Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Visiting Amusement Parks with Food Allergies June 18, 2018

Headed to an amusement park this summer?  It’s a good time to plan your meals ahead so you don’t have a meltdown on your hands.  And, navigating an amusement park can be easy!  In fact, you may be surprised to see how many major amusement parks are well-prepared for guests with food allergies.  If you’ve recently visited an amusement park, please be sure to leave us a comment and let us know how it went!

 

Headed to an amusement park?  Consider these tips:

 

  • Pack (or ship to your hotel) snacks and hard-to-eat-safely items like breakfast, hamburger rolls, granola bars and desserts.
  • Bring a collapsible cooler (AND freezable cooler packs) to tote into the parks for the day.  They are great at storing safe food as well as keeping epinephrine auto-injectors cool during long, hot days.
  • ALWAYS carry two auto injectors.  Everyone wants to carry as little as possible to an amusement park, but two auto-injectors MUST come with you.  Consider a small backpack with a zipper so you’re not bogged down with a spillable purse or tote bag.  You’re going to need sunscreen anyway…!
  • Contact culinary services at least a week in advance to ensure you have a fun, easy and SAFE day at the park!

 

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Walt Disney World, Disney Land and Associated Properties

Disney is renowned for how it accommodates guests with food allergies.  They are truly the gold standard.  Guests can review menus and have access to chefs to obtain further information.  It is recommended that you discuss your food allergies with each server, as always.  There’s lots of excellent information and suggestions online, including contacting them prior to your trip should you have 4 or more allergens and how to bring safe food into the parks.

Disney Special Dietary Requests

 

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Universal

Universal Orlando recommends prepping for your trip by reviewing menus and discussing your allergies with a Guest Services advisor.  Plus, they outline how to bring your own food into the park should you need to!

If you’re headed to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’re in luck:  you can easily view what’s safe online.  Call Guest Services if you have multiple food allergies or further questions.

Universal Orlando Food Allergy info

Universal Studios Hollywood Dining Food Guide

 

Legoland

Legoland refers guests with food allergies to a Dietary Guide that doesn’t connect at the present moment.  They also suggest contacting  LLF-Food@legoland.com prior to your visit to answer specific questions.  Per their guidelines, outside food and drinks may be brought into the park for dietary needs.

Legoland Florida – Food Allergies

Outside Food and Alcohol Policy

 

 

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Seaworld

Did you know that Seaworld has designated dining facilities for visitors with food allergies?  There is at least one restaurant in each of their parks that is best suited to handle food allergy issues and preparation.  Click each link to read more about Seaworld’s food allergy preparations and policies.

Seaworld Orlando Food Allergy Info

Seaworld San Diego Food Allergy Info

Seaworld San Antonio Food Allergy Info

 

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Hershey Park

In addition to making allergen menus available at most of Hershey Park’s restaurants, dining for those with food allergies has just gotten easier with the addition of a gluten-free, nut-free, fish and shellfish-free restaurant.  Hershey notes that every nursing station is equipped with EpiPens, but – as always – remember to bring your own.

Hershey Park Food Allergen Information

Hershey Park Food Allergen Information

 

Sesame Place

Sesame Place keeps its allergen information to individualized questions.  They ask that guests ask specific questions to  AllergenfriendlySPL@sesameplace.com at least 3-5 business days in advance for additional information. A culinary representative will work with each guest to ensure a safe dining experience.  Guests with food allergies are allowed to bring in safe food.

Sesame Place Food Allergen Information

 

 

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Six Flags

Six Flags have a variety of restaurants at each park.  While you cannot see an allergen menu on their site, you may be able to get the name of food vendors and research ingredients that way (for example, Six Flags Great Adventure has a Panda Express that a visitor could research).  Should you have food allergies, you can bring food inside the park.  If you plan on eating at one of the parks’ restaurants, be sure to ask LOTS of questions about ingredients and prep including french fry oil and cross contamination.

Six Flags

 

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens seems to take food allergies seriously.  They answers a lot of excellent questions right on their website and provide ways of obtaining even more specific information should it be needed. Busch Gardens Tampa even offers allergen friendly dining facilities.  Again, collapsible coolers are allowed for those with dietary restrictions.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food Allergen Info

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food Allergen Info

 

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Cedar Point

Cedar Point’s website identifies dining locations that serve certain allergens as well as a few that do not serve certain allergens.  If you have multiple food allergies, this may take a little cross referencing to find a few things that are safe.  They do not list information about brining in safe food from outside – so you may have to contact them directly.

