Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Labels For Your Snacks and Pantry – Fantastic Free Printable Stickers! August 26, 2013

Filed under: Preparedness,School — malawer @ 11:44 am

For all the important reasons spelled out in the post Food Labels, I love the idea of marking the food in your pantry.  No one wants to make a mistake when feeding a food allergic family member.


Sympathetic to us food allergy parents, Kori Clark, the founder of Paper and Pigtails thoughtfully created food allergy labels – AND make them available for free to print here.  Her adorable designs indicate if a pantry or school snack item is safe or unsafe in a way that is clear and attention-grabbing.  My son just took one look and whole heartedly approved of the upgraded look to our own home!

Thank you for thinking of us, Kori!  What a great looking gift to the food allergy community!



Back to School: Prepared, Safe, and Ready August 24, 2013

Filed under: School — malawer @ 9:52 am

It’s here!  My kids are headed back to school in a week and I’m gathering their things to get them ready.  Before school begins I usually set up a time the day before to speak briefly with the school nurse, my son’s teachers, and the front office.  Here’s what I do:


School Nurse:  I’ve already renewed my FA son’s epinephrine prescriptions which, along with a bottle of Benadryl, his emergency action plan from his doctor and an inhaler, are packaged, labeled and ready to be dropped off at the school nurse’s office.  I plan on reviewing the action plan with her (as usual) and discussing a few changes to his health.  A big one:  he outgrew his dairy allergy over the summer!


Teacher:   I’ve gathered replacement snacks for those times in class when treats are brought in.  Although a nut-free school, it can be hard to determine when snacks are sesame seed-free.   So, I have a few boxes of his favorite cookies and a few packages of rice cakes (his favorite snack) so no one is caught by surprise.  This helps for in-class birthdays, changes in the snack schedule, and special occasions like class celebrations.


Now’s a good time to establish the best way for the teacher to communicate with me and when about food allergies.  I try to give him/her a few examples (outside of the obvious) of when it would be important for me to know about a food related project in advance, such a field trips, special occasion days (like Colonial Day, at our school), and science projects that involve food (e.g. examining acorns, etc).


Front Office:  I speak with the secretary in our elementary school’s front office before the start of each year to ensure that the snacks that our school provides are safe for my son.  Thankfully, the school is careful and thoughtful about their choices and the snacks have mostly been safe each year.  That said, it’s worth reading all the labels again before school begins so I can discuss with both my son’s teacher and my son which snacks are NOT okay to serve him.


My Son:  Now is also a good time to gently review some symptoms of a food allergic reaction with my son and remind him what he should do:

  • Symptoms:  if you see hives, feel sick after eating (even if it’s been a little while), are starting to cough a bunch or feel funny when you swallow – stop anything you’re doing and act!
  • Get an adult’s attention, even if that means interrupting them in conversation or teaching;
  • Go to the nurse immediately.

I remind him that he shouldn’t bother wondering what’s going on by himself, I’d rather he just let the nurse figure out if this is a stomach ache or something she needs to treat another way.


Back to school can be easy and exciting with just a little advance preparation!

For more things you can do to get ready for a safe school year, read Back to School Food Allergy Checklist.

Good luck!


How Allergy-Friendly is Your College or University? August 12, 2013

As many college kids prepare to head back to school in the next couple of weeks, it’s also a good time to know how food allergy-friendly your campus is.

Udi’s, the makers of gluten-free breads, compiled a list of the Top 10 Gluten-Free Accomodating Universities. You can read about what each school is doing to offer their students the best and safest selection of on-campus food here, but in the meantime, these ten universities deserve some praise:

1. University of Notre Dame

2. Georgetown University

3. Iowa State University

4. University of Arizona

5. Emory University

6. University of Connecticut

7. Ithaca College

8. Carleton College

9. University of New Hampshire

10. Clark University

It appears that many other colleges and universities are also beginning to tune into the needs of their food allergic students. And, while there’s no single method that appears to be used as a “best practices” model, there are a number of different variations of making dining food allergy friendly that schools are adapting. Be sure to check your school’s Dining Services information page for their specific guidance and policies regarding food allergies.

Schools have begun food labeling, placing “free from” icons at each meal station. The University of New Hampshire has set aside gluten-free pans for students to use at food preparation stations. Some universities (such as Franklin and Marshall), but not many, are making their dining halls nut-free. Colleges are stocking their shelves with gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, and vegan groceries (as an example, see Cal Poly’s list here), a few offer pre-ordered allergy-free meals and others post dining hall ingredient lists online. In addition to the accommodations made by dining services, many universities offer access to staff dieticians who will work one-on-one with students to evaluate a student’s dietary needs, set up meeting with school chefs, and help navigate menu options.

Many schools are taking necessary and thoughtful steps towards protecting their food allergic populations and some have a ways to go. The best way to stay safe at school is to:

  • always keep your emergency meds with you and teach your friends how to use them and when;
  • learn about your school’s policy towards on-campus dining with food allergies;
  • put yourself in contact with the dining hall director, head chef and/or school’s dietician; and
  • ask lots of questions to ensure your food’s safety.

Here’s a great Washington Post article by Sloane Miller, who went through college with food allergies herself. In it, she offers a few more excellent suggestions to keep you on the right track at school: Managing Your Food Allergies in Dining Halls and Dorm Rooms.

There’s no reason you’ll need to miss a meal with friends in the dining hall if you’re informed and prepared!


Stock Up on Epinephrine for School: No Co-Pays Until December 2013 August 6, 2013

Yes, we STILL have nearly a month left before school begins.  Don’t worry!  But if you’re even thinking  about preparing for the upcoming school year, be sure to include epinephrine on your To-Do List.


First, double check the expiration dates on your epinephrine supply.


Second, make sure you have at least two, preferably three sets of epinephrine auto-injectors that are active (one for school, one for home, and a mobile set to bring with you on-the-go).


Third, renew your prescriptions now to make sure they are still current (and to give you time to contact your allergist if they’re not) as well as to avoid that last minute panic before the beginning of school.


Finally, now is a great time to take advantage of the no co-pay promotions from the makers of both EpiPens and Auvi-Q.   Both companies have issued a $0 co-pay program from now until December 2013.   Now’s a great time to restock your epinephrine for free!  Program details below:


EpiPen $0 Co-Pay Program:


Auvi-Q Support and Savings Program:

**As always, it’s important to discuss the various auto-injector options and which is best for your particular needs with your doctor.**