Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results

food allergy education

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

Tips for Teaching Your Children To Manage Their Own Food Allergies

Posted 9.23.10 | Mallory West

I recently attended the Kids with Food Allergies Family Fun Event at the Whole Foods in North Wales, Pennsylvania and I was so impressed with how responsible the kids I met there were with managing their food allergies.

This made me think about how important it is to train your little ones to manage their food allergies and related conditions. As a parent, you will always play an important role, but once your child goes off to school and picks up extracurricular activities you won’t be with them all the time. Plus, although some food allergies are outgrown, others are life-long conditions. For these children managing food allergies will always be a part of their lives.

Teaching Toddlers and Young Children About Food Allergies

The skills and information you give your child about her food allergies will depend on her age. Start out with the basics; providing too much information too soon will confuse young children.

The best way to get through to a toddler or young child is to communicate with them in their language and on their level. Teach them through activities they enjoy!

Teaching Older Kids and Teenagers about Food Allergies:

For those of you with older kids and teens, below are some resources that may be helpful for you as you continue to educate them on food allergy management.

How are you teaching your little ones about their food allergies? What tips or resources would you recommend for other parents?



Signs of Anaphylaxis

Posted 9.9.10 | Christine Graham-Garo

As many of you may know, food allergy symptoms can appear in a variety of ways. One of the most concerning symptoms of a food allergy is when a person goes into anaphylactic shock. In fact, food allergies are believed to be the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting. The CDC reported that food allergies result in over 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children.1 Because this is the most life threatening response to food allergens, we wanted to review what the signs of anaphylaxis look like.

Anaphylaxis – What to Watch For

The signs of anaphylaxis may occur within seconds of exposure, or be delayed 15 to 30 minutes or even an hour or more after exposure (which is most typical of reactions to aspirin and similar drugs). Early symptoms are often related to the skin and include:

  • Difficulty breathing; wheezing
  • Changes in consciousness (including confusion, light-headedness, or stupor)
  • Rapid swelling throughout the body
  • Hives
  • Blue skin
  • Severe abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Flushing (warmth and redness of the skin)
  • Itching (often in the groin or armpits)

Throat and tongue swelling, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing frequently follow the above symptoms. Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps may also develop.

If you know a child or adult with food allergies and suspect they are having an anaphylactic reaction, the most important consideration is time. Calling 911 or driving the person to the emergency room are the first things that should be done. Also, it is important to have an Epi Pen on hand for those times.

How You Can Protect Yourself or Others

  • Follow-up with your doctor or allergist if you or your little one had a severe reaction.
  • If you’ve been prescribed self-injectable epinephrine (i.e., EpiPen® or Twinject®), carry it at all times. (Here’s a great recent post on EpiPen usage)
  • Educate others about your allergy. Teach them what you need to avoid, the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and how they can help during an allergic emergency. (Check out this post I did on being a PAL to a person with food allergies.)
  • Teach yourself and others how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Practice until it becomes second nature.
  • Wear medical identification jewelry noting your allergy.

Have you or your little ones ever had an anaphylactic reaction? If so, what have you done to help minimize the risk of such a reaction?

- Christine

2010 FAAN Walks for Food Allergy Awareness

Posted 8.24.10 | Sarah O'Brien

We had such a great time last year attending the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in different cities around the country, that we are doing it again! These walks are organized by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network to raise public awareness, to provide advocacy and education, and to advance research on behalf of all those affected by food allergies (such as peanut, egg, soy & dairy) and anaphylaxis.

Here is a list of the FAAN Walks Neocate will be participating in:

For a complete list of cities and to register for a walk in your area or donate money, visit the FAAN website. Are any of your families attending a walk in your city or organizing a team? We’d love to hear about your plans! And if you are going to be attending any of the walks mentioned above, make sure you stop by the Neocate booth and say hi!

- Sarah

Talking to Toddlers and Young Children About Their Food Allergies

Posted 4.24.14 | Mallory West

Food allergies are complicated. It can be difficult for adults to fully understand them, so it’s no surprise that many parents struggle with how to help their little ones to understand them. In today’s post, we’ll cover some age-appropriate tips and resources to help you explain food allergies to your toddler or young child.

At this age, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible and use words they can understand. Some parents are comfortable with using simple terms like “safe foods” and “unsafe foods”. Other parents may wish to use words like “Yes/No” foods or “green light” and “red light” foods. Discuss with your healthcare professional or other parents of children with food allergies, as they may have good suggestions. In this guide we will use the words ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ to describe foods.

Help your child to understand that there are certain foods that will make him sick, using terms he knows (e.g. “This food will make your tummy hurt”), and certain foods that will not. Every child is different in his/her level of understanding. Ask your healthcare professional the best words to use to help your child to understand. The goal at this stage is to help teach your child to distinguish between the two and of course to prevent him from coming into contact with unsafe foods.

