Guest Mom Amanda Brice on Food Allergies

Today’s guest mom, attorney and author Amanda Brice, is covering a topic that literally makes my heart race and my breath shorten as I write this sentence! Like Amanda, I’m the mother of a child with a serious allergy, so serious that a bite of the wrong food could be life-threatening. Living with this possibility all the time is not easy. Thanks for listening to Amanda and for trying to understand what families like ours go through. And if you deal with serious allergies in your household, just know that you’re not alone. –Kieran

“References that include everything from Snooki to Chewbacca will have you laughing out loud.” – Romantic Times

“It’s good, frothy fun. Like a hot chocolate with a marshmallow and lots of sprinkles on top. I defy you to read this book and not laugh out loud. It’s full of wit and humour.” – Bookish Trish from Between the Lines blog

Mmm…hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles… But in our house, that marshmallow will be egg-white-free and the chocolate safe from cross-contamination with nuts.

Reviewers tend to agree that one of my strongest points as a writer is my humor, and I do love writing funny. But I’m not going to be funny today because the subject of today’s blog is no laughing matter, and that’s food allergies.

Perhaps it’s an unusual topic for a blog titled “Peanut Butter on the Keyboard,” but the photo at the top of the website makes clear that kids can make messes. It’s all cute until those messes put others at risk.

Recently Hollywood has taken to getting cheap laughs by making fun of food allergies, the parents who deal with them, and the kids who have them.

Nick Jr. was in the crossfire of food allergy parents this past spring when their Nick Mom programming (that begins at 10 pm EST, so presumably kids should be in bed, but that’s only 7 pm on the West Coast and I don’t know about your kids, but mine are wide awake and watching Nick Jr. at 7 pm) featured a highly inappropriate skit called “Taking the ‘Food’ Out of ‘Bake Sale’” in which a bunch of moms guffawed about how put-upon they are with all these fad diets today. The video in question had a bullying undertone, implying that families are overreacting to nothing.

This summer, the Smurfs 2 movie also jumped on the “all these crazy parents are overreacting” bandwagon by including a scene mocking an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, a potentially fatal reaction, for cheap laughs. Shortly before a character ate a corndog that had been cooked in undeclared peanut oil (after which he reacted and was rushed to the hospital), his stereotypical helicopter parents, in true caricature style, made their demands clear – his diet must be organic, BPA-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, food-free. The implication was that parents were just making up food allergies – everything needs to be peanut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc, because of overreacting parents. They were not just making sure all the kids in the party scene could eat the cake. They were making sure everyone laughs at the gluten-free-peanut-free-vegan-cake-made-with-love as if to say “how hilarious it is that kids these days need all this special food?!” Insert audience eyeroll here. Ho, ho, ho, barrel of laughs!

Even if the ingestion of peanuts was inadvertent rather than bullying, when did poisoning a child become a comic moment? It was an unnecessary scene, making fun of parents and their kids in what was supposed to be a nice family movie.

I know it might seem like it’s not that big of a deal: “It’s a joke. Relax.” But that’s the point. It’s not. Not to kids who have to deal with food allergies every day. Kids who constantly have to inspect everything they eat so their throats don’t swell up and they die can’t just relax. Nor can their parents.

Sadly, it seems that the only way to get many people to change their mind about their belief that the food allergy epidemic is blown out of proportion is for them to experience it firsthand. Time columnist Joel Stein learned the hard way that it’s real. Having previously written a piece that began “Your kid doesn’t have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special,” he blamed the epidemic on over-reporting. A year later, his one-year-old son suffered anaphylaxis to tree nuts: “sneezing, then breaking out in hives, then rubbing his eyes, then crying through welded-shut eyes, then screaming and finally, vomiting copiously at the entrance of the Children’s Hospital emergency room an hour after eating his first batch of blended mixed nuts.” Believe me, this is the worst type of eating crow.

The recent death of a girl at summer camp (as a result of eating Rice Krispie treats cross-contaminated by peanuts) underscores the seriousness. This is why it is completely reprehensible to make a joke out of a kid needing an EpiPen.

