Ok 4 Me 2 Eat friends

So you or your child have food allergies –  they  probably have great friends that are very supportive of their allergies! But, do they have friends that have food allergies or even the “same” food allergies.
What about OK 4 ME 2 EAT friends ?  A way to connect with others who have the same food allergies as you ?  It’s simple -just like OK 4  ME 2 EAT ‘s facebook page, make a comment with your allergies and start communicating with others who have the same food restrictions as you . You never know your new friend could be right around the corner or the globe (even cooler).

Yr 2043 – The future of food allergies

Picture it, year 2043; no, there are still no flying cars and I can not make dinner like Judy Jetson.  One thing has changed though, everything has come full circle – at least as far as #foodallergies are concerned.  As my son’s and their families take me and my husband out for my 73rd birthday; my granddaughter age 5 is wondering why there is nothing with fish or nuts on the menu ?  Well, times have changed, there is so much of the population that have food allergies that the norm is now to have restaurants without any of the common allergens.  You see, instead of  4% of the population having food allergies, now 96% do.

The waiter introduces himself as Buzz and tells us that he has a Bachelor of Science in Food Allergies and tells us how he just graduated from Harvard and is so excited that this is his 1st real job.  Wow, I think when my kids were young and I explained food allergies to the staff at restaurant I just mostly prayed for the best. We ate our delicious meal and even jumped at dessert, no worries for my 42 year old son and daughter in law with tree nut and seafood allergies.  You see in 2043 if you wish to eat something that most of the population is allergic to – you have to eat it at home !

 

 

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

It seems everybody today has something on the menu that they don’t like or want to avoid.  In the late 1980s we started the health kick with eating right and doing step aerobics and pretty soon “please leave the MAYO off the sandwich” became a typical comment at lunch.  As the years have gone by and we have evolved into a health conscience society we have changed our wants and needs into a cleaner, less fatty diet; restaurants serving single serving desserts so that we can’t possibly say no.  Now, in 2012 how many of us are saying no to the bread on the table and why ?

When we see our family, co-workers, and friends tell us that they can’t eat the hot rolls served we all wonder the reason – are they allergic, are they trying to watch their carbohydrates or is it just the in thing to do in this day and age.  So, what is the difference between a true allergy and a food intolerance ?

Food Allergy – affects the immune system, antibodies(also known as Immunoglobulin) is a protein produced by our cells to fight off a “foreign” protein ( the allergen); histamines(chemical our body produced when you are having an allergic reaction) are then released. The result that affects skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or cardiovascular systems – can be life threatening.

Food Intolerance – Does not affect the immune system, some types of intolerance can be pre-treated-such as lactose intolerance, usually damage to the small intestine which affects the absorption of nutrients.  Usually not life threatening.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance can mask themselves in different ways and both can be very painful and/or scary to those experiencing them.  So, next time someone you are with says that they have an allergy or an intolerance to a food it’s ok to ask questions; just remember they are avoiding the food for a reason and respect their choices.

 

 

Sitters and Food Allergies

As I go through my mental list of past and present sitters I have had for my boys over the years one thing truly sticks out CAN THE SITTER EMPATHIZE WITH MY CHILD’S FOOD ALLERGIES ? Have they had any experience with this concept? Maybe their best friend has an allergy, maybe their sister or even closer to home the sitter themselves.

We have been through over a dozen sitters over the last 10 years; some we didn’t like, some who didn’t like us or thought my kids were monsters (mostly the case) and some that my kids just couldn’t bear spending even more than 30 minutes with and the few kids that we all loved but went on to college and never looked back.  As we showed them around the house and got to the part about the food allergies and Epi-pens most teens had the “my buddy has food allergies, I’m cool with it” or “I really don’t know how to use it” comment, I of course did my ‘Food Allergy NInja mom mini session’ and hoped that since the allergen wasn’t in my home all would be well.

Recently though, I hired a young man that actually has a food allergy ( the same as my sons’).  My husband couldn’t quite understand why this made me so happy ? Why, because for the 1st time my son will have a role model that he can relate to concerning something that I know he needs to be vigilant about as these teenage years approach so fast.  Does this mean I don’t have to think twice…no, but I am looking forward to having even a few hours a week of help with someone who gets it!

Waiting for the call….

I was hoping it would get a little easier ; you know-that feeling when your allergic child is at school or camp and you worry!                   Although, at 10 years old and very knowledgeable about his food allergies, Sam still has the power to make me look at my cell phone every 1.5 minutes! 

At school, is it the treat that I was told definetly has NO NUTS or FISH? At a friends house, is it the snack that he eats that is made with anchovies( yes, many foods are made with fish wether they taste like it or not) ? At home, is it the caregiver/sitter watching him that doesn’t realize that he is uncomfortable ?  The problem is at this rate how will I ever put my phone down? How will I ever let go? Maybe I can be the HOUSE MOTHER at his frat house in college – NO, Thanks!

Actually, how have millions of parents and dozens of generations of families ever let there kids out of sight? I suppose there will be accidents, mistakes.  But the key is that I need to educate my child about his food allergies! Maybe even a midterm or pop quiz is necessary.

So maybe instead of worrying so much about when the call will come through that there was an allergic reaction – maybe we should make sure that everyone is prepared with the tools and knowledge they need to keep our kids safe!!

 

Traveling WITHOUT your allergic child

It’s been over 2 weeks that my firstborn, (the one with all the food allergies) has been up at camp, hopefully locked away from all the fish & nuts he can encounter in today’s world of gourmet dining.  Since there are so many other children with food allergies where he is, I am trying to rest easy that he is enjoying the beginning of his summer allergy free.

