allergies

We are told from the moment we become pregnant how important nutrition is during pregnancy and those first few years. A developing person needs nourishment to thrive and starting that out the right way is important. Studies have proven that good nutrition is essential for brain development.

But, what if those options just aren’t there?

Lack of Nutrition is a Horrific Feeling

My personal connection with lack of nourishment concerns and a developing child come from my daughter’s infancy years. When I was nursing her at one month old she broke out in hives and showed anaphylactic reaction signs. I went on a strict elimination diet trying to figure out what the culprit was. It was many. It sucked.

She had over twenty food allergies and many of which she was contact sensitive to. Her doctors worried about how she and I would thrive. Our food was limited: rice, some veggies, some meats, some fruits. A lot of supplements were not allergy friendly. I spent a few months physically feeling ill, run down, terrified and just going through the motions of the day. My daughter was thriving for the most part but she was unusually lethargic… she was getting more nutrients from me through my breast milk than I was getting on the limited diet.

Me being who I am I brushed off my concerns with humor. I joked that all the food allergy madness and limited diet meant I was going to drop all the baby weight fast.

Truth is I was absolutely terrified.

That changed when I was able to find a balance within our limitations and we found supplements that worked for us and the sluggish days became a distant memory. I stayed on her diet so she was able to breastfeed and it became easier.

We were fortunate to have options and found solutions.

At the time it was frightening and I could not imagine if that was our daily terror. Again: We are fortunate.

Many pregnant mothers and children aren’t that fortunate even though they are capable of eating anything their hearts desire.

They just don’t have it available.

We are all aware of world hunger issues and how many live on basics. Foods like wheat, rice and maize that have little nutritional value can stop someone from starving to death but won’t have the essential nutrients a body needs.

This is where an organization like Future Fortified steps in and is creating a sustainable solution. We may not be able to provide billions of people a gourmet seven course meal every night but we can help them get the essential nutrients to lead a healthy lifestyle.

About Future Fortified

“Future Fortified is a new kind of philanthropy, focused on long-term, sustainable impact. Your contribution will be leveraged as an investment to increase the supply and availability of home nutrition packets, as well as educate families on the importance of nutrition and essential nutrients.”

Please take the time to check out Future Fortified. See what impact they are having in the world and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

You may not have a monetary donation to spare at this time but spreading the word on this amazing campaign is worth it’s weight in gold. Help me spread the word and share this post!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf Future Fortified. To thank me for my contribution, Mom Central donated $20 to the Future Fortified campaign.

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Post image for Diet Changes for Food Allergies, Autoimmune Diseases and Why My Kid is Tough


This week we went to UCLA Medical to try to get some answers for my daughter’s recent autoimmune flare ups. We have some new directions… but no solid answers.

That’s the thing with chronic illnesses and autoimmune issues. Sometimes there are no answers.

We know what is going on with her body but we don’t know why.

And that is the part that sucks.

Without knowing why we can’t know how to fix it.

So, we shoot in the dark.

What we do know is that there is something causing extreme constipation and then extreme diarrhea. Her chronic urticaria (hives) are flaring up again. Her muscles, joints and bones ache. She is getting dizzy a lot, fatigued, doubled over in pain and sleeps a lot more than usual.

Not exactly what a nine year old girl is supposed to be experiencing. [click to continue…]

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Post image for Life Challenges, Chronic Illness, Home Schooling and Ninja Kicking

Kid’s should be able to run wild and free…

and us parents hope that they won’t fall, bruise or break.

They should laugh so hard that it seems to hurt…

and sharing that laughter with them makes us young again.

Children should have endless energy, don’t have the weight of the world on them and nothing but hopes and dreams consuming them…

Except if that child is chronically ill.

That child may not be able to run and if they do the bruises or breaks within their bodies already exist.

They may be in too much pain to laugh… but they do anyway… because that laughter will help them feel like any other child… even if it’s only for a moment.

She is nine years old. She is one of the most loving, caring and giving children out there. I’m not saying that because I am her Mom. It’s what defines her even when she has bad days.

What defines her isn’t her life threatening food allergies, auto-immune disease, gastrointestinal disorders or her achy muscles and joints. She shouldn’t be defined by her illness but it’s a fight.

I fight for her in so many ways. I fight for a normal life that she deserves.

Just figuring out what defines a “normal life” is a challenge in itself.

