Food Allergy Living Blog




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My Experience with Tube Feeding: The story of the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation

Posted 2.7.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Looking back, my son had feeding issues from the very beginning. But, he was 2 months old when our gastroenterologist said the words ‘feeding tube’ during our first clinic visit. He was admitted after the appointment and subsequently received an NG tube. The NG tube was a relief and the most terrifying feeling all at the same time.

The relief came in that there was something we could do for him to get him the nutrition he needed. The fear came from all that was unknown.  Tube feeding was something that I associated with the gravely ill or elderly. It filled me with an overwhelming worry of what was medically wrong with my newborn.

I was exhausted. In the first year of tube feeding, my son went from NG tube, to G tube and to GJ tube. Family and friends were as supportive as they could be, but no one in our lives had any personal experience with a medically complex child. There was no ready group of parents to welcome us and tell us it was going to get easier. We found it very challenging to find information and tips on dealing with tube feeding and didn’t know what to ask our medical professionals.

After tube feeding for six month, I was finally able to meet a group of parents online who shared their knowledge, experience, emotional support and the tips to manage life tube feeding a child at home. I felt that parents needed better access to information and they needed to hear about the positive benefits of tube feeding. For my family, tube feeding meant my child would live, grow and thrive. However, it was rare to hear anything positive about what tube feeding meant for families like mine. Once I understood tube feeding, it did get easier. I felt the urge to help other parents like myself and that drove me to founding the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation in October of 2010.

The mission of the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation (FTAW) is to provide parents and caregiving with the practical information they need to raise a child who has a feeding tube. Our goal is to create the organization we would have wanted to find when we first learned our children needed a feeding tube. We built resources based on the needs we found (and continue to find) in our own lives. Our educational materials are built on the best practices of experienced parents and written in simple to understand language. We understand how it feels to be overwhelmed, exhausted, scared and how valuable it is to be able to connect with other parents.

In 2011, we launched Feeding Tube Awareness Week® to raise positive awareness of tube feeding as a lifesaving medical intervention. The goal of the week is to educate family, friends, and the general public about the hundreds of medical conditions that can require tube feeding. During the week, we encourage parents to share their stories and experiences through social and traditional media. This year, Feeding Tube Awareness week is February 6-10, 2017. The theme of the week is “Fueling Life.”  You can find out more about the week and how to participate at the FTAW website.

Previous awareness weeks have reached millions of people through television, print and online newspapers, and social media. Many companies, such as Nutricia, have also committed to the cause of raising positive awareness.  Today, when a parent learns their child needs a feeding tube, there are more resources available and parents do not have to feel alone. They may even read about it their local newspaper.

My son is now 8.5 years old. He is a thriving third grader with special needs and G-tube. He most certainly wouldn’t be alive had he not been able to be tube fed practically since birth. It wasn’t easy. But, it would have been much easier if I had the right resources or knew anything about tube feeding before that first day in the clinic.

~ Traci Nagy

Today’s blog post comes from Traci Nagy. Traci Nagy is the Founder of Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (www.feedingtubeawareness.org). The organization’s facebook page has more than 45,000 followers and acts as a Q&A forum and place for information sharing. (https://www.facebook.com/FeedingTubeAwareness). She is mom to Lucas, who has Koolen-de Vries Syndrome.


Food Allergy-Friendly Recipes and Crafts for the Big Game 2017

Posted 2.2.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl party this weekend or just watching the game with family, we have a winning lineup of allergy-friendly treats to keep everyone happy during the big game. We also have a few craft ideas to help keep the kids occupied during this year’s gridiron battle--regardless of whether you’re rooting Falcons or Patriots. 

Recipes

Football Brownie Bites- You can put a fun twist on our Brownie Bites recipe by shaping the brownies like footballs.

Veggie Cakes- Looking for a healthy game day snack? Prepare our veggie cakes and set them out for the kids to enjoy.

Crafts

Mini Football Goal- This simple craft only requires a few materials, most of which can be found around the house. You can also personalize it further by adding your team’s name to the post!

Sponged Painted Football- This is an easy craft the kids are sure to love. The Resourceful Mama even has football templates you can print off!

Paper Plate Football- If you have extra paper plates laying around, you and your children can transform them into footballs.

Share your game plan with us on Facebook, or tag us in your gameday Instagram pictures @necoateus. And don’t forget to check out the dozens of additional recipes in our Neocate Footsteps Recipe Cards.


