Food Allergy Living Blog

Page 1 of 75 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

About Neocate

Posted 8.27.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Have you ever wondered what makes Neocate different than standard nutritional formulas? This is a very good question and definitely worth sharing.

All of our Neocate products are “elemental” formulas, or to be more specific “amino acid-based” formulas. The term ‘amino acids’ may bring back some memories from high school biology or chemistry class. Amino acids are essentially the building blocks of protein. The reason free amino acids are so important in some medical conditions is due to the fact that intact protein, in most cases, is what is responsible for triggering a food allergic response. Neocate is considered to be a hypoallergenic formula, as it does not contain any intact protein. In addition to the hypoallergenic nature of an elemental formula, the free amino acids make digestion and absorption easier as the protein is already in its most broken down form. It’s also important to mention that our bodies are able to use the amino acids in the same way that they use intact protein for healthy growth and development.

There are a number of reasons why an individual might need an elemental formula such as Neocate, such as:

  • Cow milk allergy (CMA) and/or soy milk allergy
  • Multiple food protein allergy
  • Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)

This isn’t a complete list. Neocate products are sources of essential nutrients, and are often used as a sole source of nutrition (meaning they are used to meet all of an individual’s nutritional needs with no other source of nutrition). Of course, the amount of a Neocate product needed should be prescribed by a healthcare professional to ensure a patient consumes an amount needed to meet specific nutritional goals.

What makes Neocate products unique? Many reasons, but one that stands out to me the most is that Neocate powdered products are made in our own, dedicated facility that is 100% dairy-protein free. We also know that none of the ingredients in the Neocate products are derived from wheat, barley, rye, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, or eggs; removing the risk of cross contamination with those allergens.

If you would like to read a little more about what makes Neocate products different, check out a page on our Neocate web site that I think you’ll find to be pretty helpful:

The various types of formulas available can be overwhelming and definitely cause some confusion. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below!

- Kendra Valle, RDN

Neocate Mixing Videos Round-Up

Posted 8.25.15 | Nutrition Specialist

A few weeks ago, we posted a simple ‘How to Guide’ for mixing Neocate ( This blog included basic steps for preparation as well as various recipes. Being a visual learner, I thought it may be beneficial to highlight our mixing Neocate videos developed by my colleagues. All of these videos are available on our NeocateUS YouTube page; however to save you a step I have included the direct links to these videos below. Happy viewing!

Neocate Infant DHA/ARA:

Neocate Infant DHA/ARA in Spanish:

Neocate Nutra:

Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Strawberry:

Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Vanilla:

Do you have any helpful preparation tips that you want to share with other Neocate parents and caregivers? If so, we’d love to hear them!

-Kendra Valle, RDN

5 Questions with Rob McCandlish, Medical Affairs Associate

Posted 8.19.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Say hello to Rob McCandlish, a veteran blogger for the Food Allergy Living team! He has worked for Nutricia for more than 5 years. Rob is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and at Nutricia is a Medical Affairs Associate. He serves as a resource to parents/caregivers, dietitians, physicians, nurses and other individuals who have nutrition-related questions about Neocate products. 

We sat down with Rob to find out what his day to day looks like working at Nutricia, and learned about what drew him to medical nutrition. 

Why did you choose to work in this field? What do you find most interesting about medical nutrition?

I think for me it is the fact that our products are specific to uncommon disorders and that they touch a different aspect of health, because they fall somewhere in between food and pharmaceuticals. I enjoy having a positive influence on families who manage unusual disorders and who need specialized nutrition.

How have severe food allergies impacted your family?  

My nephew (who is going to turn two next month) developed symptoms of a cow milk allergy around 3 months of age. After he was diagnosed he was on Neocate Infant for close to a year, and luckily he grew out of his milk allergy. It really brought home for me the difficulties parents face when their infant has a cow milk allergy, and the difference Neocate can make.

What is your favorite part of working at Nutricia?

I love going to conferences and connecting with patients who use Neocate products. Getting to meet them in person and hearing about how much of a difference the products have made in their lives helps add meaning to my work. It is very rewarding to personally hear about their transformation and success stories on Neocate.

What was your favorite nutrition course in college and why?

My favorite course in college was ”Experimental Foods.” I got to spend a whole semester manipulating a recipe – I think it was green curry chicken - to develop a healthier version. The challenge at the end of the semester was a blind tasting panel, and results were measured on whether or not tasters could tell the difference between the original recipe and the healthier recipe. I’d say that course is where I found my love for food science, and the experience in manipulating recipes has helped me in developing recipes that use Neocate products.

