Update on Food Allergic Reaction Yesterday

 

Many of my reader’s saw my post yesterday on my Facebook page about our son’s recent food allergic reaction.  This past Tuesday night I made a new vegan type of soba noodles for our family as a side dish.  The label read “vegan” and the only allergens on the ingredient label were “soy and wheat.”  Our youngest son Christopher ate his entire bowl of Soba noodles and 10 minutes after dinner he said to my husband and I that his stomach was really itchy.  My husband and I believe there were most likely trace amounts of eggs and/or dairy in the new product I had just cooked.  There is really no way to tell however and I’m researching 3rd party companies to test the ingredients of the noodles that were consumed.

We lifted up his shirt and he was LITERALLY covered in hives on his stomach and back.  I’ve never seen so many hives on a little guy!  What was strange about this reaction was that is was just topical hives.  In the past, when Christopher has accidentally been exposed to eggs or dairy he has unfortunately experienced more serious anaphylactic symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, itchy/scratchy throat, etc.  Not to discount all of these hives but as an asthmatic it was clear that he was not having any breathing difficulties and we treated immediately with 25mg of Benadryl.  We continued to monitor Christopher throughout the night, and although it took about 5 hours for the hives to dissipate, thankfully he was not showing any signs of anaphylactic shock.  In addition to the Benadryl every 6 hours I also had so Prednisone on hand and I gave him 10mL of that in addition to half of an adult dosage of Zantac which also acts as a histamine blocker.

After a long night, Wednesday morning arrived and Christopher seemed to be in the clear.  He was receiving dosages of Benadryl every 6 hours and I had consulted not only a nurse on staff at U of M where is treated specifically for food allergy, but also his local pediatrician.  At about 9am yesterday the hives started reappearing FULL force over the course of 2 hours and at that point we made the decision to drive him to the hospital.  I just want to stress that he was not showing any signs/symptoms of anaphylactic shock.  We decided to take him to the ER because we couldn’t get an appointment with his pediatrician until 4:15pm and we were concerned that the Benadryl was not property controlling the histamines.  We feared that the hives may eventually lead to additional symptoms such as pulmonary and other anaphylactic symptoms.  On the way to the hospital I spoke to my friend on the phone who was an ER doc and he suggested we administer the Epi-pen which we did prior to reaching the ER.

I believe the details of this experience are critical in helping others understand how to properly react during an allergic reaction, hence the long length of this blog post.  And again, this reaction was completely different from all others before.  Upon arriving at the ER we were taken back to a room almost right away given the nature of having administered Epi-Pen.  At the ER Christopher was given 50mg of Prednisone, 25 mg of Benadryl, and Zantac (1/2 adult dosage I think 10mg)…his vitals were good and he did not need an IV.  Christopher was an amazing trooper and a BRAVE little boy despite his discomfort.  After being in the ER for about 20 minutes his hives began swelling all over his face again (right eye started to swell up a bit), hives on back, chest, arms, buttocks, legs, etc. began to get worse.  After consult again with ER doc we decided to administer another Epi-Pen.  Our AMAZING nurse administered the Epinephrine through a syringe and Christopher said it “wasn’t as bad as the Epi-Pen.”  He was really in good spirits.

The 2nd dosage of Epi decreased the topical symptoms and swelling and we were discharged from the hospital after about 4 hours since his symptoms were under control and we live less than 2 miles from the hospital.  Needless to say, about 2 hours post-discharge hives began to appear again but not like before.  Our ER doc who was wonderful as well stated that we should expect the hives to come and go on and off for days…closely monitor him and continue prednisone, Benadryl and Zantac to taper drugs off for the next 3 days.

Last night was another long night as Christopher was covered in itchy red bumps, some of which were swollen, and others were just dots on his body and face.  Poor little guy.  Cortisone didn’t really help with the itchiness unfortunately.  We’re now on day three of the reaction and he’s in good spirits and I would imagine today will be more of the same…onset of hives followed by them coming and going as his body continues to flush out the histamines.

Anyhow, the last 2 days have been a whirlwind of emotions for us as parents and for both of our little boys.  Christopher has been such a brave little boy and so tough and strong!  I’m so impressed with his positive attitude through this entire ordeal and his eloquence during such a scary situation.

