Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sugar and Spice Make All Things NICE!



While recently shopping at HEB, I noticed that Immaculate had released a Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice cookie.  I was a little hesitant to buy them since they contain eggs (my youngest is allergic to eggs).  Nervously, I decided to buy them for my oldest child to try.  Before sampling the cookies, I contacted Immaculate Baking Company to inquire about their manufacturing processes, cross-contamination, labeling, etc. since it was a new product for us.  When I called, I was politely greeted by a company representative named Jada.  I asked Jada many questions and she was very knowledgable in her answers.  Jada stated that "the Immaculate Baking Company takes food allergies very seriously and lists the top 8 allergens in addition to sesame, sunflower and mollusks".  Venture over to the Immaculate Baking Co. website (www.immaculatebaking.com) , where each product they sell has an ingredient and nutrition facts information sheet.

Since listing 'May Contain' is optional for companies, I wanted to confirm that the spice cookies were not potentially cross-contaminated with tree nuts or peanuts.  When inquiring about the specific product, two pieces of information were needed:  the series number (10 digit number) and the barcode.  This enabled the representative to accurately identify the product and see a photo of the actual product label.  Jada explained that if there is any chance of cross-contamination of a product with any of the top 8 allergens (plus sesame, sunflower and mollusks), then the product will have a 'May Contain' advisory statement.

10 digit series number (beginning with 3)

barcode

Immaculate's Gingerbread Spice cookies were a huge hit!  They were spicy, delicious and a perfect pairing for my cup of coffee and my son's breakfast:).  The bigger hit was finding a company that cares about its' consumers.

Happy Thanksgiving!  



Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gobble Gobble...

…'til you wobble!  This is a very busy and exciting time of year for obvious reasons!  It is also a very stressful time of year for those of us managing food allergies.  Coordinating menus and pleasing everyone can be a tall task, but it does not need to forecast a holiday season of stress.  We all can safely enjoy the holidays with a little prep and planning.  Part of enjoying the event, holiday, etc is enjoying the journey!  This is a great week to start planning your menu and doing the research needed to determine how foods are prepared to avoid cross contamination, decoding the ingredient list to determine any hidden dangers, and educating family members about your family's food allergies.  For us, the last piece regarding education consists of reminding extended family that we do have kids who are severely allergic to nuts, peanuts and eggs.  The nuts pose the greatest challenge for our family since we ALL love nuts and love to use them to adorn our delicious desserts and side dishes (ie. pralines, pecan pie, sweet potato casserole with crushed pecan topping, etc..)  We are very thankful to be blessed with family that is accommodating.  Rather than have a 'forbidden list' for our family, we ask that those foods all be grouped together and placed out of the way (ie. middle of serving area, not easily accessible by the kiddos).  Then we review our food allergy rule with the kids (ages 3 and 5 years):  RULE #1. Do NOT eat anything until it is approved by either of us--YOUR PARENTS--not grandma or grandpa.  We also stress that just because you have eaten it before does not mean that you can eat it again.  This is what works for us right now.  There is no perfect way to navigate the food allergy world of the holidays other than to be practical and reasonable.  Sanity is appropriate this time of year to keep you jolly, right?

I wanted to mention that one of the policies that Dairy Allergy Mom and I worked to have included in our school's food allergy policy was recently implemented at our childrens' Halloween party.  Learning from a prior incident involving class parties and, separately, from my child's preschool class food policy, Dairy Allergy mom and I thought it would be helpful to other room parents and helpers, to identify the food allergy students with a bright yellow sticker indicating that they have food allergies. The teachers and parents liked the idea.  The stickers are for the elementary students.



