Oral allergy syndrome – that explains it !

While it’s no surprise that someone you know has Food Allergies , the question is the severity ? Children have been diagnosed with food allergies for decades now – some so severe that eating one bit can kill them. Others get itchy throats, hives and/or vomit and we have been trained by doctors to carry our epinephrine just in case..the reactions  getting more severe each time.

Yet, it’s not a new bit of information that humans have been eating things for years and having moments where they are thinking ” this just isn’t right, I’m not going to each these peaches, (for example) if they make my mouth feel weird and itchy.”So, we have gone on with our days uncomfortable and just learned to say “no thanks” when the offending food is offered to us.

My husband who has had food allergies as a child; (I saw his allergist report from 1969), just goes about his day with whatever discomfort he feels.  I remember the day on one of our first dates when he said ” No, thanks I try not to eat pineapple it makes my tongue itch – unless it’s covered in chocolate”. That was the first time anyone every described a food sensitivity and I was right there along for the ride with ” Me too – but I don’t even want the chocolate on it !” It wasn’t till after I got engaged I came out with the Balsamic Vinegar dressing issue ; which happens to be due to the mold in the vinegar and my intense mold allergy**.  Thank goodness for chewing gum and little mints which seemed to be a somewhat useful remedy.

Now 15 years later, 11 years after hours of research, surfing the web and getting a food allergy training “certification”; the world is crying out ” I have Oral Allergy Syndrome”- it actually is real and there are pages of  information on the internet.  So maybe I am not severely allergic to walnuts, but I am NOT  going to eat them due to the fact that I can’t feel my mouth for 30 min afterward.

Below is a link to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, please click on it to learn more about OAS(Oral Allergy Syndrome).  Also, please continue to carry your epinephrine if prescribed and see an allergist if you feel you have any of these issues.  While there is no doubt that the world’s food supply has been altered throughout the years it doesn’t mean that Cleopatra and George Washington didn’t get itchy mouths occasionally – they just didn’t want to complain about it !


Helpful tips/finds for food allergies

Whether you are a new food allergy parent or just figuring out as an adult that you might be allergic to something, here are some items/tips you might want to consider that will be helpful in your journeys :

* allergic to milk/ dairy – a brand called “#Tofutti ” has some great products

* trying to avoid gluten/wheat – be aware that items like NUTS could be in many of the ingredients

* have multiple food allergies – go to chain type restaurants; their menus are published with allergens and their staff is USUALLY trained

* for safe quick snacks to send to school for the parent that doesn’t have loads of time – “#Enjoy Life” foods has many options

* want to have a special treat for someone with food allergies that looks great and carries well – “#Divvies”

* some things are obvious as far as allergies go – but, salad dressings, soups, salsa, and cold salads could have hidden allergens like milk, fish, egg and/or nuts.

* a candy brand that is made in a nut free facility – “#Tootsie Roll” , they also make “#junior mints”

* keep your epinephrine and benedryl tablets together by attaching blister card with pill to Epinephrine case.

* to keep babysitters and grandparents aware and make it simple put any offending allergens you may have for yourself way up high and label them Not safe !

* keep up on the latest in allergy news and new products by visiting “FARE- food allergy research & education “

Getting Big Business involved with Food Allergies

For over 11 years I have been trying to figure out what would make our lives a little bit easier regarding caring for a child with food allergies.  We as parents have done everything at the first diagnosis from reading every Food allergy website, purchasing food allergy books for our kids, ordering special cakes and cookies from great local bakeries, carrying around unlimited amounts of antihistamine and epinephrine.

As I look around my beautiful home which I am so thankful for, what I see mostly is my children’s possessions; toys they love so much, stuffed animals they will not give up and it has finally dawned on me that these “toys” our children adore, these television shows they request to watch so often – they are products of large, multimillion dollar corporations that without our support and patronage would not exist.  So here is what I need now – I need you (Big Business) to produce a product that I, as an food allergy parent can procure easily !  I need a ready to bake/frozen NUT free cookie in my grocers freezer !  I will bet it can be done – at least 15 wonderful folks are baking items night and day in their homes, in their tiny facilities, with small amounts of help from banks and startup programs.  Some small business activists may find this offensive that I am asking to run out entrepreneurs, but don’t forget #food allergies are expensive; with parents spending at least $25 billion dollars a year* to keep our children safe and not feeling left out at school events and birthday parties.