Basic points to communicate:

  • You have food allergies and certain “unsafe foods” can make you very sick
  • Do not eat, touch or smell any food until it has been approved by mom or dad (or a designated family member/caregiver).
  • If your tummy hurts or you just feel funny, let a grown up know right away.

Although parents must be very vigilant at this age and control everything that their child eats, it’s important to begin teaching him to identify and avoid allergens on his own so that he will be ready when he gets older and you can't be with him all the time.

As your child gets a little older, he may start asking more questions about food allergies and you can provide more details as you see appropriate. It can be difficult to adequately communicate the seriousness of food allergies without causing excessive anxiety. Remember, many children will outgrow their food allergies, and you don’t want them to be so afraid of that food when the time comes.

Reassure your child that as long as he is careful to avoid unsafe foods, there is nothing to worry about and remind him that there is an emergency plan to help him in case he does have an allergic reaction. Ensure that your child knows to tell an adult right away if he comes into contact with an unsafe food. Reassure him that he won’t be in trouble; Accidents happen.

Sometimes books, videos, music and games can help to communicate complex information to kids in ways that they understand. Check with your healthcare professional for recommendations - they may have great ideas! Here are some that you might find useful:


Guide for preschoolers with peanut and tree nut allergies

Taking Food Allergies to School

Starting School With a Food Allergy


Binky Goes Nuts (part of the Arthur series)


Kyle Dine is a musician who makes awesome educational music about food allergies. Check out his website:


Back To School Interactive Game

Make your own food allergy education games. For example, print out pictures of safe and unsafe foods and put them on flashcards. Then have your child go through the cards and identify which ones are safe and unsafe. Another idea is to make a variation on the game “Where’s Waldo” and play “Find The Allergen” with examples of ingredient lists.


Do you have any tips or advice for explaining food allergies to little ones? What has worked or not worked for you? Please share!



Photo: Flickr user SabrinaDan

How Neocate Helps Educate Clinicians

Posted 9.16.15 | Nutrition Specialist


Many parents ask us why some of the clinicians they've seen haven't been able to answer their questions about symptoms or conditions. Indeed, many clinicians in general practice may not be very familiar with medical conditions for which Neocate is used as part of dietary management. Sometimes even specialists aren't familiar with everything! In medicine, there's never enough time to learn everything, science is constantly changing, and we don't have all of the answers. Bummer!

The Neocate team at Nutricia knows that healthcare professionals want to be able to help their patients, and sometimes can use help in learning about conditions that they don't see as often, such as eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or FPIES (food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome). We are using today's post to give you a brief look at the efforts we take to support ongoing education for healthcare professionals.

Nutricia Learning Center
This website is specifically designed for healthcare professionals. It's their one-stop shop for educational resources about the conditions in which Neocate is used. We also provide some clinical information about our products, tools and resources that can help clinicians use our products.

Educational Webinars
Healthcare professionals like to learn from experts. Webinars - "web seminars" - are a great way for a lot of people in different locations to learn from one expert online. The Neocate team supports webinars to connect widespread clinicians to experts in the field. Clinicians can listen to the webinar live or, if they can't listen live due to their busy schedule, they can view a recording later on their own time. We try to make it easy!

In-person Lectures
While online education is convenient, in-person education is often more effective because it's more interactive. Nutricia supports in-person lectures across the continent, so that experts can reach clinicians in one area to help inform them about medical conditions.

Educational Courses
Sometimes, healthcare professionals want to learn a lot, from a lot of experts, on a lot of topics, in a short period of time, and in person! In-person educational courses are a great way to accomplish this. The Neocate team supports several educational courses for clinicians so that they can learn about multiple medical conditions from several experts.

We do this because a lot of the less common medical conditions for which Neocate products are used don't receive a lot of attention at major healthcare professional conferences. The courses we support are even targeted to different healthcare specialists, such as dietitians, allergists and gastroenterolotgists.

We look forward to doing more to help support ongoing education for healthcare professionals. It's our hope that this will help clinicians to answer your questions, and get more families more answers sooner!


Image source

New Year Resolutions and Food Allergy Awareness - Make 2016 The Year!

Posted 1.11.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Happy 2016!  A New Year brings a new opportunity to create change that will help improve the quality of our lives and the lives of others. 

When making your resolutions this year, don’t forget to keep Food Allergy Awareness on the top of that list! Our children and community need our help to keep them safe and healthy. This year let’s resolve to continue spreading the word on food allergies.

Need some ideas for inspiration? No worries, I pulled some ways you can get involved and help:

In the Community

  • Talk to your child’s school system. Find out what safeguards are in place for food allergy children within the school. Bring school staff information on State and National recommended guidelines for handling food allergies at school:

CDC's National Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools

National and State School Guidelines

If you need some inspiration on how to get the conversation started with your school of choice, Neocate has a lot of resources you can review:

Helping Families Manage Food and Allergies at School

School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act

Additional School Resources from Neocate

  • Organize, volunteer and/or help fund community programs that bring awareness to food allergies, such as a community walk/run or family fun day.
  • Encourage and support local restaurants to educate their employees on food allergies, and participate in programs such as the SafeFARE program:

SafeFare Dining Out with Food Allergies For Restaurants

Within our families

  • Help siblings and extended family members understand the seriousness of food allergies. Educate siblings on signs and symptoms of allergic reactions, and what to do if they notice their sibling is in trouble.

