Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes Give Away

Looking for some new holiday recipes?  Have you heard of Debbie Adler from Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats?  She has a cookbook, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes, that focuses on gluten, egg, dairy, soy, sugar, and nut-free baked goods.

Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats Cookbook

Sounds pretty amazing, right?  Find out why it is by reading my full review of her cookbook here.

But…wait!  It gets BETTER!

Debbie will be giving away one copy of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes to two randomly selected readers who subscribe to my blog via email.  You have until December 10, 2014 to subscribe.  Two lucky readers (existing email subscribers are automatically eligible) will be announced on Thursday, December 11th and will be eligible to receive a free copy of Debbie’s cookbook.

Debbie’s Dark Chocolate Drizzle Cranberry Macaroon recipe is my favorite.  Wonder if I have time to make a batch today?  Yes…I think I do!

*UPDATE: I emailed two email subscribers of my blog (that were randomly selected) to receive Debbie Adler’s cookbook. Thank you so much for following my blog!

 

20 Days of Food Allergy Thanks

You’ve been on facebook and no doubt seen the days of thankfulness challenge.  You know the one…Day 1 and I’m thankful for…fill in the blank.  Although I don’t participate on social media, it is something I introspectively make room for every day…time to count my blessings.

Gratitude is a powerful tool.  Outside of faith, I think it is possibly the only other action that gives us the perspective on life that we so desperately yearn for…peace.

So in honor of the countdown to Thanksgiving, here are 20 things that I am giving food allergy thanks for:

2014 Houston FARE Walk (1)

1.  My son:  At the ripe old age of ten, he continues to show me day in and day out that food allergies can only define you if you let it.  You are amazing, son, and I am so proud of your sweet spirit and determination.

2.  Our allergist:  I know you are reading, Dr. K and we are always so grateful for your guidance and wisdom.  Thank you for knowing the value of listening to a parent who knows their child better than any other!

3.  Food Allergy Research Education (FARE):  This organization (formerly FAAN) has been a invaluable source of education and support from a time before online support groups existed.

4.  Enjoy Life:  This company makes a ton of delicious products that are free from the top 8 allergens.  On any given day you can find our pantry stocked up on Enjoy Life granola and crunchy cookies…just to name a few of our favs.

5.  SunButter:  There are no words to convey my family’s love for SunButter or our admiration for their dedication to the food allergy community.  This is our favorite sunflower spread on the market and the people who work there are simply amazing!

6.  King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour:  It feels like I’ve tried every gluten-free flour mix known to man, and not a one of them has come as close to the real thing as King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour.

7.  Izzi B’s:  Making a gingerbread house every year has always been a tradition for me and my family when I was a young girl.  At the onset of a food allergy diagnosis, that came to a screeching halt…UNTIL I found and fell in love with Izzi B’s amazing gingerbread houses!  It is a holiday MUST!

8.  Allergic Living Magazine:  This a highly informative publication that has their finger on the trends in allergy and asthma living and research.  I especially enjoy reading articles by contributor, Gina Clowes.

9.  Mylan:  The EpiPen saves lives and we are so grateful to have access to it.  Thank you, Mylan.

10.  H-E-B:  This Texas grocery store chain has a huge variety of gluten-free and allergy friendly goodies at rock bottom prices.  They are a food allergy family’s best friend!

11.  Stephanie Sorkin:  One of my fav children’s books for food allergies is Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel, by Stephanie Sorkin!  She does an amazing job of educating children about food allergies!

12.  Cookbooks:  Baking allergy friendly is not for the faint of heart.  It can be brutal when you are messing with the chemistry involved in making a single batch of muffins or cookies.  One of my favorite cookbook authors is The Gluten Free Table by The Lagasse Girls.  These ladies have a new cookbook out called The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste–and No Gluten.

13.  Red Robin:  The whole family can eat safely at Red Robin and it is hands down our favorite restaurant to dine at as a family!  They have a great allergy listing for their menu and their burgers are just THE best!

14.  Kinnikinnick:  This company holds a special place in my heart for bringing back the gluten, nut, and peanut-free donut.  Thank you for making this a perfect Saturday morning treat!