Special blessings for all of our Veterans and many thanks from HFAN.  Please thank a Veteran for his/her service.  We all do what we do because of them.  THANK YOU for your service!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Treats Not Tricks


Boo

Halloween is quickly approaching, which means, so are the holidays! I want to recommend a blog shared with me by Dairy Allergy Dad along with a couple of bakeries that may prove useful for many us this time of year!  If you are not a baker (which I am NOT!), consider these two online bakeries that are dedicated to the allergy community when planning your holiday parties or birthday parties. They are Divvies Bakery and BabyCakes NYC.  There are no brick and mortar stores in Houston, but they both ship nationally.  I have ordered cupcakes from Divvies for one of my son's birthday parties and they were good.  Honestly, at the time, I think I enjoyed the 'worry free' piece of them more.  The cupcakes were dense and tasty.  I think we ordered the vanilla.

For those of you that have ever visited Disney, then you may have seen or heard of BabyCakes NYC.  I have not had anything, yet, from this bakery.  If any of you have eaten at BabyCakes NYC or have had Divvies products, please leave a comment at the end of the post to be shared with our readers.  I am intrigued.

http://nut-freemom.blogspot.com/2014/10/its-most-nutty-time-of-year-for-nut.html

http://www.divvies.com

http://www.babycakesnyc.com



Friday, October 3, 2014

October is Public Safety Month

With October kicking off the start to the Holiday season we thought it would be appropriate to recognize October as Public Safety in our meeting theme.

We will have a special guest join us to discuss and share their knowledge of EMS, EMT training on anaphylaxis, and known ambulatory care protocol in an anaphylaxis emergency.

We hope to see everyone at the October 20 meeting. I have included a link to an article FARE published last month about their findings after conducting a parent survey about their experience with ED and EMS care for serious food allergy reactions. 


Food Allergy Research & Education Survey Shows Inconsistencies in Treatment of Life-threatening Allergic Reactions


http://www.foodallergy.org/press-room/2014/090414?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SWEET!

A sweet treat!
With the official start of Fall looming, it seems only natural to start thinking about which candies I should fill my apothecary jars with this season.  I have an undeniable sweet tooth combined with a need to decorate! It is my favorite time of the year. I love ALL of the colors of Autumn, the sounds and smells of the outdoors and, yes, all of the many food events surrounding us.  With that said, now is the time to start thinking ahead and making Halloween a sweet treat for all of our families and friends to enjoy.

I have been searching for candy corns, for a couple of years, that are not cross contaminated with tree nuts or peanuts. To my surprise, my parents found a bag at their local dollar store that stated just that. It is by a company called Coastal Bay. I have never heard of them but I am happy to say that these candy corns are just as tasty as leading major brands. Nonetheless, they will be the perfect addition to my repertoire of candies needed to fill my jars and add to my Fall decor.  

After doing a bit of sleuthing, I have learned that Coastal Bay is a private label manufactured at Sunrise Confections. I spoke with a Sunrise representative and she confirmed that the Sunrise Confections facility does NOT process anything containing tree nuts or peanuts, therefore there is no risk of cross contamination. Mount Franklin Foods, LLC is the parent company of Sunrise Confections. Please visit www.sunrise.com to read more about their manufacturing processes.  


I realize that we all have different allergens in mind when searching for the perfect Halloween candies. For us, that means no Reese's Peanut Butter cups for mom and dad, among many others.  It works out well since there will be no temptations to buy such delicious little treats.  Like you, I will scour my kids jack-o-lanterns to remove such 'offensive' candies. In all seriousness, SAFETY is ALWAYS paramount, but especially this time of year.  Being proactive, all the while educating our little ghouls and goblins, educators, caretakers, families and friends about the hidden dangers in those little sweet treats are first and foremost.

Please share your sweet treat story with us!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Houston FARE Walk!

Good morning!
My son spotted this beautiful rainbow the morning of the walk.  

The 2014 Houston FARE Walk proved to be an exciting day for all in my family.  I hope that it was great for all of you too!  The day was fun filled with lots of products to sample and vendors to answer questions.  My family and I arrived early and were, unexpectedly, greeted with this beautiful rainbow.  It seemed a bit random since the skies were so blue behind it.  I took it as a sign that it was going to be a good day.  The only things I would change for next year would be to make it about 10 degrees cooler with no mosquitos, but whose complaining?!

