Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children in the United States. FARE works to support research and educate the community to create a safe environment for all food allergy sufferers. FARE also works with organizations worldwide to battle this growing epidemic.
FARE Walk for Food Allergy for 2013 is well under way but there are still many coming up across the country and you can do your bit to help FARE say ‘FARE well to Food Allergies’. I plan to take part in 2 walk this year – yes! One in my home state of NJ and other Las Vegas.
Why should you do it?
Well as the FARE website puts it…
‘40% of children with food allergies have already experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis.’
Walk for them…
‘Scientists estimate that as many 15 million Americans are living with food allergies, including about 5.9 million children.’
Walk for them…
And, the returns you get is a healthier you. Not a bad bargain at all 🙂
Some walks are right around the corner so put on your walking shoes and head out for a fun and meaningful summer outing…
‘Mommy – aren’t you glad that I saved myself from dying today?!’ – these words will echo in my ears for a long time to come. Ironic that I should file this post under ‘Parents’ nuggets of wisdom’ 😉
Much as I would like to think that I am an awesome mom who has always ensured that her boy is safe – I have made many, many mistakes. This post needed to be written to demonstrate how carelessness, overconfidence and sheer ignorance can cost a food allergic child his life! As my son, Arjun is growing up and we are getting comfortable managing allergies – we are slowly slipping into a comfort zone and that’s the moment to watch out for…
The past 2 months have been one of HUGE change for me. After 8+ years as a homemaker and mom, I re-joined corporate America. It’s been great trading in comfy mommy pants for work suits. Even more so because I am back to ‘Sales & Marketing’ – my childhood love when it comes to professional life! On the flip side – it’s been a crash course on time management. Hence, my absence from the blogging arena…
The absence cost me big-time 😦 Imagine my utter shock when a reader wrote in to me a couple of days back because they were unable to access my blog. I am not ashamed to admit that I bawled like a baby – the domain name AllergyFoodie.com had expired and someone else had bought it within a couple of days of it going on sale for the express purpose of reselling it to the highest bidder. All on the very weekend when I had managed to get my schedule under control and make time for my blog – what an irony! Right now I am trying to buy back my domain name. My 7 year old is so distraught because he knows that AllergyFoodie.com was a testament of a Mom’s abounding love.
However, all’s well that ends well. This debacle seems to have set the stage for renaming the blog to AllergyFoodie.ORG to reflect the larger purpose of the blog.
An earnest request to all my readers – please spread the word through your blogs, tweets et al. Each small blog like mine helps make this world a safer place for food allergy sufferers.
So, AllergyFoodie.COM gracefully gives way to AllergyFoodie.ORG…
Thanks to Elizabeth Goldberg, the force behind OneSpot Allergy, I came across a very nicely put together video by EpiPen UK on ‘how and when to give oneself an epinephrine shot’. Definitely a must-watch for all allergy-aufferers and caretakers if they carry an EpiPen.
Today is such an exciting day at Allergy Foodie 🙂 I got the wonderful opportunity to take part in Circle of Moms’s (a network of 6 million mothers) online interview as a reward for coming in 2nd in their search for the ‘Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs’. ‘Circle of Moms’ also gave the blog a badge that you see in the top right hand corner of this page proclaiming Allergy Foodie as one of the ‘Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs’ – the perfect Christmas gift 🙂 Thanks again to so many of you who voted over such an extended period else this blog would not have seen such a glorious day. Here is a glimpse of how the interview went…
Reposting a previous blog post by popular demand. This chronicles my journey since the twinkle in my eye and the mirth in my smile was born 🙂
As some of you may have noticed, I have not blogged regularly in the past month. The past few weeks have been action-packed…my 4 year old son, Arjun started pre-K which was an exercise in ensuring that he, his teacher and the other school staff who came in contact with him were aware of his multiple food allergies. Then we did his annual blood work to see if he had overcome any allergies. But, I am getting ahead of myself here so, let me start at the beginning…
When Arjun was just 4 months old, his whole body broke out into hives and his breathing became laboured as he was ingesting less than 2 ounces of Enfamil (a dairy based baby formula). It was one of the most frightening and sad moments of my life. Arjun came into our lives after 3 miscarriages. Seeing him squirm in pain, his lips swollen and his tiny hands reaching out to unsuccessfully relieve himself from the itchy hives was heart-rending. I did not need to be a doctor to realize that he was having an allergic reaction. Subsequent blood work showed that he was allergic to all the top 8 foods that cause a majority of the food allergies. Since he was so small, they did not test him for too many other foods. The bottom-line was…I could not give him anything new without the doc’s permission and even then it had to be introduced very slowly. The doctor told me to continue nursing him exclusively till he was at least 6 months old because studies have shown that nursing has a positive impact on how quickly children outgrow food allergies. Here the doc and I made our first big mistake! He did not tell me and I did not research because of the intense fear that had gripped me – I did not exclude the food items that Arjun was allergic to from my own diet. So, Arjun continued getting exposed to the very food items that he was allergic to in tiny amounts…an absolute no-no!