15.  Udi’s:  This is one of the only gluten-free breads that my son and I can share with both of our dietary restrictions.  But don’t let that be deceiving…their bread is simply fabulous and so reminiscent of the gluten-filled breads I remember.

16.  Walt Disney World:  I’m so grateful to Disney for allowing the Magical Kingdom to be truly magical…even for those with food allergies.  They are beyond wonderful when it comes to vacationing with food allergies.  Thank you for bringing vacation back!

17.  Conte’s:  It’s hard to find a really good gluten-free pizza, but the whole family enjoys Conte’s pizzas.  If for some reason you’re not crazy about the kind of pizza that comes straight from the box, you can buy plain frozen crusts (in a 2 pack) and make your own creation.  We love it!

18.  Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery:  It’s almost criminal how easy Angela at Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery makes baking look.  She offers a variety of confections from cookies, to cakes, to brownies, and so much more.  She is our go to for delicious baked goodies on special celebrations.

19.  Ancient Grains Quinoa:  This is the main pasta I use for most of my dishes.  It has a great taste and texture that resembles that of regular pasta…and…it doesn’t dissolve into cream during the cooking process.  There are always several boxes of this pasta on hand in our pantry.

20.  God:  Praise my Heavenly Father from whom all blessings flow!  Thank you for walking every step of this journey with my precious family.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wishing you much joy and many blessings,

Kimberly

Cooking with Chocoley’s Chocolate

Halloween has long since passed, but my peanut and nut allergic son can still remember seeing the popular peanut butter cups from trick or treating.  He’s mentioned on more than one occasion that they looked yummy and he wished they were safe for him.  I wished they were too.

If you’re a food allergy parent, a wish like my son’s not just a wish your child is making, it’s a baking challenge.  As a parent, we know that we could probably whip something similar up for them or that we’d at least give it the good ol’ college try.  And in true The Food Allergy Mom fashion, I got to work.

These are my peanut-free, sunflower spread butter cups.  Don’t they look fabulous?  If I didn’t tell you here that they weren’t a certain brand name product, you’d think they were exactly that.  Wouldn’t you?

Chocoley (8)

These stylish little cups of goodness were so incredibly easy to make, this will be something I make over and over again.  To begin, fill a regular size (or you could do mini-size) muffin tin with cupcake liners.

I melted down a one pound bag of Chocoley’s Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping and Coating Milk (so ridiculously easy to use and delicious to eat) in a microwave safe dish.  I microwaved the chocolate in 40 second intervals and stirred in between until the chocolate was thoroughly melted.

Then, I layered just enough chocolate in each  muffin cup to cover the bottom.

Next I melted approximately 1 cup of sunflower seed spread in the microwave until it was runny (~40 seconds).  I placed about one teaspoon of the melted spread over the chocolate already in the muffin cups.

Then I layered the remaining milk chocolate over the sunflower spread to seal it in.  Next, I gave it a good shaking so the chocolate would be a smooth as possible before I put it in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes.  After removing from the fridge, simply peel the wrapper off and enjoy.  (We stored the uneaten cups at room temperature in an air-tight container.)

I’m so thrilled with the results!  And my son is over the moon to finally have safe non-peanut butter cups.  Even my husband and daughter and I (who are not allergic to peanuts) loved this sinful treat!  These little goodies are a fantastic addition to the table during the holiday season and all year round.

No Peanut Butter Cups

*Follow directions above.  Recipe yields 15 large chocolate cups.

 

Then, I got to thinking I would try my hand at a recipe with dark and white chocolate mixed.  White chocolate is my favorite kind, but also not nearly as healthy as dark chocolate.  So I figure if you mix the two, that has to take away at least a few of those unwanted calories.  Right?  Uh…right!

Chocolate covered strawberries are so popular around here that they disappear almost instantly!  We had a special family gathering the other night and I wanted to make some of these, but up my game a notch and make them look professional.

They came out beautifully, didn’t they?  In fact, they looked so professional my husband thought I bought them at the grocery store!

My favorite thing about this recipe is that these chocolate covered strawberries are a cinch to make while masquerading as a picture of indulgence and elegance.

Buy a container of whole strawberries.  Thoroughly rinse and set on some paper towels to dry completely.  Let stand for one to two hours.