For some of Rob’s famous Neocate recipes download our food-allergy recipe book.

If you had one piece of advice for parents with children who have a cow milk allergy, what would it be?

Time and time again I hear frustration from parents who have gone through multiple doctor visits with few answers. Some doctors rarely see patients with EoE, FPIES or even a cow milk allergy, which can make it difficult to recognize what’s contributing to the child’s symptoms. Therefore, I suggest that parents go to their medical appointments armed with a logbook or diary of what they’ve been experiencing. That can help the medical team to link the symptoms to the condition. And never be afraid to ask questions! Asking your doctor the right questions can make a big difference in finding answers.

The ABCs of Back to School with Food Allergies

Posted 8.13.15 | Nutrition Specialist

‘Tis the season for back to school. While this can be exciting for many students and parents, there can be added anxiety for those dealing with food allergies. Besides the typical hustle and bustle associated with getting school supplies ready, food allergies require some extra preparation to assure a smooth and safe school transition. Assembling a variety of care plan documents, Bringing allergy-related supplies and Communicating with school administration, teachers and other students is essential for making this process as easy as A-B-C .

A is for Assembling of care plan documents.

It is a good idea to notify the school prior to school starting and ask to meet with school administrative staff and the school nurse to discuss and develop care plans to ensure food allergies and health are well managed while at school. These should identify the types of responsibilities, training and services required for keeping school safe and addressing emergencies should one occur. The three most common plans used for food allergic children are known as Emergency Care Plans (ECP), Individualized Healthcare Plans (IHCP) and 504 Plans. The following are good sources for becoming educated on these and offering sample templates as well.

Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) offers both video and print resources related to care plan topics.

  • This resource addresses four sample plans: protocol and procedure for allergy management in the classroom; ensuring trained individuals for epinephrine administration; defining the allergy disabilities; and food policies for classroom and cafeterias.
  • This two part video series includes both a Parents Need to Know video
  • …and a Question and Answer video
  • … along with additional tips, resources and links for parents on the website

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) worked with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in creating comprehensive guides and resources for both the school communities and parents.

B is for bringing allergy awareness supplies to school.

Besides hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes to reduce the risk of surface allergen contamination, other items might be worth consideration too. Here are some suggestions for allergy-related gear and allergy-safe foods.

Safety tattoos may be a good idea, especially at the beginning of the school year and for younger students until the school staff becomes familiar with your child’s food allergies.

Medical alert bracelets are a good idea for those with severe food allergies as they are helpful for EMT personnel if there is an emergency.

Re-usable wraps that hold a sandwich and then unfold to become a place mat while eating are offer by Wrap N Mat

Lunch boxes with food allergy information printed on them as well as tags and stickers can be found at Allergy Apparel

Snack ideas that are food allergy-friendly.

C is for communicating food allergy information to everyone.

Parents need to know as much as they can about their child’s food allergies in order to share this with school staff. It’s also good to work with your child so she knows her food allergies and can self-manage them when you feel she’s ready. Having information to share with your child’s classmates can help friends understand and be supportive. Here are some resources to help in these areas.

The following books are good for teaching younger students about allergies.

The Food Allergy Resource and Education (FARE) website has age-specific materials for kids of all ages with food allergies.

University of Utah Medical School offers an online program called A Shot to Live geared to teachers; this is also good for others too and includes videos on use of epinephrine auto-injectors.

The extra time, effort and energy of preparing for child with food allergy to return and/or start of school can make a world of difference in avoiding food allergy mishaps. It’s a matter of your ABCs.


Finally, here are two more resources related to heading back to school with food allergies worth considering:

FARE is a great go-to organization for multiple helpful resources. Need an allergist? Newly diagnosed with food allergies? Need materials in Spanish? The information here is downloadable and can be distributed as well. Check here for assistance on what to do on field trips, extracurricular activities and transportation issues too

KFA offers a guide containing a list of food allergens that can be found in unexpected places such as food used in science or math lesson plans, crafts, and cooking classes. Alternatives and precautions are suggested. Take note that ingredients may change so it is best to contact and verify these with the manufacturers.

What tips do you have for other families managing food allergies as they prepare to head back to school?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN

Image from Shardayyy

Mixing Neocate: A Simple How-To Guide

Posted 8.4.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Are you mixing Neocate correctly? It is important to mix Neocate appropriately to ensure your little one is receiving the nutrition she needs to thrive. My goal with today’s post is to make your life just a little easier by providing tips on how to properly prepare Neocate. If others help in your little one’s care (i.e. grandparents, day care providers, home health nurse, etc.), feel free to share this blog so that they are also aware of the necessary steps to take.

