Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


food allergies

Spring and Seasonal Allergies

Posted 4.19.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

If you or a family member has seasonal allergies, which are triggered by environmental allergens like pollen, you probably know that spring can be a rough time of year, especially if you live in an area with a high pollen count. Here at Neocate, we hear from some parents that their children’s food allergy symptoms seem worse at this time of year. Let’s take some time to review the similarities and differences between food allergy and environmental allergy symptoms.

Seasonal Allergies

Allergies that show up in the spring are also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis. They are usually caused by pollen: the body recognizes proteins in pollen as “foreign” and mounts an immune response, like it does to bacteria or viruses. This causes the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Most of these symptoms are “above the neck” and include sneezing, itchy eyes, or a runny nose. Some folks are allergic to only one or a few types of pollen, whereas others are sensitive to many types of pollen. Symptoms can show up after a move to a new geographic area where the plants, and the pollen, are different. It seems that allergic rhinitis isn’t limited to older children and adults: infants can have it too.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are a response to the proteins in food. When that food (or even a trace amount of that food) is consumed, the body mounts an immune response. In this way, food allergies can be similar to seasonal allergies. Most of the food allergy symptoms fall “below the neck” because the body responds to the part of the body where the food is: the gut. In older children and adults these symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, and an itchy sensation in the mouth, among others. The symptoms are different for infants who have a milk and/or soy allergy than those of older children and adults.

Similarities

Food allergies and seasonal allergies share some of the same symptoms. For instance, both can cause a runny nose, headache, and congestion as a result of exposure to allergens that are foods or pollen. The two are also similar in that their symptoms can both be minimized by avoiding their respective triggers. Here are tips for minimizing symptoms of seasonal allergies and our past blogs for preventing symptoms of food allergies.

Differences

Fortunately seasonal allergies can also be treated with medications. This is nice because pollen can make symptoms persist constantly, often for weeks at a time. Unfortunately, there aren’t any widely used medications to help treat mild to moderate food allergies. The best treatment for food allergies is avoidance. Along those lines, it’s easier to avoid food allergens than it is to avoid the triggers for seasonal allergies. Even if there were a medication that helped with mild food allergies, some food allergies are so severe that the only treatment is to entirely avoid the food in question.

If your child is exhibiting symptoms that aren’t clearly one allergy or the other, ask yourself these questions:

-Monitor the pollen count: are the symptoms worse as pollen counts go up?

-Monitor the diet: has anything new been added that could cause the symptoms?

-Is your child exhibiting new symptoms, or are the same symptoms getting worse?

If your child has food allergies and his or her symptoms seem to get worse at a certain time of year, it may be that new or worsened symptoms could be due to seasonal allergies, which aren’t helped by avoiding food allergens. Ultimately, it’s probably best to see an allergist, especially if your child has symptoms that are making them miserable. Allergists can help by identifying the cause of a seasonal allergy, suggesting ways to minimize symptoms, and prescribing drugs that might help as needed. Check with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology to locate an allergy center near you.

Did you have a tough time telling what was causing your child’s allergy symptoms?

- Rob

[Image Source]


Resources from the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation

Posted 4.5.11 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a guest blog entry from Lynda Mitchell, the Founder ofKids With Food Allergies Foundation. We'd like to thank her for guest blogging with us. 

As the parent of a baby who had multiple food allergies, I truly understand the joys and challenges of parenting a child with food allergies. My baby - now 21 years old - is successfully attending college, living a full life, and managing his own food allergies.

As the founder of Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA), a nonprofit grass roots support organization for families raising children with food allergies, I want to assure you that you are not alone, and want you to know that there is a world of support waiting for you.

KFA offers daily assistance and practical food allergy management help. Reach out to us when you're just getting started. We can help you not feel alone, give you pointers to make your life easier and help improve the quality of life for you and your child. Or, if you've been "in the trenches" managing food allergies for a while, you are welcome to get involved and share what you know with others who are new to food allergies, stay informed with news, or get involved with volunteer work or leadership opportunities.

Our website is rich with resources to help you day-to-day. Most of this information is fully accessible without cost to you. Please check out what we offer, and use what is helpful!

Looking for social support?

Our online support community of 24,000 members is the largest online peer support group focused solely on children's food allergies. Registration is free-so if you haven't already become a member, please join us and participate in sharing support, exchanging information, and giving and getting help with food ideas, recipes and cooking challenges! In addition to general forums, there are places to discuss special issues, like raising children with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), celebrating birthdays and special occasions (Yes, we can even help you bake your child's birthday cake!), and lots more!

New to food allergies?

Check out our free e-book starter guide, From Confusion to Confidence, and our online tutorial and videos. We also offer a one-page handout with need-to-know information focusing on prevention and preparedness.

Need help with grocery shopping, food ideas, baking, cooking or recipes?

Check out our label reading guides; basic substitution and "How to Cook" information; grocery shopping tips; and Safe Eats Recipe Database. We also offer twice-yearly reports on new allergy- and kid-friendly foods; an Allergy Buyer's Guide; and food and cooking support forums where you can ask other parents for tried-and-true suggestions.

Looking for help navigating holidays, school, travel or special occasions?

Check out our holiday guides, school resources, travel and camp tips! We've got lots more to offer too. So, visit our website soon, become a member and sign up for our free news updates! Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We're here to help inform, connect and support families. I hope we can be of help to yours, too.

Lynda


Food Allergies Around the World

Posted 4.5.11 | Mallory West

We’ve discussed the Top 8 Allergens which account for 90% of all food allergies. These allergens are the main offenders but there are certain food allergies that are unique to certain regions of the world. EuroPrevall was a global research project funded by the European Union that looked at food allergy prevalence and patterns among various countries around the world. EuroPrevall revealed that there are major differences in the types of food allergies that are seen in different countries.

The main theory behind these differences is that people are most likely to develop a food allergy to the foods that are most commonly eaten. Milk and eggs are common foods worldwide so it’s not surprising that these are two of the most universally frequent food allergies (mostly in children).

However, different regions have unique cuisines that are influenced by their geographical locations and their cultural history. As a result, there are some notable variations in food allergy trends around the world.

Let’s look at some examples of specific food allergies that vary around the world.

  • Seafood Allergy: Fish allergy is more common in countries where fish consumption is high, such Scandinavia, Norway, Portugal and Japan. Shrimp allergy is fairly common in Iceland and Spain but almost non-existent in Bulgaria and Poland.
     
  • Sesame Allergy: Sesame allergy is not considered a Top 8 Allergens however; it is common in Israel, where sesame consumption is high[1]. In fact, milk, egg and sesame are the 3 most common food allergies among children in Israel and second to milk, sesame is the second leading cause of anaphylaxis in Israeli children[2].
     
  • Rice Allergy: Rice allergy is rare in most countries and is usually considered one of the foods that is least likely to cause an allergic reaction. That’s why rice cereal is usually the first food we’re introduced to as infants. However, rice allergy is fairly common in countries of Eastern Asia, where rice is commonly eaten, such as in Japan. People who are allergic to rice can have an allergic reaction when they consume rice or when they inhale rice pollen.
     
  • Peanut Allergy: Peanut allergies are quite common in the westernized countries such as the US and the UK but fairly rare in other areas. For example, in Greece, peanut allergies are almost non-existent. This may be partly due to different rates of peanut consumption among different countries but consumption trends can’t completely explain the differences in the rates of peanut allergies. Although peanut consumption is very high in Indonesia and parts of Africa, these areas have an extremely low incidence of peanut allergy.

    There is even variation among the characteristics of peanut allergies in different countries[3]. A study on peanut allergies among children in the US, Spain and Sweden found that there are some differences in the characteristics of peanut allergy among the different countries. In the US, peanut allergy usually manifests in the first year of life whereas children in Sweden and Spain usually develop a peanut allergy at age two or older. The study also found that children from the three different countries react to different components of the peanut protein.

Pollen’s Role:

Certain pollens may influence the foods which someone is allergic to. For example, an allergy to birch pollen can cause a cross reaction to proteins in apples or hazelnut. Therefore, allergies to apples and hazelnut are more common in geographical areas where birch pollen is abundant.

Allergy Trends: A Product of Genetics and Environment

Although scientists are still unsure of what exactly leads to the development of food allergies, it is theorized that the development of food allergies is influenced by infant feeding habits, environmental factors and of course, genetics. Early exposure to the commonly consumed foods and inhaled allergens in a certain region is likely to play a strong role.

I had never thought about how geography and culture might affect food allergy trends so I found this topic especially interesting. I hope you found it interesting too!