Melt half of a one pound bag of Chocoley’s Bada Bing Bada Boom Candy & Molding Formula – Dark in a microwave safe dish.  I microwaved the chocolate in 40 second intervals and stirred in between until the chocolate was thoroughly melted.

Once chocolate is thoroughly melted, dip strawberries into chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  This alone is probably enough, but I felt like a little white chocolate drizzle would put it over the top!

Enter Chocoley’s Drizzle and Design White Chocolate that comes in a fabulous squeeze bottle that makes decorating a snap!  (Sorry for the crinkled appearance…I took this picture after I used it.  Can you tell I gave it all my energy to squeeze out every last drop?)

Now, I’ll be honest.  I didn’t use but about half of this bottle to drizzle on my strawberries mainly because my son and I kept sneaking the white chocolate bites all week long to go with a little snack here and there.  Did I mention white chocolate is my favorite?  Because….yeah….it totally is.  The richness, the sweetness…the…(wipe drool)…I’m sorry…where was I?

Oh, yes.  White chocolate.  I boiled some water in a pan, then turned off the burner and immersed this bottle of chocolate in it without setting it in the pan.  It took about two to three minutes to melt the chocolate completely and then I was all set to start drizzling.  Then I put the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 15 minutes and the strawberries looked fabulous!  What didn’t disappear (we didn’t have many left), we stored in an air tight container in the fridge.  I wouldn’t recommend keeping these much longer than a day or two though…strictly due to the strawberries spoiling as fruit often does.

Dark and White Chocolate Covered Strawberries

*Follow directions above.  Recipe yields 15 to 25 large chocolate covered strawberries.

So very pleased with the end results of these baking adventures.  Thanks to Chocoley for making the food allergy life so very sweet!

Must go…I hear my running shoes calling.  Now if only I could remember where I put them.  Maybe the attic.

*Full disclosure:  Chocoley provided The Food Allergy Mom with free samples of the above products.

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

This Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for you, my reader.  Thank you for taking the time to read my posts and share your thoughts and comments with me.  Thank you for sharing about The Food Allergy Mom with others.  Thank you, thank you, thank you…for all you do to help raise awareness of food allergies.  You are simply amazing!

THANK YOU!!!!!

Here is a quick recap of some past posts that include my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  May they warm your heart and home and bring great joy to the table.

Mimi’s Homemade Holiday Dressing/Stuffing

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Delights

Pie Crust

Pecanless Pecan Pie

Cinnamon Cake

Chocolate Cola Cake

Joy and Blessings,

Kimberly

Applegate HALF TIME™ Kits Make Lunch Easy

I’m just going to be honest here.  I don’t like packing lunches.  Every day I pack a lunch for myself and my two children (and occasionally the hubby), and it gets monotonous.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many fun and “easy” ideas I find online, I usually don’t have the time or money to make them look like the picture I saw.   However, in full disclosure, I wish I was able to work magic with lunches like so many of you do…I’m a little jealous at how you make it look so easy.

Lindsay at Applegate contacted me about reviewing their snazzy HALF TIME™ lunch kit.  According to the company, “A recent survey found that 88% of parents thought pre-packed lunch kits were convenient, but 79% of those parents were concerned about the nitrates, preservatives and artificial ingredients in those kits.”

I’ll admit to having those thoughts and taking it one step farther with my worries about food allergies.  So, I emailed Lindsay with some food allergy questions and here is what she had to say:  “Regarding the top-8 allergen list (Milk / Dairy, Egg, Fish, Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat, and Soy): Stonyfield Squeezers contain Milk, but do not contain any other top-8 allergen. They are produced on equipment that processes Milk / Dairy, but no other top-8 allergen. They are stored in a facility that contains Milk / Dairy, Tree Nuts, Wheat, and Soy.”  When I specifically asked about peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and chickpea/garbanzo, she told me the HALF TIME™ lunch kits do not contain peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, or chickpea/garbanzo.  SCORE!

So what do the boxed lunches contain?  HALF TIME™ includes Applegate natural meats and cheeses (which have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free), Annie’s Homegrown crackers and snacks, and Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers.

Applegate Half Time Lunches (4)

The lunches are not gluten-free, so I had to rely on my kiddos for this review.  My kids LOVED the lunches so much that when they got home from school that day and declared lunch as “awesome,” they wanted to know if they could bring one again the next day.  That’s what we call a hit at my house!