A special thanks goes out to Denise, team captain, for organizing our team so quickly.  We reached our goal the day of the race! Next year, HFAN will have a booth to promote our support group.  FARE has provided us with a banner and will provide educational materials.  

Great to see all of your smiling faces! 

FARE Walk 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back to School Part 2: The best part is it involves shopping with no waiting in line!

Okay so maybe your not the type to stand in the long lines for tax free weekend, and maybe you managed to get all of your school shopping done in July. (I envy you) For the rest of us, okay me, who three weeks after school has started, was at Academy desperately searching for a boy's size 4 khaki short because I waited too long to place our uniform order and now everything is in back order, (gasp) shopping is probably not on your list of favorite things to do!

As our Nut Eggactly mom so eloquently blogged last month Back to School: Part 1/Getting Organized!, back to school means refilling prescriptions, scheduling doctors appointments, updating emergency action plans, and meeting with school administrators.  As I mentioned before this means that clothes shopping takes a back seat! I tend to prioritize shopping for allergy bands, cases to hold our auto-injectors, stickers etc.

This year shopping for allergy gear took on a whole different meaning after I came across  Blue Bear Aware. This site is full of allergy products to help manage our son's food allergy when he is away from home in what I call a fun, functional and fashionable way! I'll include links to a few of the products that I like and also one that my husband recommends for the food allergy dad's out there. The best part for us was learning that Blue Bear Aware is located here in Houston! HFAN would like to thank Blue Bear Aware Owner Heather for joining us at our Back to School Part 2 meeting.
Thank you Blue Bear Aware
HFAN Dairy Allergy Mom's Blue Bear Aware Fav's
FRIO - Helps keep auto-injector cool 
Inhaler - Puffer Pouch Shooting Stars
Customer Allergy Labels (the one labeled Housework of course!)
HFAN Dairy Allergy Dad's Blue Bear Aware Fav's
Plain DUO

So as we bring our Back to School discussion to a close I invite you to stay tuned to our blog and facebook page for announcements about our October meeting date and discussion topics.
HFAN Dairy Allergy Mom

Back to School Part 2: Recap

Follow up on Back to School Part 2. We covered quite a bit of information during the meeting, so I will recap a few points that stood out for me from the meeting. I first want to start off by saying THANK YOU to our guest, a Dietary Accommodations Nutritionist for HISD, for joining us in our back to school discussion. In a previous post I included links to HISD's nutrition information. I was impressed then as I perused their site and found tons of information for students with special dietary needs. Now after meeting the person involved in managing the process for Dietary Accommodations, I am in awe after learning about the meticulous process that goes on behind the scenes of the nutrition department in the 7th largest school district in the country. For our HISD families that follow us on social media I can say that you are in good hands! I also want to point out that this was HISD's first year with a tent at the FARE Walk here in Houston. So a big thank you to Food Service for making that happen! It's great when you know that an institution as large as HISD  is taking the time and resources to participate and advocate for our food allergy community! HFAN is looking forward to seeing them back out there for the 2015 walk!


HFAN Dairy Allergy Mom

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to School Part 2

As we approach the end of our third week of school and I find myself exhaling a bit more and somewhat less anxious, it becomes evident to me that the work that we put into planning for safety in our school is worth it! We've transitioned from eating in a classroom to now eating in the main cafeteria successfully. The first birthday cupcake event took place in my son's classroom with no incident (well aside from the fact that mommy forgot to bake a cupcake). But it worked out because our "Emergency Food" plan that was put in place was the back up to my oversight and he was able to enjoy his "Oreo" emergency treat!
So with that said I have included a template for the labels that we distributed to the school to use for any food events held in any early childhood classrooms that might have a child with food allergies. In my next post I will share with you a few of my favorite "Back to School" products from "Blue Bear Allergy Aware" online catalog.