I’ll continue to post updates on my Facebook page as the days continue….I apologize for the rambling and any possible typos in this post as I rushed to get this post out in between caring for our little guy.   Additionally, I placed a complaint with the FDA regarding the product I fed the boys for the possibility of undeclared allergens…the verdict is still out on this until we receive the results of the chemical tests of the product.  I didn’t want to mention the name of the manufacturer of the product that I believe caused the allergic reaction until more facts are discovered relating to the ingredients.  Furthermore, I do want to state there is always the possibility that Christopher is allergic to another ingredient in the noodles that we have not been aware of.  Ie. perhaps he developed or has a new allergy that we do not know about…

Vegan Hot Cocoa – Perfect for this Time of Year

hot cocoa

It’s snowy and cold here in Northern Michigan.  Today is the first day of our downhill ski season  and I thought it would be timely to post my delicious hot cocoa recipe.  Many children that ski often look forward to hot cocoa breaks in the lodge to warm up from being out in the elements.  Obviously, our boys cannot drink the hot cocoa from the vending machine in the cafeteria since it contains “milk” as one of the main ingredients. 

Over the years I have been making my own dairy free version of powdered hot cocoa mix.  I make several individual servings for my boys to use throughout the ski season. They simply put the zip lock baggie in one of their ski jacket pockets, add hot water from the cafeteria “hot water” machine, stir, and they are the happiest kids in the lodge.  It’s creamy, warm and delicious!

Promoting Ways to Live a Healthly Lifestyle in Rural America
Small Town Allergy Mom™

 

Here’s my recipe which has taken a few years to really perfect:

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Mix

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hersey’s)

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. powdered soy milk (I use Better Than Milk Vanilla Soy Powder purchased in bulk from amazon.com- it’s the creamiest!)

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients together with a wire whisk in a bowl.  I will often double or even triple the recipe making a huge batch that I store in an air tight container for the winter.  I will then scoop about 3 Tablespoons of the mix into several small ziplock bags for my boys to take skiing each day.  It stores well and is easy for them to grab out of the pantry in individual servings.

You can also add dehydrated or mini marshmallows to the individual baggies.  I usually add these since my boys love marshmallows with their hot cocoa like most children.

Just add hot water to the mix, stir and enjoy!  This powdered hot cocoa is not only Dairy Free but it’s creamy and delicious as well!  Not to mention, easy to take on the go whether it’s skiing, sledding or ice skating!

 

Safe Halloween Candy List

Halloween Picture

Well it’s that time of year where people start asking me for a comprehensive “Allergen-Friendly” Halloween List.  Over the years my list has grown quite a bit which is amazing for parents with children that have multiple food allergies.  There are so many wonderful options nowadays that we can buy for our children and ensure they will have an amazing SAFE Halloween!  Please Note: ALWAYS check ingredients!  This list is only meant to be used as a guide.

Additionally, if you are supporting FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this year as we always do, please have a several non-candy treat items for children that may not be able to have candy at all.  Typically, I have a bowl of pencils, erasers, stickers, temporary tattoos, small toys, etc.  These can all be purchased at your local dollar store.

ENJOY!  ~Erika

  • DIVVIES Chocolates
  • Amanda’s Own Confections
  • No Whey Chocolate
  • Enjoy Life chocolate bars
  • Peeps (some flavors have “Milk” double check ingredients)
  • Swedish Fish
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Surf Sweets Natural Gummies & Jelly Beans
  • Starburst Tropical Candy Corn (the only candy corn brand I have found to be egg-free)
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Smarties
  • Lifesaver Gummies
  • Sour Patch Kids (most varieties I believe)
  • Dum Dum Lollipops
  • Hot Tamales
  • Starburst fruit chews, lollipops, & jelly beans
  • Jolly Rancher hard candy (lollipops are made on shared equipment so I do not purchase them)
  • Kraft Marshmallows (and most marshmallow brands)
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles (most flavors I believe)
  • PASCHA Chocolate bars
  • Airheads (most flavors)
  • Pez

ALDI is Rivaling U.S. Grocery Store Chains with Low Cost Organic and Allergy Friendly Foods

 

aldi-corporate-2

Last year I authored a post about how I started shopping at the German-owned grocery chain ALDI and how I absolutely LOVE IT!  ALDI is one of my favorite stores to grocery shop at because it offers many low cost organic produce options.  They also have a corporate policy to sell foods that do not contain certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG from all its private-label products, pesticides, synthetics, and hormones.   ALDI  is constantly increasing their line of Gluten Free Foods, which are private labeled under the Live G free name to keep costs low.  Many of the Live G free foods are also free from many Allergens!  And I might add- DELICIOUS!

aldis

I have spoken to many of my friends about the benefits of shopping here and unfortunately the buzz I have received on the street is that many people think it’s a “low-income” type grocery store.  They are just not informed about the many wonderful products this store sells and the fancier foods they carry to compete with the consumers that frequent Whole Foods.  They now carry higher end specialty products such as artisanal cheeses, quinoa, coconut oil, and smoked salmon according to a Business Insider article.