Applegate Half Time Lunches (3)

The kids devoured the entire lunch and I even packed a little side (fruit, cookie, etc) for my fifth grader to get him through the afternoon.  From a mother’s point of view, I could see how much they loved having a boxed lunch to take to school that so closely resembled the other popular boxed lunch brand that many of their classmates bring.

After my kids taste-tested the lunches, I did look for the kits at H-E-B and found them for $4+ each.  Because I can make a SunButter tortilla rollup/sandwich a little cheaper, Applegate’s HALF TIME™ kits won’t be an every day occurrence but something that might be a once a week or every other week treat.

Overall, my kids loved this product and it will be something we will buy from time to time.  And I won’t lie…when 11pm rolls around and I still haven’t had a chance to pack lunches for the next day, it will be wonderful to know that, actually, lunch is already packed.

Now here comes the really great part!  Applegate is giving away a special HALF TIME™ lunch kit to one of you!  This special kit includes:

Applegate Half Time Lunches (2)

All three varieties of HALF TIME: Turkey & Cheese, Ham & Cheese, and Bologna & Cheese

  • A draw-your-own lunch bag
  • A set of permanent markers
  • Coupons
  • Activity book

Interested?  Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Go to my The Food Allergy Mom facebook page and comment on one food allergy safe thing you are doing for Halloween.  Then share my status about Applegate’s HALF TIME™ lunch kit giveaway!

Winner will be announced on Halloween!  Good luck!

Vermont Smoke and Cure RealSticks A Food Allergy Find

Having peanut and nut allergies can make life challenging in general.  But one of the things I struggle with the most is how to make sure my constantly on-the-go ten-year-old son gets enough protein in his diet.

If we’re coming home after an hour and a half of hot, sweaty soccer practice, sometimes a glass of ice-cold chocolate milk can be just the right protein to help my son’s muscles recover and repair.

But what about the times when we aren’t at home and we need something protein-packed and safe?  What about when we are traveling and we want a safe and filling snack for the road?  What if we need something that doesn’t have to be temperature controlled so that it’s more conducive to life on the go?

Believe it or not, I may have found the answer!

photo

I became intrigued when I saw the Vermont Smoke and Cure ad in the most recent edition of Allergic Living Magazine.  The advertisement for their RealSticks made it look like the equivalent of beef jerky…but a safe jerky.  I’ll admit to getting a little overly excited at the prospect of this new protein-packed, all natural, portable snack.  (It’s the little things that make The Food Allergy Mom happy!)

So I contacted the company directly to inquire about their allergy statement.  The representative I corresponded with was absolutely wonderful and assured me the RealSticks were indeed gluten, peanut, nut, sesame, chickpea/garbanzo, and dairy free.

The sweet folks at Vermont Smoke and Cure were kind enough to send me some samples of their protein packed RealSticks so I could review for my readers.   And in full disclosure, I may or may not have checked my front porch every day twice a day for a week to see if they had arrived.

So what is a RealStick you might ask?  Good question.  For all intents and purposes, it’s a meat stick filled with quality meat and delicious blend of tasty spices.  The product comes in six different flavors (Cracked Pepper, Chipotle, BBQ, Turkey Pepperoni, Turkey Honey Mustard, and Turkey Ancho) made with quality ingredients that contain 50% less fat and 40% less salt than the leading snack sticks, no MSG, no preservatives, and no artificial anything.  The sticks even work well for those who are following a Paleo diet or Weight Watchers.

It’s small enough that you could put some cheese and crackers with it to make it a meal.  Although I’ve eaten it that way, my favorite way to enjoy a RealStick is for a snack when I’m on the go.  My son loves it for a post-soccer workout snack.  To be honest, I don’t know if there is a bad time to eat one.  :)

My favorite flavor hands down is the Turkey Honey Mustard because it just bursts with flavor and satisfies my snack craving.  Ironically, my son’s favorite flavor is also the Turkey Honey Mustard.  Runners up for both of us include Turkey Pepperoni, Cracked Pepper, and BBQ.  I will warn you that the Ancho and Chipotle flavors pack a little punch of spice, but both my son and I still enjoyed them.

