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!