Did you know that eight percent of children and two percent of all Americans have at least one food allergy?Food Allergy Aid is dedicated to providing a meaningful resource to these people and their loved ones to keep these potentially life-threating allergies managable.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dining Out Dilemma

Anyone who has food allergies probably has a hidden fear of dining out. It is an exhausting process at times but it does not have to be!

My husband and I take turns giving the waiter the "allergy talk" about me and my son. Many times we feel as though they do not understand, do not take it seriously, etc. It is so important for the wait staff and chef to understand exactly what your dietary needs are!

To help with this process, several companies sell food allergy cards that you can give to the waiter and chef so that they are aware of the allergies and it takes some stress of you!

Here are a few web sites that offer these cards:




Friday, December 21, 2007

Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

If you have food allergies, you may be familiar with carrying epinephrine. you may also be familiar with the fact that they do not have a long shelf-life. I have received them from the pharmacy with expiration dates within 6 months! A good idea is to look at the expiration date prior to leaving the pharmacy. It would not hurt to ask if you can have a pen that does not expire so soon. Refilling pens frequently gets pricey -- even with co-pays!

Another idea is to keep the expiration date written in a planner that is used frequently. Make a note to yourself to refill your auto-injector on the first of the month of the month of expiration. This way, you will safely receive your new auto-injector before the other expires! I do this for mine and my son's and it works well for us.

Below is a website for the manufacturers of epinephrine auto-injectors. On this site, you can sign up for reminders of expiration.

It is VERY important to make sure that epinephrine auto-injectors are NEVER expired. Remember - these are life-saving devices that you may rely on one day to save your own life!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cocoa Allergy?

I have heard many people say that they or someone that they know is allergic to chocolate. I often wonder if this is true when I hear it. First, I have to wonder what the reaction is to chocolate - does it make them hyper, does it cause them to "break out" in pimples? These are not allergic reactions by definition. Some people may have adverse (unpleasant) reactions to chocolate but not truly be allergic to it.

A cocoa allergy is rare although it is possible. The bigger question is - what is in the chocolate that you are eating? Many, many chocolate products have "may contain" statements that include milk, peanuts, eggs, etc. An allergic reaction is more common to one of these ingredients. Rarely are you eating straight cocoa.

There are many companies online that sell chocolate to people with special dietary needs - www.vermontnutfree.com and www.divvies.com are two of these companies. Both of these companies have products for children and adults.

Just an FYI - an allergy to cocoa is possible although rare - there are blood and skin tests for cocoa if you do think that you or someone else is allergic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What is Atopic Dermatitis and What Does It Have To Do With Me?

Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis or eczema at some point in your life? I was diagnosed very early on in childhood. My mom told me that I used to have ezcema so bad that my skin would crack and bleed. She had to slather me in baby oil to the point that she thought I would slip out of her arms! My son had it horribly as an infant as well. "Atopic" means that it tends to runs in families. Dermatitis taken apart means derma ("skin") and itis ("inflammation"). That is exactly what these types of skin disorders are - skin inflammations. Atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema.

Ezcema in its many forms can cause areas of the skin to become red, weepy, crusty, and dry. In many cases, food allergies and skin conditions go hand in hand. In our case, we discovered our son's 8 food allergies simply becuase his eczema would not clear up not matter what we tried! Finally, when milk came out of his diet, his skin was beautiful! Now, it's not always as easy as that but it goes to show how food allergies can really affect the skin.

If you or someone you care for has a skin condition and you suspect a food allergy, see your primary care doctor or allergist. They may be able to help you find a cure for your skin!

Monday, December 10, 2007


If you or someone that you know or care for deals with food allergies, you probably struggle with balancing diets. I know that I do! It's tough when you have multiple food allergies and major food groups must be eliminated. That is why a daily multivitamin may help alleviate your worries about getting the needed daily vitamins and minerals.

Although vitamins are a good solution, there is still a concern regarding vitamins having allergens in the ingredients - just like any other food product. There are a few places that I have found that appeal to the individuals with special dietary needs. These special vitamins may be difficult to find in retail stores and you may have to order them online but they are decently economical.