You wouldn’t joke about a kid having cancer. Or autism. Or using a wheelchair. So why is this acceptable? It’s not a lifestyle choice. It’s a health concern. A health crisis, I would argue. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), this potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. That’s roughly two in every classroom.

A 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that there was an 18% increase in food allergy between 1997 and 2007, although there is no clear answer as to why. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Every three minutes. Reactions to food can range from a mild response (such as eczema, stomach cramps, or an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe a potentially deadly reaction.

I know the stereotype is that food allergy parents are overprotective. And maybe we are. But that’s because we have to be vigilant. And we’re not unreasonable. I know people like to joke about our crazy demands, but I promise you that we don’t expect you to provide special food for our children at your private party. We just want to know the ingredients so we can make our own decisions. In fact, most food allergy parents I know are among the most low-maintenance party guests around. Not only do we bring our own food and help chaperone, but we help you clean up afterwards!

As for school-sponsored events, we encourage you to consider alternative treats. To quote the excellent article A Mom’s Perspective: A Guide to Registering Your Food Allergic Child for Kindergarten, is “it really so much trouble to substitute an unsafe pretzel with a safer brand that costs the same and was available at the same store? I wondered how resentful they would be if someone handed their child a homemade cookie baked with arsenic!”

Meet Ballerina Girl and Monkey Boy.

AmberAlexWagon

Ballerina Girl is anaphylactic to tree nuts (those are all nuts that grow in trees, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts – please note that although peanuts tend to be the big allergen you here about the most in the media, it’s not actually a nut – it’s a legume; tree nut allergy is different, but no less dangerous), gets hives from sesame seeds, an itchy sensation when she eats raw mango (although cooked is fine), and eczema from eggs.

Although we avoid all of the above, the ones we are most vigilant about obviously are the nuts. Hives, itching, stomach pain – all of that is uncomfortable and we don’t want to inflict unnecessary suffering on her. But the fact of the matter is that you don’t die from a single accidental exposure, whereas with nuts she could. It is life-threatening.

Even worse, a child doesn’t need to eat one of their allergens to have an anaphylactic reaction; contact with another child or an item that has been exposed to the allergen – such as might occur when a child shares scissor or a pencil sharpener and then rubs his eyes) can sometimes be enough to trigger onset.

Monkey Boy fortunately doesn’t have any allergies. However, he does have a milk protein intolerance and a rice intolerance. (Yes, I know. A half-Asian kid who can’t eat rice. Who knew?) Ingesting any amount of dairy in any form (not just milk, cheese, and ice cream, but casein, whey, and other forms that we have to check carefully on product packaging) or rice can cause hours and hours of severe cramping and screaming, and occasionally vomiting. For months we just thought he had colic. Well, colic is a catch-all term that refers to a baby who screams and you don’t know why. Turns out in his case it was because I was breastfeeding him and inadvertently poisoning him with my own diet. We now diligently avoid rice and dairy to keep him from pain, but thank goodness it won’t kill him.

Ballerina Girl carries an EpiPen because of her potential for anaphylaxis. We also keep pre-filled spoons of Benadryl around. We don’t need to take such precautions with Monkey Boy (and it wouldn’t make a difference anyway, since his is an intolerance rather than an allergy).

Although the word “allergy” makes people think of stuffy noses, a food allergy is actually an immune response – your body mistakes something in food as harmful and attacks it. It can affect your entire body, not just your stomach or sinuses. Symptoms may include:

  • Rash, hives, or itchy skin

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Sudden drop in blood pressure, trouble swallowing, or breathing (CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY)

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. When anaphylaxis presents, the primary treatment is injection of epinephrine, such as with an EpiPen  or Auvi-Q.

The most famous food allergy is peanut allergy, but the Big 8 allergens that the FDA requires food manufacturers to list on labels also include tree nuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, fish, soy, and wheat. These eight foods account for an estimated 90% of all allergic reactions.

When a food irritates your stomach or your body can’t properly digest it, that’s an intolerance. Symptons include:

  • Gas, cramps, or bloating

  • Heartburn

  • Headaches

  • Irritability or nervousness

The most famous food intolerances are Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and lactose intolerance.

