We have some exciting news to share. FAAM's co-founder, Billy Barnett, is featured in a new book! Billy was interviewed for the book When Your Child Has Food Allergies by Mireille Schwartz, released today. Billy shares his experiences as a food allergy dad and advice on the responsibility of fathers in the family, "I think it is natural for Mom to take on the lead role of protecting her child when diagnosed, but Dads have the same responsibility." I can attest to the fact that Billy takes his responsibilities as Daddy very seriously, so it is no surprise that his role as food allergy dad is equally important to him.
The author, Mireille Schwartz, has food allergies herself and is a food allergy mom. She is the founder and CEO of the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board in San Francisco, member of FARE's Community Engagement Council and a former executive board member of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Mireille has been profiled in The Huffington Post and is an expert contributor to CNN Health, Yahoo! News, NPR-affiliate KQED, and ABC7 News, and a columnist for Allergic Living. She has also authored The Family Food Allergy Book.
In Mireille's second book, parents will learn to: Spot the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction - Navigate testing and diagnosis - Decipher ingredient labels - Allergy-proof your whole home - Create an emergency kit and an allergy action plan - Make school a safe and enjoyable environment - Find lunchbox substitutions your kid will like - Deal with restaurants, playdates, birthday parties, holidays, and other group celebrations - Plan for safe travels - And more!
Now more exciting news...the publisher, AMACOM, has donated one copy of When Your Child Has Food Allergies for us to give away during Food Allergy Awareness Week! We are very thankful to Billy for his dedication to FAAM, to Mireille for including Billy and FAAM in her work, and to AMACOM for gifting a copy to a lucky member. Stay tuned for more information on how you can win!
Invitations to Egg Hunts and Spring Celebrations are popping up like tulips. Many food allergy families are on the look out for safe ways to get in on the fun. The great news is there are many safe options! I am sharing my favorite Easter ideas and resources so your family can enjoy an egg-cellent (yep, I said it) holiday season.
People diagnosed with egg allergies worry about dyeing real eggs for Easter because the potential of eggs breaking open while boiling is fairly high. I have used craft eggs for the last few years and really like them. They look like real eggs, can be dyed, and will not spoil if left in the heat after a hunt.
Craft eggs are made from recyclable material and do not dye with the same saturation as a real egg. The color is usually pastel, especially if you follow the instructions on a dye kit. I prefer to purchase dye by itself and the combination that sometimes results in more vibrant colors is to add extra dye, use less vinegar, and soak longer. Craft eggs float so you need to find a way to push them into the dye, or turn them so the dye is even. In time, the dye fades away (especially if left out in the rain).
You are not limited to dye - Sharpie markers, decorative tape and "bling" work beautifully, and stickers are always a favorite. Let your imagination run wild!
Wooden and ceramic eggs are also options. Craft stores sell wooden eggs that can be painted and decorated. Eggnots makes a ceramic, dyeable egg. They are both a little more expensive, but make memorable decor to use year after year.
For egg hunts, you can use decorated craft eggs or try one of these ideas* if you want something different:
As you can see, there is no reason to let food allergies slow you down this spring! As for traditional holiday food, there are some recipes you will need to alter and some you will need to replace (see the article I wrote last Thanksgiving about this). It may take a little longer if you are newly diagnosed, but you can do it! I hope you enjoy finding new ways to celebrate with your loved ones. Happy Spring!
For additional resources, check out FAAM's Easter & Passover board on Pinterest.
*These ideas are not original. Search and you will find blog posts from people who have tried them. You can even find a printable for the Scavenger hunt and Eggs-ercise ideas.
**Please note: Avoid items made of latex and playdough (for those with wheat allergies). Toys small enough to fit in an egg are considered choking hazards for young children. Use caution and make sure your egg fillers are age appropriate.
by Jennifer Dodrill
Being a grandma is amazing! Being Grandma to an allergy kid is…still amazing! When my first granddaughter, Charley, was born, I told my daughter that I wanted to be involved in her life as much as I could. I do not care if she is happy or sad, poopy or dry, healthy or sick. I just want to be part of her life and watch as she grows up.
When Charley was diagnosed with her first food allergy I will be honest, I did not truly understand. Here is this little girl with beautiful, soulful brown eyes, a cute button nose that wrinkles when she grins, who is curious about everything. She is smart, loving and giving. She gives the best hugs and she wants to read “Goodnight Gorilla” a couple hundred times a day. We play with her sand table in the summer and look for ducks and geese. We sing Raffi songs and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” She has some mad dance moves and will gladly have you join her on the dance floor. She knows a hyena says, “Ha ha ha,” and an elephant trumpets with his trunk, and her baby sister needs to be burped. She likes to be a big girl and she likes to be babied. She is my Charley-bug. And she is allergic to certain foods.
