Monday, October 24, 2011

New Ebook: Managing Your Child's Food Allergies at Halloween

Looking for some guidance right before Halloween kicks off?

I've written a short ebook on the subject that is sure to help you, particularly if you are nervous or this is your first Halloween dealing with food allergies.

It covers things like:
  • Safety tips for trick-or-treating
  • What to do with the candy they get trick-or-treating
  • Halloween alternatives
  • The class Halloween party
  • And more!
The cost is just $5.95!

Buy Now

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Scariest Day of the Year

It's hard to believe but the leaves are already changing and it means Halloween is right around the corner.

I like to call this "The Scariest Day of the Year." The only problem is it's the treats that I'm afraid of and not the tricks!

I am a big advocate of planning ahead to effectively manage food allergies. This leaves the "flying by the seat of your pants" part out. That just doesn't work with food allergies. Even though it's 6 weeks away, consider this your invitation to start planning!

Here are some things you can start thinking about (and it has nothing to do with the costume!)

1.) Will you let your child "Trick or Treat?"

2.) If your child does "Trick or Treat," will you let them eat the "safe" candy or not?

3.) What alternatives will you have when unsafe food and candy is present?

4.) Will you be involved in their Halloween class party? (This is a great way to be an encouragement when "unsafe" food is around.)

5.) Will you "skip" Halloween altogether and put your focus elsewhere on October 31st (family, helping others, etc)

These may not seem like deep questions but they all involve some sort of planning. Last year was the first year we let my son, Tyler, go to a bunch of houses (the traditional "Trick or Treating"). At each house he and his friend told people he was allergic to peanuts but he still ended up with peanuts in his bag!

What are your plans for Halloween this year? Have you thought about it?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Acorns: The Overlooked Tree Nut

Did you know that an acorn is a tree nut? Yep, those little things that run rampant in the fall and are often found in piles of leaves are actually a tree nut. If your child is allergic to tree nuts they may or may not be allergic to acorns.

The good news is, according to FAAN, is that there are no cases of anyone actually having a serious allergic reaction to acorns. This is probably at least partly because people don't actually eat acorns. (Well, they've never my "eat very bizarre things" 4 year old!).

I have always made it a rule just to stay away from acorns for my peanut and tree nut allergic son. There's really no need to play with, giving his medical history. It's also a great opportunity for us to talk about what exactly a tree nut is. I think these conversations where we see the "nuts" on the ground and can look up at the tree have helped him understand what a tree nut is more than anything else I have ever said. For that, I'm thankful for the acorn.

With fall upon us, it's a good reminder that acorns are out there. If nothing else, let them be a great conversation starter if your peanut allergic child also deals with tree nut allergies. It's a perfect "teachable moment" when it comes to food allergies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eating Out with a Food Allergy: Have a Plan

If you missed part 1 and part 2 of this series, be sure to check them out.

If you're not a planner when your child is first diagnosed with a peanut allergy, you quickly learn you need to become one. It's certainly one of the most important aspects of effectively managing a food allergy, particularly when it comes to eating away from home.

Finally, that little personality quirk I have pays off! :)

Things don't always go as planned when it comes to food and your job, as the parent, is to quickly adapt so your child can eat safely without too much interruption.

Here are a few more tips to eating out with a food allergy as we finish up this series on eating out with a food allergy.

1.) Have a Backup Plan. Always think ahead. If that means bringing extra food even when you think safe food will be present, do that. Anytime we visit a place I'm not 100% sure will have safe food, I scope out all the fast food places near the spot we will be visiting. It's not unheard of for me to leave when I'm not sure food is safe and go to where I know I can find safe food (such as McDonald's, etc).

2.) Be Aware of Cross Contamination. We have a rule in our house that Tyler never eats desserts at restaurants because most places have nuts in desserts. Even if a place tells me something is "safe," I just don't want to take the chance because the risk of cross contamination is so high. Along the same lines if a salad or a main dish has nuts in it, you need to ask lots of questions to see if there could be possible cross contamination.

3.) Be Prepared. I always carry safe candy in my purse. I have no idea when we might be somewhere and be in a situation where my other child might receive something Tyler can't have. By having his favorite candy on hand, he's usually content when can't have something but he gets his special candy. Being prepared goes much further than being prepared for what you know is coming, it extends to the things you don't know are coming.

4.) Trust Your Instincts. This is something I can't stress enough. It's hard to put into words, really. Moms know what I'm talking about. God gave Moms a "Mother's Instinct" for a reason. If you feel like your child might be in danger, ask questions. Don't let them eat something. Do what you have to do to keep them safe. Trust those instincts!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eating Out with a Food Allergy: Think Ahead

If you missed part 1 of this series, you can find it here.

When you eat out with a food allergy, one of the most important parts of it is to think ahead. When I'm visiting an unfamiliar restaurant, a good chunk of the planning should be done before you ever step foot in the restaurant.