So…what should we as parents do? For the record, I support food-free classrooms, but not nut-free schools. (Unless there is no separate cafeteria and the children must eat in their classrooms, in which case I support nut-free schools, such as at my daughter’s preschool.) Removing the food completely from the classroom is becoming a more widely accepted accommodation as children with severe food allergies are protected under 504 plans as qualifying under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In an ideal world, I’d love to have all nuts and peanuts eradicated from the face of the planet, but I know that’s not happening, at least in this lifetime. Besides, while most anaphylaxis is the result of nut and peanut allergies, and most other allergies present in more moderate (though uncomfortable) reactions, some children are anaphylactic to milk or fish or shellfish, just as an example. So are we going to pit seriousness of children’s allergies against one another? If all allergenic foods are banned, what would the children eat? Therefore, I support learning to reduce the risk (such as keeping food out of the classroom entirely) and practicing good hygiene (teeth brushing and hand-washing with soap and water – allergens are proteins, not germs, so use of hand sanitizers is not sufficient), rather than outright bans.

However, if your child does attend a nut-free school, please abide by this policy. It was put in place to protect, not to cause hardship. There are many nut-free snacks and lunches your child can bring instead of PB&J sandwiches. Snacksafely.com recently released the 2013 Safe Snack Guide, which is a list of commonly available commercial snacks intended as a guide for schools, organizations, sports leagues, clubs, parties, play dates, and other events where snacks may be brought in the presence of people with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and/or eggs.

Peanut butter derives much of its taste from the roasting process. There are a number of other spreads available at the store that use a similar roasting process and taste remarkably similar to peanut butter, such as sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter. Similar doesn’t mean “exactly the same,” so you might need to ease your child into it. Simply mix ¾ peanut butter with ¼ alternative spread when lunching at home, and then change the proportion to more of the alternative spread over time.

Voila! Simple, and it will do so much to help your kids’ allergic friends. Even if your school doesn’t have a nut-free zone, you may decide that you prefer the taste of one of these peanut butter alternatives. And we can all breathe easier knowing that everyone is covered.

Or if you’re in the mood for homemade, I list some of my own favorite recipes on my “Extras” section of my website. Just because a food is “safe” doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. Each of the recipes on my list is devoid of the Big 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, shellfish, fish, wheat), so if you don’t have those allergies or have other ones, you may need to substitute.

You see, I’m not just an allergy mom, but the heroine in my YA mystery series also has food allergies. I wrote the first book, in which my heroine suffers a reaction after the villain switches her “safe” Pad Thai with the regular kind, before my daughter was even born. At the time, I just thought that it would be an interesting and topical subplot, because as scary as the thought might be, food really can be used as a weapon in this way. In fact, the book was published two months before my daughter ever suffered her first allergic reaction to nuts. Although I’d done research when writing those scenes, nothing could prepare me for the firsthand experience of watching your child’s face swell, the itching, the coughing, the wheezing, the gasping, and finally the vomiting. There is nothing scarier than not knowing what to do for her or how to help her.


Amanda Brice lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband, a 3 ½-year-old daughter, and a 20-month-old son. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. A two-time Golden Heart finalist, she is the author of three books in the Dani Spevak Mystery Series, and has a YA time travel romance series beginning this fall with 1816 Candles. You can learn more about Amanda and her books at her website.

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37 thoughts on “Guest Mom Amanda Brice on Food Allergies

  1. Hi,

    I think it’s great you’ve done such an extensive article on this subject. Although I don’t have children myself, I do know what it’s like to have thi sfrom a rather early age. I suffer from allergies too, and lots of them: No fruit (in the basics probably since I was about 8, but I could still eat it. Unfortunately since Istarted getting itches eating melons when on vacation in France when I was 15, no more fruit), no raw vegetables, no salad (like lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, etc) unless it’s been cooked for at least half an hour. Ah yes, and no nuts, no fresh juices. I’m in luck cause although my tests do state a (very mild) allergy to milk, soja and a host of other things, I can eat and drink those things! Yay for me :)

    With me it all start with a birch tree allergie. That apparently is a very nasty allergy which can cause all of the above and asthma (check, I’ve got this since about 6 or 7 years now), eczema (Yay, don’t have that!), hayfever (check, probably since about the age of 8) and possibly a few of my medicine allergies (check no ibuprofen or similar pain meds…).