-Mallory


[1]> Aaronov D, Tasher D, Levine A, Somekh E, Serour F, Dalal I. Natural history of food allergy in infants and children in Israel. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Dec;101(6):637-40.
[2] Dalal I, Binson I, Reifen R, Amitai Z, Shohat T, Rahmani S, Levine A, Ballin A, Somekh E. Food allergy is a matter of geography after all: sesame as a major cause of severe IgE-mediated food allergic reactions among infants and young children in Israel. Allergy. 2002 Apr;57(4):362-5.
[3] Vereda A, van Hage M, Ahlstedt S, Ibañez MD, Cuesta-Herranz J, van Odijk J, Wickman M, Sampson HA. Peanut allergy: Clinical and immunologic differences among patients from 3 different geographic regions. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Mar;127(3):603-7. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

All About Diarrhea

Posted 3.31.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Here at Neocate, we get lots of questions about diapers. I mean lots! Many questions relate to constipation or diarrhea. We’ve posted about constipation in the past, but I thought it would be helpful to pull together our past comments on diarrhea, as well as provide some more medical information on the topic courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH.

Defining “Diarrhea”

Simply defined, diarrhea is loose, watery stools. It also means having these loose stools three or more times a day. There are more specific guidelines, but most people know diarrhea when they see it. Diarrhea happens to everyone, usually about once a year for adults and twice a year for young children.

Typically, diarrhea is acute, meaning that it lasts one or two days and then goes away. This type of diarrhea is typically caused by an infection. If diarrhea lasts more than two days, it can be something more serious. Diarrhea lasting more than two to four weeks – chronic diarrhea – may be a symptom of a chronic disease or condition.

The concern with diarrhea, especially when it lasts more than two days, is a risk of dehydration. Our bodies absorb most of the water and some minerals at the end of our digestive tract. When we have diarrhea we can’t absorb those things, leading to dehydration, which can be serious.

Diarrhea in Infants

New parents quickly become experts at several things, one of which is changing diapers. Since infants go through about eight diapers a day, parents easily pick up on anything abnormal. Every baby’s stools are different in terms of how watery they are, which makes defining diarrhea in infants difficult. To keep it simple, diarrhea is typically a sudden onset of frequent bowel movements that are more watery than usual.

The risk of dehydration from diarrhea is much higher in children than most adults, and especially in infants. Since infants can’t tell us what they’re feeling, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. With children and infants, you shouldn’t hesitate to call their healthcare provider if you have concerns. For infants under 4 months, the recommendation is that you contact the doctor at the first sign of diarrhea or dehydration.

Diarrhea and Food Allergies

Pulling this all together, diarrhea is one of the top signs of a food allergy, especially for infants. In infants with food allergies, diarrhea often lasts more than just a few days and may even be combined with other symptoms. It’s not uncommon to also see blood or mucus in the stool. Diarrhea can also result from lactose intolerance, which is not as severe as a food allergy, but which may also require a change in diet.

Like we hear from many Neocate parents, diarrhea is often one of the first signs to clear up after they start using Neocate. This is because Neocate doesn’t contain any lactose (or any dairy at all!) or whole proteins. These substances would normally cause a reaction in the body that leads to poor absorption and diarrhea. Infants are able to absorb the nutrients they need from Neocate without the bad reaction that often results in diarrhea. Most parents tell us that the switch to Neocate has meant more solid stools and many fewer diapers.

- Rob

[Image Source]


Which came first: atopic dermatitis or food allergy?

Posted 3.17.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

In food allergy circles, we usually think of symptoms and side effects as results of food allergies, not the other way around. In most cases that’s true. Science has shown a strong link between food allergy and atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema. Last month Dr. Jon Hanifin, a respected dermatologist, gave a talk to colleagues discussing the link between atopic dermatitis and food allergies. The research he presented suggests that for some patients it may actually be atopic dermatitis that comes first and acts as a precursor to food allergies.

Atopic dermatitis is often one of the first signs that a parent or caregiver notices in their child which helps lead to the diagnosis of food allergy. As Dr. Hanifin explained, about 6-10% of children are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, and of those about a third will be diagnosed with a food allergy. Which begs the question: If parents notice signs of atopic dermatitis first, and an allergy diagnosis comes later, couldn’t atopic dermatitis be causing some instances of food allergy?

What We Know:

-In cases of food allergy, offending foods cause reactions in the body which involve the immune system

-Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) are immune substances which are normally in our bodies at low levels, but are higher with food allergy

-Allergy symptoms often involve the skin (including our digestive tract, which is like an inside skin), an important barrier that keeps most outside “things” from getting inside

-One factor of atopic dermatitis is “holes” in the barrier our skin provides

What Dr. Hanifin Proposed:

In the past it was assumed that food allergies came first, causing both high IgE levels and atopic dermatitis. Dr. Hanifin suggested that in some patients atopic dermatitis is caused by “gaps” in the skin (likely due to genetics), which means that foreign substances can enter the skin and cause adverse reactions. He thinks it may be proteins that get through these gaps which allows the body to become sensitive to certain foods, leading to a food allergy.

What does all of this mean? The biggest message here is that patients with atopic dermatitis, especially those under five years, should be tested for food allergies. While avoiding food allergens may not help improve atopic dermatitis, it could certainly prevent or improve other serious side effects of allergies. The second message is that more research needs to be done into the causes of atopic dermatitis and its relationship to food allergies. Any research that leads to better health, through reducing instances of atopic dermatitis and/or food allergies, is good research! Tell us about your experience: Was atopic dermatitis the first sign that you saw of your child’s food allergy?

- Rob


AAAAI Annual Meeting

Posted 3.15.11 | Sarah O'Brien

This weekend, March 18 – 22, we will be joining the best and brightest allergy and immunology experts at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) annual meeting in San Francisco, California.

AAAAI was established in 1943 and is the largest professional allergy and immunology medical organization in the United States. With nearly 6,500 members, AAAAI is made up of asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and many others, all of who have a special interest in researching and treating allergic diseases.

Presenting new advancements and findings for allergy, asthma and immunology patients is the main goal of AAAAI and the annual meeting and we are looking forward to learning from the presentations at the conference. Some of the food allergy-related topics this year include:

  • The Food Allergy Guidelines: From Controversy to Consensus
  • What is New in Pediatric Allergy
  • Activation of the Innate Immune System by Allergens: How Allergic Reactions get Started
  • Living with Risk: Quality of Life for Families with Food Allergies

We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all of the fun and exciting things we hope to learn this weekend!

- Sarah


Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Posted 3.11.11 | Christine Graham-Garo

Since Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here, we wanted to share some “green” treat ideas for your whole family. Here are a few tasty allergen free treats for St. Patrick ’s Day.

The first two links are green treats for purchase. I also wanted to share our Food Allergy Cookbook to help with some yummy ideas. You can make your own green treats by using these recipes and just adding green food coloring (you can use standard food coloring or you could try natural food coloring such as Chlorophyll or Pandan).

As always, make sure all the ingredients are appropriate for your little one. You could also make some guacamole which is another high calorie, “green” treat J.

As a Nutritionist, I had to include these next recipes. Although they are not intended for this special day, I thought, why not? They are green and ultra-nutrient packed, as well as being allergy friendly!

For Will Foods – St Patrick’s Day cookies

Sweet Alexis – Shamrock cookies

Food Allergy Cookbook by Neocate

I hope you and your family enjoy these fun green treats. Let us know if these or any of the Food Allergy Cookbook recipes were enjoyed by your family! I would also love to hear about your own special St. Patrick ’s Day recipes. Please share!

Christine

Kirstie Alley's Green Soup

From Oprah’s website

Ingredients

Servings: Makes 23 cups

  • 6 to 8 big chunks shallots
  • 8 leeks (Cut leeks just above their white part, about 2 inches. Peel the outer layer off and then slit them open lengthwise, but not completely severed clear through. Rinse them out well.)
  • 1/3 cup organic olive oil
  • 2 big bunches asparagus (cut the hard ends off about 3 inches)
  • 3 big bunches broccoli (cut the stems off halfway up the shafts)
  • 2 big bunches spinach (cut off the tiny part of the dirty ends)
  • 6 containers (32 ounces each) organic chicken or vegetable broth (check with manufacturer for potential allergens)
  • Sea salt (at least 3 tablespoons of coarse grain)
  • Pepper , to taste

Directions:

Peel and slice shallots thinly. Put all the olive oil in a very large, deep pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. Put the shallots into the oil and sweat the shallots. "Sweating" means to cook the vegetables to tenderize them without browning them. Adjust heat as necessary to ensure they do not brown.

