Food Allergy Living Blog

Nutrition Specialist Column

GERD Awareness Week

Posted 11.24.15 | Neocate Admin

In many households, this week marks the beginning of the holiday season!  For most, the holiday season brings excitement, joy and generosity. For others, it can bring worried minds over all the food allergens presented at the thanksgiving or dessert table and heartburn! During this 17th annual GERD awareness week which is November 23-29, 2015, we’d like to help spread the word about GERD. Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can turn a joyful celebration into an painful experience. The Digestive Health Alliance has pulled together 15 tips to manage your symptoms during this holiday season.

GERD can also occur in infants and children and is often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). The National Institute of Health provides an explanation of the difference between GER and GERD as well as helpful information on:

  • Symptoms & causes of GER and GERD in infants
  • Diagnosis of GER and GERD and infants
  • Treatement GER and GERD in infants

Studies estimate that up to 40-56% of infants with GER also suffer from cow milk allergy*. In those cases, here is how Neocate may be able to help.

Help us raise GERD awareness and tell us about you or your child’s GER/GERD story and what has been most helpful.

Wishing everyone a safe and GERD-free holiday season!

-The Neocate Team


*Reference: Nielsen RG et al. Severe gastroesophageal reflux disease and cow milk hypersensitivity in infants and children: Disease association and evaluation of a new challenge procedure. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004; 39:383–391

Nutricia Navigator – Neocate Product Coverage and Reimbursement Assistance

Posted 11.19.15 | Christine Graham-Garo

Nutricia NavigatorLiving with food allergies can be worrisome for families. So when you find the formula that your child tolerates, it is an exciting and anxious time. However, if your insurance states that they will not cover the cost of that formula, it can bring on even more worries to an already stressful situation.

For families looking to obtain product coverage, it can often be overwhelming to speak to insurance companies directly.  Insurance companies tend to use terms and phrases not common in our day-to-day conversations. This is where the Nutricia Navigator steps in.

What is Nutricia Navigator?

Nutricia Navigator is a free reimbursement service created to help you find Neocate product access and coverage.

The program was started in 2010 and is available in all 50 US States. Our Navigator team is well versed in the insurance lingo and necessary steps needed to be taken in order to obtain possible coverage.  Think of them as the GPS for insurance coverage of Neocate Products.

It is the only service that goes above and beyond to help you gain Nutricia product access and coverage, and will stay by your side until you have the product in-hand and all your questions have been answered.

Nutricia Navigator Facts

How Nutricia Navigator Works?

·         Helps you understand where & how Nutricia products can be covered.

·         Will assist you in appealing denials for Nutricia product coverage by self-funded and fully-funded plans through medical necessity support.

·         Will stay by your side until you have the Nutricia product in-hand and all questions have been answered.

·         Initiates joint calls between patients, healthcare teams & insurance companies to guide you through difficult reimbursement processes.

·         Works with Medicaid, WIC*, self-funded plans, commercial insurance, & state mandates to work towards Nutricia product coverage support.

·         And Much More!

If you are wondering if your insurance will cover the cost of Neocate, start by calling the Nutricia Navigator at 1-800-365-7354, option 8, ext 1200. You can also email them at

For additional information, or forms to help you get started with Nutricia Navigator, go to the Navigator’s website.

* WIC = WIC is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.


Nutricia Goes Teal for Halloween

Posted 10.27.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Last year, we were very excited to see how the Teal Pumpkin Project took off! This concept started in Tennessee with the local food allergy group, FACET, and is now led by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). This year, we've noticed even more news coverage and buzz around this great initiative. One of my neighbors even posted about her family's teal pumpkin, and encouraged the whole neighborhood to participate! This is great news for children with food allergies who just want to get in on the trick-or-treating fun. This year, Nutricia as a company is fully embracing the Teal Pumpkin Project!

Trick-or-Treat with a Cause!                         

This year, the Neocate team is encouraging our entire company to help raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters during Halloween by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can learn more about the project and how you can get involved here.