Food Allergy Role Models

Posted 1.31.17 | Nutrition Specialist


Each one of you is unique and special in some way. You might be special because of a talent that you possess such as singing or playing an instrument. Or maybe there is something in the way you look that makes you unique in your family.

One thing that many of you have in common is that either you or someone you care for is living with an allergy to food. While this is a common bond for us here at Food Allergy Living, it can also make us stand out from our family members, friends, classmates and coworkers. Being unique or different can make us feel special, but it can also sometimes make us feel strange or even isolated. In fact, I speak to parents every day who are concerned about their child and how their child’s food allergy might hinder their health and future potential.

Not to worry. The Neocate team is here to give you confidence that even though you or your loved one has an allergy to food, they have a bright and wonderful future ahead of them full of nothing but potential success. Here are some celebrities that have found tremendous success in the fields of acting, sports, and media while reportedly or openly living with food allergies.

Dairy Allergy:

Is your loved one allergic to dairy? Drew Brees is the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. In case you are not an NFL/Football fanatic like me (I do mean fanatic, and that is not a typo for fan), the Saints are a professional football team in the NFL. Drew Brees has been in the NFL as a Quarterback for 16 seasons, and he has experienced a very high level of professional football success.

Drew's success has come on many levels including a successful high school record, 2 time Heisman finalist and collegiate bowl game appearance, winning the ultimate NFL prize of Super Bowl Champion, and being named to a long list of awards and honors including many NFL Pro Bowls, NFL Super Bowl MVP, and their highest individual honor of the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year being some of the most impressive.

Drew has achieved all this professional football success while living with food allergies including an allergy to dairy. In fact, both Drew and his wife Brittany Brees are both allergic to dairy and both very open about their food allergies. Drew is also involved in a number of philanthropies, some through his foundation the Brees Dream Foundation. The couple joined the “So Delicious Dairy Free Team” in relation to their allergy to Dairy. Drew discussed why he wants to be a role model for others including children living with food allergies.

Other Celebrities reported to have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy:
Zooey Deschanel, Billy Bob Thornton, Brianna Adkins (daughter of singer Trace Adkins)

Allergy to Peanuts and/or Tree Nuts:

Perhaps you or your loved one is allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts. Serena Williams is one of the most recognized and well-known tennis stars, and she is also allergic to peanuts. Her allergy to peanuts has not slowed her down. Serena has a long list of achievements and tennis titles currently on her resume with highlights including 69 single titles, 22 double titles, 36 total grand slam titles, 4 gold medals, and a golden grand slam title. In fact, she recently added to her success by winning the 2017 singles title in the Australian open by beating out her older sister Venus for her 23rd grand slam singles title to tie another all-time great tennis star, Steffi Graf.

Serena excels not only in professional tennis but also in the world of fashion. She created the Serena Williams Fund where she works with a number of different organizations to promote education and support communities affected by violence.

Other Celebrities reported to have an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts:

Ray Romano, Drew Brees, Joshua Jackson, Brianna Adkins daughter of singer Trace Adkins, and Mason Kardashian son of Kourtney Kardashian

Allergy to Eggs:

Perhaps eggs are on your list of food allergies. Then you are not alone in this food allergy either. In fact actress and singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel is allergic to eggs as well. Zooey is probably most well known for her role on the comedy film Elf or for her starring role on the new hit TV series New Girl.

Along with eggs, Zooey also has food allergies to dairy and wheat. This actress has not let her food allergies slow her down. Zooey often has meals delivered to her trailer while on set to help successfully manage her food allergies while being mindful of others food preferences. She is active on social media and often talks about her food allergies or how they impact her daily life in her social media posts.

Other Celebrities reported to have an allergy or sensitivity to eggs:
Billy Bob Thornton, Suze Orman, Brianna Adkins (daughter of singer Trace Adkins)

Celiac Disease or an Allergy to Wheat and/or Gluten:

Are you and/or your loved one allergic to wheat, or perhaps you have celiac disease? (Celiac disease, while not a true food allergy, is often referred to as an allergy, and results in a similarly restrictive diet.) Well you might be surprised how many celebrities share this same diagnosis. One in particular who shares the diagnosis of celiac disease is actress Jennifer Esposito. She has a successful career in both movies and TV series including a regular character on the TV series Blue Bloods and Spin City. She has been in films including Summer of Sam and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Jennifer is open about her diagnosis of Celiac disease and was inspired to open a bakery that caters specifically to a gluten-free diet with only gluten-free baked goods called Jennifer’s Way Bakery in New York City.

