02 August 2014

Traveling with Severe Food Allergies

By: Christina Griffin 

First of all, I would like to thank Food Allergy Gal, Lara, for inviting me to be a guest writer for this article. I too am a Food Allergy Gal, with multiple food allergies.

I admit I have not traveled all over the world since my food allergies diagnosis in 2010 but I have acquired some skills in this area traveling both by car and plane.

As with anything related to food allergies like dining, socializing, school or work, you learn and learn quickly. So many things come into play when planning a trip across the world or across your state. Sometimes just thinking about it causes me to spontaneously nap! Although, it is very tiring and a lot of work to plan a trip, it’s worth it so you can be safe and have fun without much worry. I have a few tips that hopefully will help you in planning your next trip.



I have found the planning stage to be the most stressful. Asserting yourself is important here. Let all of your reservation agents know you have severe and life threatening food allergies. Here are some tips to help you in your planning stage.


Plan out restaurants you find that may be safe to eat at. Traveling in Europe or other countries, you can actually speak with your hotel to find accommodating restaurants. If you are traveling in the U.S. here is a fabulous resource.  www.allergyeats.com .


Find a safe and convenient place to rest your head and possibly cook your meals can be challenging. Be sure to tell them you are food allergic. You can request a refrigerator for your hotel room for medicine, as our food is medicine. If you tell them it’s for medicine most will provide one at no cost. Some accommodation ideas with kitchens:




Tip 1: When I am flying, I am sure to pack a crib sheet in my carry on, yes a baby crib sheet, it fits perfectly on the airplane seats as a cover.

Tip 2: I also pack moist wipes or baby wipes to wipe down surfaces like the arm rests and tables. And of course your hands before you eat.

Your medicine is just as important to pack on your carry on, be sure to have enough on hand for your flight and pack it all in a large Ziploc to go through security. Tip 3: Do not put your epi-pens through the scanners as it could lessen the effectiveness of them.

Food is very important when you have to fly and cannot eat the airplane meals.

  1. When you make your reservation, please tell the airline and your steward/ stewardess when you board, that you have food allergies.
  2.  Pack enough to get you through the wait at the airport plus the flight. Some suggestions of food to take are fruits and vegetables with dip, crackers, cheese sticks, pepperoni sticks, chips, hummus, cooked bacon, sun butter and jelly sandwich, cookies are just some ideas. 
Tip 4: Under ADA law (American with Disabilities Act), you can bring ice packs to keep food cold. If security gives you any trouble with this or your medicine make sure to tell them confidently, under ADA law you are to carry your medicine/ food and ask to speak to a supervisor. Usually that statement will stop them in their tracks and they will let you through without any further problems.

I hope some of these tips are useful to you all.  If you are traveling this year, be sure to be safe, speak up, but most of all have fun! Thank you again for having me as a guest on Food Allergy Gal. Happy traveling!

About the author: 



Christina is the author of the blog, Bubble Girl: Surviving Sjogren's and Food Allergies. She enjoys trips with her family, walks with her dogs, reading, writing and cooking.You can find Christina at  her blog www.bubblegirlhappily.blogspot.com and on Facebook as Bubble Girl






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25 July 2014

Food Allergy Ironies

I grew up in an agricultural zone. My life was lemons, limes, oranges, strawberries, avocados, bagging tree nuts and basically living off the land. While I had medical issues growing up, no one ever said, "allergy or asthma" to me.

Today, my children are primarily city kids, although the first few months of my son's life, he lived on that same ranch I grew up on. Both children visited our ranch often and spent lots of days with chickens, cats, dogs, dirt, dust, grasses, and fruits.

Our family business was running farmer's markets, delivering produce to commercial kitchens, having roadside fruit stands and a little work behind the scenes in restaurants, bakeries and cafes. Our primary products for sale to the public were hydroponically grown tomatoes from a few years before Luke was born until last year. Before that it was lemons, oranges, strawberries and avocados primarily.