Our company leadership was so excited by this great initiative that they offered to cover the cost of non-food treats for trick-or-treaters with allergies. Since our employees are scattered across the United States and Canada, we know that our company can help make a difference for hundreds of families in North America! To add some excitement, we're even offering a prize to the employee who has the most creative teal pumpkin. (Who doesn't love a contest?)

What allergy-friendly non-food items are you passing out for Halloween this year as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project?


Image from FARE
The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

Celebrating Halloween with Food Allergies: Tips, Resources, and Recipes!

Posted 10.26.15 | Mallory West

Halloween with Food Allergies









Halloween can be extra “spooky” for parents of children with food allergies. For today’s post, I’ve collected some tips, resources, and recipes to help ensure that your family has a safe, happy, and allergy-friendly Halloween.

Tips & Resources:

  • Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) has developed an amazing Tips to Safely Celebrate Halloween with Food Allergies resouce which includes:
    • Halloween tips for at home: hosting a party, enlisting help of others, trading unsafe treats and ideas for a food-free Halloween
    • Halloween tips for at school: discussion with parents and teachers
    • Trick-or-treating checklist
    • Examples of non-food treats
    • Fun ways to celebrate
  • KFA's guide on how to read Halloween candy labels is also extremely thorough and helpful!

Join the Teal Pumpkin Project!

Food Allergy Reserach & Education (FARE) started a campaign to help raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all kids on Halloween. Included are helpful ideas for non-food treats! Join the Teal Pumpkin Project and help create a safer, happier Halloween for everyone!


Have some tips, resources, or recipes of your own? Share them here or on our Facebook page: We’d love to see some Halloween photos of your kids as well!



*Please keep in mind that these recipes are “allergy-friendly” and not necessarily “allergen-free”. Be sure to check the ingredients to ensure each recipe is appropriate for your child’s food allergies. If you are unsure, consult with your child’s health care professional.

Photo: Flickr user-

Common Signs of Cow Milk Allergy (Part 2 of 4)

Posted 10.15.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Cow milk allergy (CMA) can be difficult to understand. Children with CMA often experience multiple unpleasant symptoms. However, without fully understanding the reason behind these symptoms, it is hard to know how to manage them.  Being able to recognize the symptoms of cow milk allergy can lead to a faster diagnosis and, in turn, more potential solutions, which sometimes include an amino acid-based formula such as Neocate.

A few of the most common symptoms of cow milk allergies are listed in this short video. Although it does not talk about every possible symptom associated with CMA, the video lists eight of the most common symptoms.

As a follow up to our post on Tuesday about the common symptoms of cow milk allergy, today’s post focuses on two additional symptoms: skin rashes and extreme fussiness.

Skin Rashes

Skin rashes can be caused by a number of things, one of which is CMA. Babies with skin rashes related to cow milk allergies may itch and scratch nonstop, and experience extreme discomfort. This may be worse shortly after feedings. Rashes often appear on the face, but can appear anywhere on the body. Remember, it is important to check with your child’s physician if you suspect the rash to be related to cow milk allergy. For more information about skin rashes, read this post.

Extreme Fussiness

When your child is experiencing extreme fussiness, it is hard to pinpoint the reason behind it. However, if your infant is crying uncontrollably, it is possible that it could be due to CMA.

Typically, if your baby is crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days, over three weeks, then you should speak to your doctor. It is possible that your little one is experiencing gastrointestinal pain.  Extreme fussiness can also be associated with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), so be sure to keep this in mind when speaking to your child’s doctor about the possibility of CMA. For more information about GERD:

Stay tuned for the next post in this series of common cow milk allergy signs and symptoms. 

