We all know that those brand name peanut butter cups in the bright orange wrapper are damn good but if you can’t eat peanut butter then these are your go to alternative. I was skeptical that they would taste blah being that they were not the “real deal”. If you are unfortunate enough to deal with allergies then you know there are some pretty bad “allergy free” foods out there. We have tasted some things that I would label as not edible. I was wrong in my assumptions of these fine chocolatey delights. They were delicious and most importantly, Linden thought they were tasty! With his allergies there are limited kinds of chocolate he can eat. Kudos to Sun Cups for making allergy free goodies taste awesome!
My son Linden was curious about TealCrate. He asked to read all of my blog posts. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react being that he is a tween and I’m talking about him to the rest of the world. 😉 I was pleasantly surprised when he enjoyed reading them, laughed a few times, gave me a lot of feedback and had great conversation about some of the topics.
I thought it might be nice to get some ideas from Linden so I asked him what sorts of things he thinks about, situations that come up, etc. related to his allergies. He was happy that I was asking for his opinions and ideas. Then I thought…instead of giving me topics Linden should write a couple of posts on my blog. When I asked him the other day he was shy about it but then tonight out of the blue he came up and asked me if he could write a couple of posts. I really hope he does as I think it would be most interesting to hear his perspective.
It’s Food Allergy Week (May 8-14th) and this is probably the most important piece of information you will see all week.
The FARE chart pictured and linked above is a really nice guide to help you know when you should administer an EpiPen. I hope it provides a little more clarity for you as it did for me.
Many people are unsure about when an EpiPen should be used. I have been in this category until recently. Our pediatrician told us if my son is having an allergic reaction then use the EpiPen. Ok. Yes. That makes sense. Sure. Absolutely. We will do that.
However, it only made sense in theory until my son started having reactions to foods and then things suddenly didn’t seem so clear. I found myself wondering every time he had a reaction of varying degrees whether this was going to be the time that he needed it. It is stressful, and downright frightening. He would have an itchy mouth, feel sick to his stomach and start to cough. Then usually he throws up whatever he’s having a reaction to. So my thought was ok, he can breathe and his throat’s not closing up so he must be ok and as long as we get all of the allergen out, rinse his mouth, give him Benadryl, his inhaler and then he will be ok. If not I’ll administer the EpiPen. This is typically what happens when he has a reaction. We have been very lucky and he’s been ok after doing that. However, there were a couple of occasions where he also felt dizzy, lethargic, and his throat felt funny, etc.
Our doctor never gave us a specific run down of when the correct time was to give the EpiPen. He spoke vaguely as if I understood and I nodded. In fact, at the time I did think I understood but clearly I didn’t. I should have asked more specific questions then I did. I also wish I would have known earlier that EpiPens are not a last resort and should be used when in doubt. I’ve had a lot of doubt over the last 10 years. There were probably at least 5-10 times where I should have used it.
You might be thinking…Seriously? Why is her kid having so many reactions? Isn’t she avoiding the foods that he’s allergic to?
The answer is of course we are avoiding the foods we KNOW he is allergic too, BUT new food allergies pop up once in awhile for him and we just never know what’s going to set off a reaction. It’s tough. I am a Mom of a severely allergic child for the last 10 years and still didn’t know the proper time to administer it. This is sad. I also know that I’m not alone in this and quite often people are confused about when the appropriate time to use it is. It may seem strange to you. Reaction = Epipen However, until you’ve experienced it in many different forms you won’t realize how unclear it can be. I feel that there should be more awareness about this and a guideline – perhaps this FARE guideline should be given out when you learn of your food allergies at the doctor. It would have been so helpful.
Food allergies are becoming a large problem and therefore people are scrambling to find ways to fix them. One of the treatments that has become popular is Oral Immunotherapy or OIT. It’s a therapy that is used to desensitize you from your allergy by eating small amounts, eventually increasing the amounts so that you are able to eat a small amount of the allergen and NOT have an anaphylactic reaction. As a parent of an allergy kid, this sounds freaking amazing. To not have to worry about my kid accidentally eating a nut and dying brings tears to my eyes. Seriously.
