Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hello, it's me...Here's an update about what's going on with The Nut-Free Mom

Hello, it's me...thanks to Adele for that opening. :)

It's been quite awhile since I last posted. I've been working on a fiction project that is soon coming to fruition and have begun two new ones. These new projects, along with my family responsibilities, have not left me with much time to blog, but I'm happy to know that many of you still get good info from my past blog posts and articles.

My daughter is now 16 and is doing a great job of managing her food allergies. She's enjoying theater in high school and is becoming quite an accomplished actress and singer.  She even traveled to California (from Illinois) with a group of friends (and yes, some adults) last summer and I'm happy to report that she handled things really well.

All the things I've talked about on this blog over the years have been effective as she goes out in the world and lives life. The time I've spent teaching her about allergies and learning how to work with them -- it's not been in vain. I trust her to handle herself in pretty much any situation right now and that's not something I knew for certain I'd ever be able to say, when she was diagnosed with life-threatening nut allergies at age 4.

Which brings me to the reason for my post. While I was in fiction writing mode, I decided to update my e-book The Nut-Free Mom. The updated version is now up on Amazon and you can also download to your computer or tablet -- or even your iPhone.

The cover and interior format have been updated -- the interior in particular looks fantastic, thanks to a great book template and my techie husband. I've updated old links, added some new sections and just give the entire book a face lift.

Here's what hasn't changed: This book is still a great place to begin your nut-free journey. There is so much info out there -- how do you know what's real or what to trust? I live this nut-free parenting life so I know what is important to know and what are the right questions to ask. I have sifted through a lot of misinformation to offer you the info I think will help you the most.

If you already bought my book, the updated version should already be in your device so no worries. If you haven't bought it, now is a great time. In addition to the changes, the price has also changed.

I hope you will wish me well as I get ready to launch my fiction project.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting and supporting this blog. I hope you enjoy the updated version of The Nut-Free Mom e-book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Best Advice for Dealing with Food Allergies and a Nut-Free Parenting Guide. Plus, A Blog Update!

 As we journey through 2015, I  wanted to direct you to an article that really resonated with readers. It lists my very best advice for coping with a child who  has life-threatening food allergies, so I hope you take the time to give it a look. Click here for the full article.

When I began this blog in early 2008 I had no idea how it would impact my life and the lives of others. I'm  so grateful for all of you who helped make The Nut-Free Mom blog an award-winning site for parents in our situation. It's hard to believe that when I started this blog, I did it in part because there were very few blogs out there for parents dealing with life-threatening nut allergies. Now that's all changed and I've lost count of how many blogs deal with this subject! I believe I may helped to start a trend. Who knew? :) I sincerely hope that sharing my story and the tips I've learned from practical experience have helped all of my readers.

I  have well over 600 posts on this blog and it's been a treat to write and moderate. But because I know that parents are pressed for time, I published a handy e-book The New Nut-Free Mom, for those of you who want concise information to help you get started on dealing with the sometimes scary and confusing diagnosis of a life-threatening nut allergy for your child. I've been there and my book offers a friendly voice and hard-won experience on dealing with the nut-free life. Easy to read and divided up into short, concise sections, the book has a lot of detailed advice you can use in your everyday life including topics I've never seen covered in other books, such as "What does "nut-free" really mean?"

I'm  proud to say that YOU have made this e-book a continual bestseller on Amazon in the allergy category so thanks to all of you who've purchased my e-book, given a positive review and sent me a personal note telling how much it helped you.

You can find my  e-book by clicking here. It's also available for the Nook, personal computer or iPad. Click here to find more info. In fact it's easier than ever to get my book -- you only need the (FREE) Kindle or Nook app on your tablet or computer. Click here for more info on that.

Now for the update: I will be taking a blog break and I'm not sure for how long. It's time for me to work on some new projects, but the posts on this blog and the info in my e-book is there for you, 24-7.

Thanks again for reading The Nut-Free Mom!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Nut-Free Holidays: Nut-Free Candy & Treats Finds, Holiday Party Tips and More

Nut-free holiday cookies: you'll find the recipe in this post. Read on.

One holiday down, a few more to go! Holiday time is very busy for all of us, so I wanted to share some of my most popular holiday posts in a sort of "roundup" blog post.

I've included links to posts on nut-free holiday candy you can find at the supermarket, recipes for nut-free treats and holiday party tips that allow you to have a safe and healthy time with food-allergic family members. (Also see the post just before this one for info on navigating those holiday dinners with food allergies).