I want to see her have a life filled with more energy, laughter and acceptance. I know I can’t make all of her health hurdles vanish. I can’t heal wounds that even her doctors can’t figure out. All I can do is what I’ve always done… and make the most out of the cards we were dealt with.

She is too tired to make it through most School days but she continues on so other kids don’t notice she goes home early often. She tries to control her bladder and bowel issues at risk of having accidents because she is tired of other children making fun of her using the bathroom so much. She has kids at school mocking her… they think it’s funny to threaten her with the foods that can cause her to die.

I’m fighting for her to have that kind of life?

I’m not angry at those children. They don’t understand the magnitude of death…

Unfortunately, my daughter does.

“Childhood is over the moment you know you’re going to die.” – The Crow

She was born with life threatening food allergies and unfortunately has to be aware of that horrible fact in order to keep her safe.

I hate that.

She is nine now and I don’t want her to lose these last precious years of childhood sucked up by her trying to just make it through the days.

What kind of life is that for a child?

We are moving forward with Homeschooling. It’s not a new concept for me. When she was a baby I thought we would be a homeschooling family. We have home schooled during times when she didn’t have the energy to attend school…

Now, we change our lifestyle so she can have the energy to live a full life.

The goals in our battle for her life change now. There will be judgment, negativity and adjustments. It’s going to be really freaking hard to juggle all that I do now as a single Mom plus homeschool.

I say bring it on… cause we are ready to ninja kick some more obstacles out of our way.

And despite my daughter’s body being frail at times… that little girl has determination that no one can mess with.

Which makes me worry about her teen years… but that will be yet another obstacle to face later.

Much. Later.

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Tips on Making The most out of visits to the doctor

I’ve dealt with a lot of bullshit from people since my daughter became what we affectionately called the allergy bubble baby at a month old. She was so sensitive I couldn’t risk cooking something in the house that she was allergic to. The slightest exposure caused her to be covered in hives. It sucked. It still sucks.

I do get that a lot of people can’t wrap their head around the fact that a small protein of food can kill someone. They probably don’t have anyone in their family that has allergies. They may associate indigestion with spicy foods to allergies. Or they may just simply love their food more than my kid’s safety. Either way I try really hard to be patient, provide alternatives and educate them… but sometimes people just don’t get it or don’t want to get it.

Anaphylactic shock is something you have to fight to prevent, modify your lifestyle to stay safe, but there is only so much in your control. Food is everywhere and the slightest mix up can make someone stop breathing and lose their life in minutes. To say that it is scary is an understatement. It fucking frightens the shit out of me in ways I cannot correctly convey, but I try so that others may get it.

Imagine a loved one has to walk on a small trail every day to get where he/she has to go. There is no alternate path. It is small, windy, dark and sometimes hard to stand on because the path is so uneven. Now, imagine that this path is in the center divider of a very busy highway. Cars are constantly zooming by. They get so close that they brush against your loved ones clothes, hair and skin. Sometimes too close and bruises are inflicted as they are jostled about. But, this is the path that they have to walk on. You can’t control the amount of traffic and you cannot change its course. You can only hope that your loved one can stay safely on the path… and you can only hope that one of those cars doesn’t wander off…

You do what you can to protect the one you love who is so vulnerable walking this unstable road every day. Make signs. Make noise. Detour the traffic as much as fucking possible. But, the dangers will still be there… and you can only hope to reduce the risk. You can only hope the drivers care enough to pay attention.

I’ve seen my child turn blue, swell up and stop breathing from one accidental bite. It was horrific. I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone. I never want to see that again. So, if I’m considered a bitch because I am going to put my foot down and not want your kid’s death cupcakes in my daughter’s classroom then oh well. I wouldn’t drop your kid into the middle of the highway so why do it to mine?

For those of you reading this that fight the same fight I do… keep your head up, don’t let someone guilt you for keeping your child safe and always advocate even if you end up with those judgmental looks.

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If you follow my mindless babble on twitter you may know by now that I am an active Girl Scout Troop Leader or you assume I am totally obsessed with Thin Mints and wine. In my pre-Mommy years I never thought I’d be excited to see my friends at Girl Scout leader events. I never thought I would get chills and feel tears welling up when one of my girls tells me that she thinks I’m a great Girl Scout leader. I never expected to feel such pride when I see my girls take an extra step to proactively do something in our meetings because they were inspired by me.