Cedar Point Special Dietary Needs

 

Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farms follows the same process as Cedar Point in identifying products and locations that use allergens.  They also identify certain locations and products that are free from specific allergens.  Again, they do not list if you can bring in safe food from outside the park. Contact them directly should you need additional information.

Knott’s Berry Farm Dietary Needs

 

Canada’s Wonderland

Once again, Canada’s Wonderland follows the same process as Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm in helping guests navigate the park.  They list dining options by allergen, so if you have multiple food allergies, expect to cross reference these lists.  They do not state whether or not you can bring in safe food from outside of the park.  Contact them directly with additional questions.

Canada’s Wonderland Dietary Needs

 

 

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Food Allergy References May 7, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 10:55 am

Just in time for Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13-20), here is the essential list of reading and graphics to help educate yourself and others.  Post these in your social media feed, forward appropriate articles to school and camp, and print graphics to hang up in school and elsewhere.

#FoodAllergyAwarenessWeek

 

1. Food Allergy Labeling Laws:  The Ins and Outs of Reading Food Labels

2. The Symptoms and Descriptions of a Food Allergic Reaction: The Language of Food Allergies

3. What to do in a Food Allergy Emergency to Maximize Success:  #Minutes Matter: Be Prepared For Severe Allergic Reactions

4. The Quiet Danger:  Food Allergy Bullying: Not Just a School Problem

5. The ONE Form Everyone Needs: Put This on Your To Do List Today: Food Allergy Action Plan

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Language of Severe reaction

 

Allergy Shmallergy Named Among Healthline’s Top Allergy Blogs May 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 9:15 am

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In advance of Food Allergy Awareness Week, Healthline has published its annual list of the year’s top allergy blogs.  Each blog offers a unique perspective and serves as a great resource to food allergy patients, their families, and their communities.

 

I am honored that Allergy Shmallergy has once again made this list!  Check us and the rest of the winner out here: Healthline Best Allergy Blogs of 2018.

 

Thanks, Healthline!

 

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kaléo Introduces First Ever Epinephrine Auto-Injector for Infants and Toddlers April 30, 2018

Filed under: Preparedness — malawer @ 8:30 am

A food allergy diagnosis is jarring at any age.  But it is particularly unsettling when your baby or toddler is diagnosed.  Parents worry that they may not be able to recognize the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.  Large-sized auto-injectors seems especially intimidating and parents often worry that the dose of epinephrine will overwhelm their infants’ small, little bodies.

 

Until recently, the 0.15mg dosed auto-injectors – typically used for children weighing between 33 and 66 lbs (15 – 30 kilograms) – were the only option for infants and toddlers.  However, kaléo Pharma, the makers of Auvi-Q, just announced that the FDA has approved Auvi-q 0.1mg  – a strength intended for infants and toddlers.

 

At a time when the rate of food allergies is still increasing and pediatricians are recommending the early introduction of peanuts and other allergens to prevent the development of food allergies, this device is arriving in the nick of time for food allergy parents.  It is everyone’s hope that Auvi-q’s correctly-dosed auto-injector will embolden parents to confidently administer epinephrine to their young children without hesitation.

 

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The FDA-approved Auvi-q 0.1mg will have several features that are better suited for little ones.

  • It is dosed properly for infants and toddler weighing between 16.5 and 33 lbs (7.5 to 15 kilograms)
  • It contains a needle length appropriate for smaller bodies, reducing incidents of injury.

 

If you’re not familiar with the Auvi-Q epinpehrine auto-injector, it’s a compact auto-injector about the size of a deck of cards.  Auvi-Q features voice prompts to guide you through injection step-by-step and contains a needle that automatically retracts for safety.

 

 

If you have a baby or toddler and would like more information, here is a link to Auvi-q’s 0.1 page and, as always, speak with your doctor.

 

 

Your Must-Read Allergy and Asthma Resource April 26, 2018

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Check out The Allergy & Asthma Network’s fantastic and informative publication Allergy & Asthma Today.  You can find it in your doctor’s office or online.  Not only does it contain information about food allergies, but it also covers asthma and other allergies as well.  I learn something new in every issue.

 

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The latest issue features two of my articles.  The first covers lupin allergies. (Have you heard of them?  You’ll want to learn more…).  And, the second article covers the backlash Sony Pictures faces following their decision to include an allergic reaction in the children’s movie “Peter Rabbit.”

 

Be sure to check these articles and all the others out today!

 

 

Do You Have Oral Allergy Syndrome? April 13, 2018

Filed under: Health — malawer @ 8:55 am
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When I first met my husband, he was such a carnivore he used to joke that the only way he’d eat a vegetable was via pizza.  He also told me that he was allergic to raw fruits and vegetables. All raw fruits and vegetables.  Needless to say, I was skeptical.

