Tag: food intolerance

The Anxiety of Raising Kids with Food Allergies

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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

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Northern Michigan Allergy Friendly Restaurant Reviews

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Now that summer in Northern Michigan has kicked into full gear I felt it was important to enhance my local restaurant Allergy Friendly Dining List.  I have reviewed a total of 21 restaurants.  Most restaurants below come highly recommended by me.  However, I added a new category this season in which I review restaurants that I strongly feel are not safe to dine at with food allergies.  Please use your own discretion as these reviews are purely based on my opinion and personal experiences.

The reviews below are based on accommodating life-threatening multiple allergies to: dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Please note that most of these restaurants are also more than capable of accommodating gluten, wheat, sesame, soy, and corn allergies.  Please ALWAYS remember to call in advance and ask to speak to the chef or restaurant manager to determine if the particular restaurant can accommodate your special dietary needs.  Additionally, I always provide our server with our 3 x 5 pink restaurant Chef Card that lists all of my boy’s food allergies.  This is an excellent tool to use, as restaurants are very busy during the tourist season/summer months, and verbal allergy communications can get lost in translation between your server and the kitchen staff.

I have tried my best to add these recommendations to the Allergy Eats App, which is not very thorough in Northern Michigan…this is still a work in progress for me however.  Thank you for your patience and Happy Summer!  Whether vacationing in Northern Michigan this summer or if you are a year long resident, I hope this list helps you and your food allergic family enjoy a more pleasurable and safe dining experience.

Here’s the list:

Downtown Petoskey:

1. Chandler’s A Restaurant – The Chef and staff is very knowledgeable and they get it!  Very accommodating!

2. City Park Grill – We dine here all of the time and they are amazing and understand the seriousness!  I commend the staff for always ensuring the food they prep is safe for our boys.  They even bake the chicken fingers for our boys now instead of putting them into the deep fryer.  Steer clear of the delicious biscuits however as they have butter and buttermilk I believe.  My children always ask for a cracker basket with oyster and soda crackers.

3. Twisted Olive Café – Chef Lee is wonderful and has been preparing food for our boys at various restaurants for over 6 yrs!  My boys love the mussels and fish entrees!

4. The Grain Train Natural Food Co-Operative – Lots of Allergen-free options/ready made in food cooler.

Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Petoskey:

  1. Mitchell Street Pub – Although this pub has wonderful food, unfortunately they still allow their patrons to throw peanut shells on the floor throughout the entire restaurant.  AVOID at all costs if someone in your family has a PEANUT or TREE NUT ALLERGY.   SCARY!
  2. Eagles Club (private club) – We are members at the Eagles club in town.  Many of the chefs have told me over the years that their kitchen suppliers/distributors of food change often to keep food costs low.  They cannot guarantee any safety.  I’m glad they are always honest and they allow us to bring in food for our boys.  Although we rarely go here.  If you’re a member in a different town you can come in as a guest and it’s the best view in town, not to mention, right on the bike path.  Food is marginal at best but cheap drinks and food!

Harbor Springs Area:

1. New York – Chef Matt, and his entire staff are wonderful.  Jerry, a senior server with the New York is amazing.  Nancy too!  Our boys can even eat the bread here safely.  Chef Matt and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about how to safely prepare food-allergy friendly delicious meals!  We love this restaurant and it is a place we frequent with our boys.  The food is always delicious and service goes above and beyond!

2. Crow’s Nest – Chef Bob has been preparing allergen-friendly food for our boys for the last 5 years.  Folks HE GETS IT!  The food is amazing and Chef Bob and his cooks will even use a different flour dusting on his famous pan sautéed perch for our boys.  They cannot have the “Drake’s” batter which contains casein and he will lightly coast the perch in a flour mixture and then sauté it to perfection.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable about food allergies and it is always a pleasant dining experience without worry.

3. Bar Harbor – Although our boys cannot eat the cheese on their burgers the chef and staff understand cross-contamination and always allow me to read ingredient labels.  We bring our own Daiya cheese and my boys LOVE their burgers.  They cannot have the fries due to what goes into the deep fryer but the chips are safe!

4. The Fish – The restaurant owner and staff is very accommodating and have gone out of the way to make delicious healthy food for our kiddos.

5. Country Club of Boyne Seminole Pub – Chef Dean Grill is new to the Country Club of Boyne Team this season.  He is from LA and has quite an outstanding culinary resume!  Both Chef Dean and General Manager Claire are very educated on food allergies and cross-contamination.  There are wonderful!  I have met with Chef several times and he personally ALWAYS cooks my boy’s food.  The fries and homemade potato chips are safe and delicious.  My children have been able to enjoy cheese burgers here that are safe and delicious.  I just bring my own Daiya cheese and buns.  They go the extra mile!

6. Nob’s Nob Cafeteria – We are season pass holders at the Nub’s Nob Ski Resort and every fall the wonderful chef reviews the menu with me.  They are so incredibly accommodating and even take me back into their walk in freezer so I can review ingredients listings.  My children can enjoy the curly and straight French fries there which are popular items, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and fruit.  Please always double check with the line chefs to make sure they change their gloves after touching cheese.  Also, double check the buns they use as I believe some of the buns my not be ok.