However, this immunotherapy has its pros and cons. There have been MANY great results and some not so great. It can depend on the severity of the allergies. The pros are pretty damn obvious. YOU CAN EAT YOUR ALLERGEN WITHOUT DYING! That pretty much sums up the pros for me. Now, here’s a list of some cons. These are the important ones that should be noted and carefully considered before starting an oral immunotherapy program.
- It may not work and you may have to quit because of severe reactions. One doctor stated that about 1 in 4 people don’t make it to the maintenance dosing stage at their clinic.
- It can be costly as it involves weekly visits and allergy tests.
- The allergen must be eaten daily indefinitely. If you go without eating it for any length of time you may end up back at square one with reactions.
- You or your child may have anxieties about eating what you/they are allergic to.
- They may not like the taste of the allergen and refuse to eat it.
- If you have eosinophilic esophagitis then you most likely won’t be able to participate in the program.
- In most cases, there are strict rules about when you can and cannot dose. For example, you cannot exercise an hour before taking a dose or two hours after a dose or you may have a reaction. This could be especially hard for kids and kids in sports.
- Reactions can happen when you get sick as well. When your immune system is run down it has a hard time coping.
- It’s not a cure, it’s a risk management system.
Only YOU know what’s best for yourself or your child. All those cons may be worth it and then some when you realize you or your loved one is no longer anaphylactic. Currently, I’m on the fence about whether or not I will try to get my son into an oral immunotherapy program. I’m in the giving it a lot of thought stage right now. I’m wondering if this makes sense or we should wait for the next big thing…Epicutaneous Immunotherapy.
It’s hard to find restaurants where you don’t have to worry in regards to allergies. This is super stressful as a parent of a child with food allergies. Oftentimes I either I feed my son before we go to the restaurant or bring him something else to eat.
When your child is deathly allergic you don’t want to take a chance in a restaurant where you can’t see the kitchen, don’t know the risk of cross contamination, and of course we all know that accidents happen. Servers or chefs mix up orders, and sometimes you don’t get the most accurate answers when inquiring whether or not an allergen is in the specific menu item. There is too much room for error. While most errors are easily fixable in a restaurant, this error could cost my son his life and to me it isn’t worth the risk.
On a positive note Chipotle restaurants are allergen free, gluten sensitivity/celiac’s disease friendly. They are also in abundance and delicious!
“WE DO NOT USE EGGS, MUSTARD, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, SESAME, SHELLFISH, OR FISH AS INGREDIENTS IN OUR FOOD.”
“If you avoid gluten, don’t eat our flour tortillas. If you are highly sensitive to gluten and would like us to change our gloves, just let us know at the start of your order. You should be aware items containing corn, including corn tortillas (chips, soft corn, and crispy corn tortillas) and corn salsa, may have a small amount of gluten from potentially co-mingling with gluten-containing grains in the field.”
They go above and beyond to prepare food that people can enjoy. Even if your kid doesn’t like Mexican food, like my son, they can still throw some rice and meat in a bowl. Voila! My kid is happy with that and you don’t need to worry about allergens! It’s great! Thanks Chipotle!
Aside from my son having food allergies and GERD, he also has to deal with oral allergy syndrome. If you are not familiar with this it means that your kid’s list of foods he/she can eat dwindles even more than before. Makes you want to rip your hair out. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for my son.
Oral Allergy Syndrome or also known as Pollen Food Syndrome is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables, or some tree nuts. The immune system recognizes the pollen and similar proteins in the food and directs an allergic response to it. People affected by oral allergy syndrome can usually eat the same fruits or vegetables in cooked form because the proteins are distorted during the heating process, so that the immune system no longer recognizes the food.