In a recent press release from ALDI corporate, the Vice President of their Saxonburg Division stated, “ALDI has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,” said Hart.

ALDI is currently in the midst of a huge expansion plan in the United states.  By the end of 2018, it will bring fresh and high quality groceries to more than 45 million customers each month.  To reach its aggressive goals, ALDI will create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses, and division offices in the United States alone!  Once this $3 billion expansion is complete,  ALDI will have nearly 2,000 stores marking close to a 50% increase in only five short years!

ALDI has taken away market share from popular grocery store chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods in the U.S.  They are able to continue to keep their costs low by offering consumers low pricing by limiting inventory to a lean selection of private-label items.  Whereas, traditional supermarkets  typically carry several different brands of a single product.  ALDI also invests far less in customer service and merchandising than traditional grocers.  Most of the store’s grocery items are placed in their shipping cartons to keep restocking quick and easy.  Consumers must pay a quarter ($0.25) deposit for a grocery cart (which you get back when you return the cart), bag your own groceries, and either bring your own grocery bags, or purchase bags they have for sale.

I certainly don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to bag my own groceries if it means heathy LOW COST organic foods free from chemicals for my family at a cheaper price!

If you haven’t shopped at an ALDI yet you are definitely missing out!  I encourage you to try it.  Here is a picture of many of the allergen-friendly products our family loves from ALDI’s:

290

In addition the products above my family also loves these allergy-friendly products from ALDI: pickles, many cereal varieties, hormone free turkey and ham lunch meat, all kids of fresh organic produce, whole wheat bagels and bread, jam, many varieties of Clancy’s chip products, coffee, organic spiral ham during the holidays, frozen wild mussels, canned albacore tuna fish, German red and white sauerkraut, hormone free maple bacon, frozen chicken fingers.  I like these paper products too: quart sized zip lock baggies, aluminum foil, paper plates, ultra strong paper towel and toilet paper.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

~Erika

 

 

Please Help Support FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween

 

teal-pumpkin

With everyone into the full swing of fall and Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to post about FARE’s very successful Teal Pumpkin Project.  FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) launched this successful campaign a few years ago and it has taken off across the country to bring awareness about food allergies and this growing epidemic.  Additionally, it advocates for a safe Halloween for children that have food allergies by encouraging homeowners to offer safe non-candy alternatives on Halloween.

In year’s past, my boys and I have painted a few pumpkins teal and set them on our porch to let trick-or-treaters know that we have safe “non-candy” options for children that have food allergies.  We are excited to paint our pumpkins this year as well!  Additionally, you can print a picture of a teal pumpkin from the FARE website and hang in in your window to notify trick-or-treaters that you are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

This year FARE has partnered with Michael’s craft store which is selling teal paint for your pumpkins and CVS Pharmacy also has accessories to decorate your home with teal pumpkins.  This is an amazing campaign and I hope you will support food allergy awareness and place a teal pumpkin on your front porch on Halloween.  Thank you for your continued support of this AMAZING campaign that helps to make kids with food allergies feel included and most importantly enjoy a SAFE Halloween!

Please click on this link to print your paper teal pumpkins and learn more about this project at FARE:

https://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

Print

~Erika

The Anxiety of Raising Kids with Food Allergies

stress-ballstress-relax

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary ANXIETY  anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\

is a noun and the simple definition is “fear or nervousness about what may happen.” 

In our hectic modern-day society parents are extremely busy multitasking from day to day and trying to fulfill work, school, extracurricular and social schedules.  How do we fit everything into just 24 hours a day?  Simply raising children that do not have any health problems or disabilities can be a challenge for most parents throughout the world.  After all, we all want our children to grow up and become successful contributors of society, don’t we???