Luke, my son, has always been a bit more picky of eater since I weened him from breastfeeding when he was 6 months old.  He is 15 years old now and up until a few months ago, he had never had an noticeable issues with breathing, swallowing or digestive. He is also a very level headed, even tempered young man.

Liah, my daughter, is 12 years old. She was born in Denver, CO. I breastfed her as well. Liah will eat almost everything now and has zero issues with allergies except one medication that was used to help her sleep at one time. Most of her life has been in the city or at the beach. Oh, something I will say is that Liah was a difficult pregnancy and I had to take lots of antibiotics via IV while pregnant with her. Six days after she was born, she and I came home from the hospital together. She lived in an incubator after birth due to complications. She has been very healthy and thriving ever since. She is an exemplarily student and athlete.

Now the Irony. 

I prepared a family meal one late afternoon in Georgia. Just after departing from the table, Luke came outside and said he wasn't feeling well. I looked at him and observed for a moment but within moments he made a dash for the bathroom and began vomiting.  His hands and feet began to go numb, then he had trouble breathing and red splotches came and went over the core of his body. I reached for my epi pen while dialing the paramedics, just in case. While the paramedics tried to convince me this was not an allergic reaction, but rather an anxiety attack he was having, the ER confirmed it was anaphylaxis shock and promptly prescribed an epi pen.

I began a food log immediately and monitored all the input and output of food and activities constantly for the next week including that day, we thought we may have narrowed it down to watermelon, raw tomato, or avocado and some ragweed or grass allergy.

The blood test results came back a few days ago. Guess what?
Luke is allergic to raw tomato and like his mom he also carries the peanut, soy & sesame seed allergy. But his highest rated allergen was grass.

That day of his allergic reaction, the pollen count was high and his seasonal allergies which weren't diagnosed at that time, were kicking off. He ate watermelon, tomato, wheat and corn products (all things he was allergic to at the same time plus his outdoor allergies were in full effect). It created a perfect storm for his anaphylaxis reaction. I suggested that he may have seasonal allergen cross reactive syndrome going on. The nurse practitioner didn't seemed too thrilled that I knew what that was.

I was 22 when I first found out about my food allergies, after suffering serious prolonged illnesses. The first two were peanut and tree nuts (things I was eating a lot of then.)  A similar situation to Luke's had happened to me in my 30's. I was marinating a large salmon with fresh squeezed orange after eating hummus and crackers. I has already experienced two seizure like episodes that week and found myself having a hard time breathing that afternoon while cooking. (Within 2 days I was tested and diagnosed with orange, salmon, cranberry, banana, sesame seed, vanilla, ginger allergy)

Again about 16 months later, even with the warnings from my doc to avoid legumes due to my peanut allergy being so severe, I was still eating some soy and having some really crazy reactions. It ended up that despite my best efforts to switch to oat milk- it was both oat and soy bothering me. (Now I have over 14 food allergies)

 The things I am allergic to today are the very things I ate daily and grew up with. Suddenly my body decided it didn't want to process those things any longer.

While Luke's allergist recommended I not take him off the foods he tested positive for, because he may not be reacting to them, my allergist in California recommended I not only stop eating these foods but also avoid cross reactive foods.

Luke is having breathing difficulty daily and now has an inhaler, daily allergy pills, an epi pen and a prescription for another anti-histamine. He refuses to cut out the foods he is allergic to. What he doesn't know is at least when he eats at home, he will not have peanuts, sesame or soy. What I can't control is what he eats outside of the home. Since he has a job and money of his own, he has free will to purchase foods I won't buy. (We just had another vomiting & breathing difficulty incident this week- 2nd ingredient in what he bought was high fructose corn syrup.) Yes, he has a corn allergy. No more corn for Luke. Another doc told him when 2 or more body systems are affected, it's time to use Epi.

