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GMOs—The Good, The Bad, and Why Everyone is Talking About Them (Part 1)

Posted 12.7.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs for short, it is definitely a hot topic. I know you are also interested in GMOs as I speak or communicate electronically with many of you each week regarding Neocate and GMOs. In case you personally have not yet contacted us, all Neocate products contain no GMO-derived ingredients. To be REALLY specific, Neocate ingredients are certified by suppliers to be non-genetically modified through the use of modern biotechnology, compliant with EC regulations 1829/2003 & 1830/2003 (those are European regulations). Many of you that have contacted us for this information are happy to hear this fact about Neocate.

People around the world and consumers here in the US are also generally interested in GMOs, including our elected representatives in congress. The past summer there was a Federal bill passed in relation to labeling laws for GMOs, which was signed into law by President Obama. Some states such as Vermont had previously passed bills in relation to GMO labeling laws, and other countries in Europe have also passed laws in relation to labeling foods that contain GMOs.

So let’s take a closer look at what GMOs are, and why they are a hot topic. We will look at both sides of the picture so you can make your own decision on the topic of GMOs. Since there is a lot to say on this topic, we will break up the information between 2 posts and here is part #1.

I will use the term GMO, or GM crops; however you should be aware that there are other terms often used in publications when talking about GMOs if you plan to do your own research on the topic. GMOs or ingredients derived from GM crops are also referred to as Genetically Engineered (GE) foods, or even broadly as Biotechnology.

What is a GMO?

GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism, is a plant or animal variety that has been genetically altered by adding the DNA from another item. A crop resulting from this GMO is often called a Genetically Modified crop (GM crop). This genetic modification is usually done to enhance some characteristic of the plant. For example the new GMO plant may be more resilient to the elements (like drought), resistant to a particular insect or pest and thus a more hardy crop, resist a pesticide, or not require insecticide while growing. Or perhaps the new GMO plant is naturally higher in a particular nutrient or substance that is desirable or needed in our diets.

Some GMOs are created just so they are more visually appealing or maybe to simply add variety to the types of crops available. We all eat with our eyes and nose before ever tasting a food item, and so you can see why companies would want to make sure their produce is visually appealing.

Animals and plants have been genetically modified in a more traditional way for centuries. For example, breeding two horses together in an attempt for a faster or larger offspring horse is a prime example. Or perhaps you have experienced this more traditional plant modification yourself by accidentally planting your squash and cucumbers too close in the garden (also known as cross pollinating) and were witness to the resulting squacumber. Or even that cute little goldendoodle your neighbors just adopted, which is a crossbreed between a golden retriever and a poodle. All of these are examples of traditional genetic modification seen in nature.

GMOs in practice today take time out of the equation and simply combine the DNA from the 2 items together. You no longer have to wait for that baby horse to be born and grow and leave the gene selection up to the natural course. Instead through genetic modification you can start making the modification to the DNA to ensure the desirable traits are included.

GMOs today also go a large step further by combining DNA from many different species together such as DNA from an animal mixed with plant DNA, or perhaps even DNA from a virus or bacteria into plant DNA. So for example, that golden doodle we just mentioned could also be a deep purple color through GMO technology by adding in the DNA pigment from a purple grape (not a real life GMO example). I like to think of GMOs as speeding up the normal time it takes for evolution or plant cross breeding process with the added enhancement from of our scientific knowledge and skills mixed in.

Consensus & Controversy:

As you can imagine GMOs is a controversial subject. Changing the DNA of a plant in a laboratory does not sit well with many people, especially when you talk about using something like DNA from a virus or bacteria incorporated into something we eat. This is quite a jump from simply planting two similar crops close to each other or breading two fast horses. But let’s look at some of the leading experts and data published to see what they have to say about GMOs.