Bottom Line:  This will definitely be a product that becomes a staple in our house.  I’m beyond pleased with the customer service the company provided me with as well as the quality and price of their RealSticks products.

Thank you to Vermont Smoke and Cure for such a wonderful food allergy find!

Letting Go of Fear

Fear.  It’s a debilitating feeling we are all familiar with.  And if you’re a parent or caregiver to someone other than yourself, you know what it’s like to fear for others as well.

This week I’ve watched my children go back to school, contemplating the usual worries.  What if I don’t know anyone in my class?  What if I can’t find my classroom?  What if I don’t have a good teacher?  What if I can’t find anyone to eat lunch with?

Those with special situations such as asthma and food allergies often experience additional worries.  What if someone sits next to me that’s eating peanut butter?  What if I have an asthma attack at school?  What if someone bullies me because of my food allergy?

I have a love hate relationship with what if questions.  My husband says I should make a career out of them.  I’m a planner so I love to think about them, but I hate that I feel the need to.  Honestly, if I don’t make myself simply be still, I am the queen of worry.  No really.

Huh.

Did you notice the transition of the above paragraphs?  I went from talking about children’s back to school worries to discussing my worries.  Interesting.

The transition, although unplanned, illustrates my point beautifully.

You Are Being Watched

As a parent, I often internalize my children’s fears because I hurt for them.  As children, they often internalize my fears because they sense my emotional stress and feel discord.

  • Do you fill out all your son’s back to school allergy forms for school with deep sighs and a furrowed brow of concentration?  How must that look to him?  How does it make him feel?
  • Do you go into crisis mode when she talks about the class field trip coming up?  How must that look to her?  How does it make her feel?
  • Do you hover with your son’s asthma inhaler at his soccer game so much that you never really see him play?  How must that look to him?  How does it make him feel?

If you are guilty of any of these, welcome.  Pull up a chair right next to me.  You are not alone!

Don’t believe me?  Check out this outstanding article “When Allergies Make You: Afraid of Food” by Jennifer Van Evra from Allergic Living.  I absolutely love Dr. Gordon Cochrane’s quote on page three about the consequences of over-protecting our children.  It’s a sentiment I often need to remind myself of.

How Fear Finds Us

In the last month, I have seen approximately five stories about individuals dying from asthma complications, a bee sting, ingestion of a food allergen, and more.  As a parent, especially as a parent of a child with asthma and food allergies, my heart skips a beat or two as I read these stories and think of my own precious babies.  My stomach clenches.  I can feel the blood pumping through my veins with a surge of adrenaline.  Fear has paid me a visit…and is thinking about moving in.

These stories are heartbreaking in ways so gut-wrenching that most of us simply cannot even imagine.  So many affected by these kind of situations have great resilience and strength which they gracefully use to educate others with a life-saving message.  There are no words capable of describing how truly amazing and selfless these individuals are.

But all too often, I not only hear the crucial life-saving message, but store it away in the corner of my brain to eat at me day after day after day after day.  When I replay it over and over daily in my brain, it manifests itself in my actions and it creates new worries and fear that can be all too readily observed in the lines of my face…even by a child.  Fear takes over.

Older children already online and active on social media may see these stories on their own, and so often process them alone.  If we experience worry for our children, imagine the worry they must feel themselves when the issue affects THEIR own health.  Fear takes over.

Personal witness to or experience of an allergic reaction and/or asthma attack doesn’t even give you to time to realize Fear is in the room.  The experience itself is extremely stressful for the individual as well as onlookers and often paves the way for residual fear and anxiety…and understandably so.

We must pay tribute to tragic loss of life and loved ones’ messages that can save lives.  We must be respectful and understanding of those who have encountered a life-threatening and sometimes near-death experience.  We must learn from these situations and evaluate our own circumstances.  Then we must move on and tell fear it is no longer welcome here so we can get on with life.

Confronting Fear

Knowing that you need to send fear packing is the easy part.  Doing it can be the hard part.

Dealing with fear is not a one-size fits all solution, but you can find a solution that works for you.