I had a whole lot of preconceived notions about the Girl Scouting community and what Girl Scouts was about in general. However, I found my overachieving, extremely outgoing, slightly obnoxious, joking and totally sarcastic self meshing in quite nicely. I’ve also made some amazing friends. The best part of it is that my daughter has found the same positives as I have and it’s been a huge opportunity for both of us to have a “Mommy and Daughter” thing. Also, she looks stinkin cute in her Uniform!

Right now its cookie season in Girl Scouts and I encourage you all to support this cause. Even if it is as small as the change in your pocket to donate to a booth you pass or encouraging the Girl Scouts in your community to keep up the good work if you have nothing to spare. My troop is using our proceeds to fund community service projects as well as an end of year party. I am also able to teach them goal setting, business practices, marketing, sales and empowering them to be their own business women. A small percentage of the proceeds also go to Girl Scouts USA that helps continue to provide this organization.


Finally, this adventure has empowered my daughter a little more to accept her life threatening food allergies and sell products that she knows she cannot enjoy herself but her Troop benefits from her hard work. When I started researching Girl Scouts when she was in Kindergarten I assumed she had to sell cookies and I didn’t want her to be forced to sell something that could cause her any negativity. Instead, she decided that helping her Troop was more important. I’m really damn proud of her for that alone.

And… one last thing… support Girl Scout cookies because they are tasty as hell and some cookie Mom out there had to load up her vehicle, or more, unload them, sort them, count them, recount them and distribute them to the families selling them. Cookies are hard work so thank your local cookie Mom as well because I am sure her vehicle looked as crazy as mine did at some point or more!

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My daughter’s food allergies appeared when she was just a month old. It was a terrifying experience and started us on a long road of lifestyle changes and learning to manage her food allergies without freaking out.  Her previous allergy list was Eggs, Milk, Wheat, Pork, Oats, Corn, Soy, All Nuts, All Fish, Eggplant and Berries. Yeah, we were very limited. Over the years of strict avoidance and a lot of conflict in between we have made huge progress with our modified lifestyle and with her allergies. The list is now down to eggs, milk, pork, nuts, some fish and shellfish. It is easier to manage but some of the same concerns are still there since the severity is so high she is contact sensitive so cross contamination can be devastating for her.

I had a manager at a restaurant chain ask me “Why do you even take her out to eat if it is so difficult?” and my response was, “Why are you such a heartless jerk?”

Yeah, I know I shouldn’t have said that but I was pissed. It boiled down to the fact that she did not want to deal with making any accommodations because she was just too busy. I won’t mention the restaurant’s name because the owner was more than amazing at helping squash that whole mess, told me what I should request in the future, gave me his personal cellphone number and gave us a gift card. We haven’t had problems since.

It is not easy going out to eat with children in general and especially with a kid with food allergies. But, I don’t let one crappy experience determine our choices. I want my kids to do what everyone does: Pay way too much food to eat out!

I’ve learned some very important things along the way so I hope that it’s something that may benefit another. Here are my basic tips:

1.       DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Ingredient lists are usually available online. If you plan ahead you can look these up or even contact them directly to get a good idea of what options you have. PRINT IT OUT!!! I can’t even say how many times I’ve requested plain pasta, explained the egg/milk allergy, and had managers tell me “All bread and pasta has egg and milk”. Nope dude, read your ingredients and oh by the way I have them right here! That brings me to…

2.       READ THE INGREDIENTS! I always request to see the ingredients or ask that a manager verifies this. Supplies can change and they often do. So, even if you have gone to the same place dozens of times always, very politely, ask to see the ingredients. Also, try to refrain from calling someone a jackass when you prove you were right. I usually say something like, “Yeah I had no idea that this would be okay until I got used to reading all the ingredients of everything I touched! So crazy!” … then I will mentally add “Jackass”. Speaking of people being Jackasses…

3.       DON’T BE A JACKASS!! I’m blunt. I’m crude. I curse when the kids aren’t listening and often slip up when they are… but I truly believe in treating others the way you wish to be treated! I am really nice to the hostess and the servers and the managers and the random people around us when we are dining out. If you go in with your research done, with a great attitude and the biggest cheesy grin you can muster then you will be better off. Hey, it hurts me sometimes to be cheerleader nice. If I can do it so can you!