Two companies that I have discovered are:



Sunday, December 02, 2007

What is a Coconut?

Coconut is a highly nutritious food. It contains many valuable vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also serves medicinal purposes such as:

- killing bacteria and viuses
- supports a healthy thyroid
- acts as an anti-inflammatory
- supports a healthy immune system

Many people believe that a coconut is a nut simply by its name. Its name may be misleading, though. A coconut is actually a seed. It is also commonly known as a drupe. According to www.dictionary.com, a drupe is defined as:

"any fruit, as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, a usually pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell usually enclosing a single seed."

So there appears to be debate about how to define a coconut. Regardless, a coconut allergy is possible although relatively rare. Symptoms of a coconut allergy may range from oral itching to anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction). There are blood and skin testing available to test for coconut allergy if you think that you or someone you know is allergic. Please consult your physician or allergist for this testing.

If you want more information on coconuts, please see the following internet site:


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fear Versus Awareness

Food allergies can generate fear easily - especially if they are life-threatening. I have come to realize this in dealing with my son's teachers at his school. They are, rightly so, very fearful of him having a reaction. After dealing with food allergies for an extended period of time, a comfort level is reached and it becomes a part of everyday life. However, there are people who have had limited dealings with food allergies. For these people, the situation is stressful. This is where I feel the importance of awareness versus fear comes into play.

Everyone who deals with food allergies needs to be aware of what they are allergic to, avoid the food(s), and know the appropriate treatment for their situation if a reaction occurs. There needs to be emphasis on awareness, not on fear. In the majority of cases, a reaction can be controlled if it is recognized and treated.

Educate yourself and, for a child, educate all caregivers. Education is the best tool for creating awareness of food allergies. If people ask questions, give them information. This helps people become less afraid of the situation. For teachers, help them understand the comfort level that the child is used to so that they can allow the child to have this comfort level at school.

In hour house, we try very hard to make our son's food allergies a realty but not a source of fear for him. He knows that he has to be conscious of what he is eating but not be afraid of food. If a child sees a parent fearful of everything relating to food allergies, they may become fearful and stressed. Try to normalize he activities of daily life as much as possble for a child - it makes all the difference in the world!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Food Allergies And The Holidays

The holidays can be a challenging time for those of us with food allergies. I know it is tough for us! Holiday parties frequently have plenty of prepared foods, home-baked goodies, candy, nuts, etc. The most important thing to remember is that if you are unsure of the ingredients, it is probably best that you do not consume it. Depending on food sensitivities and comfort level, asking the person who prepared the food about the ingredients may help you make the decision to eat it or not. It is also important to think further into the ingredients used in a dish. Frequently, chocolate as the "may contain peanuts or tree nuts" statement. If a prepared dish contains chocolate, this should be kept in mind. A good alternative to eating foods prepared by others is bringing "safe" foods.

An idea for a dessert is to use the mock graham cracker mix at www.missroben.com - this mix may be used to make a pie crust and it is delicious! You would never know that it is allergy-free! You can fill it with whatever you like! These are the ingredients:

unrefined cane sugar, brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, corn-free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate), cinnamon, guar gum, salt (contains yellow prussiate of soda (used as anti-caking agent).

There is another internet site, www.naturalfeast.com - this site sells pies that cater to special dietary needs - perfect for the holidays! For example, here are the ingredients for the chocolate mousse pie:

Filtered Water
Pure Organic Agave Nectar
Chocolate (unsweetened)
Rice Flour
Natural Cocoa
Tapioca Flour
Pure Apple/Pear Juice Concentrate
Apple Powder
High-Oleic Safflower Oil
Agar Powder
Sea Salt
Baking Soda

You can also order these pies at www.glutenfreemall.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

They Have What In That?!