Image Source

Other Celebrities reported to have celiac disease or allergy to wheat and/or gluten:
Zooey Deschanel, Keith Olbermann, Drew Brees and his wife Brittany, Billy Bob Thornton, Busy Phillips, Chelsea Clinton, Ryan Phillippe, Susie, Essman, Cedric Benson, James Stark, Heidi Collins, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Emmy Rossum

Other Food Allergy Support & Stories:

Hopefully some of these celebrities and professional athletes who have excelled while living with food allergies have inspired you and/or your loved one to see the potential you can have. Or perhaps they can remind you that even though you are unique and often different from others because of your allergies to food, you are not alone in living with food allergies!

Of course, Neocate is used by many families for a number of different food allergies or related GI and allergic conditions. An allergy to dairy, or cow milk protein, is one of the most common reasons that little ones need Neocate to get their start in life. If you want to see how other families and their little ones have thrived on Neocate, then read these Neocate testimonials.

Who is your food allergy hero or inspiration? Do you know of a celebrity or professional athlete living with food allergies? We want to know what you think!! Please share your thoughts or stories in the comments below.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN

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food allergies  |  stories


What Do You Do When Your Child Asks, “Can I eat this?”

Posted 1.26.17 | Nutrition Specialist

“Can I eat this?”

At holidays, parties and family and school events, parents will eventually hear “Can I eat this?” from their child with food allergies.  Hopefully you have taught your child to always ask before taking a bite!  You may not have had time to fully investigate the requested food, which requires not just reading the label, but may require calling the manufacturer of the prepared food. Consulting websites such as www.foodallergy.org or www.glutenfreewatchdog.org may help determine if food ingredients are safe for your child. Look for a date when website pages were last edited as companies can change their ingredients at any time without informing the public.  When in doubt, it's best to ask your little one “How about this food instead?” as you quickly pull out a safe food from your snack bag (that parents should always carry with them) or direct your child to another safe food option that you recognize is allowable.

Here are some considerations when faced with that on-the-spot question:

1.    Home-made food made by someone other than you—is not allowed.  Unless it is made by someone you have directly taught how to prepare foods safe for your child, the answer must be NO.  Even if food was prepared by a parent of another child with allergies, you can never be sure that others are fully aware of your child's food allergy restrictions. Even when the cook tells you the ingredients were used, sometimes a person can forget the little sprinkle of this or that when adding ingredients. Kitchen cleaning practices vary, so cross-contamination may be a huge risk. Everyone’s understanding of cross-contamination and use of allowable ingredients may differ.  As a dietitian I have had people tell me they follow a wheat-free diet because they are avoiding whole wheat even when they are using all sorts of other food products that contain wheat.  If offered a questionable food, refuse graciously by explaining that your health care team advised against all home-made foods.

2.    Prepared foods from restaurants or grocery store may be safe, but how do you determine this? The exception is if the chef or manager overseeing the preparation of a desired food can tell you with certainty how the food was prepared and handled so you can judge if allowable or not. You can also review lists of restaurants that participate in training for safe food preparation.

3.    Packaged foods may be safe for your child.  No matter if it is a new product you are using for the first time or a product you use regularly; you must read the label every time before offering to your child so they do not get exposed to unwanted food allergens. If you have read the label and feel confident in the manufacturer ingredient label, then the product may be suitable for your child with food allergies.  I often suggest parents sign up for food allergy alerts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

5.    Avoid mixing allowable foods on your child’s plate with non-allowable/questionable foods. If the allowable food has been mixed with a non-allowable food, then you can consider that food contaminated. For instance, if a plain, allergy-safe hamburger patty gets inserted into wheat-containing hamburger bun, and wheat is not allowable for your child, then the meal is not safe to eat.  Try to get into the kitchen to read labels and make your child’s plate safe BEFORE exiting the kitchen.  

Teach your child to ask you if they can add any additional foods to their plate. If your child is on a top 8 food elimination diet (E.g., Avoids milk, wheat, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish and shellfish), all fresh fruits and vegetables are safe. Fruits and vegetables generally are great choices if tolerated as long as they are served separately from sauces and dips. Bring a bag of apples, pears or tangerines to the party to assure that your child has a healthy and safe choice available. 

Meats are generally okay, as long as the preparation method does not introduce any unwanted ingredients.  Watch out for packaged meats or vegetarian meats as many contain wheat, soy or dairy. A single meat jerky has a long shelf life and may be kept in the car, purse or backpack for an extended period of time and may be considered an allowable and nutritious snack..

