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Hosting a Successful Party for People with Food Allergies and Intolerances

In May, I finished my Master’s degree for Library and Information Science and moved to the East coast for my first librarian job, shortly after that. I was promoted and transferred to a different office of the company that I work for. Whenever anyone left my previous job, our department had a pot luck party for lunch. With all of my food allergies, I would not find much to eat besides cheese, carrots, or the crackers that I would bring myself.

When it was my time to leave, a friend of mine made sure to remind my supervisor that I had food allergies. She talked to me about it, and I sent her a list of my food allergies and recommended recipes that I can eat. She sent these sample recipes to the whole department.

Some employees asked me if they could make other recipes. I had them send me the recipe to alter for them. One person wanted to make a pasta salad. I explained to her that she could do so, but that I could not eat normal salad dressing. She would need to make the dressing from scratch with olive oil and vinegar. I also explained that she would not be able to put tuna in it because, most cans have soy oil in it even if it is one that says it is tuna in water on the can. There are some specific specialty cans of tuna that do not have soy oil in the ingredients, but they can be hard to find.

As an example of how to alter a recipe, an employee sent me the following recipe, which I could not eat. She wanted to make an altered version. The first recipe here is the original recipe:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
1/4 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Oil or Melted Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 Cup Chestnut Flour
1 Tbs Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder (I like to use Double Acting)
pinch of salt
1 Cup Grated Carrots
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
1/2 Cups Chopped Walnuts (optional)
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (Or lemon/lime juice)

This recipe was altered so that I could eat it as follows:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
1/4 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Melted Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbs Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
pinch of salt
1 Cup Grated Carrots
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (Or lemon/lime juice)

At my new job, we have monthly meetings in which we take turns bringing a snack for everyone. I made sure to communicate my food allergies. At the first meeting, a person brought in a pound cake with fresh blueberries and whipped cream. I was able to eat a bowl of blueberries. At any party, people will bring food that you should not eat. This is not a problem. If you make the effort to communicate with the guests, there will be enough food for you that you can eat.

Tips for successful office and house parties:
* Always communicate to those organizing the party and your guests that you have food allergies.
* Do not be afraid to make the first offer to alter the recipes for them. People will not necessarily understand your needs, so this will make it easier for them to be able to comply with your request instead of ignoring it.
* Ask people to label the dishes with the ingredients so you know what is in it.
* If this party includes children with food allergies, make sure the children understand that they can only eat certain dishes by communicating with them and the parents, as well as the guests and hosts, about the ingredients of the food.
* If you do not have an epipen, bring Benadryl with you incase you feel you have had an allergic reaction. Benadryl really does help to stop a moderate reaction from getting worse.
* If you feel that something even tastes wrong, or you are slightly itchy, do not continue to eat it. It may be made with something you are allergic to. Many times I can tell by the taste of a food, that it has soy or nuts in it that will cause a stronger allergic reaction.
* Always drink a lot of water. It will help to dilute the ingredients that you could be allergic to, if you have ingested any.

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Categories: Blog Posts, Health, Recipes

Food Allergies is an ADA protected disability

Check out this briefing from December. It is announcing the ruling of a court case that states that people with food allergies can not be discriminated against because it is a disability.

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/December/12-crt-1538.html

Categories: Blog Posts, Health

A Magazine for People With Food Allergies

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: Blog Posts, Health

Epipen News

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

The Epipen is a shot of epinephrine in an easy to use injection system. It is meant to be injected into the thigh muscle. Using it during a severe allergic reaction can save one’s life. Unfortunately, it has never been covered by insurance.

In the past, I have carried one in case of an emergency. I have never used it. When I did need to use it, I decided to go to the hospital and let a doctor give me shots, instead. Recently the price of an Epipen has increased so much that I feel I can no longer afford to buy it every year when I never use it anyway.

When I first started to buy the Epipen, one cost only $50. Then the price went up to $100 dollars. Now the company that makes it has stopped selling individual Epipens and only sells the 2-pack. The price for the adult 2-pack has increased to $280. This is ridiculous and unfair to those that want to cary it incase of an emergency. I think everyone should complain to the company and the FDA.

Without the Epipen, come up with a plan on how to handle allergic reactions in an emergency. Many children do not know the range of a reaction that they can get related to how much is consumed. The allergic reaction varies depending on the food and how much is eaten because the the proteins of each food come in different combinations.

If a reaction is mild enough to cause my mouth to itch and to have a mild problem with breathing, I take a Benedryl and drink a couple of glasses of water. When the hives spread to my entire body on the outside, face, ears, etc. and it is more difficult to breathe, then it’s time to go to the hospital for shots.

However, the most important thing is to always avoid eating what you are allergic to. Do not trust what people say about the food, whether they have made it themselves or you bought it from a restaurant. Many times they will even say the ingredients may be fine for you, but they will be wrong because they do not understand the problem. Some restaurants can provide you with lists of ingredients. These can be found on websites. If you avoid eating food that may be risky, you will not need to use the Epipen.

