Food Allergy Living Blog

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Your Hands and Your Baby’s Formula

Posted 1.22.15 | Nutrition Specialist

by Kathleen Smith, RDN, LDN

In your daily rush to take care of your baby along with all your other responsibilities, sometimes we take shortcuts to accomplish everything or just forget about certain safety steps that will decrease your baby's risk of foodborne illness and exposure to allergens.

Germs and allergenic proteins can easily be transferred from hands to formula and food. One of the best ways to help decrease the risk of foodborne illness and allergic reactions is for mothers and caregivers to wash their hands with soap and water before preparing baby formula and food. 

Healthcare providers are concerned about hand washing because of a study by the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control about the infant formula feeding practices of 1,533 mothers. The study found that over half of the mothers, of even young infants, did not always wash their hands with soap before preparing formula for their babies (1). 

How should you wash your hands?(2)

·         Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

·         Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

·         Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.

·         Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

·         Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Hand-sanitizers will not get rid of food protein residues and do not eliminate all types of germs. Washing hands with soap and water is the best.

When should you wash your hands? (2)

·         Before, during, and after preparing food

·         Before eating food

·         Before and after caring for someone who is sick

·         Before and after treating a cut or wound

·         After using the toilet

·         After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

·         After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

·         After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

·         After handling pet food or pet treats

·         After touching garbage

We hope you find this helpful!


(1) Labiner-Wolfe L, Fein SB, Shealy KR. Infant Formula-Handling Education and Safety. Infant Formula – Handling Education and Safety. Pediatrics 2008; 122; S85

(2) Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand Washing: Clean Hands Saves Lives.  Available at: Accessed on July 25, 2014

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Families Value Dietitians

Posted 1.21.15 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

In our previous post, we heard from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN or RD) who helps families to manage food allergies. She explained the role of an RD in her post. This week, we wanted to share some research out of the United Kingdom that reveals the value families find in working with an RD to manage a child's food allergies. You can read an abstract of the research here

Background: We know that there are ways that an RD can help families with food allergies to manage their diet, both in planning to avoid foods as well as ensuring adequate nutrition. We can see how this might improve quality of life, but is there any proof? The research team set out to explore the benefits families get from meeting with an RD regarding the child's food allergies.

How: The research team met with 17 mothers, all of whom attended the same allergy center for dietary advice. They conducted focused discussions on various aspects of dietary advice to manage food allergies.

Outcome: The moms revealed that two of their main goals were to protect their child from the food allergy and to keep life as normal as possible. The RDs that they met with helped them to become experts in their child's food allergy so that they could ensure a safe and nutritionally sound diet. Dietitians also provided these moms education as well as advocacy and emotional support.

So there you have it - dietitian's provide real value to families who are managing food allergies! Have you or your family gotten to work with an RD in managing food allergies? If so, what value did it bring to you?



Guest Blog: The Role of a Registered Dietitian in Food Allergies

Posted 1.7.15 | Neocate Admin

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.  

How do I know if I need a registered dietitian?

Food allergies result in the elimination of more than just food, they can lead to decreased quality of life and nutrition. A registered dietitian can ensure adequate nutrition, aid in meeting feeding milestones and improve quality of day to day living with food allergies.  You can also be educated on how to find appropriate substitutions and label reading.  Whether you have just been diagnosed with a food allergy or have been embracing one for years, a consult with a registered dietitian would be beneficial.

How to find a registered dietitian?

First let’s start with why a registered dietitian is the best choice for nutritional counseling. We have degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities (  We are also required to recertify our credentials every five years through a minimum of 75 continuing education credits.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website offers a list of registered dietitians in your area with a variety of expertise.  You may also contact your health care provider to see if they may refer you to an RD specializing in food allergies.

Preparing for your appointment

Providing the RD with a list of what is typically eaten in a day or over a few days is a great starting point.  I like to start by asking what the patient eats during a weekday versus a weekend day.  I also like to include beverages.  For children, a growth chart helps to assess weight and height over time.  You can ask your primary care physician for a copy.  A copy of all current medications, vitamins and supplements is useful to complete the nutrition picture. If you are able to bring pictures of the labels or the containers for vitamins and supplements that is a bonus!