Most organizations agree that GMOs are safe. In fact the American Medical Association (AMA) reminds us through their 2012 publication that GMO foods “have been consumed for close to 20 years with no overt consequences on human health” based on the available reliable published research.1

Many agree that GMOs provide better plants and better food products. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) takes the official position in their 2006 publication that GMOs can “enhance the quality, safety, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and increase the efficiency of food production.”2

The National Academy of Sciences agrees that despite claims that GMO crops may be harmful to human health, a large body of research has shown the animals were not harmed when eating GMO crops with “no adverse effects” to the health of livestock associated with GMO crops.3 The National Academy of Sciences also notes that in regards to data in regards to the effect of health and disease in humans, there is “no substantial evidence that foods from GE crops were less safe than foods from non-GE crops.”3

As with many highly controversial or polarizing topics, the debate often arises from a small piece of the puzzle. While there are many things to consider in regards to GMOs, the main point that is controversial for so many is labeling foods that contain GMO ingredients and information available. Many consumers want the right to know what they are consuming and what they are feeding to their families so they can make an informed decision about their foods.

In our food allergies community, one concern in relation to GMOs is the possibility that a gene from a food allergen might be put into a food that would otherwise be “safe” for someone with that food allergy. We’ll provide more information in part #2 of this post about the steps taken to ensure this isn’t a concern.

Where to Look for Reliable Information?

If you simply Google GMOs you will get a long list of results. With so much information out there it is hard to know where to look for reliable information. This is indeed true for so many topics in relation to health, and particularly true when trying to understand research. Add in something that is controversial such as GMOs and you also have a polarizing argument which can further cloud the information.

As a health professional, I turn to reliable medical research to form an opinion about a topic and often look to larger reputable organizations for their research summaries or direction for any given health topic. We like to call this evidence based practice, and this is certainly a cornerstone of any good nutrition or general health professional.

Some of the places where I gathered the information regarding GMOs are listed below. If you would like to know more about GMOs, I encourage you to read the information referenced below and see if you agree or disagree.

Stay tuned for part #2 of this GMO blog post tomorrow where we will talk about some of the pros and cons in relation to GMOs and how they relate to our community of nutrition, food allergies, and health.

What do you think about GMOs? Share your thoughts and Neocate questions in the comments below.

 

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN

References Cited:

  1. American Medical Association (AMA)
    AMA House of Delegates 2012 Annual Meeting: Council on Science and Public Health Report 2, Labeling of Bioengineered Foods
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
    Position of the American Dietetic Association: Agricultural and Food Biotechnology, 2006
  3. National Academy of Sciences
    Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, Executive Summary, 2016
  4. Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
    Biotechnology and Food: Executive Summary

GERD vs. EoE – What’s Different?

Posted 12.2.16 | Neocate Admin


Did you know that gastroesophageal reflux (GER) in infants is very common? According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of all infants spit up in the first 3 months of life and it typically resolves by 12-14 months of age.  GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the opening between the esophagus and stomach, opens spontaneously, for varying periods of time, or does not close properly. This allows stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. Adults know GER more commonly as acid reflux, because digestive juices (acids) rise up with the food.

When does GER become GERD?

Occasional GER episodes are common, like when you burp and it brings up some acidic juices from the stomach. So if GER sometimes happens to your baby it doesn’t necessarily mean they have GERD, which is gastroesophageal reflux disease. If the reflux is persistent and happens more than twice a week, then it may be considered GERD, which can lead to more serious health problems for babies including failure to gain weight, bleeding, respiratory problems or esophagitis.

Some or all of the following symptoms may indicate your baby could have GERD:

  • Vomiting or spitting up frequently
  • Pain associated with regurgitation
  • Back arching
  • Refusal to eat
  • Constant or sudden crying
  • Chronic hiccups
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Weight loss or poor weight gain
  • Gagging or trouble swallowing

If you think that your little one's reflux is serious and might be GERD, check in with her pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Does GERD become EoE?

If your child’s reflux symptoms are not improving despite your best efforts with your doctor, your child may have a disorder known as eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE. If you would like to read more about EoE, make sure to read a previous post that takes a deeper dive into Eosinophic Esophagitis.

The symptoms of GERD and EoE may be similar, and both conditions can result in a small type of white blood cell - an eosinophil - hanging out in the tissues of the esophagus, where it normally doesn't belong. (The picture above shows with eosinophils look like under a microscope!) When the eosinophils are in the esophagus due to GERD, they will go away once the GERD is under control.

An esophageal biopsy is needed to make a diagnosis of EoE, and it's done after trying a GERD medication for a few weeks. The biopsy requires a procedure to look closely at esophagus and to take a small sample of cells to look at under a microscope. If that sample has a high number of eosinophils (≥15 per high power field), then your child may be diagnosed with EoE. It is the physician who makes the final diagnosis of EoE or GERD. 