FAAN – Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is ‘the world leader in information, resources, and programs for food allergy, a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflicts as many as 15 million Americans, including approximately 6 million children. FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials.’ Their mission is ‘to raise public awareness, to provide advocacy and education, and to advance research on behalf of all those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.’ – www.FoodAllergy.org
Every year they hold the annual FAAN walk in different cities across the United States starting in May and going on till the end of year – http://www.foodallergywalk.org. The funds they raise is used to fund food allergy awareness, advocacy, education, and research programs. As they aptly put it, ‘We walk to save a life!’
As a policy, my approach to handling food allergies is – ‘Take a deep breath…it is not the end of life! All it requires is a slightly modified lifestyle.’ I rarely let my paranoia show in social/ public situations. This attitude has reaped rich dividends in a couple of very important ways:
1) My son has learnt to be careful without feeling that he has a severe disability. He has a very matter of fact attitude towards his food allergies though he is just 6 🙂
2) Other parents do not feel that their child’s enjoyment has been compromised because of my son’s allergies.
However, this does not mean that I am ever careless. I keep an epinephrine auto-injector everywhere – at home, my pocket book, at school, my husband’s laptop bag and more! My son though very young already knows all about it and how it will be used if he ever needs it! The reason is simple – an epinephrine auto-injector (brand names: EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., Adrenaclick, Twinject, Adrenaline, Epi E-Z Pen, Primatene) can reverse the severe side effects of a massive food allergy attack – most importantly anaphylaxis and save a person’s life!
Storing the epinephrine auto-injector carefully plays a big role in ensuring that it is effective when needed. it is very tempting to keep the injector in the car because we are most likely to be closest to it when needed and yet we should not. Loved a CNN blog post on this issue so, sharing the same…
A few months back – I had to bid good bye to one of my favorite health food stores in New Jersey, ‘Fountain of Vitality’. With 3 branches across the state, this chain boasted a great selection of allergy friendly foods. Despite being much smaller than a Whole Foods or Wegman’s, I could always find things for my son that I would not find anywhere else. Imagine my dismay when the owners declared bankruptcy and the bank took over all the stores. Yes – I did shed a few tears that day as did many of their fans on Facebook 🙂
Aah – the joy when a few weeks back I saw the doors of the Warren, NJ branch of ‘Fountain of Vitality’ open again. Ridiculously excited – I ran in and what a pleasant surprise to see the same sales person with her ever-smiling face and helpful attitude. We smiled like long-lost buddies as she introduced me to the new owner, Mr. Farooq of the now aptly named store, ‘New Fountain of Vitality’! Here is how the story unfolded…Mr. Farooq was associated with one of the Fountain of Vitality stores. When the owners declared bankruptcy, Mr. Farouq realising the value of such a valuable chain bought the Warren store from the bank and brought back some of the original sales staff. Smart move because the staff of this chain were one of its greater assets. They were very well informed and on-top of things if I made any special requests like ordering out of stock items. What a joy it was to shop again at my favorite haunt and I again made great allergy-friendly finds for my soon to be, 6-year old bundle of vitality.
Thank you Mr. Farooq for keeping the Fountain flowing…
New Fountain of Vitality Pheasant Run Mall 100 Mountain Blvd. Ext. Warren, NJ 07059 (732) 469-0088
Methinks, a tongue in cheek approach to one’s food allergies makes it way easier to handle social stresses. Aah – those moments when I am subjected to annoyed stares if I make the severe faux pas of asking more than once if a slice of cake has nuts in it or request for special food arrangements for my son so he can be safe. The challenge becomes bigger when we travel abroad to places where food allergies are unheard of. Case in point – India! In such places people have a bemused, indulgent approach 🙂 Many look at me…’the overprotective mom from the overly sanitary US environment’. Hard to explain to them that food allergies are as real as any other physical ailment even though the symptoms manifest themselves only when one ingests something the body cannot handle. That means, food allergy sufferers have to be careful 24/7. Telling people that the wrong food might cause anaphylactic shock and sure death if a dose of epinephrine is not given with 5 minutes just makes me look ‘paranoid’ and I must add – most people don’t even believe me. For most a food allergy is still just a rash or an itch which food allergy sufferers should learn to tolerate rather than make a hue and cry about it – oh yes!
That’s why the recent case of parents in a Florida school staging a protest because the school is taking the required measures to keep children with severe food allergies safe comes as no surprise. CNN has a very compelling report titled ‘Parents fight school’s peanut policy‘. I can only imagine the trauma kids with food allergies and their parents must be going through given such an environment. A must read for all allergy sufferes and care givers. Helps us understand that we not only have to be careful about what we eat, we also have to be prepared for a lot of resentment from some in the larger society.
Makes me wonder – what is the best approach when trying to keep kids with food allergies safe…a gentle, non-confrontational but firm approach or, a strict, up-in-arms approach. Or, does the answer lie somewhere along the curve?!