First and foremost, let’s discuss the basic steps for preparing Neocate:

  1. To begin with, wash your hands thoroughly and clean the preparation area.
  2. Pour the required amount of cooled, boiled water into a sterilized feeding bottle/container (or just warm or cool water – not boiled - for Neocate Junior).
  3. Next, add the prescribed amount of scoops of Neocate to the water (all scoops should be leveled and unpacked).
  4. Lastly, place the cap on the bottle/container and shake until the powder dissolves.

We are occasionally asked whether or not the cooled, boiled water (a.k.a. sterilized water) is a must when preparing Neocate Infant DHA/ARA. We suggest using sterile water for safety reasons, a recommendation that’s been made by several large healthcare professional groups (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and Center for Disease Control and Prevention) in relation to the preparation of powdered infant formula. For standard bottled waters or for tap water, you can easily sterilize the water by bringing it to a rolling boil for 3- 5 minutes. You should then remove it from the heat and allow the water to cool for about 20-30 minutes to bring it down to a cooler temperature that would be safe for mixing with Neocate Infant formula (below 122’F/50'C). This ensures it is not so hot that it affects nutrients in the formula. Neocate should never be mixed with boiling or recently boiled water. For caregivers who prefer not to sterilize the water, we suggest checking with your little one’s healthcare team for their guidance. As long as they don’t require it, it isn’t absolutely necessary that Neocate Infant DHA/ARA be prepared with sterile water: it’s just our recommendation.

Below you will find various recipes for our Neocate products at their standard dilutions (20 calories per fluid ounce for Neocate Infant DHA/ARA and 30 calories per fluid ounce for Neocate Junior and Neocate Junior with Prebiotics). Occasionally, your healthcare professional may recommend mixing Neocate to be more dilute or more concentrated. If this is the case, your healthcare team will provide the appropriate recipe to meet your child’s needs.

Neocate Infant DHA/ARA:

Neocate Junior, Unflavored:

Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Unflavored:

Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Vanilla:

Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Strawberry:

Neocate Junior, Tropical and Chocolate:

We also have some great mixing demonstrations available on our YouTube page, Here you will find videos of my colleagues demonstrating how to properly prepare our Neocate products.

If you have any questions at all regarding how to mix Neocate, please don’t hesitate to contact our Nutrition Services team at 1-800-NEOCATE, option 2 or

Do you have any questions on preparing or mixing Neocate products?

-Kendra Valle, RDN

Orange you glad you read this post?

Posted 7.31.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Our guest blog today comes from Raquel Durban, a Registered Dietitian specializing in immediate and delayed food allergies in Charlotte, NC.  Raquel is a medical advisory board member for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) and an active participant in the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI), American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) and International Network for Diet and Nutrition in Allergy (INDANA).  We would like to thank Raquel for this post. 

Think oranges are only for juicing? Think again! Oranges can provide a fun and educational experience to practice using auto-injectable epinephrine! While in clinic one afternoon, a mother pulled out a bag of citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruits work best because of their large size) and her expired auto-injectable epinephrine.

To my surprise and delight, she wanted to inject the oranges with her expired epinephrine devices so that I could "see" her practice and validate her administration. What makes this such a great idea? While the training devices for auto-injectable epinephrine are great teaching aids, the actually devices are heavier than the test devices, as they are filled with epinephrine. Also, the skin and flesh of the citrus fruits mimics a thigh very well.

I wanted to pass along this great idea to other families who might like to practice using expired auto-injectable epinephrine. If practicing with a little one, make sure you give them a helping hand. And after your practice session, please ensure that you dispose of the expired auto-injectable epinephrine correctly by checking with your doctor’s office or pharmacy. Some cities also have household hazardous waste programs that accept medical waste.


Image source: Debbie

Rainy Day = Fun Day

Posted 7.28.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Oh the weather outside is frightful, so let’s make inside delightful! No need for gloom and doom just because there are dark clouds and raindrops and you’re ‘stuck’ inside. There is a lot of FUN to be had in the great indoors! Following are some ideas and resources for three types of activities: relaxing, creative, and energetic. Choose from one or a combination of several to make a rainy day worth remembering and possibly repeating. 


