This week has brought some very disheartening, frustrating, and honestly scary news for the food allergy community.
This past weekend, the FDA issued new guidance that loosens up the labeling requirements for non-top 8 food allergens due to COVID-19. This guidance came as a shock to everyone in the food allergy community – including Food Allergy Research & Education (or FARE). The new guidance does not effect rules with the top 8 allergens, but it does create problems for millions of food allergy families who are constantly searching for safe foods.
The FDA lists that the goal of the new guidance, “is to provide regulatory flexibility, where fitting, to help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic on product availability.” And while this makes sense on one-hand, it also means that families that rely on very clear and strong labeling laws are now at risk. The FDA guidance goes on to say, “For example, we are providing flexibility for manufacturers to use existing labels, without making otherwise required changes, when making minor formula adjustments due to unforeseen shortages or supply chain disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The FDA does it make it clear that the top 8 allergens (along with a handful of others – sesame, celery, and mustard to name a few), may not be substituted without clear labeling. It does not, however, include rules for dozens of other ingredients that can cause anaphylactic reactions in people with food allergies. Keeping the guidelines the way they were would cost the food companies a headache along with some money. But changing these guidelines like they did could cost someone with a food allergy their life.
How is it the entire country/world has entered and accepted this current pandemic and taken drastic measures to prevent the spread of it, but yet there is a pandemic, if you will, around food allergies… that has not received near the attention it should? This is a life or death situation daily, and for their entire lives, for these individuals… and now the audacity of the FDA to lessen the required labeling is sickening and appalling.
– Katie Fraunholtz – fellow food allergy mom
All of this is on top of the stress and fear that many food allergy families are facing right now due to limited food supplies from COVID-19. Because grocery stores are selling out of “normal” items, many people are turning to allergy-friendly alternatives instead. This limits the availability of those allergy-friendly foods for those that NEED them. I know in our family, we have had to go to a handful of stores in one trip to find the allergy-friendly essentials we need to feed our daughter. Now with this, options could be even more limited (or non-existent) for those whose allergies are outside of the ingredients listed in the new FDA guidance.
Many organizations, food allergy families, and food allergy allies are looking for ways to stop this new guidance. FARE has asked that food allergy families join in the fight to ask the FDA to re-think these new guidelines. A simple way to do so is by filling out a short form at regulations.gov and putting your concerns in the “Comment” box. Be sure to include your name and hit “submit” when finished.
We need to send a strong message to the FDA, and by taking action today, you can be a voice for the 32 million Americans who depend on strong labeling laws to protect their health and safety.
– Food Allergy Research & Education
I beg you to please take the time to fill this out! If there has ever been a time to stand up for those with food allergies, it’s now.
May is Food Allergy Awareness Month and May 10-16 was Food Allergy Awareness Week. In honor of that, I worked hard over the last couple of months to create some food allergy education resources!
As a food allergy mom, I’ve seen the need for creative ways to explain food allergies to kids. So, I decided to create an educational activity book geared towards kids ages 3-8. It helps explain food allergies through interactive, printable pages that can be used at home or in school!
If you have a child with food allergies and are looking for a way to educate other kids about those allergies, this if for you! If you are looking for a way to teach your child about food allergies so they can better support their friends, this is also for you!
The activity book is available through my Etsy shop here.
Each order contains a 6-page activity book that you can print as many times as you’d like once you have purchased it! I used the book with my kindergarten daughter and she loved it! It was great to teach her more about her sister’s allergies but also to teach her about other food allergies as well. I hope it’s as useful for some of you as it is for us!
The second thing I created is a food allergy coloring book just for kids with food allergies! It contains a page specific to each of the top 8 allergies. It covers the very basics of what it means to have a food allergy and gives them coloring pages to talk through it! It’s available to purchase from my Etsy shop here for only $3.
These were truly a labor of love for me and I would be extremely grateful if you would consider using it with your own children! Every kid who knows about food allergies is a kid that can help keep my daughter safe! ❤️❤️
Ever wanted friend ice cream but didn’t want to mess with actually having to deep-fry something? Well look no further! Here is a super easy 5 minute recipe! Added bonus – you can even make this vegan!
Vanilla ice cream of your choosing (I used a vegan ice cream to keep it allergy friendly!)
Corn flakes (or you can substitute Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Frosted Flakes)
Margarine or butter (again, I used a vegan margarine to keep it allergy friendly)
Honey and/or chocolate syrup
Scoop out your ice cream and put it in the freezer.
Add margarine, corn flakes, and a bit of sugar to a small pan and sauté the corn flakes for a few minutes. If you choose to use Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Frosted Flakes (like I did here!) you can skip the extra sugar.