Add 1 tablespoon of coarse, ground, good quality sea salt to shallots to absorb while they are sweating. Cut the leeks into thin slices and toss them into the oil with the shallots. Sweat the leeks along with the shallots. Chop the asparagus into small bits and then add them to the mixture and sweat them, along with the shallots and leeks.

When the shallots, asparagus and leeks are fully sweated and tender, break the broccoli into small chunks and throw them into the soup pot. (If the shallots, leeks and asparagus combo gets too dry before they are tender, just add small amounts of chicken or vegetable broth to the mix and keep on sweating.)

Let the broccoli sweat a little while (about 2 minutes) and then add half of your organic chicken or vegetable stock. Cook this for about 10 minutes.

Add remaining chicken/veggie stock and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes. (You want the broccoli to be tender, but not overcooked, and you want the color of soup to always remain a nice, bright green.) Add all the spinach and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the flame off the mixture and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Transfer the soup into a blender by increments and puree the mixture. Put the pureed soup mixture into one big pot. Then taste and season it to your liking. Only season with salt and pepper. If you desire any other seasoning, create an individual serving, not in the whole pot.

Split the soup into 2 equal parts. Cool the soup before refrigerating and/or freezing. You are basically adding the vegetables in order of their hardness. The spinach is so soft, you would never want to add it too early. If you do, it can make the soup turn brownish…ICK!

Green Soup is 62 calories per cup.
This recipe yields about 23 cups of soup.

Green Soup Recipe with Broccoli, Spinach and Ginger

From Gluten Free Goddess
This easy soup can be thin or thick, depending upon the amount of water you add. It cooks up fast. We served ours with a modest scoop of hot cooked jasmine rice in the middle. Super good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli, cut up 1/2 pound of fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, trimmed, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Fresh water, as needed
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • Lemon or lime juice

Using a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the garlic, onion, and ginger to season the oil. Add the broccoli, spinach, parsnips, celery and parsley, and stir a bit until the spinach wilts and collapses. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Remember the spinach will cook down quite a bit, so don't add too much water at first. You can always thin the soup later, if you need to.

Bring to a high simmer, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes or so until the veggies are softened.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Taste test: Does it need brightening? Add a squeeze of citrus.

Options:

To make this a creamy soup add a dash of So Delicious Coconut Milk.

Serve with a spoonful of hot cooked rice in the center of the bowl.


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

Resources:
http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/fun/fun-with-food-prep/
http://www.letsmove.gov/blog/2014/11/20/making-mealtime-family-time
http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-activities/reading-activities-at-mealtime/
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/824467/5-games-to-play-at-the-dinner-table

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

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


What to Expect At Your Next Doctor Visit

Posted 2.22.11 | Sarah O'Brien

Do you have a doctor’s visit coming up and wondering what to expect? Whether it be a well visit, a sick visit, or a visit to a specialist that you’ve been waiting to see, it’s always good to go prepared and know what to expect as best as you can.

Before your visit

The first thing that always comes to my mind when going to see a new doctor is all the paper work that must be filled out before the exam. This usually requires arriving early and taking 15-20 minutes to complete all the forms. If you’re anything like me after having my little one, arriving on time – let alone early – is a challenge within itself. It can also be hard to keep your little one entertained and sitting quietly while you fill out all the paper work. Some pediatric offices are making their required forms available online to download and complete before you get there which is a big help. If your doctor’s office does not have this available, call and ask if they can mail the paper work to you ahead of time.

Another helpful thing to do before your visit is to write down all those questions that you’ve been thinking of to ask the physician. It’s easy to get distracted and conversations can easily go down one particular path, especially when dealing with food allergies. The topic of most visits would probably be just that – food allergies, but what about those other questions that you had, like sleeping issues, or maybe a behavioral issue. If you write down your questions you’ll be sure to leave with all of your answers.

If possible try to bring your significant other, grandparent, or close family friend to the visit with you. It’s always good to have an extra pair of hands if your infant starts crying, or your toddler starts to misbehave. It’s also good just to have a second set of ears to listen so you don’t miss anything.

During your visit

As with most doctor visits, a weight and height check is always to be expected along with listening to heart and lungs, maybe checking ears and asking about what’s been happening since your last visit. Most pediatric doctors are also interested in hearing about your child’s developmental skills, like can your infant sit up, or can your toddler stack blocks.

Now is your opportunity to ask all those questions that you have written down. Don’t be nervous to ask what you think is a dumb question; a good doctor will hear anything and be happy to answer. If not, you may want to think about switching doctors. If it’s something that worries you, ask – no question is too minor. And if you need clarification on a question that has been answered at a previous visit or even at the beginning of this visit, it’s always best to ask again so you are not left guessing. Also, you may want to have the doctor write down what they are recommending so you don’t forget when you get home.

After your visit

If a follow-up visit is necessary, try to schedule it before you leave the office. This can save you time and help get you in with less of a wait.

If you have visited a specialist, follow-up with your pediatrician to make sure your specialist relates all of their findings back.

What other tips/hints have you discovered to help get yourself prepared for doctor visits? Would love to hear about them.

- Sarah


Israel’s Story

Posted 2.15.11 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a guest blog entry from Karen Adams, Israel’s mom. We’d like to thank her for guest blogging for us.

I've heard several mothers talk about how their baby was fine at the hospital, that their problems didn’t begin until they got home. Our experience didn’t happen like that. From the very first day my son Israel, wouldn’t sleep, but instead screamed and cried constantly. Nothing seemed to soothe him. Our last night at the hospital, we asked the nursery to take him, so we could get some sleep. 15 minutes later they brought him back saying he was kicked out of the nursery, because he cried too much.

Our first night home was spent nervously watching our baby boy projectile vomit, scream and cry. For months Israel would scream and cry and vomit for hours on end. In fact he would cry so hard he would lose his voice. He took only small naps, the most being 45 minutes. He would have diarrhea so badly that he would keep yeast infections on his skin. He would have odd rashes and dry patches of skin. After two pediatricians and trials of cows milk formulas and soy formula. The doctor then switched him to Nutramigen and scheduled an upper GI.

The upper GI confirmed reflux and he was then put on Prevacid. The Nutramigen and Prevacid really seemed to do the trick. He was still a little fussy and spit up quite a lot. But the doctor wasn’t concerned and felt we shouldn’t be either. But being his mother, I just couldn’t let it go. He could drink water and hold it down, but his formula he would spit up. I knew he could do better. After a few weeks of research I found out about Neocate.

I had read so many testimonials about how Neocate and Prevacid stopped the food allergy reactions and reflux issues. Could it be true? His pediatrician thought the problem was reflux, lactose intolerance and classic “Colic”. And that I simply worried too much.

Finally after several visits he agreed to send my son (6 months old) for an allergy test. He tested positive for Milk, Soy, Corn, Pork, Peanuts, Apples, and Rice and positive for some other intolerances. FINALLY I had my proof!!! The allergy specialist gave me a prescription for Neocate and I rushed it to the pharmacy as quickly as possible.

That afternoon we gave him his first bottle of Neocate. He took the bottle and guzzled it down. We watched and waited, and to our surprise no spitting up! We realized not only had the other formula's been causing spit up but also had made him irritable. He started gaining weight, sleeping through the night and generally acting satisfied within a week of being on Neocate. Now he is happy, healthy and full of energy! He just turned one year old in December 2010 and now we are starting on Neocate Jr. As a mother, I couldn’t be happier!

Thanks to Neocate!

-Karen

Karen and Israel's video on YouTube


Celebrating Valentine’s Day Safely

Posted 2.10.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Not so many years ago, it was pretty common for kids to give classmates valentines with candy, bring in baked goods to share, and have a Valentine’s Day party at school. While a lot of classrooms have cut back on such activities, it’s still a great idea to play it safe this Valentine’s Day and avoid the risk of allergic reactions.

Preparing

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a school day this year, the best thing you can do is to remind your child’s teacher(s) of allergies ahead of time. If valentines are going to be exchanged or a party is planned, the teacher can help share information with other parents to ensure that everyone remains safe from potential allergens. Feel free to offer to send a “safe” treat in with your child if they won’t be able to enjoy other foods.

If your child is going to a friend’s house for a Valentine’s Day party, make sure to check in with the host parents to make sure they are aware your little one has a food allergy and ask what will be served ahead of time. Remind your child that they should keep an eye out for allergens: even if a party has a menu, there’s no guarantee other parents won’t send unplanned treats.