I am never surprised to find allergens in products that I would never expect them to be in. I used to buy a popular brand of sugar cookie until I discovered that the sugar cookies contained peanut flour! Who would have thought! I also found italian tomato paste that contains sesame. With this in mind, I check all tomato sauces. It is important to remember that one should never assume that an ingredient is not in a food item - you just never know. I always ask to see packages, ingredient lists, etc. for myself and my son. I do not want to risk our health over being shy about asking about ingredients. In restaurants, always ask to speak to the manager if possible - the waiter will usually get the manager anyway and it saves you from giving your "allergy talk" twice.

There are also many hidden allergens in make-up, shampoos, medicine, and many other products. There may be peanut oil in make-up, wheat in shampoo, or soy ingredients in medicines. Ensure that you are aware of all of the "other" names for allergens so that you will recognize them in products. Pharmacies will usually be able to tell you what ingredients are in medicines - just ask. I have done this successfully before.

Another piece of information that is important to remember is that "hypoallergenic" is not always safe! Many cosmetic companies advertise as being hypoallergenic. The FDA warns that there is no true definition for hypoallergenic - this way, companies can use the term however it applies to them.

Check websites and call companies. I can promise that you are not the first person to call about allergies. It takes extra time and effort but it will put your mind at ease and you will quickly learn which companies you can trust.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network sells a catalog of common companies and their contact information.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Are you allergic to peanuts? If you are, do you also react to soy or green peas? There is a reason for this - all of these foods are legumes. Peanuts are not actually nuts - they fall into the legume category. With this in mind, it is not unusual for people to be allergic to a mixture of legumes. This is not always the case, though. Many who are allergic to one legume, such as soy, may be able to tolerate other ones such as peanuts or green peas.

Legumes include kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans (chickpea), green peas, string beans, lentils and lima bean. This is not a complete list but this gives an idea of possible foods that need to be avoided if legumes are a part of your allergy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"May Contain" Statements

Do you consume products that have "May Contain" statements? Do you allow your child to consume these products? There may be a bigger risk than you think when it comes to "may contain" declarations.

In my house, we do not trust these products. We do not even allow the "manufactured on the same equipment that processes _____". I feel that these products are not worth risking my or my son's health over!

I have recently read articles regarding "may contains" which support the fact that many of these products do contain a certain percentage of the allergen. These statements should be taken seriously. Obviously, it is an individual decision if these products will be consumed but they should at least be considered in the decision-making process. Remember, it only takes a minimal amount of some allergens to cause a significant reaction.

If you have any input on this subject, please post in the forum area. I would love to hear your stories and advice for others!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Did You Find Out??

Whenever I talk with someone about my son's food allergies, the question inevitably makes it into the conversation...."How did you find out that he was allergic to all those foods?"

In our case, our son had terrible ezcema as a young infant. He had red, scaly patches all over his body - including his face and scalp. In fact, his scalp was one of his two worst areas. His head was so crusted that if he scratched his head (which he did often), his hair would look wet from the oozing. He also had a spot on his hand that we swore would be scarred forever! He scratched this part of his hand on ANYTHING he could get to! It would ooze and bleed several times per day.

We tried everything under the sun to get rid of the ezcema but nothing seemed to work. We were bathing him in cetaphil, using atarax nightly, doing probiotics in his food, and using prescription creams. Finally, when all else failed (and mommy was in tears!), the allergist decided to test him for the top 8 allergens at 7 months of age and, at that point, he was positive to wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, oats and green peas.

We changed him to Nutramigen from a milk-based formula at that point and started an elimination diet of all of his allergens. His skin was better in a matter of days! He also had very good results with Protopic, which is a non-steroidal ointment. However, three years down the line, he developed a rash and hives in the area where it was applied so we do not use it anymore.

The best solution that I got from anyone was from my father - an italian! He kept telling me to rub olive oil on him. I refused as this just seemed useless and messy. Well, when I was at the point of tears, I tried it - it worked like a charm! The best thing about it is that olive oil is great for skin and it's such a pure solution!