USE THIS LABEL TEMPLATE TO PRINT OUT
"STOP I HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES" LABELS.
(AVERY 5163 2x4 NEON LABELS)

GIVE THESE TO YOUR CHILD'S TEACHER/NURSE TO PLACE ON YOUR CHILD'S BACK DURING CLASSROOM FOOD EVENTS.

Our "Nut Eggactly" mom has seen this implemented in the child care setting and has found that it is very helpful to alert any volunteers or staff that are not familiar with your child's food allergy.

Friday, August 22, 2014

HFAN is listed!

Dairy Allergy Mom and I are pleased to share that HFAN is now listed as a support group on FARE's website!  Needless to say, we are very excited!  Please share this good news with anyone you know who may benefit from this group!

Houston Food Allergy Network (HFAN)

Contact Name: Danielle Williams & Cynthia Garza
Contact Email: houstonfoodallergynetwork@gmail.com
City: Houston 

Country: USA
Mission: To provide support to families dealing with the daily challenges of managing food allergies, to raise community awareness, and to advocate for change


Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School: What's Cookin' in Public School?

Houston Independent School District
www.houstonisd.org/hisd
As a follow up to our meeting this month themed "Back to School", I decided to do some research on protocols established by neighboring public schools. As I mentioned before we currently attend private school however I am familiar with the extensive protocols that HISD has in place because I have family that works for HISD's food service department. For the purpose of making this blog informational I pulled a few sections of the district's website to share here. I know there were a few parents that attended the HFAN August meeting that mentioned they would be meeting with their school principal soon. We would love to hear how the meeting went and any recommendations you might have on how to make the best of the meeting with the school principal and/or administrators. Below are a few resources from HISD's website that I found most helpful and informative. 
Dietary Accommodations
Search Allergens

2013-2014 Breakfast Allergen Chart
2013-2014 Lunch Menu Allergen Chart

I also included a section from the FAQ's. I was curious to know if parents are prohibited from bringing store bought or homemade sweets into the classroom for birthday celebrations.The FAQ's didn't quite answer my the question but they specify that the "special" treat should not be served during the lunch period so that the student's appetite is not ruined.

FAQ's Nutritional Guidelines

If your child attends a public school we would love to hear from you! Please share your experience with managing your child's food allergy and any helpful tips for our HFAN families!

Dairy Allergy Mom

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

School Food Allergy Management Protocol

Hi there!  Our meeting last night refreshed my soul.  It was great to meet each of you and here your stories. Thank you all for coming and sharing a piece of your lives with all of us.  

Below is an example of a food allergy policy that will be implemented this upcoming year at an area school.  Feel free to share this information with your schools.  



School Food Allergy Mgt. Protocol

On another note, Dairy Allergy Mom and I are submitting our FARE New Support Group Application Form this week.  Also, the meeting dates for the remainder of this year are posted.  If you know of someone who can benefit from an 'in person' support group, please bring them to the next meeting.  Hope to see y'all at the FARE walk in September!
 






Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to School: Part 1/Getting Organized!

As I sit here writing this, I cannot believe that summer is half over!  Seriously, where did the time go.  I think I spent much of June organizing from the previous year and for the start of the new school year.  I  am trying to stay ahead of the game (aren't we all) by being prepared with all of the necessary forms needed at the beginning of the school year.  Whether it is immunization records or medication authorization forms, all of it needs our undivided attention so that we do not make any mistakes.  With that said, I started prepping for my kids back to school as soon as the other ended to avoid any end of summer anxiety that may be lurking.  For me, staying organized and having plans keep me calm.  My husband and many others who know me call me OCD, but I certainly think it benefits us all when managing two youngsters with severe food allergies.