Hosting

Are you a teacher? If so, remember that the safest valentine for a child with an allergy is one that doesn’t include candy. You may find it easiest to institute a “cards only” rule if valentines are exchanged. A Valentine’s Day party can be great without the snacks by involving fun games or crafts. You could also keep the food and ensure it’s safe by purchasing or preparing snacks yourself that you know are safe and instituting a “no treats” rule for parents.

If you’re a parent who’s hosting a get-together for some of your child’s playmates, it’s best to check ahead of time with other parents to ask about allergies. Other parents may be more than happy to contribute allergen-free foods to the menu, or you can forgo food altogether and host the party away from mealtime with some fun activities instead.

Giving

Whether your child has an allergy or not, make sure he/she is giving valentines that are safe for other students in their class who may have an allergy of their own. Lots of valentine multi-packs include candy, which most kids enjoy. However, to keep the valentines your child hands out safe, you might consider sprucing up a “traditional” card-only valentine. You can add to the “cool factor” by including valentine-themed tattoos, stickers, or other approved favors in place of edible gifts.

Have a child that can’t enjoy chocolate or the usual treats? Try out our recipe for a knock-out knock-off of chocolate pudding. Also consider family-friendly activities that don’t involve food. Finally, a t-shirt, CD, game or even small vase of flowers could be the surprise gift your child wasn’t expecting!

What tips do you have to keep Valentine’s Day worry free?

- Rob


New Food Allergy Guidelines

Posted 2.1.11 | Christine Graham-Garo

In December 2010, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) released an Expert Panel Report on the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States. You are able to view the full report or the summary (I would suggest the summary as the full report is lengthy). I will mention a few of the guidelines to give you an understanding of the report, but feel free to download the report for yourself so you may be updated on the latest guidelines for food allergy (FA) that many healthcare professionals will be referring to.

The report notes that multiple studies have found 50-90% of presumed food allergies are not actually food allergies! I couldn’t believe as high as 90%! For this reason, I will briefly review the diagnostic recommendations.

Diagnosis of IgE Mediated Food Allergy (Reactions are seen in a short time frame.)

The Expert Panel (EP) stresses the importance of confirming a food allergy. In order to confirm the diagnosis of a FA, it is important the doctor perform a medical history and physical examination. In order to identify the food causing the allergies, the EP recommends a doctor perform a skin prick test (SPT). It is important to note that a SPT alone cannot be considered a diagnosis of FA. The EP does not recommend using tests such as intradermal testing, routine use of total serum IgE and atopy patch tests. Interestingly, they suggest food elimination diets as a useful tool for diagnosing FA. It is also recommended for doctors to use oral food challenges to get a FA diagnosis. It is the gold standard for ruling out certain foods.

Diagnosis of Non-IgE Mediated Reactions (Also known as delayed reactions)

In order to diagnose Food Protein-Induced Entercolitis Syndrome (FPIES,) the EP recommends using medical history and oral food challenges. It was noted that when the causative food is removed and the symptoms subside, it may be enough for an FPIES diagnosis. Doctors and families must work closely together to get the best results for their patients.

The report also mentioned that to reevaluate a patient with a food allergen whether its annually or at another interval will depend on the foods in question, the age of the child and the current medical history.

I very much encourage you to read over the guidelines yourself. The more educated we all are, the more we can help each other and your family to ensure those with food allergies are getting the proper treatment for the accurate food allergy diagnosis. Let me know once you have read it, what you think! You can even share this with your doctor.

-Christine


Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and the Six Food Elimination Diet

Posted 5.15.15 | Christine Graham-Garo

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) is a condition that is continuing to get more and more attention in the medical community, which means the public is learning more about it too. Unfortunately though, the management options for EoE are not black and white. EoE may be managed either with medication, which has known long-term side effects, or nutrition therapy, which has been shown extremely effective, but may be difficult to follow for some families.

Medications used to manage EoE are all steroids, and at this point no medication has FDA approval for EoE. Steroids have been shown to be effective in managing EoE for more than half of patients. However, steroids may not be the best long-term solution for everyone. Many families who choose to use steroids may mix the medication recommended by their physician with Neocate Nutra. This is because Neocate Nutra thickens, so can help to coat the esophagus with the steroid. This use of Neocate Nutra was even studied by a medical team and you can read about their published research here.

As EoE is a chronic condition, management with nutrition therapy is often discussed and preferred by many families over steroids. Here are nutritional therapy options for EoE:

  • Elemental Diet – A diet consisting almost exclusively of amino acid-based (or elemental) products
  • Elimination Diets – The removal of allergens from the diet.
    1. Tailored Elimination – Elimination of specific allergens based on allergy testing
    2. Six Food Elimination – Elimination of 6 top allergens based on the most common allergens seen in EoE patients

The Six Food Elimination Diet

The 6 Food Elimination diet has been gaining in popularity because it bypasses extensive food allergen testing needed for the Tailored Elimination diet. As you may know, allergy tests (skin prick tests and blood tests) are not perfect. There are often false positives which can make the treatment plan more complicated and time consuming, and some allergens may be missed ('false negatives'). So what the 6 Food Elimination diet proposes is that, off-the-bat, patients eliminate the top 6 allergens seen in EoE patients. The top allergens are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts/tree nuts, and seafood. One study1 confirms there is a 74% success rate when using this type of nutrition therapy for EoE. (As a point of reference, an Elemental Diet shows a 95-98% success rate based on multiple studies.) Researcers are also looking into 4 Food Elimination diets.

Advantages and Disadvantages to consider

The advantages of using the 6 Food Elimination diet approach are that you can still eat solid foods. It also eliminates the need for extensive skin and blood tests to check for food allergies. Important disadvantages to this diet therapy are that it may unnecessarily remove foods from the diet, and many process foods are out, meaning the diet often involves a lot of preparation and careful reading of ingredient lists. Eliminating so many foods can increase the risk of patients being deficient in one or more nutrients. Also, as many of you may know, it is hard just to remove milk and soy from your diet. Try eliminating SIX different allergens that are found in many foods while maintaining your nutritional status! For this reason, many medical teams that manage patients with EoE encourage their patients to supplement the 6 Food Elimination diet with a nutritionally dense, hypoallergenic elemental product, such as Neocate®. This can help ensure the patient is getting all the protein, vitamins and minerals they need per day while ensuring that no allergic reactions will occur with the elemental products. It is vital that EoE patients are monitored by a dietitian. The dietitian will help calculate how much of the elemental product the patient will need per day and also make sure the nutritional status of the patient is maintained.

Again, since research has found a 74% success rate for the 6 Food Elimination diet, it's possible that symptoms will persist after starting the 6 Food Elimination diet. If this happens, your medical team can help you decide the next best step, which may include a careful review of your diet, possibly eliminating more foods, or starting with a more “allergen safe” diet therapy such as an Elemental diet. After a few weeks on the Elemental diet, most teams will work with you to start reintroducing solid foods to figure out which ones may be contributing to your symptoms.

I hope this helped to shed some light on this nutritional therapy options for EoE. Every person will have their own treatment plan that works for them. Is anyone following an elimination diet now? How is it going for you? Have any tips you can share that may help others manage an elimination diet?

-Christine

1 Kagawalla AF et al, Effect of six-food elimination diet on clinical and histologic outcomes in eosinophilic esophagitis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2006:4(9):363-8


Clinical Trials, Why and How to Get Involved

Posted 1.20.11 | Mallory West

Many of you have little ones who suffered for weeks, months or even years before finally getting a diagnosis. The diagnosis may have been a food allergy, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an eosinophilic disorder, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), multiple food protein intolerance (MFPI), or a similar allergy-related condition. The diagnosis explains your child’s symptoms and helps you manage them. Although you were likely relieved to have an answer and appropriate treatment plan, many of you were probably still left with many questions.

Research has given us many answers in recent years but there are many questions that still remain. Why did my child develop this condition? Is there any way to prevent this condition? What are the chances that siblings will develop the same condition? Is there a way to actually cure the underlying condition so that my child can eat a normal diet? The best way to get these answers is to support clinical research. There may be a research study on your child’s specific condition at a facility near you. Enrolling your children is the best way to get closer to the cause of these diseases and hopefully someday, the cure.

Finding a Clinical Trial

It’s easy to find trials on the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) website: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Here are some clinical trials (which are seeking participants) that may apply to your child’s condition:

Obviously, pediatric allergic diseases are getting more and more attention from researchers. By joining a clinical study, you can help strengthen the research and do your part to help find answers. You can refine your search for a clinical trial by location so that you can find a clinical trial near you. You can even see a list of studies on a map.