How can diet be used to managed GERD and EoE?

Some babies, GER may be related to a cow milk allergy and/or other food allergies. Essentially the reflux can be one side effect of the food allergy when it isn't managed and the allergen is still in the baby's diet. If that is the case for your infant, then she doesn't have GERD, and symptoms can be managed with a hypoallergenic formula like Neocate. In other cases, though, reflux can happen unrelated to food allergies. When food allergies aren't the culprit, the management options depend on the patient, but often include prescription medications. In some cases surgery can be helpful.

Management of EoE may include medication and/or dietary adjustment. The diet sometimes includes a special diet with a hypoallergenic, amino acid-based formula like Neocate. The Neocate family of products can be used for infants, children, adolescents and adults. There are powdered products like Neocate Syneo Infant and Neocate Junior, as well as ready-to-drink liquids like E028 Splash and Neocate Splash Unflavored. If your little one is diagnosed with EoE, make sure the healthcare team takes the time to explain all of the options, answer your questions, and help you decide on the best approach for your family. Your healthcare provider should be sure to help you find the soluation that will best suit your child’s needs.

-Ellen

Ellen Sviland-Avery joined the Nutricia team during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, metabolics and tube feeding. Prior to coming to Nutricia, she worked in home infusion. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 12 years. Her passion in pediatric nutrition started when she was in Birmingham working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and has continued throughout her career.

Tags

EoE  |  GERD  |  eosinophilic esophagitis  |  food allergies  |  reflux


Thanksgiving Recipes and Crafts

Posted 11.22.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Thanksgiving reminds us all to take a moment to appreciate what we have. It is also a time for families to come together and celebrate each other. What better way is there to do that than by sharing hearty meals and fun crafts?

We know that every food allergy journey has its ups and downs, and around the holiday season, families find themselves under increased pressure to coordinate a smooth holiday. If you’re concerned about serving tasty food and entertaining guests, worry not!

We have just the right round-up of recipes and crafts for you this Thanksgiving. 

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Dishes

Worried about how busy you will be on Thanksgiving? Save yourself some stress by planning your meals in advance! There are plenty of online resources for dairy-free recipes that can keep your family full and free of allergens.Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 2.11.02 PM.png

1. Green Bean Casserole

A classic dish on many Thanksgiving dinner tables is green bean casserole, but traditional recipes call for creamy soup bases that aren’t friendly to the milk allergy community. One easy way to substitute those soup bases is by crafting your own cream of mushroom soup, as found in this green bean casserole recipe. To save time, you may even be able to find some dairy-free cream of mushroom soups at your local grocery store.

2. Neocate Butternut Squash Soup

For those who are interested in serving soup as an appetizer, we recommend our butternut squash recipe! It’s the perfect way to start off the dinner, and it’s an easy way to convince your little ones to eat their vegetables. (upload https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUqTpURDmqQ)

3. Neocate Nutra Mashed Potatoes

Our mashed potato recipe is  perfect to whip up for Thanksgiving and only requires three ingredients: one potato, Neocate Nutra powder, and chicken broth. Check out the full recipe here.

4. Neocate Junior Brownie Bites

If you’re looking for a dessert that your little one will be able to enjoy, we recommend baking our brownie bites. Here’s the recipe with a video with all of the steps so you can follow along!

Crafts

One of the things we love the most about DIY crafts is how they keep our little ones entertained. It’s the perfect way to unwind and tap into everyone’s creative side!

The other benefit to crafting is that DIY projects often involve household items we all have lying around. For instance, did you know that you could use empty Neocate cans to create decorative turkey windsocks? These windsocks make for a great decoration that greet your dinner guests as they arrive.

Alternatively, you and your littles ones can turn crafting into a reflective activity with a “I Am Thankful For” pumpkin. This activity would be a great way to spend Thanksgiving, as it invites everyone to really think about and write down what they are thankful for.

For those that are more inclined towards painting, we encourage you and your little Picassos to use leaves as stencils to make a fall leaf painting.

Do you have any fun crafts or allergy-free recipes you would like to share? Comment below or post on our Facebook page.

