Friday, October 30, 2009

Tips for Anaphylaxis Canada for a Safe Halloween

Here are some tips from Anaphylaxis Canada for a safe and fun Halloween, pasted straight from the source:

Halloween is fast approaching. As the kids get ready to have some fun, remember some key rules to keep them allergy-safe while trick-or-treating.
For parents of children at-risk:
Be organized
- Have children accompanied by an adult when out
- Ensure that children carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen or Twinject) and wear MedicAlert identification
Be proactive
- Serve a hearty dinner before venturing out so children will be less tempted to snack enroute
- Emphasize the no eating rule when they are out
Check all treats
- Ask the children to wash their hands as soon as they return home
- Have the children sort through the candy with an adult at the end of the evening
- Read the label carefully on each treat - no label, no candy
- Consider donating the extra treats to your local food bank
For the community:
- Don't be shy - ask when kids come to the door: Does anyone have a food allergy?
- Be prepared - have food packages and their labels nearby, so you can check ingredients if asked
- Think outside the candy box - if in doubt, have non-candy treats, such as stickers or trading cards available
We wish you all a happy and safe Halloween!
Anaphylaxis Canada

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pin Code for Nestle's Crayola Contest

To all of those who have been searching for the Nestle's pin code to enter the Crayola contest, I have to admit I'm a bit stumped. I couldn't find the pin code either. I actually thought that maybe it came loose in the box and that I had thrown it out. I have yet to pick up more boxes (I don't want to end up eating them before the big day; my willpower is for shit.) Has anyone managed to find it?

Safe Trick-or-Treating Strategies

For weeks now my husband and I have been debating strategies around safe trick-or-treating. Do we let DJ collect everything and anything and switch it later for a bag full of safe treats provided by us? Or we do go through his booty at the end of the night while he watches? There seem to be pros and cons for each. I'm unsure he's really old enough to understand why we're likely to take a large portion of his candy away. At the same time, he has to learn sometime. But is two too young? I don't know.

I've also heard about the concept of pre-stocking the houses you know you will visit with safe treats. I'm not too keen on that idea; it seems pushy and intrusive to me. Besides, most of our neighbors know about DJ's peanut allergy so hopefully they will have stock up on peanut-free safe treats for him.

No matter what we decide on, DJ's safety will remain our top priority. I'm sure he'll have a great Halloween either way.

Any other strategies would be greatly welcome!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Lame-Ass Article in Chatelaine

Check out his completely misguided article on peanut allergies in this months’ Chatelaine.

While ill-informed author Patricia Pearson states “in search of a little clarity, (she) dove into the science,” I’m skeptical. I’m no expert on peanut allergy myself, and am not going to rebut her article point by point. That’s better left to the real professionals; Anaphylaxis Canada has prepared an excellent response.

What I do know is that articles like this one – that suggest the threat of peanut allergies are overblown and that parents are overzealous in protecting their children - can be extremely dangerous; it undermines the education process that is so vital in keeping kids safe. My son’s peanut allergy is a real and ever present danger in his life.

The real thing that pisses me off about this article is that the author seems to think her son’s ability to take a peanut butter sandwich to school trumps another kid’s safety. Peanut allergy isn’t like other food allergies. A child with severe peanut allergy can have an anaphylactic reaction to a trace amount, making a sticky substance like peanut butter that’s hard to get rid of extremely dangerous in a school setting.

I know that one day DJ will have to manage his food allergy on his own. Already, my husband and I are doing everything we can to teach him to stay safe. Surely, by the time he goes to school the lessons will be well-ingrained. Still, some community support – in the form of peanut-free schools – is needed when kids are too young to really understand the deadly implications.

Funny…The impetus behind the article seems to be the pickiness of the author’s son, whose diet is limited to one kind of pasta and peanut butter. The irony that she caters to his obvious food neuroses while damning the restrictive peanut policies in schools seems completely lost on her.

Of course, the author seems completely stuck in her own bubble. How else could she think that the only benefit of the Mars bar peanut-free marketing campaign is to the maker of Mars itself; what about the benefit to PA sufferers who can rely on Mars for a peanut-free snack?