Questions You Should Ask Before Enrolling in a Clinical Trial

Before you enroll your child in a clinical study, it’s important to understand exactly what a clinical trial is. Here are the answers to some questions that you might have. Chances are that you may be a little wary about signing your child up to be a “guinea pig” for science. And that’s okay; it’s your job as a parent to be careful!

You should make sure that you get all the facts before you decide to participate. The National Institutes of Health actually has a website dedicated to clinical studies for children that provides information and guidance for parents. For example, they provide a printable document (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/childrenandclinicalstudies/downloads/english/pdf/questions_to_ask.pdf) with questions that parents may want to ask when considering enrolling their child in a clinical study. Once you get all the information, your family can decide if participating in a clinical trial is right for you.

Have any of you participated in a clinical trial in the past? What has your experience been? Would you do it again?

- Mallory


But Doctor, Is My Baby’s Rash Really JUST a Rash?

Posted 1.18.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Here at Neocate, we often talk with concerned parents who tell us they’ve read other stories from parents whose children had a terrible rash that was only helped by Neocate after lots of trial and error. Frequently, these parents tell us they don’t feel their doctor is familiar with food allergies. Just yesterday a father told me that his pediatrician kept telling him that “every baby gets rashes, it’s normal; he’ll grow out of it.”

Some pediatricians and many parents are surprised to learn that about seven percent of children have food allergies. Many parents who eventually learn that their child has a food allergy, which can only be treated by changing the diet, wish their journey to a solution had been shorter and simpler. Here are some tips for what you can do if you feel your doctor isn’t recognizing your little one’s rash as a possible sign of a food allergy.

Take Careful Notes

A rash is often the first sign of a food allergy that a parent notices. While it’s true that almost all babies experience diaper rash at some point, this is not the same as a rash caused by food allergy. Diaper rash, like many rashes, is caused by something on the outside: wet or rubbing diapers, scented lotion, rough fabrics, or even fabric softener. It’s important to rule out these other causes that might contribute to eczema, atopic dermatitis, or itching.

If you’ve eliminated potential causes, it’s more likely that the rash is caused by something on the inside: a food allergen. If you document all steps you’ve taken to eliminate other culprits, the doctor is more likely to consider a food allergy as the cause of your baby’s rash. If you notice that your baby has a rash and you think it might be related to a food allergy, check to see if your baby exhibits any other signs of a food allergy. It’s unusual for a baby with food allergy to only have a rash. Make a list of your baby’s symptoms which could also be caused by a food allergy to provide to the doctor.

Many parents tell us that they went through multiple different infant formulas before finally finding relief with Neocate. Some infants don’t even tolerate breast milk because of dairy foods in the mom’s diet. Make notes of the different symptoms that did not go away with each formula you’ve tried. Many doctors assume a soy formula or hydrolyzed formula will help if the baby has a milk allergy. However, many babies with a milk allergy also have a soy allergy and can be extremely sensitive to even small amounts of milk protein.

Make an Appointment with Your Baby’s Doctor

When you discuss your baby’s rash with the pediatrician, explain that you think you have ruled out other causes, and explain the list of changes you tried that did not help. Inform the doctor that food allergy is common among infants, and explain the other symptoms your child is experiencing which could be related to food allergy. Skin creams are commonly prescribed for rashes. While these creams may help to reduce inflammation and itching caused by a food allergy, they will not help other allergy symptoms such as diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or wheezing. Only a change in the diet will truly solve the problem.

When you see your pediatrician, you may also want to request a referral to an allergist (narrow your search by selecting the “Food Allergy” specialty). The allergy testing that these professionals perform provides the best information to help your child find a diagnosis and relief from a food allergy.

Finally, share with the doctor your knowledge of Neocate, the amino acid-based formula that makes such a difference for babies with food allergies. It’s important to follow the steps to help give your baby’s rash the best chance to heal. We know that it is so hard to see your little one feeling so uncomfortable but remember it may take some time, even after you start using Neocate.

What steps did you take to know that your baby’s rash was caused by food allergy?

- Rob

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Tube Feeding: Troubleshooting Tips

Posted 2.3.15 | Mallory West

Many Neocate babies and children receive their formula through a feeding tube. Common Neocate formulas that are received through feeding tubes include Neocate Infant DHA/ARA, Neocate Junior, Unflavored, and Neocate Splash, Unflavored. Enteral tube feeding provides nourishment to individuals who are unable to consume adequate nutrition by mouth. If your child uses a feeding tube, you know that there may be some occasional tube feeding complications. This blog will provide some general troubleshooting tips for the most common tube-feeding problems.

Clogging of the Feeding Tube:

Sometimes a feeding tube will become blocked so that no food can go through.

How to Fix Clogs:

  • First, using a syringe to gently remove the liquid on top of the blockage, if possible (throw away the fluid removed).
  • Next, gently flush the tube using lukewarm water, using at least a 30 mL (1 oz) syringe. Gently plunge the water back and forth to clear the blockage.
  • Unless directed by a healthcare professional, do not use acidic solutions such as fruit juices or cola as they may curdle the formula.
  • If the tube is still clogged, clamp the tube for around 10 minutes and then try flushing it again.
  • If the tube the clog remains, gently squeeze the tube between your fingers along the length of the tube as far as possible.
  • If you are still unable to clear the blockage, contact your healthcare professional for advice. Sometimes, the physician will prescribe a special enzyme which can dissolve the clog. If the clog cannot be cleared, the tube will have to be replaced.

How to Avoid Clogs:

  • Tube flushing is the most important factor for preventing the feeding tube from clogging. Use a syringe to flush 20 mL of warm water through the feeding tube before and after feedings and medications (or as directed by your healthcare team). If your child receives a continuous feed, your healthcare provider may recommend flushing with water during the feed to prevent clogging.
  • Use liquid medications whenever possible. If pills are necessary, crush them well and mix them with a small amount of warm water. Use a syringe to draw up the solution and insert it into the feeding tube. If pills are coated or time-released, discuss this with the physician because these types of pills are typically not meant to be crushed.
  • Do not mix medications together and do not mix medications in formula unless instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.

Tube Site Irritation or Infection:

Redness, pain, swelling or unusual/excessive drainage, as well as fever, can all be signs of an infection at the stoma site (the surgical opening through which a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) or jejunostomy tube (j-tube) enters the stomach or small intestine).

How to Avoid Irritation or Infection:

To avoid infection, it’s important to keep the stoma site clean and dry. Your healthcare provider should give you specific recommendations for how to clean the stoma site each day. For more information on keeping the stoma site clean (from a parent’s point of view), check out this informative article from Complex Child E-Magazine.

A Dislodged Feeding Tube:

If the feeding tube comes out, call the doctor and go to the hospital right away. The stoma can close up very quickly so the tube needs to be replaced promptly. Cover the site with clean dressing or bandage to prevent leakage and immediately seek medical attention.

Sometimes the healthcare provider will train you to replace the feeding tube yourself (temporarily or permanently) but you should ONLY do this if directed and properly trained by your child’s physician.

How to Avoid:

Young children occasionally pull the tube out themselves. Keep the tube covered with clothing to prevent this. Onesies work well for infants and toddlers. It’s also important to secure the tube during activities so that it doesn’t get pulled out. You can use various methods to secure the tube. Some companies make special wraps and clothing for protecting and accessing the feeding tube:

Do you have any troubleshooting tips to share with other tube-feeding families? What problems have you encountered and what tricks have you learned?

- Mallory


Sweet Potato Casserole

Posted 12.29.10 | Food Allergy Recipes

This sweet potato casserole is the perfect side dish to make for your little ones with food allergies. Make it for your own holiday celebration or to take along to any celebrations you might be attending.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (pre-cooked, may boil, bake or microwave potatoes with skins on - approximately 4 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Fleischmans unsalted dairy and casein free margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup organic rice milk

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and place in 9 x13” baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°F. Topping:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Fleischmans Unsalted Dairy and Casein Free Margarine
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix well and spread on top of casserole. Bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Nutrition Information:

  • Calories130
  • Protein 0g
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Fat 8g

Makes ~12 servings

Submitted by: Katherine M. Hull

To get more food allergy recipes, be sure to download our new Food Allergy Cookbook!

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Hosting a Safe Playdate: Tips for Parents Whose Children Have Friends with Food Allergies

Posted 12.21.10 | Mallory West

For a parent who is not familiar with food allergies, having a food allergic child over to play may seem intimidating. This blog is intended for parents whose children do not have food allergies who would like to know more about food allergies in order to safely host a food-allergic playmate.