4.       ALWAYS ADDRESS THE ALLERGIES FIRST!! If it’s the first time I have been in a restaurant I will always ask the hostess to bring the manager over to discuss food allergy options. As soon as our server greets us I will let it be known in a very tactful way. I usually try to do this away from my kids because, unfortunately, there are some jerks out there that have created bad situations and reduced my kids to tears. When you got hungry kids and are feeling the funk from someone it’s good to have…

5.       TASTE IT!!!!!! I won’t feed my kid something prepared for them unless I sample it first. Something has looked okay, I’ve been told it was prepared okay but when I tasted it holy shit there was butter on it. That would have been a trip to the hospital!

6.       ALWAYS BRING SNACKS, TREATS OR A BACKUP!!!! I always have snacks on me. I always bring some kind of sweet treat (We really don’t do a lot of sweets/candy so this is brought out when we might be in a pickle) If I am going somewhere new I always, always, ALWAYS bring a backup meal. Sandwich or rice balls or pasta will be the main thing I will bring then I can add fruit or sides from the restaurant. Sometimes, it sucks because they can’t be accommodating for your kid but you can bring your own food so they still have the sit down experience.

7.       SAY SOMETHING NICE ANYWAY YOU CAN!!! I’ve walked out of restaurants pissed off but could find something positive to say. If we have great service I like to take a few minutes to tell the manager and thank them for their time and efforts. They remember that. The staff remembers that and they usually get some kind of incentive for compliments. They like that! I also think it’s important that I show appreciation to those who go out of their ways to make sure my kid doesn’t go into anaphylactic shock!

8.       ALWAYS BRING EMERGENCY SUPPLIES!!! This goes without saying but I have to say it because it will make me feel better. Always bring Benadryl, Epi pen, wipes, inhaler or whatever you have to manage your child’s allergies. We do not leave the house without these things and especially to places where there is a higher risk of break out!

9.       LEAVE IF THE PLACE IS BEING A BUTTHOLE! It’s okay to leave. It’s okay to just go with your gut and not want to give someone your business. If it’s just the manager or staff then follow up with a very professional and tactful letter outlining your experience. I’ve had an amazing response when I’ve felt a situation was crap and I followed up with the owner. Some places I just won’t go to again but I appreciated the efforts.

10.   USE YOUR COMMON SENSE!!! I say this simply because I have been in situations where I know there is nothing my kid can eat but my friends/family/coworkers have said “Oh let’s just go anyway… we can figure it out.” Yeah, no…. not always! We don’t go to seafood restaurants because the likelihood of cross contamination is high and I do not think it’s worth the battle/risk to try to get the cook staff to accommodate. It’s just not an option. We also don’t usually go to buffets because even if they have a clean setup you cannot control user error! I see people putting the soup spoon in with the mac and cheese. Ugh.

11.   BRING CARDS OUTLINING THE ALLERGIES!!! I have a simple card that I bring with me that says “Hi! I have food allergies to (list them). Please don’t feed me anything with these in it or cook my food with these items! A clean grill and clean utensils will keep me safe! Thank you!” Sometimes the physical card eliminates error in translation.

12.   BIG HUGE TIPS ARE ALWAYS REMEMBERED!!! I have friends that are and have been servers and the big tippers are always remembered. I figure if I am going out I will always factor in a large tip for excellent service.

13.   BRING DISTRACTIONS!!! Toys, coloring books, books and angry birds seriously help the dining out experience. I’m not the type of parent that lets my kids bring electronic handheld games everywhere we go but sometimes I make exceptions. Think of everyone around you and don’t bring something obnoxious. I think my ipod touch is mostly used when we dine out and that’s when we get most of our levels on Angry Birds! Ha!

14.   DO NOT GO AT PEAK TIMES!!! You will have more luck with happy staff if you schedule your dining experience on off peak hours. They will simply have more time to devote to you

15.   ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!!! Seriously, keep it fun… keep it positive… don’t freak… don’t scream… don’t let the little bumps in the process put you in a funk. It’s not easy to dine out with food allergies so accept that but hope for the best.

These tips are by no means fool proof and are just my opinion. Do not expect flawless results by following my advice. I’m not responsible if any mishaps arise if you try to dine out. These are just friendly suggestions on how to make your experiences a little easier.

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