It's also best to hit the restaurant when they are able to accommodate you and make it a good experience for everyone involved.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with the waitstaff to have as good of a food allergy experience as possible:

1.) Eat at Off Peak Hours: I don't know about you but when my kids ask me for something when I'm in the middle of cooking dinner, they have really bad timing and are likely to get a less than desirable response. The same is true of restaurants. Don't hit them when they are at they're busiest and ask them to accommodate a life-threatening food allergy. Wait until they're not busy and can give you child's allergy the time it deserves. Also, less mistakes happen when people aren't busy. 'Nuff said.

2.) Be Polite This tip goes a loooooong way when it comes to food allergies. No one wants to help a rude person. Yet, as a parent, it's easy to want to bash someone over the head who doesn't immediately understand your child's food allergy. But if you're rude to those serving your child at a restaurant, they are much less likely to help you. Plus, you're actually helping them form an opinion of food allergies in general that can impact future encounters with food allergy sufferers. Use the "Kill 'em with kindness" approach to ask questions and educate when needed.

3.) Reward Good Service We were at a restaurant once where the chef went out his way to accommodate the two nut allergic people in my family. He made them a special dessert that was safe and even came out to reassure my nervous 5 year old who had never eaten dessert away from home and was a little worried. Did we thank him? Yes! But we also wrote the corporate offices where he worked to let them know how great he did. When someone excels at food allergies, point it out so everyone knows just how important it is.

4.) Be Loyal. I often say food allergy moms are some of the most loyal people I know. When we find a brand we trust, we stick with it. If you have one or even a handful of places you trust to eat out, you probably love those places. If you haven't branched out that much, I encourage you to try it. There are places out there that are safe. Check the menus online and once you find a place or two, stick with them.

We have one more installment in this series on eating out with food allergies. It's all about being aware of things around you...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eating Out with a Food Allergy: Communicate with the Chef

One of the harder aspects of dealing with a food allergy, particularly when you are newly diagnosed, is eating out. Being at home and eating with food allergies is scary enough for a parent. But eating out with allergies is down right terrifying.

When you are first diagnosed, you wish you could have a magic bubble around your peanut-allergic child to protect them from every speck of peanut the world may throw at them. But it’s important to get to the place where you can eat out once in a while.

Over the next 3 days I will cover several things you need to consider when you eat out when you or someone you love has food allergies.

1.) Check the Menu in Advance. I honestly don’t know how I would have managed my son’s food allergy before the Internet. Most large chains have their menu online and many of them have allergen information. A few clicks of the mouse can tell you if a place is safe before you ever leave home.

2.) Call Ahead. At times when I haven’t had access to the menu, I have actually called the chef of a restaurant and spoke with them about my situation. It’s important to speak with the chef. Talking to a waitress or hostess will probably not yield great results because they are not as familiar with what goes on in the kitchen. The chef knows exactly what’s in the food and what all it has touched (cross contamination issues).

Chefs has come a long way in the last several years since Tyler was diagnosed in 2006. I used to get blank stares or stutters when I asked a chef about these things. Now, more often than not, I get clear, confident answers from chefs that really seem to understand food allergies.

3.) Tell the waiter or chef. Even if you know a dish is safe, it’s still a good idea to tell the waiter or chef (the waiter should communicate the information to the chef) about the food allergies. This helps them be extra vigilant when they handle your food. It’s just one more layer of protection for you or your loved one.

4.) Bring a chef’s card. You can purchase chef’s cards online or create your own. These are pieces of paper that simply tell your chef what you are allergic to. You can also add any other special information you want to communicate to your chef. If you make your own, it might be helpful to laminate it so it’s easy for your chef to read and handle while they cook.
There are several other things to keep in mind when eating out with food allergies. We’ll visit those tomorrow…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eczema Treatment: 30% Off Aveeno Products on Amazon

All Aveeno products are 30% off right now on Amazon. Use code AVEENOJL to take the first 15% off.

Then sign up for the no obligation Subscribe and Save 15% discount. (You can cancel your subscription after your order ships.) This adds up to 30% off!

I used Aveeno products for years on Tyler's eczema before switching over to Kiss My Face soap
and Nature's Gate oatmeal lotion. But I still love Aveeno for eczema!

There are several products that work out to be great deals. Here are a few:

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash, 12-Ounce (Pack of 2) $3.41 each

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, 7.3-Ounce $7.17

Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub 5 oz (140 g) $4.53

Check out all the Aveeno products on sale here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Food Allergies on a Budget: Meal Planning

Food allergies are hard. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. But sometimes an overlooked part of it is how expensive they can be. Of course we would spend our last dime on our food allergic child but there is a way to live on a tight budget with a food allergic child.

Plan Ahead

I’m a planner by nature so planning ahead came pretty easy to me but not all of the food allergy moms I know have this luxury. When Tyler was diagnosed at 13 months old with milk, egg, and peanut allergies, I had no idea what to cook for the poor child! (Note: He outgrew the milk and egg allergy at the age of 3.)