Many people, after hearing that, fear that their child will have numerous food allergies because their child has ezcema. This may not be the case. However, children with atopic skin disorders (ezcema) do have a higher tendency to develop allergies and asthma. Food allergies can possibly manifest as skin conditions. I, as a child, had severe ezcema as well and I have food allergies and mild asthma. Allergies can be genetic! So, if a child or an adult has problems with ezcema or other skin conditions, an allergy visit may not be a bad idea! A skin condition does not necessarily mean that a person has allergies but it is worth checking into if it is bothersome or you're just curious!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Milk Protein Allergy Versus Lactose Intolerance

I hear from a lot of people that they have a child or know someone who is allergic to milk because they are "lactose intolerant". Just like the previous post on Celiac/wheat allergy, here, again, there is a big difference. It is understandable how someone would view lactose intolerance as an allergy. It should not, however, be referred to as a true allergy.

The difference is similar to celiac disease versus a true wheat allergy. A person who is lactose intolerant cannot properly digest a sugar that is found in milk. The problem with the digestion takes place, again, in the digestive tract - the intestines. A person who is lactose intolerant and ingests milk may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, and/or bloating.

A true milk protein allergy is an IgE-mediated reaction (immune system reaction) where the body may release histamine. The histamine is responsible for producing symtoms including itching, wheezing, swelling, difficulty breathing, etc. Some people may even experience anaphylaxis after ingesting milk and may have to carry an epinephrine auto-injector.

An allergist can test for milk protein allergy either through blood or skin testing. See an allergist or other physician if you or someone you know thinks they are allergic to milk.

Milk protein allergy tends to be more common in childhood. If you think your child needs to see an allergist, try to find a pediatric allergist in your area. Pediatricians may also order blood work for allergies if they choose to do so. Despite what some people have been told and may tell you, children can be tested for allergies as babies/young children. I have skin tested a 3 month old!! Now, keep in mind, each person is different and the physician will have to decide what type of testing, if any, is best!

Friday, October 05, 2007

What is Gluten?

I get asked a lot about gluten and what exactly it is! Many people also ask about the difference between Celiac Disease and wheat allergy.

Gluten is two proteins that make up wheat (a grain). Proteins in wheat is what causes allergies or intolerances to the grain. Not all grains contain gluten, though. For example, corn, buckwheat, and rice do not contain gluten.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition (the body "attacks itself"). People who suffer with this disease cannot tolerate/digest gluten. If gluten is consumed, it can cause the intestines to become damaged. Once this damage occurs, the body may become unable to properly asborb essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for life. Some of the symptoms of celiac disease include weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and poor nutrition.

To find more information on Celiac Disease, please see the links below:




A true wheat allergy is when the body experiences an allergic reaction to wheat protein. The body releases histamine which causes symptoms such as itching, wheezing, swelling of the mouth or throat, hives, a drop in blood pressure, and even death. The reactions can be mild, moderate, or severe. Severe, life-threatening reactions are known as anaphylaxis.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Food Allergies

I should introduce myself. My name is Sherry Langston. I am a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree and have been dealing with food allergies for practically my whole life. You see, I am allergic to peanuts and sesame seeds. Most people might think that two food allergies is not a big deal. They could not be more wrong. Food allergies are tough and, to many, it is a scary experience - especially if you are a parent of a food allergic child.

My son is 4 years old and has 7 food allergies - wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peauts, oats, and green peas. The experience of raising him is what has changed my life and my perception of food allergies. He is who has made me passionate about helping others deal with this lifestyle.

Most people want to immediately feel sorry for our son because he cannot eat what others eat - we are quick to stop them and explain that this is not something that you need to feel bad about for him!! The mantra that my husband and I use to deal with this is "there are worse things than food allergies". Now, we understand that allergies are serious but we choose to view this as something positive rather than negative. With careful consideration of food choices and the proper resources, food allergies are completely manageable! It is not necessary for anyone to feel "different" or left out because of food allergies. There are TOO MANY resources out there to help make lives easier. I hope that you find this site helpful. Please e-mail me with any questions or comments - personal or about the site. I would love to hear from you!

The E-book will be available soon! This book contains a lot of helpful tips and many resources! Check back for when it will be available!