Common Signs of Cow Milk Allergy (1 of 4)

Posted 10.13.15 | Nutrition Specialist

When a healthcare team recommends an amino acid-based infant formula like Neocate Infant DHA/ARA, it's often based on a suspicion of cow milk allergy (CMA). The best way for a healthcare team to confirm that an infant has CMA is to 1) remove cow milk from the diet, and 2) re-introduce cow milk in a healthcare setting under a doctor's supervision. If suspected symptoms of CMA improve when cow milk is removed from the diet then reappear when cow milk is reintroduced, CMA is likely to be officially diagnosed.

But many new parents dealing with unexpected symptoms in their little one wonder: What are some of the most common signs and symptoms of CMA among infants? This video outlines 8 of the most common signs and symptoms that a heatlhcare team is likely to keep an eye out for, or that may lead them to suspect CMA. It comes from a Board-certified pediatric allergist. However, it's certainly not a comprehensive list - some signs and symptoms are less common. Also, not every infant with one or more of these symptoms will be diagnosed with CMA. Finally, every infant who develops an allergy to cow milk will have a slightly different experience with different signs and symptoms - no two babies with CMA are the same! Here's a bit more information on two of those symptoms.


Diarrhea can be very concerning to someone caring for an infant. It's not unusual for every infant to have a loose stool every now and then, but multiple loose or liquid stools a day may be a sign of something unusual. For infants who experience diarrhea as a result of CMA may also have blood in the stool. It's important to remember that diarrhea has many causes, so the best thing to do is to check with the healthcare team if you are concerned that your little one is experiencing diarrhea. See this post to read more about diarrhea and it's association with a cow milk allergy.


It's normal for every infant to spit up at some point, but some infants spit up more than others. Many infants who spit up but don't seem bothered by it are termed "happy spitters." For some infants though, spitting up may represent something more concerning such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or vomitting. In these cases, the reflux of vomitting may be related to cow milk allergy. In those cases, taking cow milk out of the diet should help resolve the reflux or vomitting. Read this post for more information on reflux and vomitting in infancy.

As always, consult your heatlhcare team if you are concerned that your little one is showing signs or symptoms of a cow milk allergy.


7 Questions with Sarah O’Brien, Digital Marketing Manager

Posted 10.9.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Meet Sarah O’Brien, long-time blogger of Food Allergy Living! Sarah is also a digital marketing manager, specialized in pediatrics at Nutricia. She works closely with the Neocate brand. Sarah has two children, one  of who was born with a cow milk allergy. We recently had a conversation with her to find out why she got into this field, and learn more about her food allergy journey with her own children.

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

I think health education is the most interesting part of the medical foods industry. I chose to work in this field because I felt that it was a good fit, given my interest in health and nutrition, and also in leading a healthy lifestyle, which is so important.  I also really like to talk to people going through this food allergy journey, and do what I can to help change their lives.

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

I draw on my own experiences all the time. I don’t just draw on them when interacting with customers, though. I also find myself drawing on them in internal meetings, and when we are strategizing. I try to put my mom shoes on in those situations, and get the rest of the team to think as parents whether they are parents  or not, and pull that thought process through the strategy.

What was your best pregnancy memory?

When I felt my children kicking and moving, it was such a great experience. I remember I would be sitting in meetings, and I would feel a kick in the middle of a meeting, and I would have such a smile on my face. I felt like it was such a blessing to have a human growing in me, like it was a miracle.

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

I continue to put it on their plates, and try to get them to smell it, or lick it, or at least do something with it. I don’t pressure them and I’m okay if they don’t, but I will continue to put it on their plate and hope they will try it eventually.

What are your children’s favorite Neocate products?

My daughter really enjoyed Neocate Nutra, when she experienced a cow milk allergy.

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

First of all, I understand that finding out your child has any type of allergy can be  a relief that you found the issue (and the solution) but can also be disappointing. As a parent, you immediately think, “my child isn’t perfect,” but with time you realize that it is okay, and you learn how to incorporate it into your life, and it becomes a normal part of your family. Parents with a child who has a food allergy will indeed have extra things to worry about like how food allergies will affect the child’s life, but it’s important to remember that they can still play and learn just like everyone else, they can still ride roller coasters, and do all the fun things other kids get to do. I would remind parents to keep a positive outlook and what a blessing it is to have such a healthy child so full of energy!As a parent, you will worry about your kids no matter what. Having a food allergy certainly adds to the list but as you gain experience and confidence with what to avoid, how to avoid, what to do in an emergency, educating everyone around your child and seeing your child take their food allergy into their own hands will hopefully lessen your worry a little.