This was true for my son for awhile but now he can’t even eat these fruits and vegetables cooked. He happens to have seasonal allergies to tree pollens, grass pollens, and ragweeds. Here are some foods that correspond with the Pollen Food Syndrome:
- Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato
- Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini
- Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum
When he eats these foods he usually gets an itchy/scratchy throat, sometimes hives, and sometimes his lips get swollen. Typically, people with these reactions are fine and the symptoms go away after they remove the food from their mouth or swallow it. However, it can cause an anaphylactic reaction in some people. So, yeah, that’s pretty shitty. The thing is, these symptoms are the same symptoms that start happening when my son has a serious food reaction. When he takes a bite of these fruits/vegetables and has those symptoms he gets it out of his mouth immediately and doesn’t want anymore for fear of full blown anaphylaxis. It’s really hard to tell if it’s a going to be a minor reaction or a severe reaction. I can’t blame him for not wanting to eat it and I don’t want him to take the risk. It’s best to avoid it if you have a reaction of any kind. Sometimes the reaction is worse depending on the time of year (related to your seasonal allergies).
I have noticed that it has become worse over the last few years. As I mentioned above, he used to be able to eat them cooked and now he can’t eat them at all. Previously, only about half of the food on the list above bothered him and now it’s just about all of it. This makes eating food a lot more difficult. I once asked my doctor the following:
“So with all the foods he has to avoid because of food allergies, and all the foods he has to avoid with the GERD, and now the Oral Allergy Syndrome problem, what the hell is there left for him to eat? Crackers?”
I was feeling pretty frustrated at that moment. Remember, we are talking about a kid here. Like any other kid he tends to be a picky eater. This doesn’t leave us with much on the “ok to eat” food list, people. It sucks! Sucks for my kid. Sucks for preparing meals. Sucks trying to feed my kid well balanced meals. He loved carrots, bananas, melons, peaches, etc. He wants to eat them, wishes he could and can’t.
However, just like all things food allergy related, we press on and try to be positive. Things could always be worse and we are thankful that they are not.
I didn’t eat nuts when I was pregnant because at the time that’s what you were supposed to do. That’s what you read in pregnancy books and were told by your doctors. As a parent, you are always trying to do what’s best for your child. I wanted to get it right. I had a baby growing in my belly and depending on me! Woah! While my kids were in utero I was trying to be the best parent I could be by putting the healthiest food in my body. I read all the pregnancy books I could possibly read and I had my little lists of items to do and what not to do. I didn’t drink alcohol, have caffeine, eat sushi, deli meats, peanuts, tree nuts or consume anything unpasteurized. I washed all my fruits and vegetables thoroughly and cooked my eggs to death.
I know plenty of women who didn’t follow the guidelines. They had some red wine, ate fish, nuts and enjoyed over easy eggs. Their kids all turned out fine. Perhaps I should have relaxed a little more.
I have two children. One has food allergies, eczema, asthma, and GERD. My other child has nothing. WTH? I know sometimes that’s just the way it goes. Every child is different. Right. I know. But I also know that I was way more careful about what went into my body with the first child and a little more lax with the second child (including eating a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and nutty chocolates). I can’t help but wonder if by strictly avoiding everything with my first child I somehow made it worse. The news articles in the last couple of months lead me to believe that I should have eaten some damn peanuts and then eventually fed them to my infant son. Unfortunately, these studies came out 12 years too late. It’s possible he could have avoided all nut allergy struggles.
I feel guilty that I may have caused my son’s allergies. That really sucks! However, I realize there is nothing I can do about that now. My only choice is accept it and move on. It just goes to show that you need to do what YOU think is best because often times we are told what to do or not to do and the fact is no one really knows if it’s right or not until a problem arises or years of studies catch up with it.
So for all my fellow parents of children with allergies… Do your best, love your children and RELAX!
EpiPens are bulky. Plus you need to carry 2 of them because 1 is not enough. Also you need them to be with you everywhere you go. So where the hell do you put them?