Meanwhile in the real world, we have just taken our other son, Eddie on a 3 day excursion across the state.  He misses his brother as much as I do and is handling himself pretty well in his temporary job as an only child.  The difference is this vacation, I’m not so freaked out every time we go into a new restaurant or try to decide wether or not we will get ice cream at the cute little shop on the boardwalk.  As Eddie excitedly chooses that decedent ice cream flavor, I am laid back and have not jumped over the counter to ask the nice ice cream scooper if there are “ANY NUTS IN THAT?”.  This is actually a quite refreshing feeling.

I know this opportunity to travel without an allergic child will be minimal for now, I have enjoyed it and hope that all families with food allergies get to let loose and once in a while pick anything off the menu.  But, for when we are traveling with those with food allergies, we can embrace the concept that we lovingly need and want to stay on our toes. Happy Summer!

 

 

Just say No!

Last night we ordered Chinese food from our favorite restaurant. I mentioned that my son is allergic to fish and asked if there was any fish sauce in anything we ordered? We usually always get the same things; but this time the owner said yes, oyster sauce was in 2 of the 5 dishes we got. I of course, ordered a substitute for the General Taos ( as it is one of my son’s favorites). Then, demanded at home he not eat the other meat dish with oyster sauce.
My husband, the calm one, was so frustrated that after all this time, today I would not let Sam have the General Taos’!  While I understood his view, I was going to  set an example and then I proceeded to cry ( which I never usually do) -crying actually worked, my husband saw my FEAR as opposed to my need to control the food we eat to keep Sam away from fish, shellfish and nuts. My kids knew I meant business.
As children with food allergies mature and need to make there own choices regarding what they eat, we definetly need to set standards for them so that they can make the best choices as adults.  While accidents may happen in the comfort of our own home, or with the safety of the Epi-pen in mom’s purse being the easiest of reactions to deal with; the fact is our kids will not always be with us when they are choosing their foods.  We need to train them to be proactive and say NO whether it means they might need to skip that special dish.

Know someone with Food Allergies? Honor them Food Allergy awareness week

The week of May 13-19 is Food Allergy Awareness Week.  Yes, there really is a week for EVERYTHING!  This sounds like the perfect time to learn to avoid certain foods that you may think you couldn’t live without.  For me, even being allergic to Tree Nuts, I would really have a hard time being WHEAT and/or GLUTEN FREE.

Avoiding a food can be done, it might be difficult when eating out, but with the amount of #FOOD ALLERGIES today, we all seem to be squeaking through it.  Try these ideas to help show your support for family and friends with FOOD ALLERGIES; even if it is just for ONE DAY:

* Your nephew can’t eat tree nuts – Order a salad/entree that has nuts and request that the nuts be left out. ( Don’t tell restaurant staff you are allergic, just say you don’t want them today – they go through extra measures to stop cross-contamination)

* Your best friend has been GLUTEN FREE for years( it’s actually helped her) – instead of having that BIG sandwich, order a salad or just eat the meat, cheese and vegetables.

* Your husband is allergic to SHELLFISH – skip the fried shrimp appetizer you might get on girls night out.

* Your daughter has a MILK ALLERGY – skip that Ice cream sundae and order the lemon sorbet instead.

I know it sort of sounds like LENT all over again, but you might be amazed and you WILL certainly make those dealing with food allergies feel special!

 

TOP 10 FOOD Allergy Things:

OK 4 ME 2 EAT’s TOP TEN Food Allergy THINGS:

1.  NUT FREE schools

2. FAAN, KIDS with FOOD ALLERGIES, ALLERGY FREE FOUNDATION, ALLERGY EATS…..

3. TOOTSIE Roll(gluten & NUT FREE)

4. DISNEY WORLD

5. Enjoy LIfe Foods – boom bars & chocolate chips especially

6.  Cherrybrook Kitchens bake mixes

7.  CANADA ( great food allergy regulations)

8.   Kosher foods – dairy/vs non dairy

9.    CHIPOTLE mexican -no nuts or fish

10 . DIVVIES baked goods……

Send us your favorites !

 

Food Allergies meet Holiday Food traditions

As Passover, Easter and soon Ramadan approach we are suddenly in the midst of changing our eating habits.  For Passover, we eat unleavened bread or matzo for 8 days, for Easter we have given up something for Lent and for Ramadan we will eat only before and after sundown.

Each of these traditions will affect our bodies in positive and negative ways.  Giving up something for Lent that isn’t so great for us,like RED MEAT or sweets can certainly help cleanse our bodies. Having no bread/rice/noodles,etc  for Passover is a joyous and well taken tradition for those who are GLUTEN FREE.  Eating only when it is dark at Ramadan will certainly make us eat less.  But, certain traditions can affect other food allergies or intolerances in negative ways.  Those celebrating PASSOVER who have EGG, NUT or FISH allergies might find less to eat at their holiday Seders; you wouldn’t believe all the passover cookies(pre made) in stores that they are made with NUT MEAL- we must be aware of these changes.  In addition, the Lent season brings more FISH in the fryers at restaurants- those allergic to FISH and eating out should take this in consideration.  Of course, we must not forget at any holiday/family get together we never know what can be put in the meal as a substitute, we can remind the host/hostess of our ALLERGY; yet bringing our own dish we know is safe is always the best choice.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this SPRING or in the coming months, remember IT is really about being with family and remembering what our ancestors endured in the past. Enjoy and watch for hidden allergens!