    It’s not easy living on a diet where you have to pay attention to everything you eat and touch. Other children look weird when you try to explain it, other adults may say you’re “being a child” and you should just eat it. It’s not easy. I can imagine it’s even harder on a parent who has a young child. I do have friends who have children and unfortunately I’ve never heard them tell of schools where food is banned from the class room. On the contrary: here in the Netherlands children’s lunch packs are checked to see if they contain the required two pieces of fruit with them. And with two pieces I DO mean 1 whole appel and 1 whole banana or whatever fruit you chose. It’s hell when you need to eat that if you’ve got allergies, let alone if you’ve got severe allergies like your daughter has!

    I have found out, however, when I heat fruit in the microwave, I can eat it. This might be something for your daugther too for her allergy for mango’s. If memory serves right, the mango may only be the beginning. It is very well possible this is a crosstype allergy and she could become allergic to a host of other fruits. (don’t wanna scare you, but since that’s my personal experience I thought I should let you know, although I hope you already did:) ). I sincerely hope that’s not the case for your daughter. Anyway, how to microwave it so she doesn’t have a reaction to it anymore?: Slice the fruit in thin slices, put it in a bowl in the microwave. Set the microwave at its highest watt (mine currently has 900 watt) and microwave it for about 1 minute. Surprise, surprise, she can eat it! (At least I can, and I hope your daugther can as well :) ). Granted, heated like that may not be like eating it like it is, but it’s a possibility. I’ve only recently starting doing this and I love it!

    For my hayfever, I’ve started a course of Immunotherapy (desensibilisation) and that’s working wonders! I hardly need my hayfever meds now! :) My specialist (allergist?) suggested this treatment for me after I had to take yet another kind of medication into my whole medicine stock because of a cat allergy that had grown worse. Although we had hopes it would work on the food too, there was only a slight chance (30%) it would actually have that side effect. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me for the food part. But perhaps there is a similar treatment for nuts? I do know there’s a similar treatment for wasps and bees and that also gives good results, I hear.

    I wish you a lot of success AND fun with finding recipes both your kids can eat. And I hope it will get easier for both your daughter and your son!

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    • Chocoholic, thanks so much for sharing your experience with allergies with us today! A big silver lining–if you are a member of the allergy community–is the genuine caring you encounter from others who understand. We all want to help each other, and that’s a wonderful thing. :-)

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your story, chocoholic. I couldn’t imagine having that many foods off limit. Wow! I can only imagine how hard it is.

      As for raw fruit, yes, we do suspect that my daughter’s issue with mango is exactly what you mentioned — oral allergy syndrome. Right now we’ve only definitively noticed it with mango but I think I might have noticed it with raw peaches as well. As a result, I make stewed peaches (peel them and cook them with some cinnamon a tiny bit of sugar, and a little bit of orange juice) for her and she loves them. I’ll definitely be on the look out to see if the list of fruits she reacts to gets bigger over time.

      And yes, it’s pollen related. She has an oak pollen allergy (which is also connected to her eczema), but unfortunately oaks are pretty much everywhere. We did notice that her skin cleared up a lot (even without her antihistamines) when we spent a weekend at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore — no trees around!

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      • Sorry for the late response :)
        Going to sea is indeed very good! Depending on how the wind blows, I’ve often found the sea to be a very good environment with my hayfever :) Here in the Netherlands you’re safe at sea as long as the wind comes from the North or the West in the summer. When the wind comes from the East, you’re not even “safe” at sea….
        You’ll learn to deal with it, but it’s not always fun :)

        Have fun finding places and food your daughter can be and eat safely!

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  2. Amanda, we are SO glad to have you with us today! Thanks for help spreading awareness of what food allergies actually are and how they can affect people. No one likes to be “different” this way. That’s a big part of the problem when you have a child with a food allergy. For example, my son has never been able to have birthday cake at other kids’ parties. He had to learn how to deal with that. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways. But families with these sorts of allergy issues just learn to be brave and look on the bright side and be thankful for every day of good health.

    Thanks again for visiting! I wish great health for your family, and best of luck with your writing!