  • For myself, I lean heavily on my faith in God.  He sustains me and is my rock and shield when I’m too overwhelmed to take that step of moving forward.  And for what it’s worth, it’s something I have to remind myself of every day…even after 10 years on this journey.
  • Sometimes a cup of hot coffee with a close friend that offers the amazing gift of listening (and maybe a shoulder to cry on) can do wonders for the soul.
  • Consulting a licensed physician and/or counselor and discussing your anxiety, can be a source of comfort.

Still have questions?  Check out this informative post by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) about social and emotional issues regarding food allergies.

Wishing you peace and comfort, from one food allergy mom to another.

Colorado Scenery

New Enjoy Life Packaging for Allergy-Friendly Cookies

We are big Enjoy Life fans at my house…especially when it comes to their seed trail mix and crunchy cookie lines!  Both are perfect any time of year, but especially perfect for back to school snacks and/or lunches.

Enjoy Life Cookies(A little aside here.  I’ll be the first to admit that my photography skills are sometimes lacking, but can I just say how much I LOVE that these four cookies surround the word HOPE in the background?  Enjoy Life is one of those companies that gives hope to those of us with food allergies.  Hope that there will be something yummy and safe to eat.)

A little information about Enjoy Life products.  They are free from wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish.  They are certified gluten-free, verified by the Non-GMO Project, Kosher and Halal certified,  and are made in a dedicated nut-free and certified gluten-free facility.  Whew.  Talk about dedication to the food allergy community!

Enjoy Life cookies have a brand new look and the packaging is beautiful!  Thanks to Enjoy Life for sending me some samples.  My kids were so excited to see them and are probably opening their lunches right about now hoping to see one of those little goodies in there.  Although, my kids may not see many Vanilla Graham or Sugar cookies, because those are my favorites.  :)   Shhhh!  Don’t tell!   Though the packaging has changed, the cookie recipes have not, so read my previous review of the cookies here.

On a separate, but similar topic, if you haven’t tried out Enjoy Life’s seed and fruit mix…it is a great source of protein for kiddos and adults alike.  My favorite is their to go size pouches that make snacks on the run easy and nutritious.  Our pantry is stocked full right now and ready for snack duty!

If you’re like me, you’re already thinking of ways to include Enjoy Life goodies into all kinds of recipes and I so excited to say that the company is giving you a head start in the recipe corner of their website.  Don’t forget to check it out!

Thank you Enjoy Life for all that you do!

May all of you have a safe and blessed start to the new school year and may it continue the whole year through!

Back To School With Food Allergies

It pains me to write a post for back to school when it is still July, and we have about five more weeks of summer left here in Texas. But, as most of you already know, there is much to do in advance of that first day of school…especially when your child has food allergies.

Below is a compilation of information on back to school forms, school and food allergies, prescriptions, lunches, and even allergy literature for kids!

Please be sure to use the social media buttons below to share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

What are some of your tried and true back to school tips for parents of children with food allergies?  Please share them below in the comments section!

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Here are a few back to school posts (oldies but goodies) that I refer to at the beginning of every school year.

-Getting Your Forms In Order

-Food In The Classroom

-School and Food Allergy Basics

 

Filling Prescriptions For The New School Year

Need your EpiPen refilled and already dreading back to school expenses?  Don’t miss this offer for the EpiPen.

Epi $0 CopayWhat’s For Lunch?

Need lunch ideas for your child’s lunchbox?  Check out some of these fantastic recipes from guest blogger, Tracy from Sugarcrafter.

Courtesy of Tracy at Sugarcrafter

Courtesy of Tracy at Sugarcrafter

 

Educating Children About Food Allergies

Looking for a great book about food allergies to give your child’s classroom?  Check out Stephanie Sorkin’s Book, Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel.

Food Allergy Awareness Week Part 3: “Don’t Scare.”

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week!  It starts May 11th and goes all week long!

I’ve been contemplating my posts for this week for quite some time.  What issues should I cover?  Who should I reach out to?  How can I positively raise awareness for food allergies?

Finally, my husband and I worked together and came up with the following slogan for this week’s posts:  “Be Aware.  Be Prepared.  Don’t Scare.”   It’s short, sweet, and covers just about everything.

For information on how to “Be Aware” and “Be Prepared” please take a few minutes to read my previous posts.