He would rather use the inhaler and test his luck daily than give up foods to feel better. (Even though
his mom is Food Allergy Gal.) While I have devoted most of my daily life to education, awareness, better living, better cooking with multiple food and environmental allergies for myself and others. It doesn't seem he wants to admit there is a problem and help himself.

I find that it is very ironic that both of us have lived in rural areas, been exposed to lots of germs, traveled internationally to over 6 countries and throughout most of the United States. Both of us have been immunized, both of us have eaten a variety of foods. We were both born in the same hospital, one floor apart in fact. We were both breastfed. So all these theories on food allergies really disturb me, because they don't fit.

There has got to be better explanations and more links to this autoimmune disorder called food allergies. Certainly there is a link with seasonal, environmental, chemical, medications and food allergies and that's becoming more and more known today. But what's the catch here?

We need more allergist and immunologist to work together including their staff members, ask better questions to patients, record information, report information, share information to find the patterns.


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17 July 2014

Fundamentals of Food Allergies Training

Hi, I'm Jack. I was diagnosed with 10 food allergies, 4 years ago and I still feel lost sometimes. I feel much better now that I know what foods were causing my illnesses, but it's still tough. I work in the hospitality industry and food is everywhere. My wife and daughters get sick of my dietary restrictions and don't quite understand how much it impacts my life. My co-workers make fun of me and often forget how serious my food allergies are when they offer me food or drinks. I invited them to participate in Food Allergy Gal's Fundamentals of Food Allergies course via my AllerCoach and it's made a big difference in my life.

Whether we just left the doctors office with a piece of paper listing new food allergies diagnosis or we just have a friend who has food allergies, we all have questions.

There is so much misinformation floating around about Food Allergies today. People hear food allergies and think "Gluten" or "Peanuts." Some don't believe food allergies even exist.

Join Food Allergy Gal on this special Fundamentals of Food Allergies course. Invite friends, family, schools and restaurant professionals. Call a food manufacturer and ask them to participate.

A normal 3 hour certification course is reduced to 1.25 hours including an open question and answer session. The cost for Food Allergy Gal's Allercertification is normally $125 but for this August 19th session only, Food Allergy Gal is giving the training away for just $35 (no test or certification)- just real information and a Q&A session.

Sign up today, by clicking my picture.  Food Allergy Gal will send you all the details you need to know.

Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Time: 11 AM (EST)
Location: Online WebEX with Live Call in


Connect with Food Allergy Gal, here. 





09 July 2014

IgEvil vs. IgGhost: What's the difference

It's very late and I've had a very long few weeks but I am ever so thankful for my Food Allergic Adults support group calls weekly.  Tonight we discussed 3 fabulous topics but IgE vs. IgG is one topic we discussed in great detail.

I have no ideas what my levels are because I've only ever been tested via skin (by 2 allergist) but even if I did have a number, I'd probably forget it. I'm more focused on what I know will kill me or make me super sick than whatever the test says the number is. Others in our group have been both skin and blood tested some just blood tested.

When you have been tested for food allergies and food sensitivities via blood you will find out what your IgE or IgG level is. It's kind of like gauging "how allergic are you." The problem is the accuracy of any food allergy test is not that great. I also know it's scary to test the accuracy of the test though. Pregnancy test are far more accurate than food allergy test.

We came up with a clever way to remember IgE vs. IgG tonight though:  "IgE-vil" is because those are the allergens that react quickly and can be deadly within seconds. "IgG-host" can sit rather silent but is always there, sometimes it gives you a scare and other times nothing happens when you consume the food at first, it may take several hours.


All Allergies can be severe and we need to be very careful. Anyone can develop an allergy at any time in their life, from babies to seniors. The focus on being allergy aware is important but equally important that those with the allergy understand what's what in their diagnosis and autoimmune disorder. 
"Ig" stands for immunoglobulin.  "G & E" are the types of immunoglobulin. 

Have food allergy questions, ask Food Allergy Gal or come join the conversation in our support group #FoodAllergicAdults. 