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    • Thank you for hosting me today, Kieran. I wasn’t sure whether writing this was a good idea on a blog with “peanut butter” in the title, but I figured it was an important message to send now that it’s back to school season.

      My daughter can’t have cake at other kids’ parties either. We bring along her own “safe” cupcake, or she just eats the other treats. I always worry that it’s causing her social anxiety, but fortunately so far she’s been really cool with it. Probably because she was diagnosed at such a young age that she really doesn’t know what she’s missing. I hope her social ease will continue as she gets older, though.

      Thanks again for hosting me!

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      • Yeah, that PB on the keyboard doesn’t apply in plenty of households, right? It would be a major disaster!

        My son has been really good in general about accepting his differences. It got harder when he became a new teen. There was a little rebellion, but we just kept on him and reminded him that he has to believe that being different from the other kids this way is NOT a thing to be ashamed of or to hide to save face. We said, “You can’t afford to ‘save face.’ Your life is on the line.” It’s awful to have to be so painfully honest about the consequences…when you’re 13, who wants to hear that you could die eating a cupcake?

        But it must be done. And if you have a good doctor, he or she will help the child get past the rebellious stage.

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        • That is just terrifying, to think that a teen might want to save face by playing Russian roulette with his health like that, yet I know it happens all the time. Just have to really stay on it and impress the importance of staying safe.

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  3. Thanks for that link! My toddler Bug is going to a peanut, tree-nut, coconut free preschool this fall, and I will definitely pass on that safe snack guide. We don’t have major allergies here (and my own intolerances aren’t as bad as your son’s), so it’s great to get that extra help on keeping other people’s kids safe when we bring in our snacks!

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    • Glad to be of help! That Safe Snack guide is awesome. I wish all schools would pass it along to their families. Some of the substitutions are so easy, too. Often it’s just a matter of buying a particular brand that’s just as easy to find and affordable as other brands.

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  4. Thank you for your thoughtful words and sharing your experiences! My son is anaphylactic and contact reactive to all forms of dairy. The only thing scarier than trying to keep him safe, is releasing him to the care of others and hoping they will do their best to keep him safe, too. His preschool was fantastic and kept a dairy free classroom and dairy free school events (after much conversation). However, now he will venture to Kindergarten- a much larger venue with less intimacy than a preschool. I hope that parents of other kids in his class will be considerate and thoughtful, to allow him a safe Kindergarten experience that is not ruled by his allergies – but rather by his personality and intelligence. Every day is a blessing and a trial– support from those with or without allergies is always helpful!!

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    • Dairy allergies are so hard! Milk in all its forms just seems to be in EVERYTHING. Fortunately ours is just an intolerance (albeit I don’t want to wish the discomfort on my son). I’m so glad your preschool was able to keep a dairy free classroom. That’s wonderful.

      I wish him and you all the luck in the world with dealing with Kindergarten. Stay safe!

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  5. It’s not just children, either. I have adult friends with serious allergies & the refusal of some medical “professionals” to take my sulfur allergy seriously landed me in the ER more than once with anaphylactic reactions to commonly used medicines containing sulfur. Thank you for writing this!

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    • Very true. My mom has a sulfur allergy, and I’m allergic to penicillin. Fortunately our medical professionals have been diligent about asking whenever they prescribe a medication, but it can be very scary, especially if you’re trying a new one.

      Good luck and stay safe!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your story. It is always nice to know that you are not the only stereotypical “allergy mom” out there. I think one of the reasons food allergies are so dangerous is because it is so far from the norm for some people. This summer I went to visit my family with my 2 sons. One has a mountain of allergies along with a food aversion. My family loves him and would be devastated if they contributed to a reaction. Still, my sister handed him peanut butter dog treats for her puppy and both grandmothers brought cakes with nuts to the gathering. They were appalled that it happened “on their watch” but I know it is just because they don’t have to think about it every day. When my mom calls and says “just meet us at Hershey Park,” she doesn’t realize the panic that one sentence induces.

    Food allergies are one of those things, like having kids. You can’t possibly know the physical and emotional depth of it until it is right in your face, then it changes the very core of your being. I grew up in health care and have always been empathetic, but I never could have truly understood food allergies or feeding aversions until my son came along to teach me how.