  • BOOKS- Grab a favorite blanket and a book (or several of each) and cuddle up and hunker down for some reading.  Read to one another.  Start a story of your own!  That’s right, make it up and have everyone participate and keep it going.  Needs some help?  This website offers suggestions for getting the story started and keeping it going.
  • BOARD GAMES- why not make these a standard for rainy days?  Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Life, Checkers,  etc. Many have  been around a long time and are a good way to engage with other at the kitchen table or on the living room floor .  They offer a nice alternative to TV and tech gadgets! Check out this site for a list of 92 of the best board games
  • MOVIE TIME- Have everyone choose 1-2 of their favorite movies from your home collection, place all into a bag and have the youngest person reach in and choose the movie of the day. This site offers some great suggestions that are child and family oriented.
  • Puzzles, card games and even writing letters may be other quiet type options.


A few ‘creative’ activities I’ve had great success with my girls include:

NOTE:  This could be a fort or a castle!

  • Creating a Family Recipe book.  Scour your recipe boxes, cookbooks , food magazines or brainstorm.  Make recipe cards where everyone has a say on their mealtime favorites and recipe card design.  You can keep this simple or use recipe and cookbook templates available on line.  Lots of ideas tobe found here:

If you like art crafts, check out these sites for oodles of suggestions!


Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you can’t be energetic.  Here are some ideas for some active activities:

  • Yoga! With many poses bearing animal names, this is sure to be a favorite with many. 
  • The game of Twister- hands, feet and colored circles. This game is fun for kids of ALL ages!
  • Dance Party! Choose your favorite radio station, take turns playing favorite songs from CDs, or perhaps songs with rain as the theme or in the song title. Shake, shimmy and let yourself go as you sing, laugh and dance to the music!

Resources for these are plentiful.

Rainy Day?  Just another opportunity for a fun day, indoors! What do you do to stay busy during rainy days?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN


summer fun

8 Questions with Kendra Valle, Nutrition Specialist

Posted 7.24.15 | Nutrition Specialist

We are happy to introduce Kendra Valle, our newest addition to the Food Allergy Living team! Kendra is a Nutrition Specialist in the Medical & Scientific Affairs Department, and serves as a resource to parents/caregivers, dietitians, physicians, nurses and other individuals who have medical- and nutrition-related questions about Neocate products. 

We sat down with Kendra to find out a little more about how being a busy mom of two daughters helps her to advise parents of children with a cow milk allergy (CMA).

Why did you choose to work in this field? What do you find most interesting about the medical foods industry?

There are so many areas of nutrition that a dietitian can be a part of. I chose to become a member of the Nutricia team because Nutricia sincerely believes in providing best care. We are able to help so many through nutrition while providing specialized medical foods that people actually enjoy!

How often do you draw from your own experience as a mom to help Neocate customers?

Pretty often.  I talk to many parents and caregivers on a daily basis who often share their personal situation with me. I put myself in their shoes and think, “If this were me, this is what I do.” I ask myself what I would do if this was one of my own kids. I believe that when providing the best care possible, empathy is a huge factor.

What was your best pregnancy memory?

My best memory was when the baby was moving around and I could feel life inside me for the first time. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

Provide an example of what you do when one of your daughter’s does not like a certain type of food (i.e. getting them to eat broccoli)

If they don’t like something that I offered, I do not force them to try it—instead, I encourage them. I found that the more I force them, the more they resist. In order to encourage healthy eating, I model healthy eating.

For example, my four year old daughter is a very picky eater. She started to see me eat a spinach salad on a daily basis, and eventually asked if she could eat it too. She loved it and soon was asking me to pack spinach in her lunch. I realized that by modeling healthy eating habits, she too would engage in healthy eating habits.

What are your children’s favorite Neocate products?

Neocate Junior chocolate—they love chocolate!

If you had one piece of advice for parents with children who have a cow milk allergy, what would it be?

If your child has been diagnosed with CMA, it is essential to keep their diet interesting. Drinking the same flavors  or eating the same foods everyday can become very boring for a child, so try to play around with foods they can tolerate. For example, you can vary recipes by mixing Neocate into a smoothie, or even into pancakes. I have written a blog post with allergy-friendly recipesthat any parent can use as a guide. 

I have also found that peer relationships matter when a child has food allergies.  So whenever your child is with their friends, try to come prepared with something that is similar to what the other kids are eating. I have a friend whose son has CMA and she always asks beforehand what will be served when he goes on an outing with his friends. That way, she can prepare foods for her son so he is still eating what other kids are eating and won’t feel left out! 

