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Showing posts with label Food Allergy Awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food Allergy Awareness. Show all posts

Oct 13, 2016

Teal Pumpkin Project

I love that so many companies are making it easier for families to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. I was so excited about the movement the first year it began, and my love for this effort has just continued to grow. There are so many reasons to swap out the usual candy treats for some fun, non-food items instead. I know my kids love getting little prizes and appreciate them much more than a few pieces of candy, which we inevitably end up getting rid of not too long after collecting it.

Nov 20, 2015

Food Allergy Friendships (and Making it Milk-free is Three!)

I realized a few days late that Making it Milk-free turned three years old! November 11 is a special day for many reasons. It is Veteran's Day, our wedding anniversary, and the day I decided to start a blog. In all honesty, I didn't know what I was doing three years ago when I decided to start blogging. (If you followed back then, I'm sure you could guess that!) As I reflect on that time, I have discovered so much more than I ever thought I would.

Photo Credit: Food Allergy Jams

Oct 24, 2015

Keep it Teal: the Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal Ombre Pumpkin with Glitter & Teal Mummy Pumpkin by Making it Milk-free | Teal Pumpkin Project | makingitmilkfree.com

If you haven't heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project yet, you're probably living under a rock. I kid...sort of. The Teal Pumpkin Project has been all over social media this fall. The campaign was launched in 2014 by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to raise awareness of food allergies. It also is a way to encourage others to include people with food allergies in the fun of trick-or-treating on Halloween by handing out non-food items instead of just candy, which many with allergies are unable to fully enjoy. Find out more about how you can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™.

Nov 11, 2014

Two Year Blogiversary!

Today is a special day for many reasons. It is Veteran's Day. A day to honor and thank our current and past military members, who have put their lives on the line for our freedom. If you are one of these brave, outstanding individuals, THANK YOU for your service!

Today also marks my husband's and my 3-year anniversary. What an awesome day that was!

Last, but certainly not least, two years ago today was the day I began this little blog! (Otherwise known as "Blogiversary.") You can read more about what spurred my desire to start this blog over on the Food Allergy Jams blog where I am guest posting today, or here.

Nov 9, 2014

Sometimes You Even Surprise Yourself (Guest Post)

Today's post is from fellow food allergy mama, Kathy, from Food Allergy Jams. Kathy's mission is to create a CD collection of songs to teach young children about food allergies and to help kids with food allergies explain their needs to others. Her Kickstarter campaign is gaining momentum and the support of the food allergy community as backers can help boost her dream to a reality! Here is a peek inside her journey:

Nov 8, 2013

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference :: 2013 Recap

When I first began writing this blog nearly a year ago, I never imagined the amazingly supportive community of bloggers and advocates that exists. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Food Allergy Blogger Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, with so many of them. You may have seen my posts on various social media platforms about how excited I was for this journey, but those posts cannot truly capture the excitement I was feeling.

View of the New York New York Hotel & Casino

Feb 7, 2013

Food Allergies, Bullying and a Ray of Hope

I am saddened by the number of stories I have read lately about children with food allergies who have been bullied by a peer due to their allergy. The statistics are staggering and speak for themselves:

According to the Kids with Food Allergy Foundation, "A recent survey conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), showed that 79% of food-allergic children and teens reported bullying, teasing, or harassment related to their food allergies. Of those bullied, 57% described events in which someone touched them with their allergen, waved it in front of them, or threw it at them."

I know that bullying is a big, controversial topic in our world. None of it - absolutely none - is right or okay. I am sure I will never understand why people feel the need to treat others in a negative way. I am extremely a little biased and have a greater understanding of food allergy than I do of other situations that could entice one child to bully another, so this hits close to home. But seriously, throwing a food item at a child whom you know is allergic to it?!? I imagine these children don't truly understand the repercussions of their actions and the severity of food allergy and anaphylactic reactions.

Definition: A rapidly progressing, life-threatening allergic reaction.  
Description: Anaphylaxis is a type of allergic reaction, in which the immune system responds to otherwise harmless substances from the environment.  Unlike other reactions, however, anaphylaxis can kill.  Reaction may begin within minutes or even seconds of exposure, and rapidly progress to cause airway constriction, skin and intestinal irritation, and altered heart rhythms.  In severe cases, it can result in complete airway obstruction, shock, and death.

I don't mean to be a Debbie-downer, and my true intentions for this post are as follows: For every child who is cruel to others and is a bully, there is another who is thoughtful, selfless, and considerate of their peers. The example I'm going to use makes my heart swell with pride and love.

Mason has an older sister named Ciara. She is a beautiful, funny, loving 12-year old. Just the other day, her mother told me a story about Ciara. One of her classmates is a boy with a peanut allergy. When Ciara brings food to school for their class, she brings the box in order for the boy to read the labels himself. If she knows he can't eat that item, she will pick up something that is safe for him so that he will be included. None of her other classmates do this for him. Her reason behind doing this: Mason. She knows how important avoiding allergens is because of her little brother.

Hearing this story brought me to tears. Not only because I understand what a big deal it is, but because I am incredibly happy to hear a positive story about a child doing something out of the kindness of her heart. Because she is including him when no one else does. Because she thinks of someone and puts their needs first. Because she thinks of her little brother and has learned something from him. The list of reasons why I am SO proud of her goes on and on.