Tags

Neocate  |  food allergies  |  food allergy  |  milk allergy  |  recipes  |  crafts


Does the Expiration Date Really Matter? Your Neocate Expiration Questions Answered

Posted 11.17.16 | Nutrition Specialist

I am generally a thrifty person.  Re-using or re-purposing old items, hunting for bargains, and attempting to stretch the use of my clothes, household items or even food I have purchased are all common practice for me.  My philosophy in life about finance is that you can always use more money than you have, no matter which socioeconomic category you and your family belongs to. So I might as well get the most enjoyment and use out of the things I have.

When I find something that is nearing, or just past its expiration date the thought “does this expiration date really matter?” passes through my mind every time.  I know many of you have the same thoughts and questions when it comes to Neocate, as I hear this question from those of you who call or email us almost every week. And this makes sense to me. I know Neocate is likely an important part of your little ones’ nutrition, and often times their only nutrition or the only thing that works for them. And it is an important question.

Let me take a few minutes to answer those questions I hear often from parents just like you to help give you a better understanding. 

What Does the Expiration Date Mean?

The expiration date on any product is intended to be the last date when the product should be used. Many times you will see this noted as the expiration date, as it is on the bottom of your Neocate cans with “EXP” followed by a calendar date, or as the “use before” and “best before” date as it is noted at the top of our Neocate Splash drink boxes. 

Many people are surprised to learn that expiration dates are not generally federally required on most foods. In fact, Infant formula is one of the only items required to have a “use by” date according to the FDA regulations. When a date is included, it is required to have a full calendar date including the month, day and year according to the FDA. Some states do have requirements for dating of foods, although those requirements would be unique to that particular state. 

How Are Neocate Expiration Dates Determined?

Here at Neocate, we put customer safety first. We want to ensure your loved ones receive the nutrition they need to grow and thrive when living with food allergies and related conditions. We keep this primary focus in mind when determining the expiration date for Neocate, and actually test our Neocate over the shelf life under a variety of conditions to determine the expiration dates for all of our Neocate products and not just our infant formula, as is required by federal regulation. 

The most important factor considered is ensuring the nutrients are at the levels intended and noted on the label. Some nutrients, and particularly vitamins, naturally break down over time. Because many individuals use Neocate to provide all or most of their nutrition, it is very important that the nutrients are at the levels indicated on the label. Your healthcare team takes this information into consideration when directing you on how much Neocate your loved one should be consuming, and so we conduct extensive testing under a number of conditions to ensure the nutrients will hold up throughout shelf life and through the expiration date.

Other factors that are taken into consideration when companies such as Nutricia determine the expiration date include the durability of the packaging materials and quality of the product over the recommended shelf life. We want to ensure that the cans or drink boxes remain sealed and keep the Neocate inside safe until the expiration date. Neocate quality is also just as important. As ingredients break down this can also affect the smell or taste. As you may know, taste and smell are particularly important to some little ones, so testing is also done to ensure the quality of Neocate is maintained through the expiration date.

How Do I Know if My Neocate is Expired?

This is a question that I get quite often. And there is a lot of information printed on Neocate products, so it is not surprising that many of you wonder this same thing.  The expiration date can be located on the bottom of every can of Neocate. You will find that the expiration date is the full calendar date with a month, day and year after the letters “EXP”. The expiration date is usually the first item listed, but always has “EXP” in front of it. Other dates you might notice is the date of manufacture, which is also a full calendar date and has the letters “MFD” or “MAN” in front of it.

On drink boxes such as Neocate Splash you will find the expiration date noted on the top of each drink box. It is the first date printed, and you will see a printed key just above the date with the “use before” and “best before” dates noted on the key. You may also notice that we list the date as a full calendar date with month, day and year all included.

What Happens If I Use My Neocate After the Expiration Date?

This is a question that I am asked nearly every time someone calls or emails to discuss our expiration dates. With all the factors that we consider when determining the expiration date, we do not test what will happen if someone takes Neocate after the expiration date. This is just something we would not do as we keep you and your loved one's safety in mind first here at Neocate. While the decision is best made by you and your healthcare team, we cannot recommend using any of our products after the expiration date. My best recommendation if you have further questions is for you contact your loved one's healthcare team for more direction.

What questions do you have about Neocate & expiration dates? Let us know in the comments below so we can answer your questions.