I’ve read a couple of dubiously researched and one-sided articles in Chatelaine, but this one really takes the cake. Unless the magazine prints the rebuttal from Anaphylaxis Canada to balance out this garbage I won't be picking this magazine up again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Coping Strategies

I'm both excited and worried about Halloween. It will be the frist since DJ's diagnosis and both my husband and I have had several talks about how to handle the situation. While we've both agreed in the past we don't like the idea of ever singling DJ out by making him wear any sort of allergy clothing, Idid end up ordering him a No Peanut pin from to pin on his chicken costume. Most of our neighbors know DJ has PA, and of course, we'll both be walking with him door-to-door and inspecting his candy before he's allowed to even touch it. Hopefully, though, the pin will act as a reminder to our neighbors to keep the peanut butter cups and other unsafe treats for other kids and enable DJ to keep more of his booty.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nestle's Crayola Contest

While Halloween is still two weeks away, I haven't been able to resist dipping into our stash of peanut free candy. Last night, I noticed Nestle is running a contest for those that have picked up the 'Favourites' boxes that contain Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp, Smarties and Aero and have the peanut free logo on them, with $100 Crayola Creativity Packs being given away every hour. A purchase is necessary; you do need to buy the box first to get the pin code to enter.

At the rate we're snacking, I'm sure we'll be picking up a couple more of these!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dr. Generosity

Goofy name - but great food at this local resto in Bloor West Village. I'd heard about Dr. Generosity before from a friend with peanut allergy; he's always felt comfortable eating there so we thought we would give it a try for brunch last weekend. About a month ago, I emailed the owner, asking about their allergy awareness. I got a thoughtful response; there were few nuts on the menu, and staff would do everything possible to accommodate us. At the same time, the restaurant could offer no guarantees. I'm know that no one can offer guarantees in this type of situation and that there is always a risk involved in eating out. That the owners daughter also has PA offered additional comfort; clearly they understand the severity of the situation.

We decided on an early meeting time to avoid the Sunday morning rush. I let the waitress know our son had PA as soon as we were seated. She told me she would inform the kitchen and told us about any of the menu items that included nuts to ensure we avoided them. Minutes later, the owner approached our table and told us she was aware of our allergy. She pointed out that there were nuts on one of the specials and that peanut butter packets were on every table, saying she wanted to make sure we were fully informed. Already, we had moved the packets to the opposite side of the table, out of reach of grabbing hands.

I ordered french toast for DJ and I to share. As our food arrived, I asked the waitress again about the nuts and she assured me the kitchen had made every effort to avoid cross-contamination. While DJ enjoyed my side of bacon, he wasn't keen on the french toast, and spent the next half hour sipping creamers straight from the mini containers.

By the time we left the restaurant at 11:15, the line up was out the door and onto the sidewalk. Clearly, coming early had been the right choice as the kitchen was less hurried when we ordered, with more time to devote to ensure our meal was safe.

We'll definitely be going back to Dr. Generosity. Next time, we'll try it for an early dinner out.

Always do your own research before eating out with a severely allergic child. Call ahead and speak with the restaurant owner or chef, remind the staff once you arrive. Ask once again before you order and when the food arrives. Always carry an epi-pen, medical information and a cell phone. Understand there is always a risk.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chudleighs Redux

Saturday we headed out to Milton on to hit Chudleighs, with the idea we would pick some apples, and visit the entertainment area for kids. With no allergy information available on the website, and no one answering the phone, we headed out with our own snacks packed in case we weren't able to purchase safe food there. The $7 entrance fee was well worth it with wagon rides, a petting zoo, slides and antique tractors for climbing. After two hours, we were all ready for a snack. With all of the baked goods carrying a 'may contain' warning, we weren't comfortable ordering food from the main concession where the infamous apple blossoms were also being served. We headed out to the BBQ area instead, were sausages and fresh corn on the cob were being served. While the teenage worker had no idea about the allergy content of the buns, a quick look at the bag confirmed they were safe. While there was no information on the sausages, we both felt confident there would be no problem. I have yet to see any sort of standard meat product that contains nuts or any sort of warning. Same thing with the corn. The worker assured me the corn went straight on the BBQ with only butter brushed on. DJ loves corn on the cob, so we ordered some up, brushed on extra butter and enjoyed our snack in the warm fall sun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chudleighs Apple Farm