Food allergies can be very stressful at the holidays and sometimes we feel like we have to attend every party and event, even if we know it will be difficult. Depending on how close you are with the hosts and the strength of your interest in attending the party or event, go easy on yourself. If you want to skip something, it's OK. I don't advocate avoiding everything, but the amount of social demands this time of year can be overwhelming, and if you are a family dealing with food allergies, it can feel impossible to keep a kid safe at some of these things. So, use your judgment and have fun is my motto.

A word about candy, especially chocolate: labeling laws do NOT require "may contains" language or "processed on equipment with" language. Some companies may choose to put that information on a label, but it is, at this point in time, voluntary. So if you pick up, say, a chocolate in the shape of the "Frozen" characters and it has no warning for cross-contact, "may contain,", etc, that doesn't necessarily mean it is safe. Call/e-mail companies if you need additional information. If you can't find out the info, then use the links in this post for some safe nut-free suggestions. But remember: ingredients labels/manufacturing procedures can change and frequently do. Be an informed consumer and read labels, even if you see the item featured here.

I also want to give a thank you to Nutphree's and Surf Sweets, two nut-free food makers who are currently sponsoring my blog. Their products are delicious, high-quality, NUT-FREE always, and available in some supermarkets and specialty stores, making them a great resource for nut-free holiday treats. Nutphree's has its owns storefront in the Chicago suburbs, so check it out. Surf Sweets is also available online.

On to the nut-free holiday article roundup. Click each link to go directly to the article.

Are you a Pinner? Check out these boards on my Pinterest page:

For general nut allergy information, especially for those of you new to dealing with this issue, my e-book, The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Child with Nut Allergies is a concise, compassionate resource. You can find out how to get it by clicking this link.

Your readership and kind comments mean the world to me! I'm so glad that this blog is a helpful resource for so many of you. As this year draws to a close, I wish all of you a wonderful, safe, happy, healthy holiday with your children and families!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coping with Food Allergy Dilemmas at Thanksgiving

Just before Halloween, I read a post on a local parenting magazine Facebook page that went something like this: "I'm concerned about Thanksgiving and I need advice. My two-year-old is severely allergic to nuts and my mom insists that she have out bowls of nuts placed around the house and also in the foods served at the table. She won't listen to me when I explain the dangers. What can I do?"

My heart went out to this woman because after all, it's her own mother that is telling her "No, I won't accommodate you or my grandson." Ouch. Many commenters (myself included) told her that she's not alone in this whole food allergy holiday meal thing and that she has to do what's in the best interest of her son. Other parents on the page (guessing not those who have kids with allergies because, of course, it seems simple if you don't deal with it yourself) said things like "Your mom's house/her rules" and "Just don't give the kid any nuts and it will be fine."

Sound familiar? Therein lies the dilemma. Not everyone is going to understand your Thanksgiving food allergy concerns and most of us don't want to live in a cave far away from everyone. Is there a happy medium? More on that in a minute.

Getting back to the parent of the two-year-old's question "What can I do?" Well, here's the thing. If she's spoken to her mother, which we can assume she probably has, what can she do? You can't force someone to listen to you, understand or accommodate you. You can't enforce rules in a house not your own. So, sadly, that parent may have to keep her son away from this gathering simply for his own safety -- and her sanity. 

I don't suggest this lightly, because I know that Thanksgiving is a time for the family to be together. However, nuts in a bowl is a deal-breaker if you've got a two-year-old. Two-year-olds think they're supposed to put everything in their mouths, even dishwasher pods. And you can't reason with them -- they don't have a good enough understanding of their allergy at this age. Even with older kids and adults/teens with allergies, nuts in a bowl is easily transferable from the hands of the person partaking to surfaces and edible substances. If you bring a separate meal from home for the allergic person (a not-so-great but feasible solution if you want to be with the entire fam), there is still danger if lots of nutty stuff is around. 

What if your family doesn't understand this and doesn't want to? Then it's up to you to do the right thing to keep your child out of the ER that day. In cases such as these, I know there is no perfect solution. Nobody is perfect -- not your family, not you. So why do we expect the holidays to go perfectly smoothly -- especially with a medically necessary food restriction like life-threatening nut allergies? It's too much pressure. Take it one meal at a time, one day at a time. As you learn the ropes and your family begins to understand what's at stake, it will get easier.

