A Mom with a Mission: Robyn O’Brien launched AllergyKids on Mother’s Day 2006 after her fourth child was diagnosed with food allergies. She has received encouragement from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Erin Brockovich and parents from around the world. Robyn believes that AllergyKids directly impacts the well-being and livelihood of children and their families by creating universal awareness of food allergies, educating the population about the severity of food allergies and the important role that diet can play in healing these children. Read all about food allergies on her Web site: www.AllergyKids.com.
Food Allergy Tips from Springfield Moms Founder and President Kim Leistner
For so long, I thought what a hassle for parents of children with food allergies! Then, I became one of them. My younger daughter is highly allergic to eggs and peanuts. We don’t have a family history; in fact they are some of our favorite foods! Well, once you find your daughter breaking out with just a tiny bite of peanut butter; you look at peanuts as your enemy. You become a vigilant label reader. You carry checklists of other names for peanut and egg. Thankfully, as of 2006, all foods manufactured must clearly state if the food contains any element of the following eight foods which comprise 90% of all food allergies in the USA. The allergens to be listed are tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, soybeans and wheat.
At our house we’ve had to change our habits. I now get to be the slightly paranoid mom who scans treats at parties, playdates and school to make sure nothing dangerous is within reach to my child. Family events, restaurants, everywhere-is there peanut oil in that? Is that made with eggs? The benefit of this new occurrence is that it has forced me to take a good look at what I am serving my children. We eat much more homemade food so we know what ingredients are in there; and we’ve discovered egg replacer, which we use in some recipes. We bring our own snacks and homemade treats in a bag to munch on.
Tips from Springfield Area Moms
- Check out the following medical alert bracelet for kids who have severe peanut (or other allergies.) Log on to www.americanmedicalid.com. Submitted by Lisa Barutcu.
- When dropping your child at new events, child care centers, church events or anywhere else they place a name tag on their backs, be sure to write peanut allergy in bold letters right next to their name and on sign-in sheets. Submitted by Christina Race.
- Soybutter & Sunbutter instead of peanut butter: “We have found “soy butter” a great sub for actual peanut butter, and you can use it to make “puppy chow” or “soy butter and jelly” sandwiches etc. and the frequent craft of a pinecone bird feeder.” (Editor’s note: Our family also uses Sunbutter which is made from sunflower seeds.)
- http://www.healthline.com/channel/food-allergies.html give information on symptoms, tests and treatment on common food allergies like eggs, peanuts, dairy, fish and more. Submitted by Christina.
- The Illinois Food Allergy Education Association is a terrific food allergy news source and resource. http://www.illinoisfaea.org
- For the latest information and more recipes, www.foodallergy.org is the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). As a member you receive two regular newsletters, one for grown-ups and the other for kids.
My daughter loves seeing the pictures sent in by other food allergic kids. The newsletter helps her feel less alone. At this website you can also sign up to receive allergy alerts by email. This service informs you when manufacturers make labeling mistakes and/or change their ingredients. As I learned from FAAN, teach your child not to ask, “Is this OK for me to eat?” but to say instead, “Is this SAFE for me to eat?” That way, the question won’t be confused with things like snacking before dinner or eating treats that you haven’t approved. Submitted by Heather Nifong.
- Books on Food Allergies “I purchased a couple of children’s books about allergies: Allie: the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies by Nicole Smith is a great one.” Submitted by Carolyn Harmon.