08 July 2014

Simply Stated

Recently at the FARE 2014 Leaders Summit, one of the presenters brought up an excellent point, the overall literacy rate in the US is 5th grade level. We must use plain, simple words to explain things, but especially medical issues to every person. Food Allergy Gal says, go way beyond that. With 9 of 10 consumers demanding transparency in products, it's critical to use common words to describe all ingredients in products of any kind- from toothpaste to tomato sauce.

Consumers are demanding we simply state what things are in the plain english, the majority of us have learned in grades 1 to 5. With over 170 foods known to cause allergic reactions, plain english is super important. We generally can't remember all the scientific names of our life threatening food allergies- especially when we have multiples.

It's much easier to understand "yeast" than "candida." Simply state "coconut" instead of cocos nucifera.

If you have an Oat allergy for example, it's not required to be listed on packaged food products nor on personal hygiene products. Oats can cause allergic reactions that can be painful, unpleasant and make someone ill for weeks.  You'll have to remember all the names of oats if you have an oat allergy, and are shopping for products, because the US doesn't  require all products including medications to list ingredients in plain english.

Alternative Names for Oat:

Avena, Avena Fructus, Avena byzantina, Avena orientalis, Avena sativa, Avena volgensis, Avenae Herba, Avenae Stramentum, Avoine, Avoine Entière, Avoine Sauvage, Cereal Fiber, Dietary Fiber, Farine d'Avoine, Fibre Alimentaire, Fibre Céréalière, Fibre d'Avoine, Folle Avoine, Grain d'Avoine, Green Oat, Green Oat Grass, Groats, Gruau, Oat, Oat Bran, Oat Fiber, Oat Flour, Oat Fruit, Oat Grain, Oat Grass, Oat Herb, Oat Straw, Oat Tops, Oatstraw, Oatmeal, Oats, Paille, Paille d'Avoine, Porridge, Rolled Oats, Son d'Avoine, Straw, Whole Oat, Whole Oats, Wild Oat, Wild Oat Herb, Wild Oats Milky Seed.



28 May 2014

Grow away from the negative

There is so much going on in life.  Today is more than just about food allergies.  Today is about life. Don't be afraid to move away from people, places, or things that don't make you feel good.





We could apply this to almost any aspect of our life from food to work to relationships or anything else we may be struggling with moving on from.

I look at all the times I've been called a "run away," but also look at all those things I overcame in life (way more than I wish to divulge here.)  Despite being told I'd die because the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me medically, I overcame.

I moved away from the doctors. I moved away from the medications. I moved away from things that troubled me or didn't make me feel good.  While I loved food just about as much as living, I now wonder if I didn't love all those things because I was told to.

I was afraid that not eating everything would make me be un-liked or labeled. I loved the social experience of food. I learned to love cooking. I loved watching food put smiles on people's faces. I loved how food brought people together. I loved the love that seemed to be shared around food. But I was not an under stress eater.  I was not a closet eater.

No one ever asked me how food made me feel. Furthermore no one around me ever stopped to think how food or my environment might be impacting my medical condition. (If you could not treat it with radiation, chemotherapy, a glass full of pills or some other medically diagnosed 'thing,' then it wasn't a real condition or it was all 'pie in the sky.')  This is a very typical American attitude and one that has lingered on for ages. In fact society as a whole isn't ready to talk about how food may or may not be impacting our health.  It took a long time for food to make us sick and it may take a long time for food to make us well again.

I'm not suggesting that we move away to just get away. As my mama taught me in my teens, "No matter where you go, there you are." My daddy said something similar, "you will attract the same people and same life, if you are not aware."

For nearly 20 years,  I believed deep down, I was the problem. After a lot of work, internal reflection, and just plain action (research, elimination, pushing for answers, testing, asking questions, journals, etc.) I figured it out enough that today, I am living way better than I ever have before.