 

When I joked to our allergist that my husband was peddling his “allergy story” as an excuse to eat more steak, the doctor and nurses just stared.  Instead of laughter, they gently whispered that what he was experiencing was a real thing called oral allergy syndrome.  The joke was definitely on me.

 

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is experienced by so many people – as many as 1 in 3 people with seasonal allergies – that it is likely the most common form of food allergy in adults.  Those with OAS react to certain (usually fresh) fruits, vegetables, and nuts usually at the same time they have hay fever and environmental allergies. In other words, if you suffer and sneeze when the spring pollen comes blowing in, you may experience itchy ears and lips when you eat almonds, peaches or carrots.  This is not considered a separate food allergy but rather a cross-reaction from the weed and tree pollen found in fruits and other plant-based foods in a distant form.

 

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Sufferers of oral allergy syndrome may notice that they experience symptoms more frequently during spring pollen season.  Some sufferers may ONLY experience symptoms during peak periods of pollen and some experience them year-round.

 

OAS symptoms tend to occur within moments of eating a trigger food.  Symptoms of oral allergy syndrome include:

  • Itching or burning of lips, mouth, ear canal, or throat;
  • Swelling of lips, tongue or uvula;
  • Eye, skin and nose reactions are common;
  • Tightness of the throat;
  • If the allergen is not digested fully, it may delay releasing histamine resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, and/or cramping;
  • Rarely, wheezing, vomiting, hives and/or low blood pressure.

Oral allergy syndrome rarely results in anaphylaxis – the most severe form of food allergic reaction.

 

An allergy to certain pollens can correspond to oral allergy syndrome to certain foods.  See the chart below to explore which pollen (and their variants) are found in which foods.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

 

If you believe you experience OAS, you should make an appointment with an allergist to confirm your suspicions and rule out a true food or latex allergy.  As you lead up to your doctor’s visit, it’s a great idea to begin a food journal to chart and track symptoms which may relate to this condition.  Once at the allergist’s office, you can expect them to go over your food diary, symptoms, your personal medical history and – if necessary – give a skin prick, blood test or set up an oral food challenge.  As with a regular food allergy, an oral food challenge is the gold standard for diagnosis.

 

Treatment options are similar to those for environmental allergies since they are interrelated.  Allergists may suggest that you avoid your trigger foods or eat them only when they are cooked for a certain length of time at a certain heat (since this alters the protein that sets off an allergic reaction).  In some cases, a doctor may treat the environmental allergy with antihistamines or steroids and occasionally will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector in case of severe reaction.  Be sure to ask your allergist about immunotherapy.  Allergy immunotherapy had been reported to help both the environmental as well as oral allergy syndrome symptoms.

 

 

 

 

Creative and Fun Non-Food Ideas to Fill Your Easter Eggs March 25, 2018

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Having food allergies can be limiting during food-centric holidays.  They are especially hard for kids during candy-themed holidays like Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.  Children with food allergies are often left out or feel excluded from the goodies AND the fun.

 

But it can be easy to make sure Easter is enjoyable for everyone.  Many families fill the candy void by using non-food treats.  If you need some inspiration for how to fill your Easter eggs this year, look no further!

 

1. Glow Rings:  Boys and girls alike love glow rings.  They fit any finger and extend the fun into the night.  Maybe it will send the kids outside while you clean up dinner!

2.  Sticky Hands:  You can ball these up easily and fit them inside eggs.  Sticky hands are perfect – kids love softly slapping against windows and mirrors and stretching them as far as they can go!

3.  Squishy Animals:  I don’t know exactly why, but these little squishy animals are addictive.  They’re a great replacement for fidget spinners and fantastic for the kid who loves collections.

4.  Stretchy Ninja Flyers:  Okay, full disclosure… I want these right now – for me.  They look like so much fun! Small enough to fit in your pocket (or egg!) and great for an active kid.  Have a contest to see how far you can make your ninja fly!  Be the fastest to fling and retrieve your ninja!

5.  Emojis!  Everything emoji-related is so popular right now.  Yes, even the poop emoji.  Especially the poop emoji!

6.  Itty Bitty Nail Polishes:  This set of Frozen-themed nail polish could be divided and placed in a number of eggs.  It will be like finding a rainbow!

7.  Wind-Up Toys:  These are fun for everyone!  Plus, this pack comes with 28 assorted toys.  Use some now, save some for later!  And, these are fantastic to bring to restaurants or other places where your children might need a little diversion.

 

Happy Easter everyone!

 

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(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of affiliate links go toward AllergyStrong.org – an organization aimed at helping at risk families with food allergies.)