The Food Allergy Mom, invited me to guest post for food allergy awareness week re: the importance of being "plugged in" online to the all of the great resources available. This topic is obviously one that is close to my heart since I have written both online and in print about food allergies, anaphylaxis and parenting for the past 6 years. Thanks to Kimberly for inviting me to guest post and thanks also for providing such a helpful resource to your readers!
Here's an excerpt from my guest post on The Food Allergy Mom:
" “I feel alone.” That’s the number one thing that I hear from parents who have just begun navigating the world with a child who has life-threatening food allergies. I understand that feeling. In fact, it was that sentiment of feeling alone and wanting to connect that prompted me to begin writing my blog “The Nut-Free Mom.” " Read more by clicking this link.
I am very thankful for the positive reader feedback over the years and grateful that so many readers have found encouragement, practical advice and emotional support via this blog and others.
One of the most important things about food allergy and anaphylaxis awareness is the connections! If you can find a way to communicate effectively and positively to others regarding food allergy, anaphylaxis and your child's needs, that's half the battle. One way to do that is to connect with other parents, learn from them and share your ideas so that together we find creative ways of managing life-threatening food allergies. So in that spirit, I hope you'll join a Food Allergy Awareness Week Twitter party hosted by Jennifer B of the awesome blog "Food Allergy Buzz."
It's easy to join the Twitter discussion, plus it's fast-paced and fun. Plus, you can win prizes from food allergy-friendly sponsors. To find out more about this event which takes place tomorrow at 7 EST, click this link.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
|Join the Food Allergy Awareness Week Twitter Party!|
It's really easy to participate, fast-paced and fun -- the hour flies by very quickly!
Here's more information about the Twitter party, including a link to the invite. Hope to see you there!
Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW) Twitter Party 2013
- Thursday, May 16, 2013 • 7:00 PM Eastern
- Hosted by Jennifer B
- on Twitter
Join us for the 4th annual FAAW Twitter Party! This is a fantastic opportunity to connect with others in the online food allergy community LIVE at 7:00 PM Eastern. Chat with other food allergy friends, help promote food allergy awareness and maybe even win a food allergy prize from one of the party's sponsors. Click this link to see and respond to the invitation.
In order to participate in the FAAW Twitter Party you will need a Twitter account.
To be eligible for a prize, you must:
1. rsvp YES to this invitation
2. follow @FoodAllergyBuzz on Twitter
3. tell friends about the 2013 FAAW Twitter Party on Twitter and/or FB (send us the links for the Tweet and FB post!)
4. participate in the party using the #foodallergy hashtag!
Sponsors include Surf Sweets, Onespot Allergy, Enjoy Life Foods and Peanut Free Planet!
For more information, click this link:
Friday, May 10, 2013
Just a note here for those of you looking for a peanut butter substitute: I don't think of the Biscoff spread as a true peanut butter alternative, like say, SunButter, because the Biscoff Spread is made from cookies. Yes, it's very delicious, but it's not a health food. Still, if you want to try something new, Biscoff is some tasty stuff. Also it may look like peanut butter but it smells or tastes NOTHING like peanut butter, a boon to kids who, because of severe allergies, are repelled by other substitutes.
Biscoff items are a product of Belgium and since I always like to double-check any foods not made here in the U.S. due to labeling concerns and manufacturing practices, I am happy to say this company appears to be very transparent about their allergy info. Here's the nut-free deal with regard to this product:
Biscoff spread is made in a nut-free facility as are the cookies. Biscoff Spread is packaged (not produced) in a facility that also has hazelnut items being packaged there as well. This does not trouble me, since the facility where the Biscoff is produced is nut-free, according to the company and the say they take precautions during packaging. Click this link to the Biscoff FAQs page as well as an excerpt from the company web site:
"Does Biscoff contain any nuts? Should I be worried if I have any nut allergies?
Both Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Spread do not contain any nuts and are produced in a facility that contains no nuts.
Biscoff Spread is packed in a facility that packs other products that contain hazelnuts. Our packer guarantees 0% contamination for Biscoff Spread with any other products that contains nuts. Biscoff Spread is packed in a separate dedicated line and is never packed on shared equipment used for other products containing nuts.
Biscoff Crumbles are packed in a facility that processes eggs, nuts, peanuts and sesame."
I have never seen the Biscoff Crumbles in stores, but obviously avoid those.
More allergy info from the Biscoff web site:
"What are the allergy warnings for Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Spread?
Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Spread both contain wheat and soy. Biscoff Cookies and Spread are both Vegan."
Note from me (Jenny): this product contains sunflower oil, so avoid if you have a sunflower seed allergy.
You can find Biscoff spread and cookies at most well-stocked grocery stores. I've seen these items everywhere from my local Jewel grocery store, to SuperTarget and Walmart.
If you think you'd like to try this and get creative with recipes, check out this link I found from The Huffington Post, all about Biscoff and recipes that use both the spread and cookies. They may not all be nut-free recipes, but they are certainly yummy-looking and creative. You can always alter them to make them "free from" what you need to avoid.