Once 2014 summer began and I had all of our food allergy emergency kits back in my possession, I began to assess each one.  This is when I go through and check expiration dates, what needs refills and prepare my new food allergy action plans from FARE (www.foodallergy.org) for my kids' allergist to fill out (I mail them in and pick them up at out summer check ups).  I like to have a new one each year with an updated photo attached.  Last year while aimlessly shopping school supplies at Wal-Mart, I stumbled upon this inexpensive zipper pouch ($1).  They came in these really fun and bright colors.  I immediately started thinking of what I could use them for!  Then it hit me at how fantastic they would be for my kids' emergency kits for school.  Other than being super cheap, I loved the fact that they had a 'window' where my child's picture could be seen along with his name, allergies and weight.  Bingo!  I bought four!  One could only imagine how elated I was when ALL of the important stuff fit so neatly into it: Auvi-Q box (set of 2), small bottle of Zyrtec, and an inhaler!  Now I know it may seem so mundane to some of you out there, but this helped organize things for my husband and I.

Food Allergy Emergency Kit

After assessing what I need for each kit, I make a list and print my epinephrine coupons.  You can check out www.epipen.com/en/copay-offer and www.auvi-q.com to see if your eligible.  The coupons will allow you to receive up to three 'free' epinephrine pens (no copay) per prescription. I attach both an Auvi-Q coupon and an EpiPen coupon to each of my childrens' prescriptions.  This is super since getting multiple sets can add up.  Make sure to check the expiration dates when you receive your auto-injectors as I received epipens that expired in 6 months.  The pharmacist graciously swapped them out for epipens with longer expiration dates as I do not want to have to remember to change out expired pens during the school year.

Another must have for back to school is an allergy awareness bracelet.  Right now my kids think that they are really cool.  Here is a bracelet that I recently found at Wal-Mart near the pharmacy.  I cannot tell you exactly where the bracelets are located since this particular one seemed to be misplaced sitting atop the bandaids with no others in sight.  I took it as a sign that I needed to get it.  So I did.  

Food allergy awareness bracelet


 I like this bracelet because it has snaps and can grow with my child.  It was inexpensive too.  I recall paying about $5.  The other bracelets that we own are from Allerbling.  They are bright orange and came with two sizes (non adjustable) per pack.  I ordered the bracelets from Amazon a couple of years ago for about $15.  I am pleased with all of the bracelets and my kids are too.  On a side note, I have also seen individual food allergy awareness bracelets at CVS.  The last time I checked, my local CVS did not carry a bracelet that included all of the allergens.

Last year, Dairy Allergy Mom and I made bright, mini, classroom posters.  This was a new idea that we implemented.  Our goal was to assist classroom personnel (ie. homeroom parents, substitute teachers, etc..) in better identifying our food allergy kids.  The posters simply listed each child's food allergies and had a current school picture. The posters were hung in the classroom and were well received by school administration.  Both Dairy Allergy Mom and myself were delighted to hear that our school nurse keeps a similar system in her office.  This year we will make similar posters.

Lastly, in an effort to be back to school prepared, Dairy Allergy Mom and I met with our school principal and school nurse.  This was uncharted territory to meet during the summer!  We wanted to meet before school to avoid having the 'Meet the Teacher' night be all about our kids' food allergies.  I must say that following this meeting I was very relieved.  Sometimes you don't realize how stressed out you are until it is gone, right?  The meeting helped to manage our expectations.  It was comforting to hear that the food allergy policy will now be a part of our school handbook.  Dairy Allergy Mom and I continue our quest to educate and not to isolate.  We want the same things for our kids as everybody else...inclusion.  We have been blessed to meet the right people to help us along on our journey.

If any of you have ideas that you would like to share about your 'Back to School' preparations, please attend our next meeting on August 4, 2014.  We would love to hear from you.

Back to School: Part 2/504's and IEP's: What are these things?




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dairy Allergy Family Travels…South of the Border!? Travel preparation checklist and timeline.

This is the last installment in this topic and is in a format I hope you can easily adapt to your plans.


4 months in advance
Booking Airfare:
Take the first flight of the day. The planes get the best cleaning overnight and you will be dealing with airline staff that is fresh and more likely to be customer friendly. Of course the farther in advance you book the better. Strategically, if you sit at the back of the plane more people will pass by you with contaminants on their hands.   Likewise sitting in the aisle increases your chance of 2nd hand exposure.  Weigh this against your need for emergency potty breaks.
4 months in advance
Booking ground transportation:
Nothing to remark here!
3/4 months in advance
Booking lodging:

Location.  Beach resorts tend to be grouped on a single strip in a tourist zone.  In Mexico this means that you are farther from local facilities; you’ll want to know how far you are from the city center, emergency care and grocery stores.

