Monthly Archives: November 2015

Beanfield’s Bean & Rice Chips

IMG_7138Beans only recently became a safe food for Bubba so I hadn’t ever bothered to buy Beanfield’s Bean & Rice Chips until I had the chance to stop by their table at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference last month. They were delicious! I stayed to chat awhile so I could keep eating (my weight in chips) and discovered that they were certified gluten-free, made from non-GMO products, produced in a nut-free facility, and free of all major allergens. Not bad, huh? Although corn is safe for us, I know it can be a challenging allergen for others and these chips are even corn-free. They can compete head-to-head against your favorite chip for flavor but will easily win on nutrition. They have way more fiber, more protein, and less fat than anything else out there. There are a bunch of flavors – my personal favorite is the Pico de Gallo but the flavor is too grown-up for my kiddos. They like the Sea Salt the best. After I sent the folks at Beanfield’s an email telling them how much I loved their chips and to thank them for coming to the conference, they sent me a huge box of yummy chips for my family to share. How nice is that?!

 

How to hold your child like an Epi-Pen Ninja

I recently attended the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference and attended an amazing workshop with Dr. Julie Brown. I learned a lot about epinephrine (post to follow) and saw photos of the dramatic and unfortunate injuries that can result when a child is not properly restrained when administering epinephrine. In the photos below, you can see how we restrain Bubba when we administer epinephrine. We call it the Ninja Hold. It’s something we practice so that we’re comfortable, but also so that Bubba understands what is happening to her in the event she needs her Epi-Pen. I like the hold because it prevents Bubba from seeing the Epi-Pen injection and because of how firmly I can restrain her.

As you can see in the photos, Bubba sits between my legs. I am right-handed so I use my left hand to reach across her body and firmly hold her upper right arm. I place my right leg over her legs. I pull her arm across her body to twist her torso away from the injection site. I then use my right hand to press and click the Epi-pen into her right thigh. Hold for a count of ten.

I hope the hold works well for you also. Don’t forget to hold your Epi-Pen blue to sky, orange tip to thigh. That was another helpful Dr. Brown reminder!

Bubba’s annual allergy testing – things are looking up!

IMG_6826Bubba’s allergy testing began when she was less than a year old. For years her testing was done hodge-podge style as a result of mystery reactions or in our quest for a better allergist. Each new doctor had different insights, new concerns, and ordered their own testing. I hear from many readers that their allergist (or often their pediatrician) says you can not test for food allergies until a certain age. Though there is no magic number, there are inherent risks in testing (such as over or under inclusiveness). For us, early testing was successful and also extremely helpful. That said, if I had to do it over again I would have chosen to limit blood testing (no more than annually) and to have requested that all her allergens be tested each time. In her four years, Bubba has had five blood tests and nine skin prick tests. We have tested a total of sixty-five allergens, monitored her Vitamin D levels, and followed her total IgE. There is a lot to keep track of for this allergy mama!

So where are we now?

The idea that there is no ‘cure’ for food allergies, a potentially life-threatening condition, is a tough pill for any allergy parent to swallow and I am no exception. I am don’t-take-no-for-an-answer, I-can-talk-my-way-into-anything human. After spending years watching Bubba’s allergen list grow it has been extremely gratifying to watch her IgE numbers and wheal measurements drop. Each food challenge that we’re able to schedule and pass feels like we’re accomplishing something. And indeed we are. Bubba has passed challenges for soy, pineapple, chickpea, and baked egg. Her newfound tolerance for baked egg is of special significance because of the research demonstrating that ingesting baked egg (when safe) can accelerate resolution of the entire egg allergy. After only a few months of eating baked egg ‘therapy’ muffins, Bubba has been cleared for all home-baked cakes, cupcakes, and breads made with egg. The guidance we were given was no more than two eggs per recipe and a minimum one cup of flour per egg ratio. Soon we will progress to food with shorter cooking times – cookies, brownies, frozen pancakes/waffles, and finally homemade pancakes/waffles. Bubba was also cleared for pastas so we’ll be experimenting with homemade dairy-free ravioli soon. Yum!

This brave girl got a big treat post-testing.

This brave girl got a big treat post-testing.

Additionally, Bubba’s most recent testing shows she has likely outgrown her allergies to cumin, mustard, and nearly all legumes. WOOT WOOT! We have been approved to expose her at home to these foods and will be scheduling a food challenge for green pea. This is HUGE! Who cares about a little ‘ole green pea? Well for starters, Bubba had two anaphylactic reactions to them. Also, those little suckers appear in nearly every vegan cheese and tons of other dairy and egg alternative products. Daiya here we come!

What’s next?

With so much success it is hard to not want more. I have been eager to find out if a baked milk challenge might be appropriate for Bubba. Like egg, milk contains different proteins, some of which are not heat stable. We have been watching Bubba’s IgE number to casein (the heat stable milk protein) drop and it recently fell below the ‘optimal cutoff point’ according to Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn’s study. Additionally, on her most recent skin prick test the wheal for milk was smaller than the wheal for egg. One study suggests SPT results are most accurate in predicting outcomes of a baked milk challenge.

After meeting with a new allergist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we got approval to challenge baked milk. Wish us luck! We will be doing the challenge in a hospital setting because it will be a higher-risk challenge. If Bubba passes we will begin baked milk ‘therapy’ cupcakes and hopefully progress to products with lower cooking times/temperatures just like we did for egg.

We will continue to stringently avoid peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, sesame, and a few other allergens which have shown their remarkable staying power.