If you are like me, then you have:
-2 EpiPens/Allergy Meds/Inhaler that go to school with your kid
-2 EpiPens/Allergy Meds/Inhaler in a drawstring bag that goes with your kid when he/she isn’t with you
-2 EpiPens/Allergy Meds/Inhaler in the bottomless pit that is your purse
In the beginning I just grabbed an old make up case, cleaned it out and threw all the meds in there. Then I wrote my kid’s name on the outside along with the words EpiPen and threw it in my purse. At least it was a little easier to find. However, after a few years of use it started to get worse for wear and wasn’t exactly the most fashionable thing. I needed to find an alternative and holy shit there were actually cases for these things that weren’t boring plain medical bags, there even have some that look like handbags. What! I should have dug a little deeper into the internet abyss. I just assumed there wasn’t much out there aside from what I had already seen. Plus there was no way in hell I was wearing a FannyPack with EpiPens in them. As I get older I am trying to be cooler and less like Deb.
I waited long enough and now you can buy fashionable cases. I’ve done the research for you and here are my favorites!
- Allergy Haven
- Allergy Apparel
- The Fuzzy Stitch
- Ouch Pouch
- Cool-It Caddy
- Allergy Lifestyle
If you live in Illinois and have nut allergies then you are lucky. Well, lucky because you have a delightful and delicious allergy safe bakery at your fingertips. Some of us live places where there are no nut free bakeries…HUGE bummer.
The owners Brian and Sonia Walker started this bakery after their son was diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies. They realized how hard it was to find baked goods that were safe for him to eat. They are very thorough with all ingredients they use in their bakery and are always making sure the ingredients are coming from places where peanut and tree nuts are not used. I applaud and appreciate their efforts.
Nutphree’s Bakery has cupcakes, cake pops, cookies and brownies. You can also custom order special occasion cupcakes and cakes with just about any design/theme you can think of. They look amazing and according to the reviews, they taste just as amazing as they look! My mouth is literally watering just thinking about them.
Thank you Brian and Sonia for baking goods that are beautiful, fun, delicious, and safe for people with nut allergies!
Kellogg’s has decided to add peanut flour to their products. These were all products that were previously deemed safe for kids with peanut and tree nut allergies. They also haven’t disclosed why they are putting the peanut flour in their product line. Here are some of the products that will be affected:
The Austin crackers affected are Austin Cheddar Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, Austin Grilled Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, Austin Pepper Jack Cracker Sandwiches and the Austin Variety Pack Cracker Sandwiches.
The Keebler flavors that will get peanut flour include Keebler Club & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, Keebler Cheese & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, Keebler Pepper Jack Sandwich Crackers and the Keebler Variety Pack Sandwich Crackers.
There is a petition on change.org that has over twenty thousand signatures. When the petition was around the fifteen thousand mark it was delivered to Kellogg’s. The company responded by releasing this statement. Unfortunately, it was disappointing and didn’t make much sense. They already have crackers that are allergy free and yet they were stating in the letter how they were working on allergy free options. The allergy community is trying to understand why they need to add peanut flour to their cheese crackers?
People feel that they just can’t trust the brand at all anymore. They seem to be brushing off the seriousness of the problem and sometimes I feel that others (not just Kellogg’s) really don’t understand the full scope of food allergies. Kellogg’s feels that it’s making a “no big deal” ingredient change but many adults and kids that are used to eating those crackers may think they are still safe to eat and could potentially have a life threatening reaction.
I realize that these crackers aren’t the healthiest snack to eat but there are times when kids need quick snacks or are offered them elsewhere. Allergy free snacks can be hard to come by in a pinch. We don’t always have time to make something from scratch at home. There are times that I’m not with my son to help check labels and he does the best he can. It’s hard to keep up with companies changing ingredients and labeling all the time. I worry some day he’ll be at a friend’s house eating what he thought was a safe snack and potentially die because they changed the ingredients or didn’t have proper labeling. There has to be a better system here, folks. Something needs to be done. Scary.
Snacksafely.com has been giving the allergy community excellent coverage on this subject.
Please help take action by signing this petition on Change.org. I did.