The food business is hard, not pulling in tons of profit and the liability for this sort of item could be very high – I know I have a B.S. in Food Economics. May I remind you I have paid $7 for a cookie so my child would not feel left out.  There are endless amounts of qualified people to assist and fortify a business in this arena; most of whom right now are baking products in their own kitchens under cottage laws selling locally. So I am asking those that head up large corporations, especially ones related to children’s products to start cooking. We might be able to make a working parent’s life easier caring for her allergic child and I bet you will at some point profit.


*LA times, Karen Kaplan- Sept 16, 2013

Food Allergy 101…..

It’s your first day home from the doctor’s office and you just found out your child is allergic to a specific food or even more interesting – multiple foods.

Where do you start ?

Well, here are some tips*:

1.- If your doctor prescribes an Epipen(epinephrine auto-injector) get it filled at the pharmacy right away.

Also, make sure you have an antihistamine( ie, Benadryl). More importantly make sure you have asked

when and how to use them and to get new ones when they expire!!

2.– Move all the offending allergens away from your child’s reach, or even better, remove them from your home.

3. Do your research; go online to the resources your doctor gave you….FAAN ( Food Allergy Anaphlaxis Network) www.foodallergy.org


Food Allergy Initiative www.faiusa.org or Kids with Food Allergies www.kidswithfoodallergies.org.

These resources are great and where you will learn most of your information!

4.- Go shopping for substitutes for the foods that are allergic (this information is also available online with the websites listed above).

5.– Write it down, make an informational list for grandparents, caregivers, friends along with your emergency phone #s, etc

….and remember there is an entire food allergy community out there to help you ! 🙂


*Disclaimer – This is not medical advice, please talk to your doctor, OK 4 ME 2 EAT, My Food Allergies is not responsible for any allergic reactions, etc.



Hardest job in the world plus food allergies

No matter how much we prepare; all the diapers, all the organizing, even all the babysitting we have done in the past we are never truly prepared to be a mom. We also never realized how much we would fall in love !

We ask ourselves how will we ever get this sweet baby through the day, keep them content, not loose our cool and still have the energy to give our helpful 21st century husbands a hug or kiss ? It gets done, it works out – baby steps.  So here you are 3 days in; the nursing was a flop; failed that. Now your kid is telling you the formula isn’t working -he is allergic to milk ? Oh, I get it – he has food allergies – Ok no problem, SOY it is then !

When I look back at the challenge of a food allergic child and consider what we have conquered and learned over the years it really has been quite simple in the beginning; your baby is allergic to MILK- you keep it away or if breastfeed, mom stops eating it. As a toddler, you might find out there is an EGG allergy and once again you are still in charge.  By 3 or 4 years you might find out your family has been chosen to have the PEANUT or TREE NUT allergy and we vigilantly alert the media and all those dealing with the child to never give a NUT to our kid – no matter what.  Even at 6 years when your child decides he loves SHRIMP – but it doesn’t love him, you arm yourself, your school and home with Benedryl, Epinephrine and medical bracelets and Allergy action plans. You are a great parent and these are the simple times when YOU WILL BE IN CHARGE of what your child eats.  As the years move forward and your child is not glued to your hip and is becoming a young adult; this is where the major stress comes in. This is when, we as parents need to take everything that we have learned, add a dash of medical and/or psychological assistance  and begin to put those skills in our child’s mind and hope that they make smart choices about what they will consume.

Interested in a cruise with a food allergy?