How has your food allergy dietitian helped you or your child?

Preparing for the New Year with Food Allergies

Posted 12.19.14 | Nutrition Specialist

New Years Eve has always been a time to look back to the past and more importantly, forward to the coming year. A new year is a good time to reflect on the changes we want or need and resolve to follow those changes. It’s the time of the year where we ponder upon the mistakes we have done and work towards not repeating them.

We understand living with food allergies is not easy, but by following a few steps we can make this journey much easier into the new year. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t Lose Hope:When a child is diagnosed with food allergies, everyone in the family meets with new challenges. You have been dealing with these challenges in an exceptional way.Accept food allergies to be a good part of your life and stop feeling sorry for yourself and your little one.
  • Set up a System:  Set up a regular system that works best for you and your kids. This system may include establishing a day to plan meals for the entire week and grocery shopping with food allergies. Also have a plan in place in the event of an anaphylactic shock, including emergency numbers.
  • Factsheet of food allergies: Educate your kids with facts about food allergies. This way, it will be easier for them to explain their food allergies to others. It is helpful to provide younger children with a medical alert bracelet.
  • Find Community:Managing a family with food allergies can feel like a task being done in a vacuum. The good news is you are not alone. It is good to join a community or support group when managing food allergies. Organizations such as Food Allergy Research and Kids with Food Allergies offer both a plethora of information as well as a community groups. The Neocate Facebook page is also a great way to connect with other families managing food allergies.

We hope that with these tips you and your family will have a safe, food allergy-free and proposerous new year!



Living Dairy-Free in a Crazy-for-Dairy World

Posted 12.16.14 | Nutrition Specialist

Rachel is a mother of two, and is married to her husband, Brent. Her son has life-threatening allergies to dairy, egg, peanut, carrot, celery, and pumpkin.  She blogs at Mom Vs. Food Allergy, home schools her children, and is a No Nuts Moms Group Support Group Leader.  It is her passion to encourage other mothers and caregivers in their food allergy journey.  Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  

It seems that the world is crazy for dairy, dairy, and more dairy!  I’ll be the first to admit that I love a delicious slice of cheese. Once my son was diagnosed with a severe, life-threatening dairy allergy at nine months old, sitting down to make that first grocery list post-diagnosis was quite difficult. Four-and-a-half years later, we’re getting used to living and cooking without our beloved dairyladen recipes.

Where is dairy hiding?

Dairy hides in all sorts of products, and not just food products. I polled readers of my blog, Mom Vs. Food Allergy, for places they had found dairy and here’s what they came up with:

•    Allergy medications

•    Asthma inhalers

•    Soap

•    Clothes (yes, this is for real)

•    Hot dogs

•    Bouillon cubes

•    Antibiotics

•    Instant rice

•    Fresh, whole turkey

•    Baby lotion

•    Fresh chopped basil (in squeezable tube)

•    Taco seasoning

•    Salt & vinegar chips

•    Dramamine

•    Wine

•    Deli meat

•    Chicken broth

•    Theater paint

This list is really just the beginning, and is dependent on brands, certain flavors, and where things are processed.It does reveal, though, just how many products that need to be on your radar as someone dealing with a dairy allergy. It’s a perfect reminder to read every label, every time.

How do you avoid dairy?

•    Read every label, every time

•    Use safe substitutions for milk

•    Be on the lookout for words such as “creamy”

•    Know alternative words for dairy such as whey, ghee, and casein. See a more complete list here

•    Don’t eat food that doesn’t have a label

•    Be conscious of cross-contamination


What are safe dairy substitutions?

Thankfully, there are many dairy alternatives these days. I’ll never forget when I discovered vegan “cheese”that allowed me to make favorites like Macaroni-n-“Cheese” and Goldfish crackers for my then preschool son. I really thought I’d died and gone to dairy-free heaven. Here are my favorite brands for living a dairy-free life to the fullest:

•    Daiya Foods (frozen pizza, cream cheese style spreads, and shredded, sliced and block “cheese”)

•    So Delicious Dairy Free (ice cream, yogurt, and milks that are coconut based.  They produce some nut products as well, but have a great allergen statement on their website)

•    Silk (milk and yogurt from a variety of dairy free sources.  Read labels if you have other allergies)

•    Tofutti (dairy-free soy based products)

**If you have more than dairy allergies, please read labels carefully and call companies if you are uncertain about cross-contamination

What are some resources for dairy-free living?