No matter how well you plan, these “Can I eat this?” moments may happen. As a best practice, we recommend keeping a snack bag with you or in your car in case of emergencies. Ideas for your snack bag depend on what food allergens your child needs to avoid. For instance, if your child is on a  8 food elimination diet, allowable snack examples include:

  • Individual bags of gluten free pretzels, top 8-free cookies/crackers or allowable potato chips
  • Freeze dried fruits or fruit leather
  • Meat jerky sticks
  • Ready to serve Neocate Splash drink boxes in a variety of flavors
  • Suggest making a list of “safe” foods offered at common fast food restaurants that provides food allergy information on their website.

Have questions? Comment below!

-Patricia Novak MPH RD CLE LD

Today's guest blog post is by Patricia Novack. Patricia has 30 years experience working with children and adolescents with autism, developmental disabilities, food allergies and chronic illness.  Her work includes clinical practice in both hospital and community based programs, professional training and curriculum development.  The common thread throughout has been addressing feeding issues in children from infancy through adolescence.


Allergy-Friendly Cleaning Checklist - Clean Start for 2017

Posted 1.18.17 | Nutrition Specialist

It never seems to surprise me how fast time passes. Yet here we are at the beginning of another promising year with 2017 underway.

A new year brings a fresh start for many of us, so why not start the year off right with a clean start at home? Perhaps some home cleaning will help you start 2017 by making progress towards a resolution for the New Year, or just help you clear out some clutter from the previous years. Or maybe your family also has seasonal allergies in addition to food allergies. This may help you reduce pollen and allergens for your family.

Here are some general tips and a check list to get your household off to a clean start in 2017! Even a bonus section on tips to get your kitchen in order for a wonderful year of allergy friendly meals the whole family will enjoy.

General Tips:

  • Clean from Top to Bottom: One tip I have always found helpful from my first real job in a restaurant is to always clean top to bottom. Some see this as a great strategy for organizing yourself and cleaning from the top floor down. I have always found this strategy especially helpful to save time by cleaning from the top of the room down to the bottom and prevent cleaning an area twice.
  • Pre-Treat: For tough to clean areas such as a spot in the carpet or areas of the bathroom not often addressed, you can spray the area with the desired cleanser and let it sit and pre-treat the area while you clean elsewhere. For example, spray the cleanser on the carpet spot and let it sit while you perhaps dust the room or pick-up elsewhere. Then once the cleanser has had time to pre-treat and loosen the grime it is easier to clean and much less time scrubbing the area.
  • Recruit Help: Cleaning can be a bit more fun and much faster if it becomes a family affair. Enlist the help of the whole household to help you conquer these tasks while also making it a quick day. Then you can celebrate your hard work with a fun event or relaxing family night together. Truly a win-win.

If you want any ideas on a fun and allergy friendly activity to plan for family night then you might want to check post about DIY Allergy Friendly Play-Doh Recipes. Want a night out instead? Check out post about the Top 10 Allergy Friendly Restaurant Chains.

Check List:

Here is a quick check list of items that you will want to include when setting your game plan to get a clean start to 2017. Items that are often overlooked on a regular cleaning basis that will help you feel that your hard work has made a difference while also reducing potential allergens like dust and pollen in those areas less addressed.

  • Clean Walls: Cleaning the walls, and if you are feeling adventurous the baseboards also, can help reduce allergens and make a big difference in the look of your home. No need to re-paint for a room face list; a quick clean of the walls can provide the same bright new look. You may want to start with a quick wall sweep using the vacuum attachments. Then wipe with a clean damp cloth or all-purpose cleaner to do the trick. Make sure to pick an all-purpose cleaner that is appropriate for the paint or other coatings on your home walls. Don’t forget to clean the light switch on the wall.
  • Wash Curtains: Along with washing the walls, washing any curtains or window treatments will also help to reduce allergens and brighten up your rooms. Many are machine washable so throw them in the washer and by the time you are done washing the walls the curtains will be clean, dry and ready to go. A quick dust and wipe with a damp cloth for any blinds will make your wall cleaning complete
  • Clean Light Fixtures: This will help make those lights shine a bit brighter to help get your family through these last few months of short daylight hours. Remove any shades, light covers, or globes and wash and then wipe the bulbs and light fixture with a damp cloth and voila!! You will have a bright shining light fixture to brighten that room.
  • Purge & De-clutter: This step can be more time consuming, but a new year is a great time to get rid of items you no longer need. A good rule of thumb is to donate or discard anything that you have not used in the past year. I have to admit that I am a bit more conservative than this, but certainly that clothing item that you have not worn in a few years may be ready for donation. Donating items from your office, living room, attic and/or garage can be a great way to make some space and de-clutter items that you no longer need or want. You will be amazing how clean & organized a room can look once some excess items are removed.