The moral of the story: Surround yourself with things, people, places, and food that make you thrive and grow. Put people in your life who don't just believe in you, but support you and your thinking. Move away from food for a second if you feel crappy. (Start with the elimination diet). Push to see different doctors. Journal your life. (Then read it and find the patterns). Break the patterns and cycles and see if you feel better. Notice how your actions impact your life. Grow away from the negative.

To your health (physical, emotional and mental),

Lara "Food Allergy Gal" Holland


21 May 2014

AllergyHero: Expand the help zone


Jim Sweet is a recent college grad and passionate about allergy awareness, education and safety. After seeing one of his very close friends have allergic reactions to garlic over and over and not having his epinephrine auto injector with him, he began working on AppiPen (now called AllergyHero)


In a number of circumstances sheer luck has kept his friend from life threatening danger. When Jim Sweet found out there were over 300,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States, due to anaphylaxis reactions and 2/3 of epinephrine perception carriers,  don't carry their devices with them, he was even more inspired to develop a solution, specifically one that could be available to anyone.


AllergyHero is a mobile app that allows users to locate and alert a network of subscribed epi auto-injector carriers in their area in the event of an anaphylactic emergency. People all over
the country have signed up to download AllergyHero. It’s free and will be released in
the app stores by June 2014. Together we can build a safer and more connected community!

 Connect with AllergyHero on Facebook or Twitter
Signup here to be notified when we are in the app store: http://unbouncepages.com/allergyhero/














Are you a Food Allergic Adult or do you know one? Join our weekly support Group Calls. Just call in from anywhere in the United States and connect with more just like us. They are awesome, enlightening, fun and supportive.  Wednesday Nights 8:30 (EST)* meetings subject to change dates (Tue), please contact Support Group Leader to confirm.





25 April 2014

What if we re-named Food Allergies to Food Cancer? Would you believe us then?




10 Stupid Things People say to Food Allergics: 
  1.  "Oh that's ridiculous, food allergies are in your head."
  2.  "Having food allergies, helps you stay skinny." 
    • trust me, not by choice, 1/2 the time we are starving and malnourished and dying to eat something. We don't wish this upon anyone. We often love the very food we are allergic to. This is not a choice or some fad diet you will see us go off of in 4 weeks. We can't "cheat.". 
  3. "I could never give up _____________." 
    • (yeah, I don't want to either, but I can die if I have it. I bet you'd give it up if it sent you to the hospital every time you ate it.)  
  4. "So you are on one of those new age diets, I can't wait until that trend is over." 
    • (uh, the trend, dear people, is more and more people are developing severe multiple food allergies! It ain't gonna go away until we start focusing on research as to why- it's like cancer, not like a fad diet.) 
  5. "What about just a little bit of _#enterfoodallergy___. It won't hurt you. Come on!" 
    • (really? you really want to see me get sick and take a chance with my life, don't be a food pusher... it's not that I don't want it, it's that if I eat it, I'll get sick.)  
  6. "I only used a very tiny bit of your #food allergy in it." 
    • (a little bit can KILL us. It's not like it's a diet I chose to be on. Yes some people can tolerate a little bit of something one day and then 8 hours be throwing up, skin reactions, etc.) 
  7. "But you ate everything before, now why?" 
    • (Do you ask people with cancer the same question? I don't know what happened. One day I was fine and the next day I got food cancer. It's a million $$$$ question no one can answer. Yet only a few people actually donate to food allergy research.  If I knew the answer, don't you think I'd be running to sign up for the cure?) 
  8. "I didn't know you could be allergic to _________." 
    • (Yep, there are over 170 foods you could become allergic to, it's way beyond peanut and shellfish.)  Read more information on foods known to cause allergic reactions, click here.
  9. "Food Allergies are not real." (Then they argue with you)
    • (I really wish I had a magic wand when someone says that to me, because I want to zap my food allergy reactions right into them at that moment. #ignoranceisirritating I wonder if they go to hospitals where chemo patients are and tell them that their cancer isn't real. 
    • I want these people to talk to families who have lost children directly as a result of a sudden allergic response. Go ahead, bring that kid back to life who didn't know they had a food allergy and died after eating it. Tell them food allergies aren't real.)
  10. "You just need to _________, to get rid of them." 
    • (There is no cure for food allergies, btw and I would never pay someone who claims they have a cure, yet, because I've heard the horror stories. Remember anyone can say anything, it doesn't make it true. If there really was a cure for food allergies, I'm sure our doctors would call us, I'm sure the FDA would approve it. I'm sure less than 15 million people would have it.) 
Food Allergies Are VERY Real! Just like cancer is. There is no cure. It may kill you in seconds if you have an anaphylaxis reaction or it could slowly kill you over many years and mask itself as some other medical condition, if you don't take care of yourself with food allergies. 