•    Kids With Food Allergies

•    Go Dairy Free (book and website)

•    Vegan Cooking & Baking Books

•    The Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook

Living with a dairy allergy can be challenging. If you are diligent, you still can live a healthy life that is full of tasty treats and meals.  My most important tip of all, is to ALWAYS carry your epinephrine (call 911 after administering), asthma medication, and antihistamine. Also, read every label, every time to stay safe while managing your dairy allergy. Lastly, focus on the foods you CAN have to have a positive outlook on living a dairy-free life in a crazy-for-dairy world.

Special Giveback this Holiday Season

Posted 12.10.14 | Nutrition Specialist

From filling stockings to filling up on a pie, the holiday season ingrains the spirit of giving back. The holiday season is about practicing gratitude, empathy, thoughtfulness and spreading happiness.

Our business partner UPS, took their commitment of delivering smiles to another level, with their #WishesDelivered campaign.

UPS granted a four-year-old’s wish of becoming a UPS driver. Like many of our Neocate little ones, when Carlson was born, he was not able to drink milk or any form of milk protein. UPS would deliver Carlson his formula milk for four years through regular deliveries by Mr. Ernie- the UPS driver.


Carlson dreams of becoming a UPS driver so much that he has a UPS uniform of his own. Last month UPS surprised Carson with a special delivery.  Inside Mr. Ernie's delivery truck was a smaller UPS truck for Carson to drive around his neighborhood. Carlson’s wish was granted and he became a UPS driver for a day delivering packages in the neighborhood in his little UPS delivery truck.

Your Wishes Delivered is a UPS campaign designed to invite the public to share their wishes during the holidays. This year, the company will donate $1 for each wish submitted using #WishesDelivered to one of three charities - The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The Salvation Army or Toys for Tots Literacy Program.

Spread happiness this holiday season and don’t let food allergies come your way. Neocate will always step in and help you make this journey much easier. Watch the complete video by clicking the picture above. We are sure you will go “awww!”


Food Allergy Winter Recipes

Posted 12.10.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

With the change in weather, maybe you’re looking for some good recipes for cool weather, like I do. Here are some great recipes that are food allergy-friendly and ideal for the colder months. As always, make sure these recipes are alright based on your allergens.

After being outside

Is there anything better than coming back into a warm house after building a snowman, skiing, sledding, ice-skating or just being out in cold weather? Yes, if coming back into the house also involves a warm drink! Here are some ideas that don’t involve allergens:
                -Heat up some apple cider, serve with a cinnamon stick
                -Brew up some peppermint, decaf chai, or herbal citrus tea
                -Make hot cocoa from scratch using a dairy substitute, here’s a recipe that looks good
                -Make an allergen-free hot chocolate using Neocate Junior, Chocolate and serve in a thermos
                -Add a drop of peppermint oil or artificial peppermint flavor for a change

Wintery breakfasts                                                      

It can be hard to get out of bed when it’s cold outside. A nice, hot breakfast makes at least a little easier (and slippers don’t hurt!). Here are a few ideas that we’d love to wake up to:
                -Add cut fruit and cinnamon to hot oatmeal
                -Toast and enjoy a Pumpkin Banana Flourless Muffin
                -Fruity Apple Cereal or Applesauce Oatmeal (In our Neocate Nutra Recipe Guide)
                -Fruity Tutti Pancakes (In our Neocate Recipe Booklet)
                -Cinnamon Breakfast Bread or French Toast (In our Food Allergy Cookbook)

Main Meals

Nothing hits the spot when the days are short like a hearty soup. Here are a few we’d be happy to pull a chair up to at the dinner table:
                -Chicken Noodle Soup (from Eating with Food Allergies)
                -Taco Soup (from Real Food Allergy Free)
                -Cream of Broccoli (In our Food Allergy Cookbook)
                -Butternut Squash Soup (In our Neocate Recipe Booklet)

Seasonal Desserts

And even though waistlines suffer at this time of year, who can pass up dessert? Here are a few ways to wrap up a meal:
                -Serve a Milk-free Peppermint Shake
                -Try a great recipe for Gingerbread Cookies (replace egg with appleasauce, if needed)
                -Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Smoothie (In our Neocate Recipe Booklet)

What are your favorite allergen-free recipes at this time of year?