Bonus, 3 Easy Steps to Allergy Friendly Kitchen Cleaning:

Want to get your kitchen in order to start 2017? Well here is a bonus section just for you.

Of course a kitchen deep clean is always a good idea at least a few times a year to keep appliances in good working order and clean those hard to reach places in likely one of the busiest and messiest spots in your home. Cleaning the shelves of the refrigerator, oven cleaning and such is something that is often recommended on a regular basis. Let’s look as some tips to clean up the actual food items and be prepared with easy, allergy friendly meal prep ideas for the coming year.

  1. De-Clutter: Go through the pantry and get rid of items that are expired, or no longer used. Anyone with a diet restriction in any way has a stock of products they have tried and did not work for them. And just about every kitchen has plenty of items in the pantry that were not used or you did not like for one reason or another. Well time to make some space and toss or donate them if they are not yet expired.
  2. Eliminate Hidden Allergen Ingredients: Now that you have cleared out the obvious items in your cabinets and cupboard that do not work for your family, it is time to take another look. This time get rid of anything with hidden allergens that do not work for your family. Not sure where to start? Well this post should help you find hidden dairy ingredients.
  3. Allergy Friendly Meal Planning: Now that you have made some space you can begin preparation for meal planning. Not sure where to start to plan allergy friendly meals this coming year, well the Neocate team had you covered there as well. Check out 10 Tips for Allergy Friendly Meal Planning. Or perhaps ideals to help you Make Mealtime Fun is what you need to get your year started on the right foot. And for your families that need ideas to get the whole family involved, 5 Food Allergy Friend Meal Planning Tips for the Entire Family.

What are you and your family doing to get a clean start in 2017? Have any suggestions you want to share with other Neocate families? Let us know in the comments below.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN


2017 Food Allergy Conferences and Events

Posted 1.13.17 | Neocate Admin

There are many events throughout the year and country that help to raise funds and awareness for food allergies. These events are geared towards medical professionals as well as you, our food allergy families. To help you stay in-the-know, below you will find a list of key 2017 events. This isn’t meant as a comprehensive list of all 2017 events, but rather a highlight of a few events in which you may be interested.

The Food Allergy Research and Education ( FARE) group has many events throughout the year, including the FARE Walk for Food Allergy. Each year, tens of thousands of supporters gather in communities across the country at these events. These family friendly community gatherings help to raise awareness of food allergies and critical funds to support FARE’s mission. Here are the educational events that have already been announced.

You can visit FARE website to find a walk near you!

Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo– The largest gluten free and allergen friendly event in the US! The expo is held at multiple locations throughout the US. See below for the date and location best for you!

  • Feb 11-12 in San Diego, CA
  • April 22-23 in Schaumburg, IL
  • May 20-21 in Atlanta, GA
  • June 24-25 in Glendale AZ
  • July 22-23 in Worcester, MA
  • Oct 14-15 in Secaucus, NJ
  • Oct 28-29 in Dallas, TX
  • Nov 18-19 in San Mateo, CA

AAAAI 2017 Conferencewill be held in Atlanta, GA from March 3-6, 2017. This is a conference for allergists/immunologists, allied health and related healthcare professionals for four full days. Hundreds of educational offerings are available on a variety of topics including: allergic disease; asthma; immunotherapy; food allergy and GI disease; skin disease; PIDD; practice management; new technologies; and health care reform.

The FARE National Food Allergy Conference is an annual event gathering the country's leading food allergy experts and members of the food allergy community for a weekend of world-class programming. This year’s event will be April 28-30 in San Antonio, TX. The conference offers educational sessions presented by leading experts covering the latest research, tips and tools. Hundreds of members of the food allergy community from across the country converge to learn, connect and support each other. Living with food allergies can be overwhelming, and there is so much to learn about how to manage day to day. This conference may be able to help you with that!

May 4 – National FPIES Awareness Day

May 8-14 – Food Allergy Awareness Week

May 15-21 – National Eosinophil Awareness Week

Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang)is a one-week day camp designed for children ages 4-12. Locations throughout the United States with varying dates throughout the summer!