This raises an important point about how to deal with the anxiety of raising a child or children with food allergies and how to properly manage this day-to-day worry?  My boys CAN DIE if they ingest only a trace amount of dairy, nuts or eggs!  Do I have anxiety that relates to caring for our children?  HECK YES I DO!   

I’m by no means a medical clinician, but I am a MOM and I have had to learn how to cope with my constant worry about my children’s health and safety for over 8 1/2 years now.

People deal with anxiety in many different ways, from not acknowledging it may exist, to proactively managing it by either exercise, meditation, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, food, yoga, etc…to each is his/her own.  The point I’m trying to convey in this post is that as common as it is to have anxiety from caring for a child or loved one with life-threatening food allergies, it is also just as important to (1) Acknowledge you do worry and (2) Learn how to deal with it in a way that works best for you.

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember.  I competed as a ski racer for the better part of my life, and competed in golf and tennis throughout my youth and still enjoy these activities today.  For many summers in my mid 30’s I trained hard and raced in many triathlons.  I love the dedication it takes to train really hard and reach your performance goals!  It’s simply in my DNA to be a competitor.  Most of my family members competed at high levels during one point in their lives.

Whether I’m mountain biking or trail running with our dog Scout, these activities have helped me to manage my anxiety in a positive way, and in general, become a better mother to our two food allergic boys and a better wife to my husband.  I’m a busy body and could not properly function without exercise being a huge part of my daily life!

I often wonder what works for other parents that are caring for anaphylactic children?  How do you manage your anxiety?  If you have food allergies yourself, how do you manage the stress?

During the better part of my 20’s I was an avid Yoga-junky!  For some reason, I got away from regular yoga for about a decade or so.  I have had lots of athletic-related injuries, and not to make an excuse, but it just got away from me.

Last Saturday, my husband took it upon himself to sign me up for a local yoga class online.  He said to me, “You’re going and you’ll really enjoy it.”  I’m so fortunate that my husband listens to me, as I had been complaining for a few weeks about how I needed to get back into yoga but just couldn’t find the time…blah…blah…blah…excuses!

By Jason signing me up for that class I am now completely hooked again!  I love everything about it from “centering,” to working on perfecting my alignment with different poses, focusing, meditating, strengthening, and working on me and my mental health!  I might add, I was literally dripping in sweat for the ENTIRE hour and a half class!  Thank you Tiffany — by the way!  Yoga for me is a nice supplement to all of the other athletic activities I enjoy regularly!  Besides, let’s face it, I’m NOT getting any younger and need to invest in such practices for my physical well-being and my sanity in general!

I understand that exercise and yoga are not for everyone.  (ie. I still play the piano from time to time and I obviously love to cook!)

Whatever you may do to manage your anxiety as a person with food allergies, a caregiver of someone with food allergies or none of the above, it’s important to find what works best for you.  It may be a combination of things.  Please do yourself a favor and take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for yourself and for your loved ones!

Namaste

~Erika

yoga-2

 

Back to School With Life Threatening Food Allergies

back-to-school

This is an excellent article in our local paper regarding food allergies and how to manage them in schools locally.  Thank you Jillian Fellows for taking the time to interview me for this piece & Petoskey News Review for covering this important topic and helping to gain awareness locally!

http://www.petoskeynews.com/featured-pnr/back-to-school-with-life-threatening-allergies/article_5c9c4c52-6ffa-56ca-85d6-c842cf1d68fe.html

 

School Safe Snack List

Labels must be read every time since processing and ingredients can change at any time. Please check for tree nuts & peanuts. Also, see any allergen warning for “may contain” or “made on/processed on the same equipment as” or “processed in the same manufacturing facility as…”

Suggested Safe Snacks:

  • Fruits & Vegetables are highly encouraged (no cream dips/peanut butter)
    • Also, Sunmaid  & Meijer Brand Raisins & Most apple sauce containers including GoGo Squeez
  • Meijer Brand Naturals Baked Sea Salt natural pita crackers;
  • Silk Soy Yogurt (blueberry & strawberry)—ALWAYS read this label as several Silk Soy Yogurt flavors are processed on the same equipment as almonds!
  • Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers or Spartan Brand Honey Graham Crackers
  • Nabisco Whole Grain Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco Low Sodium Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco “Original” Wheat Thins (Whole Grain) Crackers
  • Triscuit Original Whole Grain Wheat Crackers
  • Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat, Crispy Wheat, Organic Satines & Organic Stoneground Wheat Crackers
  • Glutino Brand Pretzels, Gold Pretzels, GFS Pretzels
  • Keebler CLUB crackers
  • Ritz Crackers (no sandwiches)
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips and Multi Grain Pita Chips
  • Sabre Original Hummus, Tribe Organic Roasted Garlic Hummus, Meijer Original Hummus
  • Whole Grain Cheerios (not honey nut)
  • Rice Chex
  • I.M. Healthy Original Creamy Soynut Butter (peanut free) & Safe 4School WOW Butter
  • Sunbutter & “Sneaky Chef” No Nut Butter
  • Pringles The Original
  • Live G Free (Aldie’s brand) pretzels
  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
  • All Enjoy Life products
  • Lotus Biscoff Spread Smooth and Crunchy
  • Lundberg Brown Rive Organic Rice Cakes (Grain Train & Walmart)
  • Most brands of Tortilla Chips- Always check the labels as many contain “Nuts”
  • Most brands of salsa
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Oatmeal Raisin Chewy Granola Bars
  • Most Oreo Cookies are safe (read label)

Common UNSAFE FOODS (please avoid):

  • Most granola bars contain nuts
  • Luna Bars & many protein bars
  • Most Candy Bars contain nuts (M & M’s also)
  • Trail Mix
  • Hostess Snacks and most processed cookies/sweet snacks

Food Allergy Letter Home to Classmate’s Parents Before School Starts

I have had a few recent requests for my “Letter Home to Classmate’s Parents.”  I recommend you edit this template to meet you child’s needs best.  Also, I recommend sending it to the principal/officer manager for editing and then have the final letter sent home to the parents of the students in your child’s class.  This letter should be from your school principal, not the parent of the food-allergic child.  Also, I don’t think it is a good idea to name your child in the letter.  Even though my oldest son has life-threatening food allergies to DAIRY, EGGS, PEANUTS, & TREE NUTS it wouldn’t be fair to the other students and too hard to enforce a classroom free of all of the above.  Nut oil lingers on surfaces and therefore a nut-free classroom is the best option.  We have taught our boys to be responsible for their food allergies and to always be diligent about proper hand washing, reading labels, etc.

Oh, and keep the letter to one front page…if it is too long and wordy parents won’t read it!  Believe me, some parents never read this unfortunately.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this letter.

~Erika

Letter Template:

August __, 2016

Dear (School Name) Second Grade Parents,

Your child has a classmate this year that has life-threatening anaphylactic food allergies to: all dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.  We want to inform you a little about food allergies to ensure a safe and healthy school year for everyone.

Over 14 million Americans have food allergies which affects 1 in every 13 children (under age 18) or roughly 2 students in every U.S. classroom! Allergic reactions can be life-threatening, and in rare cases deadly. While emergency treatment is available for allergic reactions, there is no cure yet. The only treatment for food allergies is strict avoidance of allergens. Sometimes a small amount of allergen can cause a deadly reaction.

Benadryl and an Epi-Pen will be kept in the second grade classroom for immediate access as well as the school office if your child’s classmate should have an allergic reaction.

Please do not send any peanuts or tree nuts (i.e. almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, etc.), peanut butter or foods containing peanut/tree nuts or peanut butter to be eaten as snacks or for lunch in the classroom.  Healthy alternatives are: Soynut butter, Sun Butter, or Biscotti spread.  Additionally, please check all food labels for the listing of peanuts or various tree nuts, especially on crackers, cookies, and dessert treats.

I would ask if you’re bringing in food for a party or special event that might not be allergen-free, please let (Insert Teacher’s Name) know in advance so that a safe alternative option can be provided for the classmate with food allergies. (In particular, because homemade baked goods are so likely to contain traces of allergens from previous baking, they’re not safe options for children with food allergies even if they don’t contain ingredients with milk, nuts, and eggs.)

I would also ask that you discuss food allergies with your child.  Please ask them not to share or trade food with any of their second grade classmates during lunch time. Please also assure your child that children with food allergies are no different than other children.  They can do everything anyone else can.

Finally, if your child eats foods containing dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, or eggs for breakfast, please ask them to wash their hands and brush their teeth before coming to school.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at _______________________.

Best regards,

Principal ___________________