Is there anything else you want the readers to know about you?

I was in your shoes at one point too. I went through the journey, the multiple doctor visits with no answers, many tears, sleepless nights, desperate for a solution, overwhelmed with emotion, guilt, denial, struggled to gain family support, I went through it all and came out with a happy baby and in a really good place! I am someone knowing what you are going through, and trying to work to make it better. I’m not just someone in the office doing a job; it’s more than a job or brand to me. It’s something I have lived through, and I have now made it my mission to make the journey for others better.  


Soup - It’s What’s for Dinner!

Posted 10.7.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Every day, we talk with families who struggle daily in managing food allergies. Food allergies certainly present a lot to manage! On top of the extensive guidance you receive on how to manage food allergies in the kitchen, you also hear advice that it's important to "spend dinner together as a family" for important social reasons. For many families with food allergies involving a hypoallergenic formula like Neocate, this can represent a significant dilemma.

Family meal time

The value in gathering the whole family around the table for dinner - with all devices turned off! - is that everyone can connect. Dinnertime presents an opportunity for every family member to talk about their day and spend valuable time with each other. As a society, a lot of our social activities revolve around food, so this makes sense! However, people with a diet that consists solely or primarily of formula may not feel like they belong at the dinner table if they're not consuming the same things as everyone else. We gave some thought to how families can ensure everyone feels welcome at the dinner table and came up with this idea.

Soup's on!

In trying to figure out how to involve everyone, one possibility to make everyone feel welcome at the table is to come up with a way that every family member eats their meal the same way. Well, if one person consumes liquids, why not serve liquid - soup, specifically - for the rest of family? That way, the family can eat soup with bowls and spoons, and anyone who depends on formula can also use a bowl and spoon. This is a great way to get them to feel less "different" from everyone else at the table and like they're part of the same meal. Depending on what allergens need to be avoided, you may even be able to offer a soup that works for everyone at the table. And if you want to make a special soup for those with allergies, you can find ideas in some of our recipe books on this page.

How does your family make sure everyone feels included at the table?


Who Says Mealtime Can’t Be Fun?

Posted 9.29.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Getting kids involved in preparing meals and doing fun activities together before and during mealtimes can help to build healthy habits. Children with food allergies may especially benefit from positive activities centered around mealtime to remind them that food can be fun. Even though a special diet might require a little more thought and planning, it’s important to create these positive experiences.

Description: C:\Users\valleke\AppData\Local\Temp\notesE8B3C6\Capture Blog PIC.PNGInvolving children in preparing meals is a great way to build autonomy and confidence. What better way is there to teach children about food than to actually involve them in the process with their own hands?  Bring them along to the grocery store with you and have them help you choose ingredients. Involve them in the preparation and cooking process based on their abilities for their age. Try turning the TV off and store electronics away during meals, as mealtime can be a great opportunity for families to bond and catch up on each other’s days.

Here are some fun ideas for activities that families can do during mealtimes to have fun, learn about food, and enjoy mealtime together!

Play Restaurant

Children love to play “restaurant” at home. At a family meal, let your child pretend to be a waiter or waitress. First tell your child what is on the menu for dinner. Then give your child a small pad of paper and a pen to take orders from the customers. Let him or her serve the food and then he or she can leave the check. To extend the play, ask your child to create their own “real” menus for the next meal.

Thankful for ABC

What are you thankful for? Even on our worst days, we can still find things for which we are grateful. Go around the table and have each family member share something for which he or she is grateful in alphabetical order. For example, you’re thankful for apples, your son is grateful for bananas, and so on until everyone is feeling thankful from A to Z!