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How Children Can Explain Food Allergies

Posted 11.19.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Many parents of children with food allergies figure out over time how to explain the allergies to others. But what happens when your child is on her/his own? How do you prepare your child to explain food allergies to other children?

1 – Role Play

It may seem simple, but one of the best methods to prepare your child to answer questions is to practice. You can take a turn being the child with food allergies to give your little one a chance to see an example. We got this idea from Linda Cross in her post on the Kids with Food Allergies site: Raising a Well-adjusted Child Who Happens to Have Food Allergies. It’s full of a lot of other great, practical tips!

2 – Read about it

Children love reading from a young age. Why not read a book together about a young boy’s food allergy? Peter Can’t Eat Peanuts was a book Nadine Reilly wrote to help others work through the same experience her family had. We learned about this great book through a blog that Wendy Mondello wrote, that’s full of a lot of other great tips about managing food allergies as a family, especially emotions.

3 – Share a Video

Videos can be great teaching tools, especially for young children. Your child could share this video, narrated by a pair of pediatric allergists, with his/her classroom during ‘Show and Tell’ or could share it with a friend when asked about why certain foods are ‘off-limits.’

What have you found helpful in empowering your child to explain food allergies to other children?   


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Four Tips for Celebrating the Holidays with Food Allergies

Posted 11.17.14 | Nutrition Specialist

With the holidays around the corner it is important for families with food allergies to plan ahead.

Below are tips that will help you to have a healthy, happy and allergy-free holiday season:

1. Communication is key:Communication is so vital when dealing with food allergies. It never hurts to remind kids of how to explain their food allergies and be mindful of what they eat. If you’re going to a party with your kids, be sure to educate the host of the food-restrictions for your kids. Discuss the concerns of food allergens, possibility of cross-contact and allergen substitutions.

2.  Festive giveback:If a guest brings food that contains allergens and is well-sealed, consider donating the food to the many organizations that work towards alleviating hunger across cities. If you’re a guest to a party which is hosted by a family with food allergies, you can contribute to the party by not just bringing in food, but also flowers, carnations, cups, dishes and so on…

3. Labels and color-coding:Labels are very helpful that enable vital information regarding different ingredients in the food item. If you’re a host, be sure to label every ingredient in the food item for food-allergic guests. If you’re invited to a gathering, plan ahead and suggest the idea to the host of having food labels. Color-coded utensils can be a great way to alert food items with allergens for individuals with food allergies. For example: A bright red spatula can signify the food containing food allergens.

4. You’ve got this:With every new experience, you will find your own unique way to celebrate holidays with food allergies. We know that you have learnt a lot with numerous family gatherings, parties and birthdays and that’s why we know you’ve got this!

This is a wonderful time of the year and enjoy the holiday season allergy-free with your closest!

Allergy Labels

Posted 11.4.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Every now and then we hear about or stumble on a new product that we feel is worth sharing with our readers. This week we wanted to let you know about various labels for food allergies that are made by a company called 

Name Bubbles. You can view the various food allergy alert labels they make here

We like these labels because they're easy to understand and hard to miss. The larger labels include room for your contact information, and all are waterproof, which a lot of homemade labels are not. That makes them ideal for food storage containers that you send to school, to daycare or on play dates. Not only are typical adhesive labels available, but they also offer wristbands, which are a great idea for small children. While the labels Name Bubbles sells cost more than homemade labels, Name Bubbles has committed 20% of proceeds related to allergy label purchases to FARE this year - pretty impressive!

Aside from stickers and labels, how do you communicate food allergies to friends and/or strangers?



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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.