-Kristin Crosby


Recycling Neocate Cans

Posted 11.15.16 | Nutrition Specialist


On the official America Recycles Day, today we would like to take the time to promote the importance of recycling the packaging from your Neocate products.

What is America Recycles Day?

America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful and is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

America Recycles Day educates people about the importance of recycling to our economy and environmental well-being, and helps motivate occasional recyclers to become “everyday” recyclers.”

You can make recycling a family activity. Here’s a fun explanation from Sesame Street on recycling:

If you are looking to find other items you can recycle in your house today, here’s a handy guide to help you get started. (Click on the image to view larger).

Neocate Packaging Plastics Recycling

Did you know that all empty Neocate product cans are recyclable, as well as the E028 Splash drink boxes?

The plastic lids on our cans can be recycled. This might vary, though, based on where you live. To be sure you can recycle the lids, check with your local municipality or curbside recycling pickup company. The key thing to look for is whether they accept number 4 plastics – the lids we use on our cans are number 4. As more localities continue to accept a bigger variety of plastics, we hope many of our customers can recycle their Neocate lids! You may also be able to find a nearby drop-off location by using the search feature on Earth911 with the term “#4 Rigid Plastic” and your city or zip code.

But what about the scoop that comes with our products? Great news: if your municipality or recycling pickup company takes number 5 plastics, you can recycle the scoops as well! Number 5 plastics are also used in yogurt cups, other food tubs, plastic flower pots, and disposable razors. Even better news: for those customers who live in an area where number 5 products are not collected from the community, you have another option with the Preserve® Gimme 5 program. You may be able to locate a local drop-off site where number 5 plastics are collected for Preserve. If that doesn’t work, Preserve will even accept number 5 plastics by mail and turn them into consumer products. Now THAT’S recycling!

Reusing & Recycling Neocate Cans

Sure, Neocate cans can be recycled anywhere that metals are accepted for recycling. But taking care of our planet is not just about recycling. It also means making sure we reuse the products in a creative way to help minimize impact on the landfills. If you are feeling crafty, here are some ideas on ways to reuse your product packaging.

  • Pots for plants/flowers

  • Storage

  • Desk Organizer

  • Gift/favor basket or even flower pot

  • Piggy bank

  • Jars to store dry foods

  • Lanterns

  • Headband organizer

  • Playset

  • Band Instruments

For additional creative ideas on how to recycle or creatively reuse the packaging from your Neocate products, follow our Pinterest Recycling board.

We highly encourage you to recycle and reuse your Neocate cans instead of putting them in the trash to be thrown in a landfill. If you have used your Neocate packaging in a creative way, comment below,  we would love to learn!


We’re having a baby - should we get a dog and move to a farm?

Posted 11.10.16 | Nutrition Specialist


Science is crazy. Sometimes we hear in the news about researchers looking at things that seem completely off-the-wall. On the other hand, a lot of scientists and researchers look at things that can have meaningful impacts on our lives. Sometimes, the research can even be practical for everyday folks like us.

Today, I’ll share some interesting research related to pets, the environment and allergic conditions. I find it interesting not just because I love science, but also because it can be helpful. Sure, I geek out over research sometimes, but when it’s practical research, everybody wins. The questions at hand: can owning pets or living on a farm actually provide a BENEFIT when it comes to allergic conditions?

The state of affairs

  1. Lots of people are allergic to pets. I have some friends who have allergies to cats, which range from mild (sneezing) to pretty bad (difficulty breathing). I have other friends who have allergies to dogs. I even know people who seem to be allergic to just about any animal with fur.
     
  2. Many children who have one allergic condition also have one or several other allergic conditions. For example, it’s not uncommon for an infant with a cow milk allergy to develop allergies to other foods. There are also children who have atopic dermatitis as well as asthma. Any number of combinations is possible, and allergies to animals are in the mix too.
     
  3. We used to think that avoiding things that we have the potential to become allergic to is the best way to prevent actually BECOMING allergic to that thing. For years parents were cautioned to avoid introducing peanut into their babies’ diets until they were several years old. (That advice has changed – but that’s a subject for another post!)

With all this in mind, it seemed logical that for a child with one allergic condition, it might be best to avoid things that might become a future allergen. Why not? If my child already has food allergies, then maybe they’re likely to also become allergic to animals, so why take the chance with a new pet?