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    • Thanks for these words–> “Food allergies are one of those things, like having kids. You can’t possibly know the physical and emotional depth of it until it is right in your face, then it changes the very core of your being.”

      YES! That’s it exactly. Like I said, I’d written the initial book in my Dani Spevak series (Codename: Dancer) before I had kids. At the time, the subplot about her peanut allergy just seemed like something interesting and unusual to include. I’d started hearing about nut allergies and peanut-free schools but it was such a foreign concept to me because you just didn’t hear about that when we were kids. But it wasn’t until my own daughter’s allergies were discovered that I truly understood it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    • Thanks so much, Jeannie. I really do think that the more education and resources out there, the easier it will be for everyone. Kids want to include their friends. Too often it’s their parents’ misconceptions that muddy the waters.

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  7. Amanda, thanks so much for your wonderful post which echoes the feelings of many of our readers. We also appreciate your references to our Safe Snack Guide and our “Mom’s Perspective” piece. Our daughter LOVES the Dani Spivak series and will be THRILLED when she reads this!

    Our mission is to help prevent anaphylaxis in children. Like yours, our daughter is allergic to peanuts – so we have taken it upon ourselves to help schools accommodate kids with food allergies. We are now working directly with food manufacturers to have them disclose their manufacturing practices regarding 10 allergens + gluten so that we can dispel much of the confusion behind our flawed labeling laws.

    Thanks again and a special thanks to Kieran for her terrific Peanut Butter on the Keyboard blog!

    Regards,
    Debra & Dave Bloom

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    • Debra and Dave,

      Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. I absolutely love your website and use your Safe Snack guide all the time. What a thrill to hear your daughter loves my books! :)

      And I’m really happy to hear about your work with the food manufacturer about the labeling laws. Wonderful news!

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      • Debra and Dave, thanks so much for visiting our blog. And thanks SO much for all the work you do talking to food manufacturers. I got nowhere with Pillsbury when I called them about their regular chocolate chip cookie dough, which doesn’t say on the front, WITH NUTS. The pretty picture makes them look like plain chocolate chip cookies. Twice now moms I know have made them thinking that they are regular, nut-less chocolate chip cookies and tried to give them to my son. The front of that label needs huge work! Pillsbury acted like it was no big deal and just tried to get me off the phone.

        Oh, I’m also really grateful for your Safe Snack Guide!!! Thanks again for spreading awareness of food allergies and supporting those who have them.
        :-)

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        • How scary that Pillsbury acted like it was no big deal. Sadly, I see that attitude all the time, particularly in restaurants. Servers will say something will be safe to eat without bothering to check with the kitchen to see how it was prepared.

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  8. Great post. My oldest son is allergic to peanuts and I’ll never forget how helpless I felt when he had his first reaction to a peanut butter cookie.

    People who find it such a hardship to abide by school rules should realize that it could be their child’s life on the line one day. Allergies can develop overnight.

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    • Thanks so much for stopping by! And you’re so right. Allergies really can develop overnight. I just learned earlier this year that I have asthma — never had it before. I don’t have any food allergies — knock on wood — but I never had seasonal allergies before getting pregnant a few years back. Our bodies change over time, and the same thing can happen to kids.

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  9. I feel fortunate that my daughter doesn’t have a food allergy. She does react pretty severely to mosquito bites. She’s developed some tolerance to them, but when she got them as a baby, I had to take her to the urgent care center a few times. her grandfather has to carry an epi-pen in case he’s stung by a bee. It is scary when something that’s out there and pretty innocuous to everyone else can hurt your child.

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    • Luckily my kids don’t seem affected much at all by mosquitos. I know my husband seems to be a magnet for them. How scary for the reaction to be so strong that you had to take her to urgent care.

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  10. Great post! My eight year old is allergic to all nuts including ones you wouldn’t even think about like coconut and pistachios. In fact his cashew/pistachio allergy is off the charts. He does have an epipen and thankfully we have not had to use it. He, like your daughter, is also allergic to eggs and that mainly flares up his eczema. We landed in the ER when he was 16 months old after he got into the peanut butter my husband was eating. Since the age of 4 my son has been amazing about telling people about his allergy and always asking if something has nuts in it. I used to find it a bit annoying that he was always asking me about things like mints, lifesavers, etc. but came to realize it is a good thing that he is always asking about food.