For this final Food Allergy Awareness Week post, let’s focus on how we, “Don’t Scare.”

I’m going to come clean here, this post is one that is so very near and dear to my heart.  And this is why.  I’m going to say something wildly unpopular and controversial here…so you might want to sit down.

I don’t think bullying is something only between children with and without food allergies.  I think as food allergy caregivers we sometimes unintentionally bully each other.  We can scare each other into wrongfully thinking that if I don’t follow your way, or vice versa, we are not doing our best.  Making someone think that they aren’t doing everything they can to protect their loved ones from food allergies…that IS scary and heartbreaking!

Let me clarify.  At some point, we are all guilty of thinking “our” way (whatever way that may be) is the best way to handle the food allergy life.  And although it may very well be the way that works best for OUR family and OUR diagnosis, it doesn’t make it the best for ALL food allergy families.  Just because it’s not my way or your way, it doesn’t make it wrong.  It just makes it different.  Because out of the whole food allergy community and even this great big world, not any two of us are exactly alike.

As a whole, I think every caregiver’s goal is to keep their loved ones safe and happy.  It is possible to impart the seriousness of having a life-threatening food allergy to others without making them feel threatened.  For example, think of how it would feel to be caring for a child with a diagnosis you knew nothing about.  Would you want their caregiver to calmly and carefully walk you through caring for their child or instill in you a fear so great, you feel too immobilized by panic to act?

It is my own personal experience that living in constant fear is really no life at all.  Living in a constant state of awareness and vigilance is absolutely necessary.  Fear doesn’t have to be.  In the beginning of my son’s diagnosis, I was so immobilized by fear that I made myself and those around me sick with worry.  It is not a stage of my journey I recall fondly, yet going through it is what eventually bridged the gap to where I am today.  Almost ten years into our family’s food allergy journey: I am educated (but continuing to learn new things every day), I am responsible, and I rely heavily on my faith.

I don’t have my head stuck in the sand.  I realize it won’t always be a perfect life.  But all of these things combined, give me and my family the peace we need to live a positive, common-sense approach to the daily food allergy life…one day at a time.

Courtesy of FARE

Courtesy of FARE

Here are some of the “Don’t Scare” techniques we employ in my family:

-Literature for kids:  “Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel”  by Stephanie Sorkin is a wonderful picture book for young children learning about food allergies.  It can also be used as a learning tool in peer groups.

Nutley

-Literature for caregivers:  My favorite food allergy book for caregivers of all time is The Food Allergy Experience by Dr. Ruchi Gupta.  It is not a book of here is what you should do and here is what not to do.  It is simply a wonderful compilation of quotes from parents from various places on the food allergy spectrum.  No one is condemned or hailed superior.  It is a way for caregivers to see the many different sides of living with food allergies.  Personally, I found myself in many of the quotes…each at a different stage in my family’s own food allergy journey.  I absolutely love this book!

-Fundraising:  Participating in the annual FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) Walk is tradition for my family and I!  (If you want to support us, click here.)  It began as a way to find camaraderie…to find others that knew the same struggles my family struggled with on a day to day basis.  Then it morphed into a wonderful opportunity to learn about medical and grocery vendors serving the food allergy community.  Now, we walk every single year for the opportunity to meet new friends, find new products and services, and raise money for a cure!  There are FARE Walks happening throughout the year all across the nation.  To find the event nearest you, click here.

-Support Groups:  It is crucial to find credible online and in-person support groups.  Even more important is to find positive and credible support groups.  Case in point, I once joined a local support group thinking it would be just the thing to get me thinking positively.  Do you know that when I left, all I heard was an earful about how hard life would be from this moment forward?  Ugh.  NOT what I was looking for.  Several of my favorite uplifting blogs to follow are:  Mom vs. Food Allergy, Keeley McGuire, and Dr. Ruchi Gupta.

-Thanks:  Thank those around you who work so hard to keep your loved one safe from allergens.  Thank your teachers, nurses, restaurant servers, Sunday School teachers, doctors, allergists, family, and friends for giving of themselves to protect another.

Courtesy of AAFA and KFA

Courtesy of AAFA and KFA

Thank YOU for all you are doing to raise food allergy awareness and serve the food allergy community!  Smile on, friends!