But in science, a theory is just a theory. The scientists and researchers among us don’t assume these are facts. We should be grateful that, just because an idea is logical, our scientific friends are willing to test those theories to see if they hold up! When they test a theory they come up with a hypothesis – something they think will be true related to the theory, but that they want to test.

In fact, one theory that you may have heard of is the ‘Hygiene hypothesis.’ This is the idea that in western societies, like North America, our environments (home, school, work, the kitchen counter) are so clean – or hygienic – that our immune system doesn’t develop normally, and that may be contributing to the increases we’re seeing in allergic conditions. We’re beginning to realize that some exposure may be good, especially at key “windows” of time when exposure to something may help LESSEN the risk of later allergy.

The latest science on pets, farms, and allergies

With all that in mind, scientists have tested several hypotheses related to the environment an infant is raised in, such as growing up in a household with pets, and the effect it has on the likelihood of developing certain allergic conditions. We wrote on this topic last in 2013. As an update, here’s some of the latest research that’s been shared in the past few years:

  1. A recently published study found that infants who live in a house with a dog for their first year of life may be less likely to develop eczema and other allergies, depending on a few factors. Read a summary of the research here.
     
  2. Researchers in Sweden looked at data from their entire nation. They found that having a dog in the first year of an infant’s life was associated with a lower likelihood of asthma in children beyond 3-6 years old (but not younger). Growing up on a farm with animals was also associated with a lower likelihood of asthma through age 6. Read a summary of this research here.
     
  3. Maybe farms help? Researchers in Europe looked at a large group of children, comparing them based on how rural their environment was. The children who grew up closer to more forest and agricultural land were less likely to develop environmental allergies. They think the microbes in the environment can be key – read more here.

So what’s the catch?

Well, not everyone is able to pick up and move to a farm! Second, pet ownership is also a big decision. Those are obvious considerations.

Also, research is messy and often leads to more questions than answers. First, not all research that’s been conducted in this topic has come to the same conclusions – some of the results are contradictory. And sometimes you find something you don’t expect. For example, researchers in Finland found that growing up in a household with a dog or cat may be slightly more likely to lead to an allergy to that animal than growing up in a house without one.

With that in mind, the best thing to do may be to talk to your little one’s pediatrician and/or allergist to see what their take is on pets and allergic conditions. They often have a good understanding of the science, including how best to interpret the research, and can offer some guidance or at least help you make an informed decision.

One final note: keep in mind that there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed! You can certainly ask your allergist for more information, but don’t believe the hype if you see a breeder selling “hypoallergenic” dogs.

-Rob

How do I come across such interesting topics? In my role as a Medical Advisor and Nutrition Specialist at Nutricia I get to attend major conferences, such as the annual meeting for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). I always discover some really interesting research there!


Allergy-Friendly Soup Recipes for National Sandwich Day

Posted 11.3.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Happy National Sandwich Day!  Make the day special by reading a great book about crazy sandwiches, Spider Sandwiches by Clare Freedman and make your own special sandwich. Pair your sandwich with soup for a classic autumn meal that is easy to adapt to feed the whole family, those with allergies and those without.  The secret to success for this warm and filling supper is to pair the soup and sandwich flavors and individualize for everyone’s needs, without a lot of extra work.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese is the old favorite for a soup and sandwich combination.  While some family members can have the traditional soup and grilled cheese sandwich, your child with allergies can also join in with their own sandwich on allergen free bread and non-dairy cheese. Remember to check the label of the non-dairy cheese as some have casein, which is the protein found in milk. Others are made from nuts or soy, also potential allergens.  Only buy non-dairy cheese made from rice or tapioca starch. While these cheeses work well in a sandwich, they are not nutritionally equal to cheese. To make sure your child gets the protein and fat they need from the meal, add some Neocate Splash to the soup as shown in this recipe:

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You can make butternut squash soup in a similar fashion, cook up the cubed butternut squash or frozen butternut squash (sold either in the refrigerated or frozen section of the market) and use instead of canned tomatoes.  Add a little extra water if too thick.