Lay the corn flakes onto a plate and gently roll your ice cream in the corn flake mixture. You can use your hands to add extra of the corn flake mixture into your ice cream.
Drizzle with honey (pictured), chocolate syrup, or any topping of your choice. You could also add whipped cream and a cherry if you want to get extra fancy. 😉
If you’re like me, these last few weeks have had a lot of ups and downs. I stopped working three weeks ago when the major retailer I work for decided to close their stores. Thankfully, they are still paying all of us, so that’s one major headache that I haven’t had to encounter. But the stress, anxiety, and worry that came along with stay-at-home orders, rising COVID-19 numbers, and working from home were all there.
We have 3 kids at home – a 6-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an 8-month-old. The 6 year old in in kindergarten, so when schools shut down, teaching from home became our new normal. I still breastfeed my 8-month-old which means that he is tied to my hip about 10 out of the 24 hours of the day (aka the entire time he’s awake). The 2-year-old is independent and needy all at the same time. She is so strong-willed and she’s also my allergy kiddo. She’s also potty training. My house is chaotic. Just the three of them cooped up in the house creates some stress. But the things outside the house create even more.
Will my family stay safe through this pandemic? Am I making the right choices to help keep them safe? Am I doing enough to disinfect everything that we have delivered? Am I being over the top if I wipe down every single thing that enters our house? Am I not being protective enough if I don’t wipe every single thing down or leave it in the garage for days as I keep seeing people suggest? What provides less risk – having our groceries delivered by a stranger or having my husband run out to grab what we need? Will the store have all of the allergy-friendly foods that my daughter desperately needs? When will I go back to work? Will my daughter get to finish her first year of school in her actual school building or will we be finishing the school year at home? Did I just hear someone sneeze? What does that mean? Where is my thermometer? Am I paying enough attention to the kids and providing them with enough activities to keep them entertained? Am I taking care of myself during this and giving myself the breaks I need? Am I still being a good wife to my husband? How did I forget to add that to my grocery list? Am I a good enough mom to survive this?
These questions and others like it have been running through my head constantly these last few weeks. I struggle with anxiety as it is, so this pandemic has only amplified that. I really thought I was doing well until I realized that my old friend insomnia had come back for a visit. Suddenly I was having a hard time falling asleep and sometimes an even harder time staying asleep (although my 8-month-old doesn’t really help that! haha!). I had to re-frame my thoughts – and fast – if I wanted to come out of this pandemic with all of my hair.
The truth is, there are a lot of things I can’t control right now. That’s where anxiety stems from – the unseen. But the other truth is that there are still things I can control. There are things we can all do to stay positive. I can choose joy. Here are some of the things that I’ve been making myself do. Hopefully they will help you too!
Focus on the time you get to spend with your family.
This time is invaluable. Outside of maternity leave, I have NEVER gotten this much time to spend with my kids or my husband. As a working mom, I feel like I’m constantly missing things. But in these last 3 weeks, I have put my kids to bed every single night. I’ve been there when they woke up every morning. I’ve eaten dinner with them nightly. I’ve played with them, read to them, cooked for them, and cuddled with them. I’ve been there. And that is enough!
Go back to the basics.
The other night we had one of the most fun moments I think we’ve ever had as a family. My husband lit the fire pit, we roasted marshmallows, and then we played a good ole’ fashioned game of tag. The laughter of my two girls and the deep, winded breaths of my husband and me did so much good for my soul. It was so simple. All we were doing was running around our yard looking like crazy people. But it was so much fun. Kids don’t need elaborate games for playtime. They don’t need your latest find on Pinterest (although those can be totally fun too!). They just need you to be there with them and show them attention. That moment playing tag was a great wake up call for me. It will forever be a favorite memory of mine. And my goal is to make sure that moments like this don’t stop once all of this is over and we go back to “normal”.
Look for the helpers.
As the great Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” I’m telling you guys, they are everywhere! Seek out the good stories. Seek out the people that show you that good still exists in this world. Share those stories with others. We all need them!
Be a helper!
Nothing brings more joy than sharing kindness with others. People are struggling right now – financially, mentally, and emotionally. There are always ways that we can help. It could be monetary, but it doesn’t have to be. Send a letter. Send a text. Pick up the phone. FaceTime someone. Have your kids draw pictures to send to family and friends. Bless someone if you have the opportunity.
Remind yourself that this is temporary.
This won’t last forever. Give yourself some grace right now. We are in uncharted territory. None of us really prepared for this. But we will get through it!
How are you surviving all of this? Are you staying positive? Let me know what you’ve been doing to stay in a positive state of mind!
If you’re like us and have an egg allergy in your house, you may be looking for safe alternatives to dyeing eggs for Easter.