After the initial shock wore off, , my planning nature kicked in and I was able to come up with a 4 week menu rotation that was safe for him. We repeated the menu over and over again because I had so few options. On the occasion we deviated from it I would give Tyler something else safe like Tyson chicken nuggets.

By menu planning and repeating the same things over, I was always buying pretty much the same groceries and using them up. This saved us a great deal of money.

Meal Planning Made Easy

Does meal planning come easy to you? If not, it doesn’t need to be difficult. I promise you can do it!

If you are dealing with several food allergies, it’s practically a necessity.

1. Determine how many weeks you want in your meal plan. This may be pre-determined for you like it was for me due to many dietary limitations. Or, you may just pick however many weeks you want your family to rotate.

2. Actually put a list of the meals in front of your, as well as a blank calendar. I suggest using a blank calendar (no dates) and just start entering the meals on it. To make it easier, you can make each night have a theme. For example, Monday might be Mexican night, Tuesday might be Italian night, etc.

3. Enter your meals into a rotating calendar program (optional). You don’t have to do this step, but it will make your life easy if you can. I highly recommend Google Calendar. There are several other types of programs online you can use, too. Then you can just print out each week and your menu is created for you!

Meal planning, and just planning in general goes a long way when it comes to being successful with food allergies. The days of “flying by the seat of your pants” are over.

Do you plan ahead? Do you use meal planning as a strategy for coping with food allergies?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Food Allergy Coaching Services

I am now available for Food Allergy Coaching Services.

What does this include?

Truth be told...anything you need it to be until you feel like you are ready to fly solo as a food allergy mom.

I am available to meet in person if you are in the Metro Detroit area, or by Skype or phone any where else in the world.

*We can talk "Mom to Mom" and I can answer your questions. I've been a food allergy Mom for over 5 years...chances are good I've been where you are before.

*I can grocery shop with you! (Yes, even by phone!)

*I can help you prepare a menu you free of what allergen(s) you are avoiding.

*I can help you or other family members learn how to cook for someone with a food allergy.

*You just need some moral support or someone to point you in the right direction so you feel like your child is "safe" again.

....I want to help you get to a place where you feel happy and peaceful again about your child. I want to do whatever it is I need to so you get to that place.

What Do You Charge?

Please understand that I've devoted a portion of my career to studying food allergies from a Mom's perspective and helping others with them. Charging a small fee for my services is just a part of this. I've kept it low so most everyone can afford it.

Initial Fee $40.00 (one time flat fee - includes paperwork and other "get to know you" type things)

Food Allergy Consulting $25.00 per hour

The initial flat fee and first hour are due before our first meeting. I only accept Paypal payments.

If you are interested in more information or are ready to sign up, please email me at peanutallergykid @ gmail . com.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Peanut Allergy Kid is Back!!

The Peanut Allergy Kid is Back!! I'm thrilled to back blogging here again!

You might wonder what I've been up to! Great question...I started another blog a few months ago and have put a ton of energy into it. It is a site that helps you save a lot of money, mainly on groceries and health and beauty items.

The new site is called Detroit Coupons and Deals. The title is a little deceiving though. You don't need to be from Detroit to benefit from it. A lot of what I cover is from online and national stuff but I wanted to give it a local flavor.

I would LOVE IT if you hopped over there and took a look around. You can follow it by email, Facebook, or Twitter. I am also giving away a free ebook called "30 Ways to Slash Your Budget in 30 Days." I got great reviews from this. It's been downloaded over 10,000 times!

So what's in the future for Peanut Allergy Kid? I've got big plans!

  • Bring you the personal posts so many of you tell me you love. Tyler is 6 now and in kindergarten! I still have struggles and a wealth of knowledge to draw off of. I will also be doing some technical work to improve the overall look and feel of the site in the rather immediate future.
  • Launch a new website entirely devoted to food allergy ebooks. The website is already purchased and much of the framework is in place. The spring and summer will be devoted to writing them. Some of them be a little more technical but most of them be written from a mom's perspective of how to deal with food allergies. Ebooks are great because you purchase them and can read them immediately. You can read them on your computer, phone, Kindle, etc.
  • Create a Nut Free Recipe Blog. This has been in the works for a while. I've tossed around what I want to do with this. I've got a list a mile long of recipes I want to try, many of them are peanut butter based recipes I will sub Sunbutter for. Some will just be recipes my family loves. But it will be a place of fun where you know you can find inspiration in cooking for your nut allergic child.
  • Provide food allergy sales I find online. I see sales of Enjoy Life, Sunbutter, etc. all the time with my work on my other blog and it bugs me because I know you want to know. (Like this one.) So those will pop up from time to time. Food allergies do not need to as expensive as we think, even if you are gluten free!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you as excited as I am about this?