May 17, 2013
As a kid, one of the scariest parts about having an allergy is people not knowing how to use and Epi Pen. The last thing you want to do when you can’t breathe is explain to somebody how to save you. When I was in Girl Scouts, or Brownies, my mom was the group leader. One of our activities that we did was learn how to use and Epi Pen. We would get a lot of the tester Epi Pens and oranges. We would all grab a partner and practice injecting the oranges. Even though we had these lessons, I still never really felt safe. I would rather just avoid having the food that I wanted than risk having a reaction and somebody not knowing what to do. Now that problem isn’t really big. We have the new Auvi-Q Epi Pens. These are newly designed and they are so amazing! They are really tiny, smaller than the iPhone, and they talk to you! When you pull off the case, it starts projecting a woman’s voice, guiding you through the process of using an Epi Pen. First, it will tell you to pull of the red safety guard if you are ready for use. Then it will tell you to hold the black end of the Epi Pen against your leg and press it down, and it will count you down. When you are done, you simply put the red protector and case back on and you are done! It is so easy, efficient, and anybody can do it!
April 12, 2013
Hi. My name is Maggie McCarthy and I’m thirteen years old. I’m going to share my experiences with all of you. When I was little I had a lot of life-threatening allergies. I was allergic to nuts, milk, soy, tomatoes, wheat, corn, etc. The list went on and on. As I grew up, I outgrew many of my allergies, but unfortunately, I’m still allergic to cats, environmental allergens, and most nuts. My mom created Allergy Haven based on her knowledge of how hard it is to deal with allergies, and kids with allergies. She has taught me many things about dealing with allergies, and the one thing she always says is I should be empowered. I’ll give you an example. Lets say your child is in kindergarten and the class is having a cooking day. The class is going to make pizza. But your child is allergic to wheat! You don’t want your kid to feel left out, but you also don’t want to tell the teacher that the other kids can’t do the fun activity just because of your child. My mom always sent me in with a substitute. Like gluten-free dough, in this case. You want your kid to feel normal. It’s hard for young kids to feel like they’re different than the rest of their group. In my experience, when you go in with substitutes it really helps. I always felt like part of the group. That’s all for this post. I hope that you all liked hearing about my experience. I’d love to hear about yours! Post your stories in the comments!
October 30, 2007
Hello Allergy Haven Readers!
Please check out this fun video for a short tutorial on how to use the Allergy Haven Skate Pack. We carry multiple styles for both boys and girls and it’s easily sized to fit any waist with secure closure. Please visit our web store for purchase.
September 14, 2007
Great article in the Wall Street Journal about Allergen Free snacks. — Neelu
We Hunt Online For the Peanut-Free And the Eggless
September 13, 2007
More than 12 million Americans are allergic to certain kinds of foods, like peanuts and wheat, according to the nonprofit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Out of that population, 2.2 million are school-age children — and one in 17 children kids under age 3 has food allergies. Not surprisingly, a growing number of companies have sprouted up to help, offering everything from egg-free waffles to wheat-free pasta. While parents can increasingly find such offerings at gourmet grocery stores like Whole Foods, they can find an even wider-range of products online.
We ordered from Cherrybrook Kitchen, Divvies, Ener-G, Gak’s Snacks and Allergy Grocer. For all but one company, we ordered several different items to see if they were tasty enough to tempt our somewhat finicky toddler, who is allergic to eggs and peanuts. Overall, the extra effort and, in some cases, the higher price tag paid off as most were devoured by our toddler. In addition, we received peace of mind, since many products say they both don’t include the offending substances, and also aren’t processed on machines that could come into contact with the allergens.
Based in Massachusetts, Cherrybrook Kitchen was launched in 2005 by Patsy Rosenberg, after discovering she could no longer eat dairy, eggs, and tree nuts. Unwilling to give up baking, Patsy developed recipes so she could have her cake and not be allergic to it too. As a result, the company sells mixes for baked goods like brownies and cakes that are dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, wheat-free and gluten-free. Since we were first-time buyers, we opted for the $29.74 original variety pack, but we weren’t sure what we were getting. An ingredients list said the pack included six mix boxes for chocolate cake, yellow cake, chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, chocolate-chip cookies and sugar cookies. Meanwhile, the product description listed mixes for fudge brownies, pancakes, chocolate-chip cookies, sugar cookies and yellow cake. Despite the confusion, the mixes that arrived simply needed water/soy milk and margarine/butter to make yummy cakes and cookies.
