad the others will feel if they don't get any jellybeans. I decided everybody would be just as happy with nut free chocolate.

So this Easter, we asked the Easter Bunny to skip the jelly beans. I'm hoping my other kids won't miss them too much. And I know that my dentist would be giving me the big thumbs up if he heard of my decision.

Posted by Ann Marie at 8:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2006

What About the Less Serious Food Allergies?

As parents of children with food allergies, we spend most of our thoughts on keeping our children from exposure to the life threatening allergens. Whether your child is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, shell fish, soy, wheat or some other allergen, if anaphylactic reaction is a possibility, you are going to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. But what about those other food allergies? What if your child has milder reactions to some foods?

One of our kids reacts very easily to wheat. This is not a life-threatening situation (for her, that’s peanuts). She can eat some wheat products with no symptoms. There are other times when the hives flare-up and she is so uncomfortable. We try to provide lots of wheat free food choices and, at the age of seven, she knows what she likes and doesn’t like. And because she can tolerate some wheat, we’ve let her make food choices for herself.

What is the “right amount” when the allergy is not life threatening? I believe in letting our children make their own choices, yet the food allergy deal sometimes seems more like art than science and I feel better keeping my kids away from anything they are allergic to. I wonder if I'm alone on this one?

Posted by David at 3:07 PM | Comments (2)

November 28, 2006

Communication During a Food Allergy Reaction

As you may already know, one of our daughters has a pretty severe egg allergy. She had a skin reaction this week that came on pretty sudden and strong (she's not experienced anaphylatic shock from a food allergy reaction). We gave her Benadryl and an oatmeal bath and the reaction subsided. Going through this experience highlighted for us the need to communicate with our child during the reaction.

This turned out to be a pretty mild reaction that we got under control relatively quickly (not as quick as the food allergy reaction kicked in, of course!). Our daughter is 6 years old. She's old enough to tell us exactly how she is feeling and be clear about her symptoms. A few years ago, she would have simply started crying and we would have discovered her condition at a pace in accordance with her volume level. I find we move pretty quickly if the volume level is high and the cause is unclear.

This time, we were able to tell her what was going on and talk her through the meds and the bath treatment. Now, if it were peanut exposure, the situation may have been a bit different - although, I'd like to think our level of communication with her would be similar - especially during an ambulance ride.

It's something to think about. I believe we owe it to evolve our communication style as our kids grow older. Don't they deserve to hear more than just "it's going to be okay, honey"? They deserve to hear more information with regard to what's happening to them and how we are taking care of the situation.

And don't forget the hugs... I believe the size of our hugs need to grow right along with our kids.

Posted by David at 9:14 PM | Comments (1)

September 17, 2005

Camping with Child Food Allergies

I've been asked about how I handle camping with kids with food allergies, so here's some thoughts and a little advice. When we first started camping, it was a pretty scary thought process. It's one thing if you are camping with just your family but what if many families will be there? When you think about all the different foods that have been cooked on the grill before yours, there is a real risk. Add to that the fact that parents and kids are running around with all kinds of snacks (especially the perennial favorite - trail mix) and it can make you re-think even going on the trip.

Now, we camp about 6-8 times a year. We go with a large group of dads and kids for about 2-3 days. My kids have different allergies but the biggest worry is a peanut allergy - so, my comments focus on that particular allergen. You will, of course, adjust as necessary.

So, here some tips for camping with child food allergies:

1) Plan your meals in advance. If you are not already doing this in your day-to-day lives, you are missing out on a good food allergy management technique.

2) Pack "back-up" meals and snacks. You may not need them but it is better to bring them back home then not have them in a pinch.

3) Bring tin foil. This way your child's food can be cooked on the same grill (unless little Billy likes raw meat) as all the other meals without concern of cross-contamination.

4) Plan on bringing an extra cooler (one more than everyone else) for the extra snacks and meals. In our case, two of our kids have food allergies so that extra cooler is not a small one.

5) Ask your friends to not bring peanut butter, peanuts, trail mix, etc. Count on someone forgetting and breaking out the trail mix round the camp fire. A gentle reminder usually results in it being put away to avoid an accident.

6) Understand the activities planned for the weekend. Is there an activity that involves food? Races where peanuts are pushed with your nose? The raw egg toss? If there is something planned that is dangerous for your child, suggest a non-food related replacement activity. "How bout we do a water baloon toss instead?"

7) Think about where you will keep the Epi-Pens. We often camp in the mountains and desert here in Southern California, so temps can vary drastically (freezing to scortching hot). How will you make sure the epinephrine is kept at a safe temp. Sometimes hanging in the tent or kept on your person just doesn't work. (Hint: small insulated coolers are a great solution)

So, there you have it, some tips to make camping a little safer for you and your child with a food allergy. Any other suggestions? Go ahead and comment. Now, go pitch that tent and have a blast with your kids!

Posted by David at 12:36 PM

September 8, 2005

Fighting Food Allergies

I recently read this article on food allergies and thought the title was interesting, "Fighting Food Allergies". Made me want to pick up my sword and shield. Ahhhh!

The incidence of food allergies has grown exponentially in the past 30 years, and experts don't really know why.... What they fear is that while the number of people with food allergies continues to grow, so do the sources of places to get allergens - foods that will cause a reaction.

Less than the fighting connotation, it worries me that food allergies are growing "exponentially" and we don't know why. Genetic enginering of foods? More pre-prepared foods? A general breaking down of our immune systems? We've heard lots of possibilities and no real known cause in sight.

The article goes on to talk about prepared foods, hidden allergens, natural flavors and natural colors. We've been reading labels very closely now for about 8 years. We've seen a marked improvement in the labeling and have definitely developed an affinity for certain brands that we trust. We know mistakes can happen and as long as the manufacture contacts FAAN and gets the info out there ASAP, we're okay with that. The awareness is so much better than it was even just 8 years ago. Maybe information sources like this can make it that much better in another 8 years.

We hope so, that's why were doing this.

Posted by David at 8:23 PM

July 31, 2005

Welcome to the Food Allergy Parenting Blog

Welcome to the Child Food Allergy blog - a place where parenting children with food allergies is the topic of discussion. The purpose of this blog is to create an intelligent conversation (using real life experiences) about the special parenting challenges that food allergies present.

Our first child was diagnosed with food allergies over 8 years ago when we discoved she had an infant food allergy, specifically peanut allergy. Since then we discovered our 3rd child also has severe food allergies. In our experience, there are plenty of medical resources (most importantly, your family allergist) on the subject of food allergies. However, when it came to parenting tips, the resources were far and few between.

We have since found ourselves being called on in church settings, pre-school, elementary school, and other community events to provide parenting tips on the topic of managing our child's food allergy. Whether you are dealing with a baby food allergy, food allergy testing, looking for food allergy recipes, or trying to find more on food allergy symptoms, the parent perspective can provide you the additional support you need - informational or emotional.

Please note, we are NOT doctors and this site will not provide medical advice. If you are looking for medical advice having to do with diagnosing a food allergy, please talk to your doctor. You may also want to visit the Food Allergy Network for other medical resources.

We hope to create a valuable resource for food allergy parents and create a community where we parents can share thoughts on how we've managed our particular food allergy situations.

Ann Marie and David

Posted by David at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)