For more information about Biscoff products, visit their web site: http://biscoff.com
Please note: With any foods mentioned here, you are the best judge of what is safe for you and your family. If you have any questions about any foods mentioned here and whether they are safe to consume, please ask your doctor.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
|Yes, that's pretty much what I do.|
Mother's Day is almost here and I want to give a special thanks and recognition to all the mothers out there and especially to those of you dealing with food allergies. Of course dads, grandparents and family members care too, but I know that mothers take the brunt of a lot of the day-to-day stuff with food allergies.
This year you probably:
Met with school staff or other caregivers about your child's food allergy
Worried when your child went out without you
Were nervous serving your child food in a restaurant
Stayed up late baking cupcakes for a class party
Showed several people how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (including maybe even your child)
Researched the Internet about food allergies for hours
Had a real food allergy "scare" or a false alarm (incidentally, both cause gray hair equally)
Were a regular at the pharmacy
Took your child for allergy testing
Filled out endless paperwork so that your food-allergic child could attend a camp, participate in a sport or other activity
Did I say stayed up late baking cupcakes???
I could go on an on. The bottom line, Moms, is to be proud of all you've done for your child this year. Being a mother is not for the faint of heart, as my pediatrician told me when my daughter was just a baby. That goes double if your child has any type of chronic medical condition. In fact, it's important to take care of ourselves as we also take care of our kids, something I cover in my e-book.
Mother's Day is supposed to be a day of celebration for mothers--not necessarily a day of complete rest, though that is nice. But food allergies don't take a break, so I bet a lot of you--like me--will be baking and/or cooking for Mother's Day. I'm baking a coffee cake to bring to a brunch. My kids LOVE this cake and I am happy to make it for them. Nothing is better than being to serve my allergic daughter something that she can eat along with everyone else. I'm not officially "off duty" and that's OK. Are we ever really off duty as parents? As one of my favorite writers, Nora Ephron, said in one of her essays about being a parent: "The worry is forever."
Mother's Day is a great time to reflect on how close your child's allergies may have made you and your child. This may seem like a strange silver lining, but I'll leave you with this. The other night, my daughter and I were watching Top Chef Masters and they were doing a wedding. One of the tasks was making a wedding cake. She turned to me and said "Mom, will you make my wedding cake? Then I know it will be delicious AND safe for me."
She trusts me. She knows I can bake good cakes. She knows she can count on me. That's what Mother's Day means to me. After I got done swallowing the big lump in my throat I told her I'd be honored.
Happy Mother's Day!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
|When my daughter was first diagnosed, |
we had sticky notes like this all over the house.
The simple rule about epinephrine auto-injectors is that we never know when we'll need them. So always carry them! In fact, most allergists recommend carrying at least two at all times for a multitude of what-if reasons.
It's easy to forget these little life-saving doodads when you're rushing around fulfilling your life obligations. But--these things are too important to forget. They will save a life, period. To paraphrase an old TV ad: "Don't leave home without them." And in fact, even if you are at home, have them easily accessible at all times. Pick a cabinet and put a sticker on it or a sticky note--whatever you have to do. Tell everyone who cares for your kids where you either stored or packed the epinephrine. Truly, these small steps can make a difference by saving a life.
Tragic food allergy fatalities usually have one commonality that is heart-breaking: no epinephrine was available for the person suffering the reaction. This is reason enough to turn the car around and head home if you forget it. I've done it so many times and even if I've been late for something I've never regretted making sure I have the epinephrine. As my husband's late grandmother used to say "Better a red face than a broken heart." Amen to that! Carry the darn things.
I know it's a pain to remember to carry epinephrine auto-injectors, so I have some suggestions that worked for me. If some of these seem over the top, they are meant to be. Because, after all, the goal is having the auto-injector available at all times!
Whether you are using the EpiPen(R) or the new Auvi-Q(R) auto-injector, if you don't have them with you, they won't work. My daughter's first allergist held up the auto-injector and said "This is no good if you don't have it with you. Always have it with you." Point taken and I've always remembered that good advice no matter what.
Tricks for remembering/quickly locating your epinephrine auto-injector:
1. Use lots of sticky note reminders (see photo above). Place reminder notes on your front and back doors, the sink, your car dashboard, the kitchen cabinet, the TV screen--anywhere you think will be useful at helping you remember.
2. Wear it: OneSpot Allergy has auto-injector belts for both the EpiPen(R) and Auvi-Q(R). The company Olli Lolli even makes khaki pants that kids can carry it in. Whatever works--do it!
3. Have a special, recognizable case for the auto-injector. My daughter loves her carrying case from Epi-Essentials. If she doesn't have this visual reminder in her bag, then she knows not to leave without it.
4. Get your kids in the habit of remembering their auto-injectors. Practice having your kids bring you the auto-injector before you go somewhere; as they get older, have them carry it. (You carry a backup of course.) I'm so glad I did this; now my daughter is excellent at remembering and usually already has it packed before I ask "Do you have your auto-injector?
5. Practice drills for locating epinephrine. Pretend you need the auto-injector and time how long it takes to find it. It shouldn't take long--only seconds! If it takes too long to locate find a new spot for it.
I hope these tips help! And remember:
What works for you? How do you remind yourself to carry your epinephrine?