Family Recipe Cards

Your child can create a recipe card for any simple meal, for example “How to make a turkey sandwich.” Give your child paper or index cards and writing utensils and ask him or her to draw each step as you make the sandwich. If your child likes this activity, he or she can make a whole set of recipes.

Taboo Story

Each family member takes turns talking about his or her day, but first picks a letter. Words beginning with that letter may not be used in the description of one's day. The “taboo words” can make these stories a comical vocabulary exercise. Make sure each family member gets a chance to participate.

Theme night

To change up your routine, offer a theme meal night or host a dinner dress up night! Some ideas you can include: International Night, Halloween, Luau, Pajama Night, Breakfast for Dinner, Backwards Day.

Ingredient Race

Pick one of the ingredients from a meal and put it on the counter or in the center of the table. Give everyone 2 minutes to write down as many meals that use that ingredient as possible. Whoever comes up with the most meals wins!

What are some fun mealtime activities you and your family engage in? We’d love to hear your ideas!

-Hilary Smith, RD


Image source: Stephanie Sicore

Food Allergy-friendly Family Night Activities

Posted 9.25.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Busy, busy, busy! Our lives seem to be non-stop with everyone in the family going in different directions with work, school and activity schedules. Having some designated time for the family is important for bonding and reconnecting. For those with food allergies, making this time a non-food event is also important. Make it a priority, plan it out, turn it OFF (TV, computer and video games) and make it fun. Following are some ideas and resources to help you get started.

Game Night

If there’s one thing that everyone in the family can do at the table that doesn’t involve food, it’s games! Designate a weekly family game night and make it a priority to get everyone involved. Rotate which family member gets to choose which game to play each week. You’ll be amazed how much family bonding can be achieved over a spirited board or card game!

Indoor Gardening

This can be an exciting and rewarding activity, independent of the weather. What a great sense of fulfillment when kids can see seeds sprout or a flower bloom. This can be as simple as a few potted plants, a rock garden, a mini-themed garden or a terrarium. Below are some sites to check for further inspiration:

Family Fitness Night

What a great way to get kids moving and put a positive spin on physical activity. These can be held at home, around the neighborhood or at a local community center.

  • Home Fitness: When watching TV, turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks with simple moves like jumping jacks, marching, running in place or crunches. Create fun names to correspond to these and take turns with family members being the fitness break coach. Consider buying some small pieces of equipment to keep around the house (resistance bands, stability balls, yoga mats). Plan places to put these around the house and use them for a few minutes every day. Incorporating yoga or daily stretches is a good way to relieve stress and can protect from injury later in life.
  • Make chores fun: Turn on some tunes and dance and sing along. Consider making a SPECIAL playlist of chore songs with everyone contributing their favorite. Perhaps a chore + exercise combo. Clean the bathroom and do a set of squats every few minutes.
  • Sports Night: Weather is no issue for this! Inside, try aerobic DVDs or fitness video games that are age- and space-appropriate. Outside, consider the backyard or nearby park for Frisbee, basketball, jumping rope, or other outdoor games. Check out a close-by playground with the whole family. Consider recreation centers for swimming, rollerblading, or ice skating.

Need some more ideas? These sites have ideas for various activity types, durations and intensities.


Volunteering as a family enhances values such as kindness, compassion and tolerance. Family members can learn new skills and feel appreciated for their contributions. Opportunities abound and need not be limited to holiday times or associated with food. Consider your time commitment ability: one time or ongoing? Consider your interests, the ages of your children and perhaps whether you want to do this as a single family unit or joining with another family or even an organization. A helping hand might be needed in your own neighborhood, your community, or for distant places too. It’s important to explain to your children your volunteer activity purpose and what to expect.

These sites offer more guidance in volunteering and opportunities for families.

Family time is important and rewarding. What kind of food allergy-friendly family night activities does your family engage in?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN

Image from familytravelck

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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.