Cruise ships and food allergies,now here is something I can say I’ve earned my stripes in. When you were watching the Love Boat in 1975, I was on it -my first cruise at 5 years old and almost every 3 years after. Every evening required a dress or suit and our waiters – they were awesome, there was such great attention given to each guest, this continued to be the case even into the 21st century when I had my own kids and now required special diets. Just let the cruise ship know and your meals will be specially made to avoid cross contamination – which you do not want in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
As expected Disney ships were great and should be as they cater to little ones. As the years move on and children become more sophisticated a slight change is needed.
This time we tried NCL, we sent in our dietary requests and received a positive reply promptly. This new cruise we choose though had a twist; it was FREESTYLE cruising – which meant you could go to dinner when ever you wanted, at whichever venue you choose(some at add $) and not strangled in a suit and tie almost every night – a definite plus for the preteen boys ! Angelique, the ships special diet coordinator was fantastic – she was our link to the kitchen and made sure everything my son ordered didn’t contain his allergens. The only bump in the road or wave in the ocean I should say was the BUFFET….yes they still have them, although they are all day long and are no longer at midnight. At. the buffet- Angelique was nowhere within 3 decks and my son was eying every pastry he could see while looking for his allergy princess to tell him it was ‘ok 4 him to eat ‘. After flagging down what seemed like a chef and what was an English speaking crew member, we got our answer – needless to say this was the only pastry we had all week.
All in all it really proved to be a fabulous experience and went much smoother than it would have hoping from destination to destination without our moving hotel. Is freestyle cruising right for everyone ? Maybe not, yet you can really make it as freestyle as you choose .
Oh and one more thing – there was NO baked Alaska presentation ( we went to Alaska !)

Taking on our child’s food allergies

Your child has been newly diagnosed with a serious allergy to fish and shellfish; obviously you keep them away from the offending allergen, but what about you ? Do you still have the desire to eat this food that may be life threatening to your child?
For over 6 years, ever since by son was diagnosed with his Seafood allergy I have never put anything that swam in a lake or ocean in my mouth. My husband thinks I’m crazy and I kind of don’t blame him. What is it about me eating seafood that rocks my nerves – I mean I don’t even eat it when I am on vacation 300 miles away from my child.
I have friends that the minute they are away from their allergic child they can’t stop eating the peanut brittle that their child will get severely sick from. I admire them for this; they have not gotten trapped into the world that I seemed to have found and am existing in. I have been told professionally that this is very normal and over the years my anxiety about this will subside, yet for now being in my child’s world is fine for me. www.foodallery.org

“Allergy moms” defined

We call ourselves Allergy Moms to connect and find other parents who are dealing with the issues of worrying about what our kids eat everyday. Yet, do we really want to be defined as Allergy Mom and seen for only that ? No way ! We are so much more, just as Single Moms, Working Moms, Moms of Special Needs children, and every other mom in the world wants to be known. The fact is that most of our labels as moms overlap – Kudos out there to the Single, Working, Special needs mom with Food allergies – Wow, you are amazing! We know you are pooped and stressed and we hope that somewhere in there you can get a mani-pedi and a massage ( if you can find the time ).  The point is that we are all just there to love our children and it is our job to worry about them, whether it’s what they eat, how happy they are everyday and get to enjoy life, or how they may wear a house key around their neck and come home alone after school. Please let’s not forget Dads – especially this week , it’s MOM or DADs defined.  There are other labels that parents may have, Room MOM, Soccer MOM, super baseball coach DAD, yes you can have a label too – in fact we could all make a list of what we do and how we can define ourselves. Here is mine: Wife mom, soccer mom, food allergy mom, Room mom, Sandwich generation mom( mom with young kids and aging parents that require help), bad cook mom; the fact is we all have something that we see as most defining in our lives – some may require extra vigilance, while some may require a class of chardonnay ( drink responsively please ).

Interview with the allergic chef

Those of us in the Food Allergy community can’t  wait to read stories about other folks with food allergies, but what is really interesting is to read a story about a chef at a really cool restaurant who has food allergies!  About one week ago  we were at one of my favorite spots “Vinsetta Garage” in Berkley, Mi; I asked the server if there was any fish in a sauce they served, I was told “let me check, our chef has food allergies too, so we are always really careful. ” I was so excited and I asked for Chef Aaron’s card; he was right there, he introduced himself to us and agreed to answer some questions at a better time in his busy schedule. The following is an interview with Chef Aaron from Vinsetta Garage:

Leslie: You have food allergies, what is it that you are allergic to ?

Chef: I have had an allergy to peanuts and tree nuts since I was a baby, my mother found out the hard way when she feed me a boiled peanut and the side of my face swelled up.  I made it through with only a few accidental run-ins with peanuts. When I was a teenager I developed an allergy to fin fish, now I have a reaction to nearly all regular fish. It’s been a touch and go process of finding out if I can have a new fish without a reaction; it’s always an adventure.