We all know that you can buy plastic eggs for candy, but dyeing eggs was always half the fun when I was growing up. It was something I wanted to do with my kids too, and with my oldest, I didn’t think twice about it. Then my second daughter was diagnosed with an egg allergy and I began wondering what I could do with her to continue the tradition of dyeing eggs. This year I found two great alternatives!
First, I found these fun craft eggs at Target. These can’t be dyed, but they can be decorated with crayons and stickers! They even come with some stickers in the package. Best part, these can be found in their Bullseye spot for only $3!
Second, my husband found these DIY eggs at Walmart and these can be dyed! So cool! They look just like real eggs and can be dyed without having to worry about an egg allergy!
Hope these help you include your food allergy kiddos in the traditions that we’ve all enjoyed throughout the years! Happy dyeing!
*Please note that you can find a lot of things like this online for delivery as well so no need to leave your house during this time! Stay safe everyone!
If you’ve ever read my blog before, you can probably tell that I’m a fan of banana breads and finding new ways to spruce them up! I stumbled across a banana crumb cake on Pinterest and adapted it to be vegan and allergy-friendly! It’s perfect for anyone with milk, egg, peanut, or tree nut allergies!
Ingredients for Bread:
2-3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegan butter softened (We love Country Crock Plant Based Butter or Earth Balance vegan butter)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (or another egg replacement of your choosing) – need the equivalent of 2 eggs
Ingredients for Crumb Cake Topping:
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray a 9×13 pan
Combine the softened butter (for the bread) and sugar in a bowl and beat until well blended (I just used a fork to do this but you can also use a mixer.) Add in mashed banana, egg replacer, and vanilla, and mix to combine.
Add flour, baking powder, salt and stir until combined. You will have a thick mixture – don’t let that scare you!
Pour into the bottom of the greased pan.
In another bowl, combine all ingredients for the crumb cake topping. Work the mixture together using a fork to form crumbs. You don’t need to overdo this – picture a typical crumb cake – the lumps are a good thing!
Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the entire bread mixture. This will be a pretty thick layer of crumby yumminess!
Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean).
My son turned 6 months old about a week ago. He’s the final piece of the puzzle to our little family and has been such an amazing blessing! He’s rolling, laughing, and sleeping in his own crib in his own room. He’s growing up and it’s so fun to watch. Every milestone he hits makes me proud and emotional. But there’s one milestone that I’ve been secretly dreading…
I’m terrified of starting to try foods. Up until this point he’s been solely breastfed. As we begin to try solids, my nerves about food allergies start to rear their ugly heads.
We didn’t discover his big sister’s food allergies until she was almost a year old. (To see how we discovered her allergies, click here.) She had also been exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and she had a hard time learning to eat solids at the beginning. She was a little behind physically for awhile which made eating harder for her. (We got PT for that and it was AMAZING! But that’s a different story…) Because of that, we didn’t introduce allergens super early on. I also had basically no understanding of food allergies at the time so I had no idea about the research about how introducing early can help prevent allergies.
This time, I’m a little more well-informed. There is a lot of research about the benefits to introducing top allergens like peanut and egg earlier rather than later. (For some great links and articles, check out this page of the Food Allergy Research and Education’s website.) When we took Ezra to his 6 month appointment this week, his doctor recommended that we try peanut butter soon.
On one hand, I’m thankful for a progressive doctor that is trying to watch out for him! On the other hand, I’m terrified. I know that we need to do it. And in some ways, I feel more prepared this time around, but I can’t shake the anxiety and fear that comes with it. I’ve wondered since I was pregnant if he would end up with food allergies just like his sister. I’ve wondered what it would be like to have to worry about BOTH of them daily. I’ve wondered what we would do if he ended up with different allergens than Asa and we had to change our lifestyles once again.
Food allergies are one of those things that you don’t really understand until you’re faced with them. As least, I know I didn’t. I knew about them, but only in a hypothetical way. I didn’t know the reality of them. And the reality is plagued with lots of fear, frustration, inconvenience, and sometimes even anger. You wonder why this is happening to your child. You deal with the fact that not many people will understand the daily struggles you face. You pray that one day your child with grow out of their allergies or that a cure will be found.
I will most definitely update after we begin to try foods with him, but in the meantime, please be praying for us as we face a fear!
People often think that cooking with food allergies is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! I have a super yummy banana bread muffin recipe that I love to spruce up with things like chocolate chips or blueberries! Today I’m going to share the chocolate chip banana bread muffin recipe that is totally vegan! (So it’s perfect for dairy and egg allergies!)
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Nestle Simply Delicious semi-sweet morsels this time!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately (minus the chocolate chips)
Combine the two bowls together
Add in chocolate chips
Put batter into baking cups in a muffin/cupcake pan. Bake for 23-25 minutes. (You can also make as a banana bread loaf for 55-60 minutes, but I think the muffins cook a little more evenly!)