    After working with our doctor we decided to let him eat things that are labeled “processed in a facility that handles nuts” or the “May contain trace amounts of nuts”. He also sits with the other kids at lunch instead of the “nut free” table. Thankfully, he does not have a reaction by just being around the food as I know some kids do. It probably sounds terrible, but my husband and I still eat things with nuts and we have peanut butter in our cabinet.

    As for the eggs, My son always wants a birthday cake for his birthday but he does not eat it. I have made eggless cakes before too. He does eat a few baked goods that have egg in them, but he does stay away from things that have a high concentration of eggs and definitely no omelets.

    I have that weird fruit and veggie reaction even though I am not allergic to the actual fruit. It is the outside pollen and other things that cause my reaction. I have to wash all fruits and veggies very well before I eat them even the outside of melons because when you cut through them the knife brings all the stuff with it. Even then I still will get an itchy throat from time to time.

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    • I’ll be honest and admit that my husband and I still do eat things containing nuts from time to time, but we never do it in her presence or in our house. However, if we ever go out to lunch while the kids are at school we take advantage of the opportunity to go for Middle Eastern food and order baklava. Mmm… We just make certain to thoroughly wash our hands and brush our teeth afterwards — something we should be doing anyway.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah. Good luck to you and your son! And thanks for pointing out about washing the outside of the melons before cutting into them. Very good point!

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  11. I forgot to mention it in the main post, but another resource I use all the time is Allergy Eats. This website is a database that relies on user input to rate how allergy-friendly restaurants are for people who require special diets. They also have a free app that you can download.

    http://www.allergyeats.com

    I use this all the time when trying to decide where to go out to eat.

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  12. Very smart post. My 10 year old daughter has a peanut allergy.
    I There has been many times her school has called and asked me to pick her up half way through the day because they are making pop corn or having treats and don’t know whats in them. They are worried about her breathing in something or coming in contact with a possible peanut/ nut product. Thank God the staff i s so smart and careful. I have made my presence very known at the school with the whole staff :)

    One time I walked my daughter in the school. There was a almond/nut smell coming from the class room next to hers. Which is clerly stated Nut Free Zone !! So investigated it and a teacher was using a coffee creamer that had nut products in it that you could clearly smell. I turned around. Went back to my daughters class and explained to the teacher I was taking my daughter home with me. Walked out the door. The pricipal of the school stopped me and assured that would never happen again. My daughter and I went home. So my question is.. Is it fare to count that as a absent ? It’s not like she was skipping. It was not her fault.
    Thank you for your time,
    Sincerly a concerned parent

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  13. My family fortunately doesn’t have any severe food allergies, but my brother is allergic to Pepto-Bismol. We don’t know what part of the Pepto-Bismol causes his allergic reaction, but everything swells up. (People always look at us weird when we say he’s allergic to Pepto-Bismol).

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  14. With all the awareness about allergies, when I ask someone about what is in a food, I have to assure them that mine is IgG, the nonlethal version, rather than the IgE, the anaphylactic one. Also, given that I am lactose intolerant AND dairy allergic (casein), I always ask for my lattes to be made with heavy cream – more fat (because I’m not allergic to fat, lol), less lactose and less casein. The only thing I was even slightly allergic to as a child was honeydew and cantaloupe (they make my throat itch), but then I had to grow up and move to California, where there is some pollen or mold that I was allergic to throughout the year. Ah, life.

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  15. Hi Amanda,

    Great blog post about something we all need to be more aware of.
    I try really hard to be smart about what I send in my kids’ snacks because they do eat in the classroom. I get so frustrated by the lack of responsiveness to this issue from the food industry. How hard is it to make a nut free granola bar? I mean, come on! Thankfully there are a couple of them out there. And we don’t do granola bars every day or anything, but sometimes they’re just fast and easy you know.

    I think the food industry is starting to catch up — thank goodness.

    Like this

  16. Pingback: Student health: Peanut allergy risk factors on campus and in the dining hall | CengageBrainiac

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