Key management staff.  Before we arrived, we started weekly communication with the reservation staff, front desk management, and the medical advisor (doctor on staff). Short emails reminded them of our allergy.  It started with requests for Restaurant menus to see what was off limits etc.  We went so far as to share resources (Welcoming Guests) from the FARE website.

Kitchen Staff: Our initial request to prepare our own food in the restaurant kitchens was declined.  So we started a dialog of how to train the servers and cooking staff about allergy awareness sharing more FARE resources!  Fortunately we were accommodated with a kitchenette, so it became a moot point.

Cleaning staff: For people with environmental allergies a visit to the desert in the middle of summer is, well, a great idea!!  Cleaning a sandy room in a low humidity environment is easy.  This is compared to our experience in Cancun, where humidity is high, vegetation, pollen and mildew is more of a concern.  HVAC in Houston (the most air conditioned city in the nation) is great, anywhere else…eh.  We take it for granted that the air inside will be cool and dry.


2 months in advance
Introduce medical staff:
This was a little miracle.  By chance the hotel doctor on staff had been in residency in Houston.  By chance our allergist is from Latin America.  As a professional courtesy to both I arranged introductions by phone before our arrival.  Now these coincidences were more than I could have planned for, but the Drs. common experience and compassion for healing was one more way we bridged the awareness gap.


2 weeks before travel
Meet with allergist:
This is where we received the signed documents identifying all medications that we are travelling with, what their purpose is, and also the statement that foods are necessary to ensure safe food is available throughout the trip and not only the flight.


Day of travel
Arrival at the terminal:
Do not take advantage of curbside check in!  You don’t want risk your checked luggage not making it to the ticketing counter and have someone hold it up because of the food and  / dry ice.


Day of travel
Ticketing and check in:
Here is where you have to explain that you are carrying the cooler full of perishable foods.  This is where United charged for the hazardous material (dry ice) and the cooler gets labelled as such with additional stickers.


Day of travel
TSA:
We were able to get through check without incident.  Be prepared with print outs from the TSA website describing their policy; in case you get a new hire.


Day of travel
Boarding the plane:
United did not allow preboarding for small children by policy.  But if you can show that you are doing them a favor by entering the back of the plane 1st and not holding up everyone else they may see it your way!  This will allow you a little more time to wipe down the seats and armrests around you.


Day of travel
In flight :
While we did not benefit from this, airlines in Canada have implemented a buffer zone.  The flight can be arranged so that flight attendants make a proactive effort at restricting nuts during flight.  You have to make the arrangements a few days in advance of the flight.

That's it!  best of luck & Buen Viaje!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dairy Allergy Family Travels…South of the Border!? Online resources we found helpful

I've taken longer than I intended to post the second part of this blog.  Vacation will do that to your inbox; you return to a mountain where there was once a molehill.

It is now July and I hope that this blog will find you in time for your own summer travels.  There are plenty of online resources for traveling with food, so I am providing you with a “what really happened” report.

One of the first things we found in planning our trip to Mexico is not all packaged foods are distributed outside the USA.  No problem, we all know about ‘care’ packages being shipped overseas, so it seemed reasonable that we could pack food we know to be safe.


The most important resource is the Transportation Security Administration website - If you can’t get it past security, you can’t eat it.  Then the airline’s website - If you can’t get it on the plane, you can’t eat it.  Then Mexico’s customs website - If you can’t get it in the country you can’t eat it.