With Halloween nearly here, we're heading out to Chudleigh's Apple Farm in Milton to hit the pumpkin patch. We've had Chudleigh;s apple blossoms before, and I'd like to pick some up today but can't find any allergy information on their website. Considering the number of kids they cater to, and the growing number of allergy-affected kids you would think they would make the information available. Will blog more later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kleenex Alert

I'm diligent about reading labels on food, but I've never thought about reading a tissue box! Last week, I was alerted to the fact that "Puffs with Lotion" could be potentially harmful for a nut allergy sufferer. Apparently the lotion in the tissue contains shea butter, which is derived from shea nuts. With cold and flu season now here in full force (my household has already been laid low once already!) it's good to know, especially becuase I'm not sure I would immediately recognize a reaction, considering its an unlikely source.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finding New Holiday Favourites

While we're definitely getting used to living in the shadow of the peanut, there are certain times when we're reminded just how much things have changed since DJ's peanut allergy. The holidays is one of them. With Thanksgiving coming up, I need to prepare a dish to take to my in-laws for a potluck celebration. Even though I haven't used nuts in any dish for at least the last six months, all I can seem to think about are nutty dishes; green beans with toasted almonds, roasted sweet potato casserole with walnuts, pecan get the idea.

Since this is the first real holiday since DJ's diagnosis, it looks like I'm going to have my work cut out for me finding some new nut-free favourites; the old ones, fading into distant (and tasty) memory, of a time when cooking and eating didn't seem quite so dangerous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge

My sister in law and her family recently visited Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. While neither of her two kids have peanut allergy, she is always on the lookout for allergy information on our behalf.

After checking out the website, which states Great Wolf Lodge is not peanut free, she did find some information on their willingness to accommodate certain food allergies. When she typed in "Nut Free" in the Ask a Mom section, here's what turned up:

Question: My son has several food allergies including wheat, egg and peanut/tree nut. How would we handle his food requirements during our stay? Is there a kitchenette option where I can cook his meal ie special pasta/gluten free grilled cheese etc?

Answer: Hello! The are refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms, but no ovens. You can also call ahead and speak with the chef or hotel management about your son's special dietary needs. The Lodge is more than willing to accommodate and create special meals for your son, if needed."

Question: What if my kid has food allergies?

Answer: Great question! There are several different dining options available at the Lodge. There is a Pizza Hut, a buffet, a restaurant, and several snack shops. You can also call ahead and speak with management or the chef on duty to tell you what options are available. The chefs are more than willing to accommodate your special dietary needs, you just have to ask. You can also bring your own food since every room is equipped with a microwave and refrigerator.

Great information, sil, so thanks!

Still, I keep wondering why facilities that cater to kids can't make more of an effort to make their food more friendly for allergy sufferers. While I realize this would be a huge undertaking, it could start with something as simple as partnering with outlets that are peanut free to start. In this case, for example, why not partner with a pizza place that is peanut free, like Pizza Nova, instead of Pizza Hut whose products simply aren't safe for PA kids.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Nuts Shout Out!

For a while now, I've been coaching DJ on his peanut and tree nut allergy. While he's still too young to understand the true meaning of our little talks, he's definitely getting the gist.

Yesterday, we hit the grocery store. I love having him with me for this weekly chore; he seems to love holding onto my list and saying random food items he knows like he's actually reading it!

Each time I pick up a package I make a show of reading the label to him and saying stuff like "have to check for nuts" and "let's make sure there's no nuts."

My strategy is paying off. In line, grabby hands pulled a box of stuffing off the conveyer belt. DJ looked at the box the same way he's seen me do dozens of times now, and declared to the cashier in a very loud voice "No nuts!" and tossed it back on the pile. Next, beaming he added "I'm helpful"

Too freaking cute!