Hair Dye

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I have been in a very feminist/anti-materialistic mood lately, so I thought that my next article should be about hair dye. How many women have you noticed who don’t dye their hair? How many men have you noticed that don’t dye their hair? The number of men that do not dye their hair is far greater than women, just because society puts the pressure on women to look perfect. Make-up, high heel shoes, hair dye, sexy clothing, what does it really say about women’s place in society? Men do not have to act like that, although some do, but it is one of those societal norms that women have to be perfect eye candy for the men to stare at or else the women in their lives (including their mothers) will judge them for not fitting into the norm. It is really not fair. Women should be allowed to always wear paints, not wear make-up, or dye their hair just like men.

So what do you do about hair dye when there is an allergy alert on the package? On top of that, I wonder if someone will discover that hair dye causes cancer just as much as sun burns do. People with food allergies should not be expected to dye their hair all of the time.

I really tried not dying my hair for awhile, but my hair went grey earlier than other people. Someone first pointed out to me that I had one grey hair who was sitting behind me in my high school geometry class when I was 15. Do people with food allergies go grey younger than people without? Well, some men started to make fun of me for having grey hair at work when I was in my mid-20s, so one day I decided to give in to the pressure and dye it.

On first examining the packages of hair dye, I noticed that some had nut products in it to be more natural and botanical looking, while others did not. So I stuck with one of the brands that did not have nuts on the label. At first, I just dyed the easy part in the front by my face with dye that I bought at Walgreen’s. I did not get an allergic reaction at all, but hair dye really leaves my scalp feeling very dry and flaky. After a while of trying it on my own, I decided to occasionally go to the salon to have someone else dye my whole head. I hate the burning pain that happens, so I really never do that more than 4 times a year and attempt to cover my roots with a 10 minute dye by my face and a bit on the top the rest of the year. Who really cares about the back of my head? So I ignore that part. A lot of the time I do not mind ignoring my grey hairs coming in for an inch or two, either, and ignore them. I do prefer to not use chemicals. It’s much healthier for the body, especially for someone with sensitive skin and a sensitive immune system.

Another option for allergy friendly dye is henna. If you go to a beauty supply store, you will find henna with peanut oil in it, so do not buy it. However, you can find henna powder online in which you only need to mix water in to it. The problem with this is that it stinks worse than the chemicals in commercial dyes and it takes about 40 minutes to dye your hair instead of 10 minutes. One place to buy this henna is at the Henna Hut website: http://www.hennahut.com/. This dye is truly all natural, chemical free and should not cause an allergic reaction when only mixed with water.

Vitamins and food allergies

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

When I was a child, I never had an allergic reaction to vitamins. I used to take a Centrum vitamin every once in a while. I am not a big vitamin user, but every once in awhile I have the thought that I really should take a vitamin again because I do not get enough vegetables or calcium in my diet. One day, I decided to just pick up a bottle of Centrum vitamins, like I used to take, and took one. I did not think that they would have changed the ingredients, but they did. I had an allergic reaction. The reaction was not too serious. I took a Benedryl and drank a lot of water and it eventually went away. However, I realized only after the reaction that they had added soy to Centrum vitamins. Some Centrum brand vitamins have soy in them and others do not. You need to make sure that you read the labels. Some vitamins say that they have been made without soy or other allergens. Gummy vitamins are an option now, that were not available when I was a kid. These are soy free. I think that soy should be banned from vitamins, but it seems to be a fad to add soy to everything these days. I definitely learned my lesson, to always check ingredients of the package, because companies will change the ingredients without telling the customers.

Link to highlight about Weight

The USDA has a great website to help one plan meals and count calories. Obesity has been on the rise in the United States for many years. We tend to eat too much and not exercise enough. As someone with food allergies, I find that I do eat less junk food than the average American, just because I can’t eat a lot of packaged goods. This does help to keep my weight down. However, I can easily see myself eating too much of the chips or ice cream that I can eat but could easily avoid, while not exercising much. This can lead to weight gain. Some days, I even think that the 2000 calorie allowance is way too much for me at 5 ft. tall. I definitely eat under 1500 calories a day and some days only 1000. Eliminating soft drinks, coffee, and juice, and only drinking water does eliminate a lot of calories. So do check out this site from the USDA to see how many calories you can eliminate, just by cutting some of the snacks and junk food from your diet, or cutting the portion size that you normally eat if you are overeating. Someone once told me that our stomach is only the size of our fist, and eating more than that could lead to a large amount of weight gain. Although, eating that little sometimes seems to be not enough for me, it is a good rule of thumb for over eaters as a guide to decrease portion sizes.

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/default.aspx

Categories: Blog Posts, Health
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