Here are some other ideas for soon-to-be family favorites that the whole family can eat together:

  • Chicken Zoodle soup sounds fun! Instead of adding noodles to chicken noodle soup add zoodles- zucchini noodles.  Use a vegetable peeler or vegetable spiralizer to make noodles out of zucchini.  Add the zucchini noodles to the pot and cook for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  • Try riced cauliflower instead of barley in beef and barley soup.
  • Top allergen free crackers or breads with flavored vegan mayonnaise or dairy free cream cheese. Make sure to check labels, if it says “vegan” if it is free of egg and dairy but may contain pea protein.  Flavor with chopped basil, parsley, chives or chopped dried cranberries ( or other dried fruit).
  • Avocado makes a great substitute for mayonnaise, butter or cream cheese in a sandwich while adding healthy fats.

Love soups and are looking for additional receipes? Here are a few of the recipes previous blog posts:

If soup is a new food for your child, increase interest by reading a book about soup before cooking together,  Stone Soup by Jon Much.

Remember to make a little extra soup and freeze individual portions so you have soup at the ready for a quick meal.

-Patricia Novak MPH RD CLE LD

Today's guest blog post is by Patricia Novack. Patricia has 30 years experience working with children and adolescents with autism, developmental disabilities, food allergies and chronic illness.  Her work includes clinical practice in both hospital and community based programs, professional training and curriculum development.  The common thread throughout has been addressing feeding issues in children from infancy through adolescence.


Neocate Syneo Infant – NEW Hypoallergenic Formula for Food-Allergic Infants

Posted 11.1.16 | Neocate Admin

We are excited to announce the launch of the latest addition to the Neocate line of products: Neocate® Syneo™ Infant. This is the first and only hypoallergenic formula with prebiotics and probiotics, specifically designed for food-allergic infants.

Who Is This Formula For?

Neocate Syneo Infant is specially formulated for the dietary management of infants with cow milk allergy (CMA), multiple food allergies (MFA) and related GI and allergic conditions, such as food protein-induced nterocolitis (FPIES), eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Neocate Syneo Infant is specially formulated medical food and should only be used under medical supervision. It's important to always contact a healthcare professional before making any changes to your baby's diet.

To learn more about the product, please go to http://www.neocate.com/syneo/


Do I really need to see a doctor or dietitian before placing my child on a restricted diet?

Posted 10.27.16 | Nutrition Specialist

 I met a family a short time ago after their allergist referred them to me. The little girl was having issues with eczema, generalized rashes, nasal congestion, some sinus infections, and occasional upper respiratory infections. The allergist was in the process of doing blood work and skin prick testing to determine if food allergy could be a potential contributing factor to the symptoms this young girl was experiencing. 

The allergist told me that he was concerned about this girl’s height and weight growth pattern—especially her lack of height growth over time.

To be honest, I was alarmed when I saw the girl in my office. She was very small, looked frail, had thinning hair, was pale, and had very low energy for someone her age. Her growth had stalled to the point that she had “fallen off” of her growth curve for both height and weight.

After getting an extensive diet history from the parents starting at birth, I learned that she was breastfed and was supplemented with infant formula that was supposed to be “easier to digest.” Mom reported that in the past her daughter had a hard time transitioning off formula onto cow’s milk, so the family decided to use a combination of alternative milks--soy and rice milk. Recently, her diet consisted mainly of rice milk since she preferred its taste. Unfortunately rice milk is naturally a poor source of protein unlike cow or soy. She ate a variety of foods during the first 2 years of life but gradually her diet became more and more limited. At the time of the first dietitian visit, this girl was on a dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, corn-free, and mostly soy-free diet. She did not include any sources of fish or shellfish and rarely ate any type of nuts.

The parents explained that they read online about how certain foods can cause food allergies and may lead to the symptoms that their daughter was having. By the way, healthcare providers cringe and maybe even cry a little bit on the inside when they hear a patient say the phrase “I read on a website…”

This little girl was not happy on this very restrictive elimination diet. The parents had difficulty finding foods that she enjoyed and she was basically eating only when her parents forced her or bribed her. Based on what I heard from the parents and the child, she ate just enough to ward off hunger.

I immediately requested additional blood tests to determine just how severe her nutritional deficiencies had become. Most of the results did not surprise me but one lab value did, and that was her very low prealbumin level. Prealbumin can reflect the body’s capability to call on protein stores to support many different body functions. It also is a useful indicator of nutritional status. Her low prealbumin level combined with “red flag findings” related to her atypical clinical and nutritional intake histories revealed she was significantly malnourished.