Leslie: Did you always want to be a chef knowing that you could create a safe menu/environment for those with food allergies?

Chef: Various things contributed to my decision to become a chef, but the  way we handle allergies in my kitchens is just a natural extension of the way my world is. There are certain things that I can’t touch or taste and I work around those foods. Peanuts are kept in their own special area of my kitchen and I use separate spatulas for fish and a special set of tongs for shrimp. Early on, I realized that this is the same care that we need to take with an allergy so we have strict polices regarding allergies. Our waitstaff always asks our kitchen when an allergy question is raised no matter what they think the answer might be. We also have bright red indicators on the tickets for an allergy that lets the kitchen know that a certain item can’t be anywhere near the dish being prepared.  When my mother was diagnosed with a gluten allergy it inspired me to make an entirely separate gluten free menu for the Woodshop(another restaurant in the group) so that people with such a tricky allergy can see the entire menu as they can eat it. We recently won an award for our gluten free menu at the Woodshop. I have a gluten free menu for Vinsetta that we will be printing soon and in the meantime there is a huge selection including meatballs made with oats instead of breadcrumbs, gluten free pizza dough and gluten free buns for burgers and dogs. 

Leslie : When you dine out, (when you have time), how do you handle your food allergies, do you inform the waitstaff ?

Chef: As a chef, I tend to know when an item may have the kind of things that I’m allergic to, it’s not often that there is salmon hiding in a steak dish.  However, I do always mention my nut allergy as there are oils and things than can be used that may not be apparent on the menu. I also ask about fish stock whenever I order any type of seafood, just to be safe – I’ve had to change that order a few times.

Leslie: Do you have any long term plans for helping the restaurant industry deal with food allergies and create safe practices ?

Chef: I hope that our influence is changing the way other people treat food allergies.  I try to make sure our joints are always moving the industry forward. There are lots of ideas that we throw out there that others pick up on and use in their places. I hope that putting out as many vegan and vegetarian options that Vinsetta has to offer or the dedicated Gluten Free menu at the Woodshop pushes other places to rethink what they offer and how they offer it.

Leslie : What advice do you have for those that need some extra comfort in dining out safely ?

Chef: Well, bring your Epi-pen and MAKE YOUR ALLERGY CLEAR TO THE SERVER when you order.  Tell them the severity of your allergy and make sure they are communicating it with the kitchen – because that is ultimately who will be handling your food .

Thank you Chef Aaron from Vinsetta Garage in Berkley Mi and the Union Woodshop in Clarkston Mi or visit www.unionwoodshop.com

Telling your allergic child about allergy related deaths

This last week we have been reading the tragic stories of 2 teens who have lost their lives to a food allergy.  A young man, 19 yrs old in Plymouth, Mass and a young girl 12 years old in Canada.  It has been up till now that I have been discussing these terrible events with only my husband or an occasional friend.  Sometimes, I don’t even wish to talk about food allergies, just let the stories go round and round in my mind deciding the best time to bring up the consequences of an accidental ingestion with my pre-teen.

This morning over a quiet breakfast with my allergic child I asked him if he was up for a serious conversation ? He responded “sure” and was worried that something was wrong in our family, ” Everything is fine  – mom just wants to chat about some precautions about your food allergies” I said. ” I figured this talk was coming soon”, he said.  I proceeded to tell my 11 year old,who is allergic to seafood and tree nuts, that in the last week two teens have passed away due to severe allergic reactions.  He was so concerned about them and their families and told me he never thought of actually dying from a reaction.  I reminded him that many people have had severe reactions and been just fine; but the key is that they were prepared and got treatment right away. “That is why it is so so important to carry your Epinephrine injector and antihistamine with you ! ” , I looked deeply into his eyes and held his hand while I said  “even if it seems like a pain or you hate having it in your pocket”.   We talked further about as he goes off with friends for outings that he needs to tell the server at the restaurant what he is allergic to; we concluded that it was embarassing to him to always mention the allergy, but remember if you eat your allergen it will make you sick and you need to PROTECT yourself !

As our very serious conversation was winding down, he profoundly mentioned how his generation will soon be adults and there are so many other people with food allergies that society will need to make accommodations for those with food allergies so we can be safe and keep the world evolving.  ” I’m very proud of you, thanks for being such a great kid”  I replied.