In July, APFED’s 15th Annual Patient Education Conference on Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders will be held on July 7-8. This conference focuses on families coming together to learn more about EoE and other gastrointestinal disorders, including management options. This event allows for networking and social interaction with others who may be going through the same thing as you!

The FAACT (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team) Teen Conferencewill be held on Oct 20-22in Cincinnati, OH for children aged 11-23 with food allergies, as well as siblings and parents of these children with food allergies.  There will be separate sessions for parents, siblings and teens as the focus for each group is different.

Do you know of any other events that others may want to participate? Let us know and help spread the word!

- Ellen

Ellen Sviland-Avery joined the Nutricia team during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, metabolics and tube feeding. Prior to coming to Nutricia, she worked in home infusion. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 12 years. Her passion in pediatric nutrition started when she was in Birmingham working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and has continued throughout her career.


What Are Your Food Allergy Goals for 2017?

Posted 1.10.17 | Nutrition Specialist

 

At Neocate, we love seeing the progress that children with food allergies make as they grow from babies to toddlers and beyond. It’s no secret that the beginning of any food allergy journey is a challenge. But we know that it’s best to focus on even the smallest of victories, because for parents, incremental progress offers hope for the road ahead.

We asked the Neocate community what progress looks like for them. What we found is a common denominator among all parents: health and happiness for their little one.

Here’s what parents like you said about their goals for 2017:

 

“My goal is to pass at least one state of the milk ladder!” - Gemma

 

“My goal is finding safe foods for my daughter to eat.” - Amy

 

“My goal is to have my 18 month old son tolerate dairy. We’re getting there!” - Hayley

 

“Progress is being able to have safe foods and stable weight!” - Jennifer

 

“Progress is no more screaming in pain, just lots of smiles, laughs, and weight gain.” - Lindsay

 

What are your goals for 2017? Comment below or share on our Facebook page!


3 Easy Tips to Keep your Baby’s Food Safe

Posted 1.5.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Being a parent is arguably the most important job we will ever come across! We make sure everything in our home is safe for our little bundles of joy to sleep, play, eat and explore. At times it can be stressful and challenging, especially when your child has a food allergy. Safety is often the first thought on any parent’s mind, and food allergies can amplify any safety concern you might have as a parent.

Here are 3 easy tips to sharpen your food allergy safety skills.

Moms Breastfeeding Their Infants:

Great job to all you breastfeeding moms out there! You are providing your baby with the best source of nutrition, and the first choice of healthcare professionals worldwide. When your little one also has a food allergy, then you have likely also taken the extra step to eliminate the foods that your baby is reacting to from your own diet to continue to breastfeed your baby.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and intimate time between mom and baby. As is common with all good things, it is also time consuming and a lot of work. So way to go all you moms who have eliminated suspected allergens from your own diet to support your little one!

Tip #1, for Lactating Moms: Make sure to read food labels closely. There are often “hidden” ingredients that contain the allergens you are trying to avoid. Let’s look at cow milk for example, the most common food allergen for little ones. If you are following an elimination diet to remove milk due to a cow milk allergy, then ingredients such as casein or whey will also need to be avoided. Be sure to look at ingredients for all items you consume including any vitamin or mineral supplements, or medications which may also contain ingredients from the allergens you are trying to avoid.

Here is a wonderful blog post to learn more about hidden allergens in medications, and one with more information on finding hidden food allergens when reading labels.

Parents Using Neocate Formula:

Perhaps breastfeeding was not an option for your family, or you were unable to continue to breastfeed your infant for one reason or another. Cheers to all you hard working parents who use Neocate to provide your baby with the nutrition your little one with food allergies needs to grow, develop and thrive when breastfeeding is not an option.

Food safety is always important when preparing food for your family, and the same care must be taken when preparing formula for your child. This can be especially true if your little one has any digestive conditions, is not gaining weight as expected, or struggling with an illness.

Tip #2, for Families Using Neocate: Follow all safety and sanitation recommendations when preparing Neocate. Make sure to sanitize all bottles and nipples as directed by your healthcare team. Keep surfaces clean and use good hand washing techniques - a must when preparing any formula to ensure your little one with food allergies consumes formula that has been safely prepared.

Many parents call us to inquire about our recommendation to use sterile water. While it is ultimately up to your healthcare team to determine what is best for your infant, the use of sterile water is our recommendation. Those of us here on the Neocate team put your families’ safety and health first!