One by one:

1.       TSA allows the transport of more than the typical 3.5 oz. of fluids in carry on luggage.  It also allows for much larger quantities in checked luggage: http://www.tsa.gov/traveling-formula-breast-milk-and-juice

You will need to get a statement from your doctor describing the medical need for food / medicine in your carry on luggage.  Checked foods simply need to be packed safely against leaks.  All items contained within the cooler and the total weight of the cooler + foods need to be labeled on the outside, visible to a TSA inspector.  United has a 50 pound limit before they charge for extra weight, but we were well within this limit.

2.       Related to transporting food is the need to keep it from spoiling; United Airlines has a policy for packing perishables in dry ice (the FAA does not allow liquid gel coolants).  They also have a policy for charging you.  This was ridiculously expensive and it is considered a hazardous substance.


United Airlines fees for traveling with dry ice:

We found that United’s limit of 5.5 pounds of dry ice was more than enough to chill a 35 gallon cooler for a 4 hour flight.



3.       Guidelines on what foods can be brought to Mexico:


I'm not sure what happened here.  I understood from official websites that so long as meat was prepackaged, vacuum sealed, with U.S.D.A stamps that bringing meat from USA to Mexico was ok.  I was angry when we arrived in Mexico to find my TSA approved lock and most of our food missing. Instead I found a crumpled up TSA inspection form and no explanation.   Perhaps the lock failed and the cooler busted open on the conveyor belt; but there was a little of everything left; meat included.


  Maybe someone was hanging out in the airport and was really hungry, like that Snowden guy.  I hoped it was simply a fugitive of international espionage and not someone who didn't know the policy.

Be warned, this was an expensive investment, but we managed to buy all we needed in Mexico.

As a side lesson, we found during our trip to Walmart that labeling in Mexico captures the Big 8 Allergens!


milk
eggs
fish
crustacean shellfish
tree nuts
peanuts
wheat
soybean
leche
huevos
pescado
crustáceos
nueces de árbol
cacahuates
trigo
haba de soja




Next week I will detail our checklist; putting the plan on paper.


Blog entries to come:
·         Travel Preparation Checklist

·         Travel Plan Timeline

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dairy Allergy Family Travels…South of the Border!? Coordinating Medical Action Plan with Local MX Medical Care

Early in my son’s life we were in Florence, Italy when an ambulance arrived at the restaurant where we were dining.  My wife and I joked that perhaps we shouldn't eat there anymore.  I realize now it was in bad taste to the restaurateur, and horribly insensitive to a soul who might be scared for his very life.  Fast forward four years, the biggest concern I had in traveling to Mexico was ensuring my son would have access to high quality medical care…should such an emergency occur.

How do I get those questions answered?

In Houston, with the Texas Medical Center, superhighways, and EMS transport around every corner; we have an extended support network of sorts.
But, outside the USA?   What hospital do we go to?  How do we get there?

It turns out, hospital names and locations were the simplest to answer, but nothing more we could really do about it.  If we found ourselves in need of emergency care we knew that we would have cross language barriers & maybe preconceptions about food allergies versus intolerance at the absolutely worst time.  This is where we sought help.  Instead of planning for emergencies, we planned for safety.


Cabo is marketed to American tourists. Tourists who think it’s fun to sit in the middle of a desert under the summer sun.  With five star management, large scale Food & Beverage operations, pools and lifeguards, they even have a U.S. trained Medical Doctor on staff.  After booking the flight and room, my next order of business was to contact the good doctor and gain his support as our champion.

El doctor was instrumental in communicating our needs to upper management.  This voice of authority cannot be overemphasized.  Armed with the invaluable FARE web resources in English and Spanish we overcame both language barriers and skepticism.  Emergency care plan(Sp)  Emergency care plan(En).

From top to bottom, the entire staff was aware of our arrival and requirements by the time we arrived!

We also included our Allergist in our travel plans, who provided additional documents describing in Spanish the various medicines we were carrying (BRAND and GENERIC NAMES) and the purpose of each.  I read stories of emergency providers misinterpreting prescriptions and dosage requirements and wanted to avoid both.

So, we were prepared with letters of introduction signed, sealed, and delivered.