A favorite of celebrities like Rachael Ray, Divvies specializes in premade sweets like cookies, cupcakes and candy. We immediately decided on cookies and cupcakes since we’ve had to leave many bakeries empty-handed since our daughter’s diagnosis. We easily ordered a dozen oatmeal raisin cookies for $10, a dozen chocolate-chip cookies for $10, and a dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for $24. But after filling out the requisite billing and shipping information, we were worried that our order wouldn’t arrive on time since we were ordering on a holiday weekend. A quick call to customer service — surprisingly open during the holiday — assured us that the order would be sent out by UPS within a day and arrive the next day. The cookies, which actually arrived a day earlier than promised, were, while more crumbly than regular ones, delicious. The cupcakes, however, were disappointingly dry and tasteless.
Gak’s Snacks, started in 2005 by psychologist Jill Robbins after her youngest son was diagnosed with food allergies, also specializes in baked sweets. Customers can choose from premade cookies and coffee cakes or baking ingredients like organic tapioca starch and organic barley flour. While cookies like brownie chip and chocolate chip were tempting, we decided to try the $27.95 organic apple coffee cake after reading the breathless description — “this award-winning organic apple coffee cake is so good, no one will believe what’s not in it.” To ensure freshness, the coffee cake is shipped frozen in a cooler (for an additional $6.50) and delivered within two days by FedEx ($10.90). While it was the most expensive coffee cake we’ve ever had, it did live up to its advertisement and was moist and scrumptious. We just wished we hadn’t received a cake labeled best eaten by a date that was one day BEFORE we ordered it. Owner Jill Robbins said our cake must have been misdated and that all cakes are good for up to three months.
Since 1962, Ener-G has been making food for people faced with diet restrictions. The Seattle-based company promises not only mixes and ready-made foods that are free of well-known allergens like gluten and wheat but also of less well-known ones like corn. The food also happens to be kosher. Ordering was a breeze as the Web site was easy to use and prominently displayed what each product was made of and what allergens it was free of. But be prepared to set some time aside for ordering as the selection is quite large. Not only were there cookies and cakes and snacks to choose from but also pasta, flour mixes, and loafs. Our toddler couldn’t get enough of the soft ginger snaps ($5.49) and the plain Cheecha Krackles ($4.19), pretzel-like snacks made from potato granules and starch. But the cinnamon rolls ($9.39) were pretty unsavory. There was also a hitch: our package was delivered by Fed-Ex a day later than requested. After sending an e-mail to customer service about the late arrival, we received a generous $20.60 reimbursement.
Unlike the other four Web sites, Allergy Grocer sells more than just its own brand of Miss Roben’s mixes. It carries everything from Just Veggies’ snacks to body lotion by Gluten-free Savonniere. Given the huge selection, shopping by categories like breakfast and snacks can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the site has the best search function we’ve seen; it allows customers to search by a certain category, the allergen you’re trying to avoid, and if the product is kid-friendly, a top seller or new item. The hunt for a snack bar that was peanut-and-egg-free took only seconds. Completing the purchase of Enjoy Life Foods’ very berry snack bar for $3.36, Natural Dessert’s strawberry-flavored Jel Mix for $2.29, and Enjoy Life Food’s soft-baked lemon cookies for $4.32 was just as quick: on one Web page, we filled out information on shipping, billing, and when we would like the package to arrive. The food arrived on time and all but the lemon cookies was worth reordering.