In my family, and with my own 5 children, there are no food allergies. We have people with gluten intolerances and I am lactose intolerant, but food allergies are a whole new ball game. I can take some supplements to help with the lactose intolerance, and if I do not, well, there are unpleasant side effects but nothing life-threatening. Food allergies are totally different. So, I had to listen, learn, and now I want to educate family and friends.
I listen to my daughter and son-in-law. They know their daughter better than I do. They live with her 24/7, know what she likes, wants, needs. If they say no, I am going to say no.
I have had to learn what a food allergy entails. I read about them, talk to my daughter, and learn everything I need to know to keep Charley safe. I try to talk about foods as being “Charley safe” instead of being good or bad. I have learned to read food labels each time because sometimes foods are new and improved and become a dangerous thing for her. I take pictures of labels if I am not sure and text them to my daughter. It makes me feel better and more confident about what I feed Charley.
I have also learned what to do in case of an allergic reaction. I know how to use her EpiPen. And that if I use the EpiPen, I need to call 911, and then I call my daughter. In that order.
I want to be an advocate for food allergy kids. Charley is not defined by her food allergies. She is beautiful, smart, crazy funny, and sweet. And she has food allergies. Who she is is not the same as what she deals with. At the same time, these allergies can be life-threatening and I do not mean to undermine the importance of that. My goal is to help people see how fantastically awesome Charley is, and that to keep her safe she cannot eat certain foods. It does not matter if they do not understand at first, I will keep telling them.
Recently we had a big luau to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. She is lactose and gluten intolerant. Between her and Charley’s allergies, most of the foods at the party were dairy and gluten free. Just to make it easier (considering we had 20+ people in my house), we made little signs to go by each dish. And my family knows not to feed Charley anything unless it has been approved by her parents.
At Grandma’s house
We still have foods in my house that are not “Charley-safe,” but just like we have had to baby-proof our house, we also food allergy proof our house. Some things are kept out of reach, just like you move cleaners or knives to a higher shelf or cabinet. Some things I have changed, such as I use a dairy-free spaghetti sauce now because little Charley-bug can eat some spaghetti! I always have fruits and veggies that I know she likes. As she gets older and can open doors, cabinets, and the refrigerator, I know we will have to move some other things around.
Unique, not different
Nobody likes to be different. Everyone is unique. What makes us who we are is not just one thing about us – brown eyes, crooked teeth, freckles, or food allergies. We are the sum total of all these things, and each part is important. I plan to be a grandma for a long time, and I plan to advocate for my grandkids in whatever their challenges are in life. Listening, learning, and educating others. Loving someone means you want the best for them and you work towards that best thing. I like how Maya Angelou empowers love in these words: Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
That is the Grandma I want to be.
About the Author: Jennifer Dodrill is a "retired” Navy wife, mom to 5 amazing kids and a son-in-law, and Grandma to two beautiful granddaughters. She homeschools her youngest daughter and loves to talk about homeschooling & curriculum. We are pleased to have Jennifer and family as members of FAAM and thank her for sharing her experiences from a grandparent's perspective.
This article is published in the November 2016 issue of Good Health Memphis, a health and lifestyle magazine for the Mid-South community. FAAM is posting the article here with permission from the editor and author. Click here to view the entire digital issue and past issues of Good Health Memphis. You can find print copies in your Commercial Appeal newspaper and in stands at select Krogers. Click here to view the article in the Commercial Appeal online.
Most people look forward to Thanksgiving as the kickoff to a food-filled holiday season. The crisp weather and falling leaves make us crave grandma’s dressing and chocolate pie. Then there are those of us with food allergies, up to 15 million Americans according to Food Allergy Research and Education, who may dread the holiday season because of those heirloom recipes and the challenges we face at the dinner table.
Let’s look at the top eight foods that cause 90% of allergic reactions – milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish – and where they may be found in a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Turkey may contain wheat starch in the broth.
Most pies contain both milk and eggs.
Meringue and marshmallows can contain eggs.
Breads are often made with wheat and eggs.
Depending on the type of gravy, it may contain wheat in the flour, eggs, milk or soy.
Butter is made from milk.
Many desserts and baked goods contain milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, or tree nuts.
Mayonnaise and ranch dressing are often made with eggs.
Of course, crab, lobster and shrimp are shellfish.
Fish may show up as an ingredient in Worcestershire and barbecue sauces.
These are only a few examples of foods that may contain allergens. Anyone can be allergic to any food, and some individuals have multiple food allergies. You can imagine how difficult that makes navigating a holiday meal.
The good news is there are ways you can help make the holiday less stressful for your allergic guests.
Correction to original article: FAAM is recognized by these national food allergy organizations: Food Allergy Research & Education, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America (Kids with Food Allergies is a division of the AAFA), and Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team.
Food for Thought is the blog for the Food Allergy Alliance of the MidSouth. FAAM's mission is to provide food allergy support, education, advocacy, fellowship & fun for Memphis, TN and surrounding areas.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately and follow up with a physician.