After running Food Allergy Gal for 2 years and being part of the food allergic community for 12 years, there is still so much we don't understand. Additionally, funding for special services, research and education is very low. Right now there is more education going on and more concern being shown to GLUTEN intolerance and 3 million celiacs than there is to the 15+ million Americans medically diagnosed with food allergies. 

Facts EVERY PERSON needs to KNOW about FOOD ALLERGIES:
  1. There is no cure for true food allergies
  2. Food Allergies are as real of a medical condition as cancer is
  3. Any person, any where, at any time can develop a food allergy. (One day they can be eating peanuts, orange and banana and the next day they can eat the exact same thing and go into anaphylaxis shock.) 
  4. The severity of food allergies can increase or lessen over time. Children & adults can outgrow food allergies. There is NO Explanation as to why; just as there is no explanation as to why they come on.  
  5. Foods that people are allergic to can be found in many products beyond just food- such as medicines, soaps, shampoos, cleaning agents, paper goods products, beverages. (They are not required to be labeled on non-food products in plain English.) 
  6. There are over 170 foods documented which cause allergic reactions in humans. 
  7. Reactions may vary in each person, but all of them are REAL! 
  8. There is a significant RISE in adults being medically diagnosed with MULTIPLE food allergies. 
  9. Food Allergies do not discriminate. They impact every economic & cultural class. They are worldwide not just for "spoiled, trendy Americans." (220 million people worldwide, diagnosed with food allergies)








09 April 2014

The Social Hand UP

THE SOCIAL HAND UP
          4/24/14         

             7-9  PM        
THE  HANGAR ATLANTA

The Social Hand Up is an event bringing 
entrepreneurs, creatives, nonprofits & community members together to build awareness of our city's issues. 

Work together to create change
 -- all while having a good time.  
Everyone has a chance, right now, to help save the world. Will you join me?  
Join the Event, get tickets here

Join Food Allergy Gal. We are giving our time to cook for anyone who wants to donate raw ingredients by making some delicious allerfriendly appetizers, so everyone can enjoy eating. 

www.thesocialhandup.com

Find Ways you can participate, click here.


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15 March 2014

What's in your Toolbox?

One of the most common problems people with multiple food allergies have is,  they are starving. We focus on what we cannot eat versus we can. There are over 170 foods that cause food allergic responses. So let us focus on what we CAN eat versus what we CANNOT eat.

Say that we have 12 to 24 food allergies. That means we need to focus on 156 Foods we can eat. We put together some snack safely ideas and then Food Allergy Gal really went overboard and created The Cucumber Series on top of this.

The biggest investment you will need to make in all of this is your TOOL "Lunch"  box & fancy tupperware. I highly recommend glass or metal over plastics, but that's just because it won't get yucky over time and food will keep better.

Read the articles and share some food love:

Snack Safely: http://www.examiner.com/article/snack-safely

The Cucumber Series:
One: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-one
Two: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-two
Threehttp://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-three
Four: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-part-iv
Fivehttp://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-five
Six: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-six
Seven: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-seven
Eighthttp://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-eight
Nine: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-nine