|Premade mixes for cakes, brownies and pancakes. Free of wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and eggs.||A box of mix starts at $5.29, while a variety pack with six mixes ranges from $24.93 to $29.74.||The mixes are easy to prepare and bake up tasty treats.|
|Focuses on sweets like popcorn, cupcakes, cookies and candy. Free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy.||Prices range from $5 for a bag of blue rock candy to $60 for five gallons of gourmet popcorn.||The responsive customer service and yummy cookies make this a worthwhile trip.|
|A small menu of cookies, coffee cakes and baking ingredients. Free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy. Some products are free of wheat and gluten.||Prices range from 79 cents for a mini pack of organic tapioca starch to $29.95 for a sampler of cookies.||The coffee cake was delectable, but was pretty expensive ($27.95 not including shipping) .|
|A wide selection of sweet and savory items, including brown rice flour and crisp wafer cookies filled with dairy-free chocolate filling. Depending on the product, free of wheat gluten, eggs, dairy, nuts and corn.||Prices range from $1.99 for 4 oz. of pretzels that is free of gluten, wheat, casein, soy, egg, nut, and low protein to $14.99 for three 10-inch pizza shells free of gluten, wheat, casein, dairy, egg, soy, nut, corn and low protein.||A wonderful find with products that are affordable.|
|A huge selection of fresh and dried goods, from breads to condiments. Free of everything from wheat and gluten to corn and potato, depending on the product.||Prices start at 59 cents for an individual pack of Ultima Replenisher, a sugar-free sports drink in powder form.||The comprehensive selection makes it a good first stop for food-allergy sufferers.|
August 27, 2007
I’ve had two major anaphylactic reactions in my life (not including close calls)–once, when I was a baby, when we all found out I had a life threatening peanut allergy. The other experience occurred about two years ago. I remember how I felt during this reaction very, very clearly.
Parents often ask me, “what does anaphylaxis feel like?” Well, for starters, I can answer, “not good.” My body has an immediate, visceral, negative reaction to all things peanut, starting when I walk by a bowl of peanuts sitting out at a party or if someone starts to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich next to me. I immediately sense the allergen and a knowing that this thing is bad for me.
I like to travel. I’ve been all over the world and have visited many countries, for the most part unscathed. I’ve been to India many times and have grown up eating and cooking various North Indian dishes. In December of 2005, I attended a family wedding near New Delhi. Indian weddings are great–huge, multi-day family affairs, fancy events, singing, dancing, elephants, horses, and delicious food.
Dressed to the nines, my family and I arrived at the main event—a beautiful, outdoor, evening party with waiters carrying around trays of fresh drinks and appetizers—small tented, fire pits scattered throughout the venue, a large, lighted stage set up for the bride and groom. I left my purse in the car—I didn’t want to have to carry it around all night and the driver went ahead and parked it near the other vehicles.
The appetizers looked good, and I was hungry. I’d been eating this food my whole life. I was sure it was safe. I picked one from the tray. I asked my sister, “No peanuts, right?” after she ate one. She said, “No, it’s just a pakora.” I said, “cool,” gave it a sniff test and popped it in my mouth. Didn’t taste like anything peanut, just really spicy. At once, I knew that was not the case.
My mouth started reacting immediately, as it always does even when a particle of peanut touches it—I started salivating to the point where I needed to spit every couple minutes. My ears starting feeling itchy. Overall, I felt “not good.”
I didn’t know how much peanut I had ingested. At that point, I learned that in India, in wedding food, sometimes catering companies will use peanut flour in dishes instead of regular flour because it’s cheaper.
In the past, if I had eaten a tiny bit of peanut, like some dust, I was usually okay, albeit a lot of salivation and feeling uncomfortable, sometimes with a stomach ache for a few hours. I tried to ride this one out too. I kept spitting saliva into a glass, dumping it out once it got too full.
I kept feeling worse and worse. And, I clearly wasn’t making good decisions for myself. My mother said I should give myself an Epi-pen. Well, I had one Epi-pen with me and it was in the car in my purse. The car was parked in a sea of vehicles that all looked the same. My father and sister set off on finding the driver, car, and Epi-pen. They found it after about 20 minutes. At this point, about 45 minutes had past, since I had eaten the appetizer.
We decided to go back to the hotel where we were staying. I had one more Epi-pen there. There was also a hospital across the street from the hotel. As soon as we got into the car, I gave myself the first Epi-pen. In the past, that’s all I needed. We arrived at the hotel in ten minutes and I changed my clothes. I took some Benadryl and some Prednisone we had. [please note: the family members with me are doctors]. About a minute later, my head started to get really, really itchy—my scalp had broken out in huge hives—this had never happened to me before in all the times I had had exposure to peanut.
We decided to quickly go to the hospital—thank goodness there was one so close. We arrived to a completely empty emergency room, without a soul in sight. Hardly any lights were on, save a large, bright lit-up sign that said EMERGENCY. A nurse emerged. About 30 seconds later, my entire face swelled up in minutes to a point where I couldn’t see. This was about one hour after initial ingestion, one Epi-pen, and after small dosages of antihistamines and steroids (which likely had not yet been absorbed into my blood stream as I had taken them orally fifteen minutes prior).