Blog entries to come:
·         Online Resources that we found helpful
·         Travel Preparation Checklist
·         Travel Plan Timeline

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dairy Allergy Family Travels…South of the Border!?

For any parent of a child with a severe Dairy Allergy I know what you are thinking.  Well I know what I was thinking, “How in the world will I manage to feed my child in a country where every course has dairy as a main ingredient”? We knew it wouldn’t be easy. And, we knew that it would take some planning and coordination.   

My husband and I have always loved to travel internationally. Traveling with our son as an infant with food allergies was a piece of cake (dairy free), even traveling with him as a toddler was manageable. But now that he is five it seemed that it would be near impossible. Just the thought of taking on a trip and managing his dairy allergy in a foreign country increased our anxiety level. It took us two years to finally work up the courage and take on the trip. Thank goodness for our support group! After a few conversations with our favorite food allergy mom blogger Nuteggactly, and after reaching out to our support system, we worked up the courage.   

Once we decided we were up for the task, we felt it made sense to travel to a destination we had visited in the past. Our criteria was simply that we stay at a resort where we felt they could accommodate our needs and provide us with a comfortable stay. The goal was to get our hands around handling food allergies outside the USA and the sooner the better.  
First stop: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Here we come! Allà vamos 


Stay Tuned…………………………….

Dairy Allergy Family Travels…South of the Border!? Blog entries to come: Coordinating Medical Action Plan with Local MX Medical Care; Online Resources that we found helpful; Travel Preparation Checklist; Travel Plan Timeline



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Food Allergy Awareness Week 2014

Class treat bags

Cynthia's idea to have our children's school celebrate Food Allergy Awareness Week proved to be a great one! We worked closely with school administration to organize a week that would raise awareness about food allergies.  The school held a teal free dress day during the week where any student wishing to participate could donate $1 to our selected organization.  We chose FARE to be the recipient of the funds raised.  Cynthia scheduled a registered nurse to speak to the middle school students and prepared food allergy posters and bookmarks to be placed around the school.  I arranged for food samples to be donated for staff awareness bags as I thought it would be helpful for them to sample food products geared for the food allergy population.  With generous samples provided by Sunbutter and Enjoy Life, I assembled staff awareness bags and class treat bags. The bags included the food samples, items sporting the teal awareness ribbon and recipes.  Our school nurse and librarian further assisted our efforts by filling the staff bags with food allergy handouts and reading food allergy books to the elementary students.  Starting the school year feeling overwhelmed and isolated, it was a great success to end the year on such a positive note. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

HFAN highlights

On May 1, 2014, the Houston Food Allergy Network held its first meeting.  What a great way to celebrate Food Allergy Awareness month. The founding members created the group's name and mission statement.  We discussed SafeFARE and presented the restaurant (Candelari's) with a flyer on how to get involved.  We identified upcoming events in our community: Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 11-17th, 2014) and the Houston FARE walk (September 6, 2014).  We are excited to begin this group and will plan to meet monthly. The next meetings are scheduled for July 14, 2014 and August 4, 2014.  All meetings will begin at 6:30p and will be held in the Fellowship Hall located at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Memorial Park.    

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Welcome all!

As a mom to two young kids diagnosed with food allergies (tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and sesame), I have been searching for a support group to meet others facing the same daily challenges as my family.  After years of searching and praying, I have finally met another dedicated mom who understands and shares my passion for raising awareness about food allergies in the community. We soon recognized that it was time to start a support group in the Houston area. We have worked together over the past few months preparing this group and aligning ourselves with a great support team.  It is our hope that this group can touch the lives of many.  As we have both felt in our food allergy journeys, a food allergy diagnosis can be very isolating and stressful.  Cynthia and I hope that this group can provide the emotional, spiritual and educational support needed to make life better and safer for all of those with food allergies in our community.  Please drop in anytime for a meeting.

May is Food Allergy Awareness month!

Food Allergy Awareness month is upon us.  Be vocal, wear teal and check out some of these local events. A raffle drawing will be held...