7. Teddy Griffin’s Road House – We dine here several times throughout the year sans kiddos!  However, the last time we ate here we showed our server, who has been with Teddy’s for over 15 year, our Restaurant Chef Card, and she assured us Teddy’s could safely accommodate multiple food allergies.  I had been a bit apprehensive about dining here with our boys due to a bad review on Allergy Eats.  Our conversation with our server changed my mind and hopefully we’ll try it soon.  Additionally, Teddy’s is under new ownership which can only mean positive changes on the horizon.  I will update this post once we dine here with our boys.

Bay Harbor:

1. Bay Harbor Yacht Club (Private Club) – The level of service and accommodations are incredible.  They exceed my expectations for safety, allergy safe options, quality of food and level of service.  Bravo!

Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Bay Harbor:

  1. The Original Pancake House – Unfortunately this restaurant cooks just about everything in PEANUT OIL!  Yes, you heard me- PEANUT OIL.  Perhaps their supplier is the same at Chic-fil-A’s???  I don’t care how refined the oil may be, I’m not testing in with my anaphylactic peanut/tree nut allergic son!  Apparently peanut oil has a higher boiling point and is cheaper than most oils in a restaurant setting.  This restaurant even told me a few years ago that there is possibly peanut oil in the toasters because some of the bread may get brushed with it.  A child went into anaphylactic shock here a few years back before they had the peanut oil allergy statement on their menu.  Now they have allergy statements on every menu I believe.  AVOID AT ALL COSTS IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY

Boyne City:

1. Café Sante – Amazing and the really get cross-contamination and food allergies!  We dine here regularly & one of the restaurant manager’s worked for Disney in which they had several levels of food allergy education that were necessary for all employees.  During our most recent dining experience our server explained to us that the staff had just been trained extensively on food allergies and cross-contamination.  The serving staff here is even required to add food allergies into their computer system upon originally greeting their guests.   Thank you to the new Michigan Restaurant Law!  My youngest son LOVES the mules!  My boys can eat their homemade bread safely also which is amazing, safe and usually not the case in most restaurants.  The owners, managers and chefs here GET IT!  Thank you!

Boyne Falls:

1. Mountain Grand Lodge – Although we did not dine here during our last visit I inquired with the restaurant manager and they suggested they were fully capable of accommodating multiple food allergies to ensure the safety of our children.

Charlevoix (We have not explored too many restaurants here with our boys)

1. Terry’s Place – We attempted to eat here with our boys on the way home from the Traverse City airport during May 2016.  I called and spoke to the gatekeeper who answered the telephone.  I mentioned that our 2 boys have life-threatening food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts.  She stated that “It would be very difficult to accommodate you here because we use peanut oil to sautee all of our fish in and there is dairy in many of the entrée sauces.”  She did state that their sister restaurant next door (The Villager Pub) could prepare our boy’s food and run it over.  I asked if the chef could simply prepare fish (ie white fish or salmon) for our boys and she said it would not be possible to bake, broil or grill it safely with olive oil as a substitute for the peanut oil.  This is really too bad they cannot accommodate food allergies at all.  Perhaps the person I spoke with was not educated well on how to accommodate all customers with special diets.  Oh, and did I mention this was a Sunday night during April, which is the off season in Charlevoix?  A perfect evening to try a new restaurant because the town was literally dead!  Eat here at your own risk!

Traverse City & Surrounding Area:

1. Siren Hall (Elk Rapids) – We recently had a late lunch here with our boys.  We sat at the bar and requested the bar tender review our Chef Allergy Card with the chef and offer recommendations.  Our boys decided on the grilled chicken with broccolini and muscles in a white wine, garlic and tomato broth.  Both were delicious and our boys were happy.  They have root beer on tap too which made the stop especially worthwhile because our boys love root beer!

2.  Red Ginger (downtown Traverse City) – This is a family favorite in our house.  If we’re in Traverse City with our boys we have to dine here according to them!  When you make a reservation the host will make a note in their computer system of your allergies.  The head chef here has a son who is on a strict gluten-free diet.  He completely understands the concept of safety and avoiding cross-contamination.  My children usually order vegetable sushi rolls and the chef prepares delicious panko crusted chicken fingers for them with a side of steamed green vegetables.  The food is delicious and their sushi is fresh and yummy!  This is definitely one of our favorite Northern Michigan restaurants and I hope you will try it also!  Thanks Red Ginger!

Subway Restaurants can all be accommodating- My boys can eat the white bread, ham, and turkey as well as veggie toppings.  I always request the sandwich makers use clean knives, new gloves, and put down several pieces of paper over the cutting boards in which to make my boy’s sandwiches…we usually bring our own vegan cheese and my boys can eat their yellow mustard in lieu of mayo (or I bring my own Joy O or Veganaise).

Please remember these comments are based solely on our personal experiences and are opinion based.  Feel free to message me if you have additional questions/comments regarding any of the restaurants mentioned above.

~Erika

First Friday for Foodies at Crooked Tree Arts Center Today

Please come out to Crooked Tree Arts Center today at 11am and support local Food Allergy Awareness.  I will be offering delicious samples from some of my favorite allergen friendly healthy recipes.

http://www.petoskeynews.com/calendar/community/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom/event_bf7e097a-dd83-11e5-90d2-10604b9ffeb6.html