Meals and Snacks

Obviously meals and snacks are the most critical times to be vigilant when you are caring for a child with food allergies. Follow these steps to keep your guest safe.

  • Prior to the play date, arrange for the child’s parents to pack enough safe foods for the time they will spend at your house. Let them know if you plan to have a certain food so that they can provide an allergy-free alternative for their child and nobody feels left out. The most important thing is to only give the child the food that their parents provided. Food allergens are often hidden ingredients and it takes a lot of time and practice to master the art of reading food labels and detecting potential allergens. Never assume a food is safe.
  • Make sure to clean the surface of the kitchen or table to remove any food protein residue from earlier meals. Soaps and commercial cleansing agents work well on counter tops, but dishwashing liquid is not enough.
  • Be sure to wash your hands before and between handling foods. It’s important to remind the kids to wash their hands before eating as well. Use soap and water; hand-sanitizers will not get rid of food protein residues.
  • When preparing food for the kiddos, be careful to avoid cross contact, where the proteins from one food mix in with another food. Even a tiny amount is enough to cause an allergic reaction in some people. To avoid it, use separate utensils when preparing food for the kids (or yourself).
  • For the younger children, be sure to monitor the kiddos during meal or snack time and explain that it’s not safe for them to share or trade foods.

Airborne Allergens

Most children’s allergic reactions occur from actually eating the food that they are allergic to so as long as you keep the kid’s foods separate, you don’t need to worry about what your family eats around them. However, some kids have airborne allergens where they can have an allergic reaction by just being near the allergen. For example, you’ve probably heard of the “peanut-free” schools or lunch tables which are intended to protect children with peanut allergies who can react by just being around other kids eating foods with peanuts. You’ll need to use extra caution with these kiddos and be sure to not have any foods containing that allergen while the child is around.

Arts and Crafts

It’s important to note that food allergens can be triggered by non-food items too. For example, Play-Doh and most stickers are not safe for a child with a wheat allergy. For more information on allergens hidden in non-food items, refer to Christine’s blog post, from earlier this year.

Emergency Plan

No matter how careful you are, it’s still important to know the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction just in case exposure occurs. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after a child is exposed. If you suspect an allergic reaction has occurred, call the child’s parents immediately. If the child is having a serious allergic reaction and having trouble breathing, call 911 first, then call the parents.

Some allergic children experience anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that progresses rapidly and can lead to death. These kids are usually prescribed an automatic epinephrine injector (aka an “Epi-Pen”), which must be kept with them at all times. It’s up to the child’s parents to notify you if their child carries one and explain to you how to use it just in case of an emergency. FAAN provides some online videos that demonstrate how to properly use an epinephrine auto-injector, which may help you feel more comfortable using one yourself.


Embracing Season Change

Posted 12.16.10 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a guest blog entry from dietitian and clinical herbalist, Irene Czapary, MS, RD, LDN. Irene obtained her MS in Herbal Medicine from the Tai Sophia Institute, the first program in the country to provide a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine. Irene also holds a BS in Nutrition and is an RD, LD.We’d like to thank her for guest blogging for us.

During the autumn and winter seasons there are many things to look forward to: cooler weather, brilliant shades of yellow and orange leaves, cozy fireplaces and holidays spent with friends and family. But one thing that no one looks forward to is the increase of colds and flus. During the season change, many of us are more susceptible to catching colds and flus, making it a wonderful time of year to pay special attention to supporting your immune system.

For many adults and children coping with food sensitivities or allergies, this time of year can be especially challenging. Having an immune system that is already stressed by allergies makes it even harder to fight off cold and flu bugs. So, what can you do? Traditional herbal medicine has a great deal to offer in this area: herbs that can strengthen the immune system, decrease inflammation, and antimicrobial and antiviral herbs and spices are readily available in the produce department or possibly in your own kitchen cabinet!

Use this time of year as an opportunity to take special care of your body to make sure it has the tools it needs to stay strong and healthy during the colder autumn and winter months. The recipes below are a great way to get started.

This delicious earthy broth is chock full of shitake mushrooms, which contain the compound lentinan to support the immune system. Adding a handful of astragalus adds another immune boosting punch- as an immune modulator astragalus will help strengthen the immune system. Astragalus has also been traditionally used as a remedy for the respiratory system, making it a perfect addition to soups and broths when chest colds abound. Adding carrots, fennel and onions to the mix make it a flavorful and nutrient rich broth that can be used alone, as a base for other soups and stews, or used to cook rice, pasta, or other grains.

Mushroom Stock

Adapted from Dr. Weil.com

2 gallons of water

10 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 onions

4 stalks of fennel

4 carrots

Handful astragalus root slices

Sea salt to taste

Clean and chop all vegetables. Cover with water and simmer 1.5 hours.

Strain vegetables and mushrooms and discards (or add to the compost pile!)

What if you feel a cold coming on? Try ginger cinnamon tea! Ginger and cinnamon are both anti microbial and very warming, making it a very healing drink when those cold bugs are just latching on. Ginger can be very strong, so start with a more dilute tea for you and your little ones until you find the strength that’s right for you. Adding honey not only makes it sweet but is also soothing to sore throats. This tea is also great for calming the digestive system after heavy holiday meals.

Ginger Cinnamon Tea

Adapted from WebMD

1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons honey

almond milk (optional)

In a saucepan, simmer ginger, honey, cinnamon, and water for 20 minutes. Simmer longer for stronger tea.

Add honey and strain tea through a sieve. Add almond milk, if desired.

Are your little one’s not tea drinkers? Try adding ginger powder and cinnamon to Nutricia’s Nutra cereal. This soothing, hypoallergenic cereal is a great base for mixing in powdered herbs and spices- not only will herbs and spices add a variety of flavors, but it will also make this already healing cereal even more medicinal. Enjoy!

Resources:

Braun, L., Cohen, M. (2007) Herbs and natural supplements (2nd ed.).

Australia: Churchill Livingston.

Romm, A. (2003). Naturally healthy babies and children. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.


Cranberry Apple Cobbler

Posted 12.15.10 | Food Allergy Recipes

This cranberry apple cobbler makes a nice treat for your little ones on a cold December day!

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups apples peeled and pared
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp tapioca
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan and let sit for 5 minutes, then cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a full boil, then pour into an ungreased 9 x 13” pan. For topping:
  • 1/4 cup Fleischmans unsalted dairy, casein free margarine
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp corn-free baking powder (found at health food market)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp organic rice milk
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and cut in the dairy free margarine until the mixture crumbs. Stir in rice milk until the dough is soft (may need to use more or less milk until the dough is soft and spoonable). Drop dough by spoon onto hot cranberry apple mixture and bake 30 minutes or until browned.

Nutrition Information:

  • Calories140
  • Protein 1g
  • Carbohydrates 27g
  • Fat 5g

Makes 15 servings

Submitted by: Katherine M. Hull

To get more food allergy recipes, be sure to download our new Food Allergy Cookbook!

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Families & Siblings: Living Together with Food Allergies

Posted 12.14.10 | Christine Graham-Garo

As we all know, children with food allergies often go on restricted or special diets to eliminate the offensive foods. This can be challenging for the child, but also the entire family. One example I read that resonated with me was about a 4-year old girl with food allergies who had to be put on a restrictive diet. She did not handle this well and would become angry at friends and family. She especially became angry at her little 2 year old brother, who was allowed to eat whatever he wanted. Interestingly, the brother stopped eating what he was allowed and began eating the same restricted diet as his sister. I also read about another child with allergies that would take food from his sibling without his parents knowing!

These stories really made me think about how much food allergies can affect the entire family. In a survey of 87 families, pediatric allergy specialist, Dr. Mary Bollinger and colleagues at the University of Maryland found that half had made significant changes to their social activities to accommodate their child’s food allergy.1 This may seem obvious to some, but its an important part of food allergy treatment that often gets overlooked.

Adjusting to a Food Allergy Life

In his book, Understanding and Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies, Scott Sicherer has helpful advice for dealing with food allergies as a family. One thing he says is reassuring, “People with a food allergies should do and can do everything that a person without food allergies does, except for eating the food to which they are allergic."

What are some ideas you have for helping the whole family cope with food allergies? Are there any ways you have found to help manage the siblings’ reactions to the situation? I would love to hear what you all have done. Although every child may need a different technique, if we all share our ideas, I’m sure it can help at least one family!