The parents were well intentioned when they initiated a food elimination diet that restricted major foods/food groups in order to find a way for their daughter to get relief from her symptoms. They preferred to avoid controlling her symptoms with an multiple medications or restrict her activity. What they failed to recognize is that by removing so many of the top 8 food antigens (i.e., those antigens that cause 90% of all food-related reactions in the U.S.) and even more foods from her diet without finding nutritious alternative replacement foods and/or using nutritional supplements, they were unintentionally slowly starving their daughter and putting her health as well as her potential to grow in danger.

Her malnutrition was a direct result of her overly restricted diet and the eating conflict it created that unfortunately did not provide relief from her symptoms--eczema, generalized rashes and frequent respiratory infections. In fact, her diet was making them worse because her body was not getting enough nutrients such as calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals it needed to support a strong immune system to maintain health. Interestingly, pound for pound children have much higher calorie needs than adults because they experience rapid phases of growth and development.

It is critical that the body has adequate stores of protein, fat, glucose, vitamins, and minerals so that in times of illness when there are greater demands placed on the body, the body can draw from its reserves to fight off infections. This little girl was approaching the need for a lengthy hospital stay to acquire nutritional support. Her body simply did not have any reserves to fight off infections and simultaneously grow.

If your child is having symptoms that you feel could be a result of a food allergy, it is essential that you speak with your primary caregiver—a pediatrician or family medicine physician or any subspecialist that provides care for your child such as an allergist or gastroenterologist. If food allergy is suspected to be a cause of your child’s symptoms, your next visit needs to be with a dietitian that specializes in designing eliminations diets for food allergy. The dietitian will determine your child’s calorie, vitamin and mineral intake and determine what foods help meet those needs that your child is willing to eat. Simply removing foods without finding alternatives that provide a comparable nutrient profile can potentially do more harm than good.

Fortunately for this little girl, the parents were very open to change and wanted their daughter to be happy and healthy again. The allergist helped them find a regimen to control the clear up her skin, stop the itching, runny nose, and cough. Through trial and error it was determined that foods were not the cause of her allergy symptoms (the family dog and cat played a large role), and she gradually returned to a regular diet. She was placed on a high calorie supplement for a short time to help her body overcome her nutritional deficits and regain the weight it so desperately needed. She started to grow again as her overall nutritional status improved.

There are situations where food allergy does play a role in the development of rash or worsening eczema. Please see your doctor or a dietitian before starting an elimination diet to ask if removing foods from your child’s diet may help. Please make sure you are getting credible advice. Remember a diet is not supposed to be worse than the condition it is meant to treat.

Our guest blog today comes from Alexia Beauregard. Alexia Beauregard is a Registered Dietitian. The inspiration for this blog is based on her extensive experience working with the families of patients diagnosed with EoE. Please be sure to talk to members of your child’s healthcare team to determine if this information is appropriate for your child.


Teal Pumpkin Project 2016

Posted 10.25.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Halloween is less than 1 week away and the excitement is building!  Help us make sure our food allergy kids can participate safely by joining FARE and their Teal Pumpkin Project! 

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a world-wide effort to help kids with food allergies enjoy Halloween without worrying by:

  • Placing a Teal Pumpkin, or the printable pumpkin picture from FARE, in your window to let neighbors and community members know you are a safe house for food allergies.
  • Offering non-food related treats for children who come to your house to trick-or-treat.
  • Spreading awareness about food allergies with real solutions for common situations. 

Learn More about the Teal Pumpkin Project

FARE's Ideas for Non-Food Treats:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

Please also consider bringing the same concept of safe trick-or-treating to your child’s school party.  It is common for younger children to have a Halloween party and parade at school to celebrate Halloween.  What a wonderful opportunity to educate families and community members about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project! 

  • Offer to bring in non-food items for the party
  • Print and pass out copies of the free printable pumpkin poster from FARE
  • Get the kids involved! Have them paint pumpkins as a party activity!

Halloween is such a fun time for kids! Let’s help them have a great time and enjoy the experience!  We’d love to see some pictures of your little monsters and their Teal Pumpkins!  Comment with a picture, or post to our Facebook page!



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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.