If you want to learn more about how to prepare sterile water, or why we include that recommendation for preparation of our infant formula, you can read this blog post all about those very topic in our blog post To Sterilize or Not to Sterilize. For more general information on the proper storage and preparation of Neocate, you will not want to miss a recent post from one of our in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Rob, on that very subject. Want more information? For more tips read our Simple How-to Guide.

Extended Family, Friends and Neighbors:

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I know I was lucky enough to have a very close family with friends and neighbors available to me as my personal village of support when growing up. I am still grateful for their love and support, and I imagine many of you are in the same boat as you raise your children and keep them safe with food allergies.

Way to go! I will also add a sincere thank you to all of you out there who are a vital member of the village when caring for the special little ones in your life, and especially any children with food allergies. Your support and time to make sure you know what is needed to keep children with food allergies safe is vital to their success, and no doubt deeply appreciated by their parents.

Tip #3, for the Extended Village Members: Take the time to get to know the details of your loved one's food allergies, including what is needed to provide them with the care and love they need while keeping their food safe.

Education is always important for extended family, friends and neighbors who will support your loved one with their food allergy. Your own personal village needs to be in-the-know so they are ready and prepared to help you whenever needed. Make sure to have those food allergy and general food safety conversations early. Provide any details in writing or tools necessary to best support your loved ones, which can be immensely helpful for your family's village of support.

Not sure how to have that conversation, or what they might need to know? Well no problem! Those of us here at Neocate have got you covered. Here is a post about the signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy, or perhaps this one all about explaining food allergies to relatives will help you and your family at the moment. Here is one more about talking to your toddler about food allergies that I recently wrote as well, in case this is what is weighing on your mind these days.

Share these posts with anyone in your personal village of friends, extended family members and neighbors so they are in the know and ready to help keep your child with food allergies food-safe when needed.

Do you have any suggestions for us or others on how to keep you little one food safe? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN. LDN


Top 10 Neocate Allergy-Friendly Blog Posts of 2016

Posted 1.3.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Every year at Neocate, we take pride and effort to create and publish valuable blog posts, guides and videos for our customers to help along their food allergy journey. We cover topics from conditions overview, social advice like dealing with stress or school bullies, home life and much more.

Here as we kick off 2017, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 most popular blog posts according to you, our readers.

Top 10 Neocate Allergy-Friendly Blog Posts of 2016

  1. Your Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered!
  2. Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered – Round 2
  3. Got Milk? 17 Products with Hidden Dairy Ingredients
  4. Introducing Your Neocate Baby to Solids - Summer Treat
  5. Neocate Products – Similarities and Differences
  6. Tackling Your Daily Stressors…One Step at a Time
  7. Is Your Stress Impacting Your Family? Importance of Caregivers Managing Personal Stress
  8. FPIES –What Who When Which Why and How?
  9. Transitioning from Neocate Infant to Neocate Junior
  10. New Neocate Footsteps App – Support in YOUR Pocket

Those were our 10 most popular allergy-friendly blog posts of 2016! What was your favorite? And have no fear, there are still many great things coming in the year ahead. If you have a question or an idea that you would like for us to cover in the future, please don’t hesitate to post below.


Prebiotics vs Probiotics – Part 2

Posted 12.29.16 | Nutrition Specialist


As we shared in the first post in this two-part series, many people are confused about the differences between prebiotics and probiotics. A lot of us think they mean the same thing. That can make it hard to know what benefits they offer, which one is in the foods or supplements you're taking, or what questions to ask your healthcare team! The first post in this series reviewed prebiotics - with an "E" - what they are, when they may be beneficial, and why they're included in some nutritional products. Today - you guessed it - we'll review the same information for probiotics - with an "O"!

So, what are probiotics?

Probiotics, sometimes referred to informally as “good bugs,” are living microbes that are in some way good for us, or good for a specific condition. We naturally have lots and lots of microbes living in and on our bodies. In fact, if you count all of them, the number of human cells in our body is far outnumbered by the number of microbes! 

When you look at the microbes in our guts, you can classify them as ones that are neutral, ones that are beneficial, or ones that may be harmful. Probiotics are ones that are beneficial in some way. 

Consuming a probiotic puts some of a good microbe directly into your digestive tract. This can have general benefits, like crowding out potentially harmful microbes. Or it can have specific benefits. For example, some probiotics may be helpful for people with diarrhea related to antibiotics, and others can help people with specific digestive disorders.