Like I mentioned above, I love to make these with blueberries as well (this is how my husband prefers them), but my oldest daughter and I LOVE the chocolate ones for a sweet treat 🙂
I wanted to highlight the vegan chocolate chips we used! They are Nestle Simply Delicious Semi-Sweet Morsels. We bought these at Target. There are a wide variety of dairy-free chocolates out there now so I encourage you to go seek them out! I highlighted another one of them on a different blog here. You seriously can’t tell the difference between “real” chocolate chips and these!
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it!
The past two weeks have been rough. We spent a week in the hospital with my son who had RSV. Thankfully, he is all better now, but that week was hard. There’s not much worse than watching your child in the hospital and feeling like you have no control. The day after we got home from the hospital, I got a call that my grandpa (PawPaw) was in the hospital. It quickly progressed to a critical situation. I was able to visit him in the hospital just hours before he passed away. Our new year was off to a really rocky start.
Right after learning that he had passed, we had to take the kids to the doctor so that my son could have his follow-up appointment from the hospital stay. I didn’t want to miss it, so we sucked it up and went even though I wasn’t in the best place mentally. After we returned home, I loaded up my arms and unbuckled my two-year-old daughter like I always do since she sits on the passenger side of the van like me. I had her in my left arm while I also tried to balance my purse, her diaper bag, and my coffee cup from that morning. All of the sudden I heard her say, “I take a drink of Mommy’s cup!” I looked over, and she was sipping from my straw!
I immediately jumped into panic mode. I had coffee in the cup but I also had creamer in it – creamer that contains traces of milk – milk that she is allergic to…
I yanked the cup away as fast as I could and started talking loudly… “No! Asa you can’t drink that! Oh crap! Ryan, help me! She drank from my cup! No!” I ran up the stairs and into the house as fast I could while still balancing everything in my hands. I threw everything down and started examining Asa immediately. I knew that I had finished my coffee already before the appointment, but it was iced coffee, so the ice had melted leaving some watery-coffee at the bottom of the cup. I asked Asa if she actually took a drink. She said yes. I asked her is she actually tasted it in her mouth (trying to clarify is she REALLY took a drink). She said yes. My husband ran for the Benadryl as I stripped off her clothes so I could keep an eye out for hives. I started asking if she felt itchy and she said no. Then I started lecturing her. “Asa, you can’t drink out of people’s cups, baby! Remember that you have allergies? Remember? Like the BugaBees?” (see my previous blog post to understand what this is…) She could sense my fear and tension and she started crying. She didn’t understand what she had done. Why was I lecturing her? While I did want to explain and help her understand why she can’t just grab someone’s drink, I shouldn’t have acted mad at her. It was myself I was mad at…
After we gave the Benadryl, I held her close to me. I felt bad that she was crying and then went into Mama Bear protective mode. I wanted to comfort her. I held her close and apologized for scaring her. I kept asking if she felt ok and she said yes. I kept watching her skin but it stayed clear. I asked if her throat felt ok and she said yes. Once I started to settle down, I began crying…
How could I let that happen? How was I so stupid? Why did I have that cup anywhere near her? How could I have put it right by her face without thinking? Why wasn’t I more careful? Why was I so irresponsible? How could I do this to my baby? I couldn’t even think about another hospital visit – not after the week we had just had. Two hospital visits were enough. The thought of another one was enough to make me cry. But the thought that I would have been the one to send her there was so much worse. The thought that she could need an epipen because of me was horrible. And the thought that she could die… well… I couldn’t even let myself go there.
After the shock and severity wore off and after I knew she was ok, I had time to think. I was still beating myself up pretty hard. The anxiety and fear that parents of kids with food allergies face is so real. It’s hard to explain to anyone that’s never had to deal with it. The pressure that a parent feels when they have a little one with food allergies is so intense. Your child relies on you for everything. They rely on you to feed them, and they rely on you to keep them safe. One small mistake can be catastrophic to a kid with food allergies. You have to be vigilant at all times, and that can lead to constant anxiety. The fear is tangible all the time. It never goes away. Even those of us that are really cautious, and yes – even those of us that run food allergy blogs and long to help educate others – even we make mistakes. The problem is, it only takes one mistake to possibly end in tragedy.
We were lucky this time, but not everyone is.
To those of you that navigate this food allergy world like we do, I see you. I feel your pain. I know your anxiety. I feel your fear. And I’m here if you need to talk, vent, cry, or complain.
To those of you that have never had to worry about this before, I hope this helps you get a glimpse of the pressure and anxiety that we feel every single day. We aren’t crazy. We are just scared – and you probably would be too if faced with the reality that we are daily.