Guidance when Cooking with Neocate

Posted 7.23.15 | Nutrition Specialist

We get emails and phone calls almost daily from parents, caregivers, patients and clinicians asking questions like "What happens if we cook with Neocate?" We know that there are a lot of creative ways that some families use Neocate, such as a replacement for cow milk in baked recipes. We've developed a handy one-page document to answer the most common questions that Neocate families want answers to. You can find your own copy of 'Cooking with Neocate' on the 'Recipes and Guides' page of the Neocate website, along with lots of other helpful materials.

As always, we recommend that you check with your healthcare team, because some forms of cooking can affect some nutrient levels in Neocate.

How have you gotten creative in using Neocate products in recipes?


When The Unthinkable Becomes Reality

Posted 7.16.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Our food allergy journey began in September of 2010 when our oldest was diagnosed with an egg allergy.  Within seven short months, our youngest had joined him with a food allergy diagnosis of dairy, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. Following my little men’s diagnosis, my husband and I set some ground rules. At the top of the list was, “No new foods unless both of us were present.”  It seemed logical until one day, fancying myself Wonder Woman, I decided to throw our number one rule out the window.

It was a hot July afternoon and I was preparing lunch for my little men.  My youngest, just a month shy of his second birthday, wanted to eat what big brother was eating – hummus.  I carefully read the package and it appeared that the only ingredients he hadn’t had before were garbanzo beans and tahini.  I was feeling confident that the hummus was safe, so I called my husband at work and explained that I wanted to give it a try.  Surprisingly, he gave me the green light.

I pulled off the foil lid of the hummus cup, grabbed the bottle of Benadryl, and EpiPens.  He attacked the hummus with his veggie straws while I watched his every move from across the table.  Only four bites in, I began to notice hives forming around his mouth.  I whisked him away from the table, washed his hands and face, and gave him a dose of Benadryl.  I notified my husband of the reaction, noted the time, and began to watch my little man closely.  With previous reactions, a dose of Benadryl always did the trick within fifteen minutes.  Not this time. This time was different.

Within ten minutes, I knew something was wrong.  He was crying uncontrollably and turning bright red, which I figured was from all of the crying.  I didn’t EpiPen him because he appeared to be stable – uncomfortable, but stable.  I called 911 because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get him to the hospital in time, should he take a turn for the worse.   The paramedics arrived quickly and my little man’s state had not changed.

I explained the situation to the paramedics and asked them whether or not he needed an EpiPen.  They took one look at me and said the same thing, “He is clearly uncomfortable, but appears stable.”  I breathed a sigh of relief that I had made the “right” decision in not giving him the epinephrine.  However, we all agreed that he needed to go to the hospital. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, we were quickly taken to a room where ER staff gave him Pepcid and steroids.  Within minutes, everything began to change; his crying stopped, his eyes became glazed over, and although he was still breathing, he went limp in my arms.  The ER nurse quickly called for an EpiPen.  I explained to the nurse that I had four EpiPens in my bag.  Her response still shakes me to my core, “No ma’am, we have to use the one that we’ve called up from the pharmacy.”

As I prepared to lose my son, I insisted that my husband, who had made it home just in time to follow us to the hospital, take our oldest out of the room.  I didn’t want him to witness the loss of his brother.  As they stood to leave, a medical entourage stormed the room with an EpiPen.  I handed my beautiful, brave, little man to my husband and stepped out of the room with my oldest because I was struggling to keep a calm composure.  Even Wonder Woman, in all her glory, can only handle so much.  I heard the “click” of the EpiPen, my son’s scream immediately after that, and a few seconds later the door to his room opened and I was given the “all clear” to go back in.  He was shaking from the epinephrine, but he was alert. Within a few minutes, was smiling again. 

I learned many lessons that day, the first being that my son is allergic to sesame, which when ground up is called tahini. More importantly, I learned that anaphylactic reactions don’t always involve a closed airway.  My little man’s body turning bright red was an outward indicator that his blood pressure was dropping, a sure sign of anaphylaxis.   I could go on and on about the lessons I learned, but perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was: when in doubt, ALWAYS give the EpiPen.  I can assure you that next time, if there is a next time, I won’t hesitate.


About the Author 

Lauren Kossack is the founder and author of the blog, "Our Life as an Epi-Family." On "," Lauren writes with a mix of vivid stories, food allergy news, recipes, parenting tips, and questions of faith.  Lauren bares her heart as she shares her family's struggles, victories and daily adventures.  She is a proud wife and mom to two young boys who have life-threatening food allergies who appear often on her blog.  Lauren and her family currently live in Indianapolis, Indiana. For more information about Lauren and her family, visit  You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Page 1 of 75 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

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.