Probiotics are available as supplements, such as in sachets, tablets or capsule form. Probiotics can also be present in certain foods, such as yogurts or other beverages. Probiotics are also added to some nutritional formulas. Of note, probiotics can be sensitive to heat, so don't cook foods that contain probiotics or add them to anything warmer than body temperature.

While everyday foods – in particular yogurt and fermented foods  – contain microbes, probiotics are specific microbes that are added to foods or formula. More on that below!

How do you define probiotics?

Here is a list of characteristics that have been used to define what makes a microbe a probiotic:

  1. a live microorganism (meaning that it's a bacteria, yeast, fungus, or alga that is still alive or dormant)
  2. that, when administered in adequate amounts (meaning you have to take enough of it)
  3. confers a health benefit on the host (that's us!)

So, in essence a probiotic is a living microbe that we take as a supplement or add to food or nutritional formula for the benefits it offers. The benefits come from the fact that every microbe is unique. I like to compare them to plants and animals: some live on land, in the air, or in water; some plants make energy from the sun, some animals eat plants, and some animals eat animals. Taken together, plants and animals form a giant community with lots of different roles. The microbes in our gut have a similar community with different roles.

That introduces another concept that's crucial to probiotics. First, it's important to know that most probiotics are bacteria, though probiotic yeasts are also common. But bacteria come in a HUGE variety of shapes, sizes, and they're able to do many different things. Because of that, a probiotic is a specific strain of a bacterium. 

So what are some examples, and how do you know what strain you have? Well all strains start with a genus name, which is broad. Examples include Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Next is the species name which comes after the genus name. Examples are L. rhamnosusL. reuteriB. breve, and B. lactis. (Since we already named the genus, we can abbreviate it to the capital letter!)

But those names only tell you the species. With bacteria, the strain is even more specific than the species, and different strains within the same species can be very different. Unless you know the strain, you don't really know what probiotic you're taking. Names that include strains are L. rhamnosus GG, L. reuteri DSM 17938, B. breve M-16V, and B. lactis Bb-12. (Notice how the genus and species are in italics, but the strain is not. Funny science!) These are just a handful of examples.

Of note, while all yogurt is made using bacteria, not all yogurt contains probiotics. Even buying yogurt that says "live active cultures" doesn't necessarily mean it contains probiotics. The bacteria used to make yogurt can be considered "beneficial bacteria," but they haven't been shown to have any specific benefits, so are not probiotics. Some yogurts, though, do have an added probiotic strain that has demonstrated benefits.

Why should I consider taking probiotics? How will it benefit me?

While all probiotics have some benefit, they are not all the same. Various probiotics have been shown to have a variety of health benefits. Probiotics may help to bring the community of microbes in the gut back into balance. They can also influence digestion or other aspects of health. Here are some conditions in which research has found strong or moderate evidence that specific probiotics may be helpful:

  • Managing infectious diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of daycare-associated diarrhea
  • Lessening risk of nosocomial diarrhea (related to infections picked up in a hospital)
  • Managing Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, Ulcerative colitis)
  • Managing atopic dermatitis associated with food allergy
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Again, there are specific strains that have been studied for these conditions, and a healthcare provider can provide more information about which specific strains and how strong the evidence is.

People who take probiotics might have been prescribed them by a physician, or might be looking for specific benefits. The best thing to do if you have questions about the possible benefits of probiotics is to talk to your healthcare team. They can help you to understand the possible benefits of adding probiotics to your diet, and may be able to help you choose the best source or type.

Why are probiotics in some nutritional formulas?

For breast-fed infants, breast milk naturally contains beneficial bacteria. These bacteria come from the mom and can help to provide a community of microbes for the infant. Sometimes this community can get out of balance - more of some and less of others than is typical - and the addition of probiotics to an infant formula can help to correct that imbalance. The probiotics added to various infant formulas include:

  • B. breve M-16V
  • B. lactis Bb-12
  • B. longum BB536
  • L. reuteri DSM 17938
  • L. rhamnosus GG
  • L. rhamnosus HN0001

In the Neocate family of products, Neocate Syneo Infant (for infants) is supplemented with the probiotic B. breve M-16V. It also contains the prebiotics scFOS and lcFOS. The combination of probiotics and prebiotics is known as a synbiotic.

We hope that these two posts helped clear up any confusion! What questions do you have about probiotics?

-Rob

Rob McCandlish is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who joined the Nutricia team in 2010. Rob has years of experience at Nutricia following food allergy research, working with Neocate products, talking with Neocate families and learning about the science behind Neocate and food allergies. Rob has two nephews who both used Neocate for their cow milk allergies!



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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.