Recognizing Symptoms of Allergic Reaction

  • Use tools such as FARE “Be a PAL (Protect A Life from Food Allergies)” program to help children take an active role in helping family members, and friends, with food allergies
  • Teach family members the importance of not sharing their food.

How to Explain Food Allergies to Relatives

  • Make the time to have a direct conversation with family members about your child’s allergy and explain how important it is to take it seriously. Be prepared to help educate family members.

How to Develop a Food Allergy Action Plan for Your Family

With our children

  • Identify your child as someone who has a food allergy. When not in your care, make sure the caregiver is aware of your child’s allergy and consider using a form of medical identification, such as a Medical Alert Bracelet or something similar:

Allergy Apparel

  • Tell your child about their allergy. Help them understand they need to help protect themselves and take care of their body. Encourage them to tell people about their allergy.
  • Teach your child how to read food labels.
  • Let them know that you are there for them. Help your child cope with any fear and/or anxiety associated with their allergy.

As a parent/caregiver

  • Educate yourself on your child’s allergy.
  • Familiarize yourself with signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis.
  • Put together an emergency care plan.
  • Join a community and seek advice from others in similar circumstances. Build a support system.
  • Ask for help.

Find a Support Group

Connect with Food Allergy Community

Now that you have read the list, how do you plan to get involved in 2016? If you have any other suggestions that were not listed below, share them for others to see. You never know who might come across and adopt your suggestion!

~ Rachel Miller

Our post today is a guest blog entry from Rachel Miller, Baby E’s mom. Read Rachel's story.


Allergy-Friendly Ideas for Easter Baskets

Posted 4.14.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Easter is days away and if this is a holiday you celebrate, we want to ensure you have plenty of allergy-friendly holiday ideas! When dealing with food allergies, the Easter bunny has to be especially careful to bring safe, fun treats.

With a bit of creativity, it’s possible to have an exciting holiday for all to enjoy. Here are several ideas for how you can fill an allergy-friendly Easter basket for your little one. Several of these treats can even be done as a fun Easter crafts.

Milk-Free and Egg-Free Treats

If you do decide to include candy in your Easter baskets, we recommend referring to Kids With Food Allergies’updated list of allergy-safe candies.

Just because your little one has dietary restrictions, doesn’t mean they can’t indulge!

Allergen-Free Cupcakes

Gluten-free, allergen-free AND vegan cupcake recipe from cookbook author, mom and food-allergic person, Cybele Pascal.

Egg-Free Decorating

Traditions are part of what make holidays so exciting, and we know how much kids can enjoy arts and crafts. If you live in an egg-free home, there are alternatives for egg decorating that you can explore to make sure that your children have the full “holiday experience.”

Several families use plastic Easter eggs for decoration, while others may defer to ceramic options. With these faux-egg choices, you can ensure that your children get to safely enjoy the little traditions, without feeling left out.

Easter Crafts

Another fun way to have the whole family involved in Easter activities is to encourage craft making! By keeping little ones busy with some of these artsy options, you can establish new customs for your family to follow each year.

If you’re interested in a chick-themed Easter, you can craft hatching chicks with some egg cartons, or reuse wine corks to make chick designs on paper!

Paper Bunny

For many children, the Easter Bunny is the most popular figure of the holiday. Why not create your own Easter bunny with kids using a bit of paper and  glue? Check out this super adorable craft idea from Andreja from Easy Peasy and Fun.

Funny Bunnies

How adorable are these little guys!? We can’t stand the cuteness. If you have a bit more time this weekend and are looking for ways to use a brand new cutter/stamper, this might be the perfect project for you.

Easy Bunny Treat Cups

Don’t have a lot of free time for a craft project but still want to do something? Check this fun cup decorating idea from Keri. It’s sure to make any snack ready for your festivities.

Bunny Mask

It wouldn’t be Easter without a cute bunny! Create an easy bunny mask that the kids will love to make and play with.

Easter Chick Craft

A fun handprint craft idea from a stay-at-home mom that your whole family will enjoy. You can even give these out as a party gift!

Easter Mason Jars

What kind of list would this be if we didn’t include at least one Mason jar project?! 

For more fun Easter basket ideas, check out our Neocate Pinterest page. We have an entire board dedicated to Spring/Easter where you will find more crafts and allergy-friendly recipes.


If you are looking for a fun allergy-friendly activity you can do this weekend, check out 6 Allergy-Friendly Easter Egg Hunt ideas.

Regardless of your preferences, there are plenty of options for crafts for families to enjoy. We would love to see what you and your family come up with. Don't forget to share your holiday traditions with us on our Facebook page


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.