-Christine

1. M.E. Bollinger et al. (2006) The impact of food allergy on the daily activities of children and their families. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 96: 415-421. [Image Source]


Holiday Parties and Get-Togethers with Food Allergies

Posted 12.9.10 | Rob McCandlish, RDN


Many parents of children with allergies worry about how to handle children going to parties for friends where food will be served. But what should you do when you’re the host and you’re worried about visitors with allergies?

Every year I host a holiday party and share the same concerns. With friends who have allergies to wheat and tree nuts and vegetarian friends, what would Martha Stewart recommend?

Know Your Guests

When you send out your invitations it’s nice to ask if your guests have any allergies or sensitivities. By doing so, you let them know you’re aware of their concerns and give them an opportunity to share any concerns. If possible, you might even provide the menu ahead of time so they can be aware of foods that are safe and those that present a risk. If they offer to bring a “safe” dish, take them up on their offer. Better yet, host a potluck!

Before you start to cook for the party, clean your kitchen tools and surfaces thoroughly, and make sure you store prepared items safely so that they won’t become contaminated.

Know What You’re Serving

By knowing which allergies your visitors have, you can purchase prepared or packaged foods that are safe (your guests can tell you specific ingredients to look for - check labels carefully) or perhaps to prepare items yourself which you know are safe. Luckily, foods now have required labeling for the 8 major allergens. If you have questions contact the manufacturer to be certain.

Be careful when preparing food yourself. With recipe ingredients like celery, you know what you have – celery! But for other ingredients a recipe calls for, such as spice blends or sauces, the ingredients can be trickier to understand. Is that “protein hydrolysate” derived from soy, wheat, pork or something else? Again, it may be best to contact the manufacturer or run the item by your guest with a quick phone call. Keep the ingredient label on hand for the party, if possible. It’s also a great idea to keep hard copies of recipes for homemade items handy during the party in case guests have questions. The safest bet of all? Try some allergen-free holiday recipes.

Be realistic when planning the menu – you can easily prepare a batch of chocolate chip cookies without adding nuts for those with tree nut allergies, but it may not be reasonable to prepare a different version of EVERY dish you serve that presents an allergy risk. Guests with allergies will be happy to see a few items they can enjoy and usually expect they can’t eat everything on the menu. If you do have separate versions of some items, you can keep them on a different table.

Enable Your Guests - With Labels!

Especially for a large party it can be hard to keep track of telling each guest what foods are safe as they arrive. If you plan on serving buffet-style, consider labeling items for your guests. This could be as simple as using place-tags that provide a description and state what allergens are in the food. An even easier approach would be color-coded stickers that indicate what is or isn’t in the food. Labels on each item served of the 8 major allergens might be most helpful and can help cover your bases for unexpected guests or unexpected allergies.

If you have multiple young guests with allergies it might be more fun for them to see a special sticker just for them (such as a favorite animal or cartoon character) on foods they CAN eat. Labels eliminate the worry of having to tell each guest what is or isn’t safe; just make sure they know what the labels mean! A clearly posted guide to your labels at the front of the buffet could be helpful.

What tips have you used in the past when hosting get-togethers for guests with allergies?

- Rob

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Gingerbread Cookies

Posted 12.8.10 | Food Allergy Recipes

December is a month of holidays! These gingerbread cookies are easy and fun to make and customizable...just select the cookie-cutter that best represents the holidays you celebrate.

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

Over medium heat combine molasses, oil and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Set aside. Combine flour and other dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add molasses, sugar and oil and pour into mixing bowl and then add egg and blend together to form a thick dough ball. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour (if dough is too dry, add drops of canola oil, if too sticky to roll out, add flour). Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide dough in half and roll out on floured surface. Use cookie cutters and place cookies on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-14 minutes and let cool.

Nutrition Information:

  • Calories190
  • Protein 2g
  • Carbohydrates 31g
  • Fat 7g

Makes ~2 dozen cookies

Submitted by: Marie Bedard

To get more food allergy recipes, be sure to download our new Food Allergy Cookbook!

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Holiday Gifts for Children and Adolescents with Food Allergies

Posted 12.2.10 | Christine Graham-Garo

Goodies for allergy kids The holiday season has begun, it is time to start planning the gift giving. When you are getting a gift for someone with food allergies, holiday gifts can be complicated. Here are some really cool and useful gift ideas for those with food allergies (also included; what not to give!)

Holiday Candy Ideas:

(When buying candy, be sure you know the specific allergies of your gift recipient.)

  • Yummi Earth Hard Candies - Yummi Earth hard candies come in fun flavors like Googly Grape, Chili Mango Mambo, or Hopscotch Butterscotch. All are organic, vegan, and free of nuts, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, gluten, dairy, corn syrup, and artificial flavors.
  • Vermont Nut-Free Chocolate Coins - Kids of all ages will love these nut- and peanut-free chocolate coins. Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates are made in a dedicated nut-free facility. Caution these have milk.
  • Pure Fun Organic Candy Canes - These candy canes are free of the 8 most common allergens, artificial colors and flavors, and are kosher.

Gift Basket Ideas:

  • Divvies - Divvies stylish gift baskets are full of treats that contain no nuts, eggs, or dairy. They specialize in gourmet cookies, chocolate, and popcorn.
  • The Royal Basket Company - This offers a variety of allergy-friendly gift baskets that are searchable by allergen or diet (sugar free, GF/CF). Plush teddy bears perch atop piles of allergy-friendly toys and sweets for the little ones, while adults may enjoy a basket of "Gourmet Pleasures" with smoked salmon, olives, and crunchy snacks.

Allergen Friendly Toys and Books:

  • Allergy-friendly stuffed animals: Because many children with food allergies also have asthma, and some plush animals may be stuffed with nut shells or soy-based fibers, certified asthma friendly stuffed animals take the worry out of shopping.  Build-A-Bear® offers an Allergy-Friendly Stuffed Animal Puppy that might be perfect for a little one.
  • Children’s books – Children’s books about food allergies make great gifts at any time of the year. This holiday season a book that was suggested is Clever Jack Takes the Cake, a fairy tale that features a princess with food allergies. If you are buying for a toddler with soy allergies, avoid books printed with soy-based inks.

Speaking of books; here are some notable ideas:

  • Subscription to a food allergy magazine - Living Without or Allergic Living are great resources for the newly-diagnosed or those looking for new tips and recipes.
  • Books about food allergies - There are many good books about food allergies on the market these days. Someone with newly-diagnosed food allergies might like Food Allergies for Dummies, while someone who has been managing allergies for years might enjoy a personal memoir.

What not to get for people with food allergies (unless their parents tell you it is OK):

  • Toy food versions of their allergens
  • Modeling clay or play dough (many are made from wheat or contain soy)
  • Paints or crayons (may contain dairy or soy)
  • Temporary tattoos, make-up or body paints (anything that goes on the body requires extra scrutiny from parents)
  • Bubble bath (many contain dairy, soy, or nuts, or may just irritate sensitive skin)
  • Homemade food. Even if all the ingredients are safe for your gift recipient, the risk that something else made its way into the food (cross-contamination) is too great.
  • Lotions, soaps, or massage oils. Nuts, dairy products, or soy are often in bath and spa products.
  • Scented candles or perfumes. Many of us also have environmental allergies or asthma, and artificial scents can aggravate our symptoms.

Let us know if you‘ve come across any other fun and original gift ideas. The more we know the better!

Best wishes this holiday season!

- Christine

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Dairy-Free Fudge

Posted 12.1.10 | Food Allergy Recipes

If your little ones have a milk allergy, here's a treat that is not only dairy-free but it's one they can help make and share with their friends!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (I used extra virgin)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions:

Gently melt the coconut oil to liquid if in a solid state. Combine liquid coconut oil and cocoa until smooth. Mix in honey. Refrigerate for at least one hour (or until preferred hardness) in a lightly greased container (greased with coconut oil).

Nutrition Information:

  • Calories170
  • Protein 1g
  • Carbohydrates 12g
  • Fat 14g

Makes ~8 servings

Submitted by: Jessica Snell

To get more food allergy recipes, be sure to download our new Food Allergy Cookbook!

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Guest Blog – Dianne Lazer

Posted 11.30.10 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a special guest blog entry from Dianne Lazer.Dianne is a speech language pathologist and certified orofacial myologist in Cherry Hill, New Jersey where she specializes in pediatric speech, language, swallowing and feeding disorders. She is also one of the authors of a series of four nutrition books for children: Ryan Fights the Green Monsters, Roneet and the Fairy Princess Who Helped Conquer Her Fears of the Green Monsters, Michael and the Birthday Party and What’s the Scoop on Poop. The books are designed to help children between four and eight years old change their eating habits. Today she is sharing her story of why she wrote the books. We would like to thank her for guest blogging for us!