 If you're new to nut allergies this Thanksgiving, I suggest you take a deep breath and be good to yourself this holiday season. State your case, of course, but stay cool. You don't want your child to associate holidays with negativity -- it can create anxiety later on. Offer to bring food and offer to help figure out the menu. Many times, families are reluctant only because they don't understand how to make things "safe" for you. Let them know how they can help and make sure they know that you will do all you can, too.

But what if, like the mom in the example above, you just can't get through to your family? Most of the time, if close family doesn't want to give a nod to your food allergy needs at the holidays, it points to a deeper issue going on with your relationship. Don't expect this to be resolved overnight and never let your child be endangered. Be strong and firm; be kind to yourself and to your family members. Food allergies are what they are; fighting won't make them go away. I have chapters devoted to communicating food allergy needs to others in my e-book, The New Nut-Free Mom. Click here to find it on Amazon; you can find other options for getting this book by looking at the right side bar of this site.

I recently came across this cartoon online. I think it sums up how those with food allergies feel about any family meal: "It's not so much what's on the table that matters, as what's on the chairs."

I say amen to that, but keep in mind that Thanksgiving foods are emotional for people. They want to be served what they remember and what they see as tradition. That's understandable but can be difficult to cope with when you're navigating a life-threatening food allergy. So if you find yourself in a situation like that, maybe you can start a new tradition of having people over during the Thanksgiving weekend, where you host and control what's served. Again, it's not perfect, but it's something.

Now, the bright side. Many of us have understanding families that help keep our kids safe at family meals. I'm fortunate that I'm one of those people, but it didn't happen overnight. It takes conversation, effort and time. So don't be hard on yourself if you don't have it all figured out immediately. Nobody does! :)

I have many posts about food allergies and Thanksgiving/holiday meals and I'll share those links at the end of this post. Plus, you'll find some of my favorite nut-free Thanksgiving recipes. Follow me on Pinterest to find more of those.

What about you? How have you found ways of juggling Thanksgiving food expectations with food allergies?

For all of us dealing with the imperfections of life with a food allergy at the holiday, remember: you're not alone. Do the best you can and try to celebrate the joy of the season. Be grateful for the food you can eat and the health of your loved ones. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chicago-Area Friends: Halloween Candy Trade-In at Nutphree's Cupcakes -- Last 2 Days!

Hi everyone! I have a timely new mess
age for my Chicagoland readers! (And I apologize, I meant to have this up earlier. I've been light on the posts lately just due to life in general and the fact that I'm revising a book and trying to finish before New Year's. :))

Back to the news: The wonderful Nutphree's Cupcakes (one of my site sponsors) has this to say about all that candy the kids with food allergies may have collected a few days ago but can't eat: 

"We’re happy to be hosting our Trade Your Candy for a Cupcake program again this year. Kids can bring in their well-earned haul from Nov 1 through Nov 7 and take home a FREE cupcake or non-food treat! All candy collected will be sent overseas to deployed soldiers through Operation Gratitude."

Nutphree's is open until 6 pm tomorrow, so if you can, head over there! Check their web site for more info. If you've never been in this bakery, you will be amazed at the beautiful nut-free cupcake and treat selection.

I'm also happy to note that Nutphree's is bringing their cupcakes to several grocery stores in the Chicagoland area, including Whole Foods and  Mariano's.

THANK YOU Nutphree's for being such a caring (and delicious) resource to families dealing with nut allergies. Your baking creations are beautiful works of art and I appreciate all you do!

What if you live elsewhere? If you have a similar buy-back program for Halloween candy in your area or if you have info on nut-free baked goods available near you, we want to know about it, especially with the holidays on the horizon.

Which brings me to my next topic and one I will be covering with a new post next week:

Even before Halloween, I saw a post about nut allergy issues on a local parenting mag web site, so I will be addressing the issue of dealing with holiday, social situations and  nut allergies in the next few days on this blog. 

In the meantime, I've got lots of posts about Thanksgiving and nut allergies. Below you'll find two of the most popular; click the links below to read them. You can find even more articles, including nut-free Thanksgiving recipes, if you use key words in the search bar located in the upper left-hand corner of this site.

(Regarding this last post: Food labels can change -- at any time! Please always check labels/call companies if you need additional information on allergens.)

And of course, if you haven't already, check out my e-book for encouragement and advice on navigating life with nut allergies.