A couple minutes later, my throat started to feel like it was closing. At that point, I gave myself the second Epi-pen. Then, CHAOS. I couldn’t see– I was in a hospital bed with doctors, nurses, and family responding to my very severe case of anaphylaxis all around– running to get the right drugs, mixing them quickly at the pharmacy because they weren’t directly on hand, quickly finding a vein for an IV. The team had also called an anesthesiologist in case they needed to intubate [put a tube down my throat to help me breathe in case mine swelled up to the point where I couldn’t on my own].
I made it through the critical moments. Eventually, they put me on a saline drip via I.V., which makes you have to go to the bathroom. The swelling in my face was starting to subside slightly, and I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror—I looked like a grotesque circus figure–my entire face was distorted and I still had on all of the make-up from the wedding.
Some more hours passed. I left the emergency room, with prescriptions for loads of drugs in case of a bi-phasic response—the hospital pharmacy we were at did not have a supply.
My family put me to bed as the last of the wedding ceremonies were finishing at our relatives’ house. When I woke up the next morning, I felt incredibly tired. Literally, I felt like I had been hit by a train. My arms were tired, and I wondered why, and then I realized I felt the weight of my bones. I was so weak—the peanuts and all of the drugs had worked my system to an incredible point.
It took me 2-3 weeks to recover physically. And after such an intense reaction, I had become MUCH more sensitive to peanuts. I became slightly allergic to a number of other foods as well, which I could eat comfortably before the reaction—avocados, bananas, carrots, and others. Slowly, almost two years later, I’m introducing some of these foods back into my diet.
So, that’s what happened to me. I decided to start Allergy Haven after that experience. Thankfully, I survived. I hope my story gives some insight into the anaphylactic experience. If you, your friends, or loved ones live with life-threatening food allergies, I hope this recount remains a second-hand tale.
May 15, 2007
So I went to the store the other day and decided to buy some Chocolate Mousse Pocky, the Japanese wheat sticks dipped in chocolate. They have this delectable packaging which makes everything look so tasty and inviting. Now of course with my peanut and tree nut allergies, I read the label of almost everything before I buy it.
Here’s what the ingredients list read as:
INGREDIENTS: WHEAT, SUGAR, COCOA, PALM OIL, COCOA BUTTER, SHORTENING, WHOLE MILK POWDER, CREAM POWDER, COCOA POWDER, SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK, LACTOSE, SALT, NONFAT DRY MILK, BUTTER, FRESH CREAM, COFFEE POWDER, CHEESE POWDER, SOYA LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BAKING SODA, TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE
ALLERGY INFORMATION: CONTAINS MILK, WHEAT, SOY BEAN, EGG AND PEANUTS.
Clearly there were no peanuts in the ingredients but the foreign manufacturing company labeled it as such. I bought the Pocky anyway and then spent about an hour debating whether or not I should eat one because I wasn’t sure if the product contained peanuts because of the goofy labeling. Well, in the end I decided to test it out and not too long later there were no more Pocky left.
So, I am very thankful for the 2006 FDA regulation which made disclosure of allergen information mandatory on consumer packaged goods but some things just get lost in translation… — Neelu
May 14, 2007
Also, see below:
If you have a child that suffers from allergies, particularly food allergies, you know how touch and go their health can be. As a parent you do all you can to protect your child from potential danger but there still lurks a sense of anxiety that your child may accidentally eat something that could cause him to have a bad reaction. If your child suffers from potentially life-threatening food allergies, you need to visit Allergy Haven.com where you will be empowered, educated and supported.
This one-of-a-kind site offers parents the tools they need to protect their children in and out of the home. Not only does the site offer up-to-date information on food allergies, they offer tips for safe living, guidelines for grocery shopping and many more resources to help families cope with the stresses of food allergies.
In addition to a ton of great information, Allergy Haven offers allergy-related products to educate, protect and inspire. Among the offerings you will find Epi-Pen Skate Packs for your child to wear and safely store an epi-pen or two (these are currently on sale!), pantry labels that empower children to make safe snack choices, and really fun “I’m not nutty” apparel.
Visit Allergy Haven to learn more about how you can find the balance between keeping your child safe without over-restricting their experiences.
Reviewed by SwankymommyTammy