Many of my patients were eating mostly processed foods high in sugar and limiting the food they did eat to mostly carbohydrates that allowed them to gain weight but were lacking in essential nutrients that would keep them healthy. Their parents were misinformed about what was included in a healthy meal. I found that many of my patients either had food allergies or where sensitive to many types of foods that caused them to have chronic illnesses like ear infections, congestion, eczema, constipation, etc. that interfered with their communication and feeding and swallowing skills. When I looked at what they were eating, it became clear that there was a big problem and helping them advance textures and varieties of solid foods and keeping them healthy could be changed very easily through educating them about healthy foods. If parents only knew that what they were feeding their children were empty calories and actually causing most of the common ailments their children were suffering, maybe they would look at things differently and offer them a better selection of foods at their meals.

I searched high and low for picture books for the 3-8+ age group and didn't find anything that would work. So, I decided to make up a story of my own with the help of a pediatric gastroenterologist and nutrition counselor that would teach both children and their parents about healthy eating. The books have been a lifesaver in therapy and have helped my patients and their parents learn what is involved in eating a healthy meal and why it is important not to eat too much "Sad Sugar and the Nasty Family Foods" because they can make people sick! The books start off the therapy process on the right foot and allow me to work on healthy foods right from the start. Children and parents have to learn why this is important and once they learn the facts, they try harder to like Molly Mellon's fruits, Mr. Green Bean's vegetables, Pat Protein's, Goody Grain's and Frieda Fat's foods.

Right now, we are also working on completing The Green Monster Game that will go with the Roneet and Ryan books and The Green Monster Healthy Recipe Book to help busy parents prepare meals for special diets with easy, fast and healthy recipes so they are not so overwhelmed when the doctor says their child has to go on a dairy and/or gluten free diet.

- Dianne Lazer, MA, CCC-SLP/COM, Lic.


Wheat-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Posted 11.24.10 | Food Allergy Recipes

Yummy Pumpkin Muffins'Tis the season for warm pumpkin treats! Enjoy making and eating these with your children and perhaps even whip some up for your Thanksgiving holiday.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wheat-free flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add oil and pumpkin, mixing well. Transfer into lined muffin tin and bake at 350°F until fork inserted in center comes out clean (about one hour).

Nutrition Information:

Makes ~ 10 muffins Per Serving:

  • Calories330
  • Protein 3g
  • Carbohydrates 31g
  • Fat 23g

Submitted by: Karen Mischler

To get more food allergy recipes, be sure to download our Food Allergy Cookbook!


8 Signs of a Milk Allergy

Posted 11.23.10 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

A friend told me she went to an office Halloween party as a peanut allergy. I wondered: What would you wear that says, “I am an allergy?” I still don’t know the answer to that question! Thinking about that made me wonder: Since babies don’t come with labels and can’t tell us what they experience, how do they tell us “I have an allergy?

More and more, children are diagnosed with food allergies, with cow’s milk allergy being the most common. In fact, more than 100,000 babies each year suffer from milk allergy. There are multiple clues pediatricians look for that help diagnose a cow’s milk allergy that you can look for too. Below is a list of eight questions to help parents of infants identify a potential milk allergy, designed by Dr. John Moissidis, a Board certified pediatric allergist at The Asthma Allergy Clinic in Shreveport, La.

Milk Allergy Symptoms

1. Diarrhea Diarrhea is common in babies, but if it is persistent (an average of two to four times a day for more than five to seven days) and/or if there is blood or mucous in the stool, it could signal a more serious milk allergy.

2. Vomiting Babies often spit up bits of food, but vomiting beyond the typical mealtime regurgitation should be examined by a doctor. Reflux symptoms, such as spit-up and difficulty swallowing, can also be milk allergy symptoms.

3. Skin Rash There are many causes for infant skin rashes like eczema. Milk allergy is one possible cause, especially if the rash occurs along with some of these other symptoms.

4. Extreme Fussiness Every baby cries, but crying continuously and inconsolably for long periods of time is abnormal. When there is no apparent reason, this is usually called colic. Sometimes this extreme fussiness is actually caused by the gastrointestinal pain resulting from an allergy to the proteins found in milk.

5. Low or No Weight Gain Most infants double their weight by six months and triple it by 12 months. But when babies are not getting the nutrition they need because of excessive diarrhea and vomiting, they are unable to grow like they should.

6. Gassiness All babies have gas, but when it occurs along with several of these other symptoms, it can also signal an allergy to milk proteins.

7. Respiratory Problems Colds are common for infants, but wheezing, struggling to breathe and developing excess mucus in the nose and throat is not. For some kids, these respiratory problems can be the baby’s reaction to the protein found in milk.

8. Failure to Thrive Babies with milk allergy often suffer from a lack of proper nutrition characterized by dehydration, loss of appetite and lack of energy. This overall failure to thrive is often the result of the effect the other symptoms have on the infant’s body.

My baby has one or more of these symptoms – what now?

Babies with an allergy to cow’s milk protein cannot process the complex proteins found in milk-based baby formula, and many babies also react to soy-based infant formulas. Because of this, infant milk allergy is treated by either eliminating the milk proteins from the nursing mother’s diet or by replacing the regular formula with an amino acid-based formula.

An amino acid-based formula is safe for babies with milk and soy allergies because it is made using amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are small enough that they won’t cause an allergic reaction in the way that complete protein chains or partly broken down proteins found in other formulas will.

The next step should be to schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician in order to receive a more thorough evaluation and diagnosis. Bring this information with you and ask your doctor if your baby might benefit from an amino acid-based formula.

What symptoms did your baby have that led you to suspect a milk allergy?

- Rob

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Guest Blog - The Beginning of Jofas

Posted 11.18.10 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a guest blog entry from Anne Moore. We’d like to thank her for guest blogging for us.

I am the proud mother of two adorable little boys ages four and seven. Both of my beautiful boys were born at exactly thirty-nine weeks and weighed nearly nine pounds. So what made our second child so different from our first?

His name is Joseph, but his brother mispronounced his name and said Jofas the day he was born. Joey had a rough start and although he is now a vibrant four year old kid, he still faces challenges.

For example, he tires more quickly than the average four year old. I believe this fatigue is directly related to a weakened immune system that is continually fighting inflammation caused by severe allergies. His known food allergies are dairy, soy, eggs, red 40 and nuts. Once I knew the truth about his many allergies, I dedicated every day to being the best “allergy mom” I could be. Unfortunately, his allergies were not known until he was eleven months old. Sure, I recognized some tummy discomfort and extremely rough itchy skin but I had no idea of the severity of his allergies at the time.

I was an experienced breastfeeding mom and was determined to give Joey the same benefit of mother’s milk. Due to my own allergies, I had already eliminated dairy from my diet. Therefore, I did not consider the possibility that other ingredients in my own diet might be contributing to Joey’s allergies. And, at the time I was primarily focused on his main eating problem.

You see, Joey was born with a floppy epiglottis. He latched on correctly and went through the motions of nursing, but he failed to thrive. Simply put, he was aspirating the liquid and not gaining weight. After many exhausting days and a swallow study, my two month old was put on an NG tube indefinitely. At that moment I decided to pump my milk. I managed to effectively pump for eleven months! The children’s hospital said they have only seen two mothers successfully pump exclusively.

The pumping routine was exhausting. My “tubie” needed to eat a set amount every three hours around the clock. Each three hour process included pumping, cleaning the tubes and pumps, feeding Joey and then putting him back to sleep. This allowed about one hour consecutive sleep before the process repeated.

I quickly figured out that holding my baby and a tube full of milk up in the air was just not working for us. I still find it difficult to understand why mothers are advised to feed their baby in this manner.

We decided to create a mother’s third arm. The resulting product, The Jofas Clamp, is portable and easy to use. It attaches to any surface via a clamp and adjusts by simply moving it up and down. We have dedicated this device to Joey and hope you visit http://www.jofas.net/ to learn about this wonderful feeding aid. We need to nurture our babies while feeding them via a tube and I sincerely hope this product can help a “tubie mom” do just that.

Thank you for reading our story. I have learned that things do not always work out as planned. I genuinely understand the challenges of having a child with special needs. I know that feeding a child with food allergies or with a tube can be heartbreaking and at times a true hardship. I feel blessed to be a part of these support groups and I know that together we can get through the difficult times. I feel lucky and inspired to benefit from wonderful companies, like Neocate, and to know amazing people who are working towards improving the lives of our children.

- Anne



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.