I get discouraged at times, thinking of all of the preparation we, as parents of food-allergic kiddos, go through to protect our children, teach them and others to be cognizant of their needs, hope and pray that every day has a safe outcome.... only to know that we can never be fully prepared for that possible reaction. Bullying scares me. I don't ever want my child, or any other, to be bullied for any reason, especially not something so completely out of their control. I cringe to think that we as parents wouldn't teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and teach them how to treat others.

But I am encouraged by stories like Ciara's. She gives me a ray of hope in an otherwise dim and twisted world.

To learn more about food allergy awareness and education in a format your children will understand, click here.

Jan 20, 2013

Food Allergies - A Constant Learning Opportunity

The subject of food allergies is a HUGE part of our life (obviously...). I could easily dedicate several posts to this topic alone (and I'm sure I will do just that). Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

If you know us or have read my previous posts, you know that my son has a severe, life-threatening milk allergy. He was officially diagnosed at 6 months old, although I was sure of it only a few weeks after he was born. He had a few instances as an infant of blood in his stools and colic that, in hindsight, were a sensitivity to foods in my diet while I was nursing.

Changing my diet helped, but at 6 months old we started supplementing formula and the problems worsened. It took a little while to convince our pediatrician it was an allergy but after a severe bout of hives when eating cereal puffs containing a milk ingredient, we were finally referred to an allergy/asthma specialist for a formal diagnosis.

Three and a half years later, avoiding milk and anything with milk or its derivatives as an ingredient, reading every label, being extremely diligent about cross-contamination, and packing food for any meals away from home are now a normal part of our lives. (He was also allergic to eggs, but has since grown out of it and does just fine with them-Praise the Lord!)

Although we have had struggles here and there, my little man is very well adjusted to his allergy and really understands a lot about it at such a young age. He has had a few reactions and remembers them well enough to know he doesn't want to feel that way again. He is SO smart and cognizant of his allergy. He knows to ask if something is "safe" for him before accepting it, and does so regularly.

I will never forget Halloween night when he was not quite two years old. We had been practicing how to knock, say "trick-or-treat," hold out his bag, say "thank you," and not to touch anything inside until Mommy had checked it to be sure it was safe. At one of the first houses I finally decided to stand back and let him do his thing. He did everything just as we had practiced. The neighbor held out a bowl and I watched him stare intently into the bowl, (my anxiety going 100 miles per hour) when he turned and yelled, "Mommy, these aren't safe for me!"

It seems a little silly to say, but that is one of my absolute proudest mom moments right there! It's a toss up between that day and seeing him run across the soccer field with a bag of fruit snacks in hand, yelling, "Mommy, can I have this?!" The looks I get from people who just don't understand are sometimes humorous, but honestly, I LOVE using those moments to educate others about food allergies.

I am incredibly thankful that our families are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to allergies. Food allergies seem to have run rampant between my son and my nephew and nieces. (I think we could all pretty well be considered experts on the topic by now!) I am also blessed with wonderful in-laws who have learned about allergies and do so much to include the little guy when we get together. I love them all so much!

As for daycare, we have had our share of learning (and teaching) opportunities. At 18 months old, I decided to send my *baby* to a church preschool. It was nerve-wracking for this mommy and took some time for us all to adjust. But over time, the daycare director and teachers were absolutely wonderful and learned SO much about his allergy. They began to provide nearly all of his food for breakfast, lunch and snack. They were all such a blessing to us and made it just that much easier for me to worry (a little) less.

When my hubby and I got married, little man and I moved to a small town about 30 minutes away from the daycare. For nearly a year, I couldn't bring myself to switch daycares, even though it would've been great to not have to drive an hour+ each day. I knew eventually I would be having to educate a new teacher each year once he starts school and figured it was as good a time as any to take the plunge.

So, about five months ago he began attending a preschool only a few miles from our home. After the first few meetings, the director and I decided it best if I brought his meals and snacks each day. We have breakfast at home, I provide almond milk for the week along with his entrees (they do provide fruit and veggies daily) and snacks. Five weekly rotating menus make it easy to keep track of, and I do my best to make him something very similar to what the other kids are eating for each meal.

In my quest to feed my family healthier meals, this is definitely a blessing. I know exactly what goes into his meals, which is a plus from both the allergy and nutrition perspectives. I've tried to educate everyone at the new preschool about his allergies, but I have to admit it is kind of nice to just be able to say, "don't feed him anything that I didn't bring and/or approve of in advance."

There is MUCH more to food allergy education however, such as:
the necessity of handwashing by all kids and teachers before and after meals;
having an EpiPen accessible at all times;
recognizing symptoms of a reaction;
and knowing that accidental exposure could result in any form of reaction from hives to anaphylaxis, requiring hospitalization-or worse. We deal with asthma as well, which studies have shown can result in more severe allergic reactions.

One of the most important rules when it comes to food allergies is there can be absolutely NO guessing. If it doesn't have a label, or you just don't know, the answer is no. Even at such a young age, Mason understands this. He doesn't feel like he's being excluded when he doesn't get to have something that his friends have (although I do usually have a healthy and safe alternative on hand for him).

Just the other day, we were driving through town and I heard him exclaim in his happy little boy voice, "Hey look, there's McDonald's! I can't eat there!"

It just makes my heart swell! :)

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