Sparking Valentine’s Romance Without Triggering Allergies

By: Kristen Kauke

love logValentine’s Day is the ancient rite of celebrating love by exchanging romantic expressions with the person who embraces your heart. Gifts such as cards, candy, flowers and other tokens attempt to convey your utmost adoration and affection for your Valentine.

If your Valentine has food allergies, you might find traditional attempts at cherishing your Valentine challenging as many candies, chocolates and flowers could trigger allergies instead of sparking romance. However, by following simple tips for couples who navigate food allergies, romance can reign!

  • I believe in the motto “no askin’, no gettin’.” Sometimes you need to direct your partner on how to best meet your needs. I’ve found sharing those “subtle hints” to not be so effective. I have no shame in clipping pictures from catalogs, circling the price and where to purchase. And be sure to let your loved one know about websites that sell your favorite allergy-friendly treats so they can order you chocolates, cupcakes, or other goodies that are safe for you.
  • Sometimes the most memorable tokens of affection are homemade! Don’t underestimate the power of the handwritten note! My husband won me over with the first Valentine’s card he ever gave me. It was made from yellow construction paper, with a lopsided heart drawn on the front. Inside he wrote, “To set the record straight, I swear I did look for a card, but nothing sounded like me.” His own words proved personal, sentimental, and superior to a store-bought card. Another one of my favorite gifts from him was a mix tape.  I know, I know, mix tapes are basically extinct.  So update the idea; just think of how touched your Valentine might be by a virtual video slideshow.
  • Priceless gestures might actually be priceless! Do something for your Valentine that eases their burden – run an errand, clean the bathroom, take their car for a wash. The task might even be mutual like walking the dog or trading backrubs.
  • If you’re heading out for a romantic meal, be sure to follow FARE’s tips for dining out with food allergies. Selecting the right restaurant, calling ahead, and remembering to bring a chef card and medication can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable night together.
  • Cooking is a labor of love! Cooking together can be a very romantic experience.  Additionally, nothing says “I’m into you” better than when you take the time to plan and execute an allergy-free dinner for your Valentine. My husband makes great milk-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free pumpkin & chocolate chip pancakes.
  • If you’re hoping for a kiss from your Valentine’s Day date, you will want to ask your date to avoid your allergens as well. Have this conversation prior to the day of your date.  The (unattractive) hives and wheezing that erupt are way more awkward than  just saying, “Dude, if you want to be with me later, don’t be with peanuts now.” You can learn more about the findings of “The Kissing Study,” which was specific to peanut allergy, on FARE’s website.
  • Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to involve food at all! Some of my favorite dates involve hiking, playing pool, or even rock wall climbing.

Kristen Kauke is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who also happens to parent two boys with life threatening food allergies, as well as live with food allergies herself. She will be facilitating free educational webinar with FARE on February, 12 at 1:00 p.m. titled, “Safe and Sound: Relationships, Dating and Intimacy Challenges Associated with Having Severe Food Allergies.” Register to attend here: http://www.foodallergy.org/tools-and-resources/webinars.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Tips for Parents

Homemade ValentineValentine’s Day is the sweetest of all the holidays, both in sentiment and in sweet treats. But with candy and confections being shared and parties being thrown, it’s also a good time to review some basics of effective food allergy management.

Here are some helpful reminders for parents of children with food allergy as this holiday approaches:

  • Remember that candy manufacturers may change packaging for holidays like Valentine’s Day. For example, a peanut butter cup might come in the form of a foil-wrapped heart instead of the tell-tale cup shape. Don’t assume anything. Read every label, every time. If a label is not available, don’t take chances and avoid the treat.
  • Buy some safe candy or inexpensive toys or trinkets and prepare a special Valentine’s goodie bag for your child. Or have these items available for a trade in case your child receives treat that he or she cannot have. Re-emphasize to your child that these sweets shouldn’t be eaten unless a trusted adult has read the labels and said it’s okay.
  • Invent your own holiday tradition, such as making homemade Valentine’s cards or baking allergy-friendly treats together and decorating them in keeping with a Valentine’s theme. (Need inspiration? Check out this recipe for Valentine’s Day Cake Pops on our Teen Blog)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

FARE Researcher Receives NIH Grant

We are pleased to announce that a FARE-funded researcher, Dr. Cathryn Nagler of the University of Chicago, has received a multi-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Over several years, FARE has provided more than $1.5 million to Dr. Nagler and her team.

FARE’s support has enabled Dr. Nagler to identify a new strain of “good” intestinal bacteria that may protect the body against allergic sensitization to food. In September 2013, FARE awarded a bridge grant to Dr. Nagler, which allowed her to pursue her studies while awaiting the NIH’s response to her application for a more extensive grant that continues to explore the therapeutic potential of these bacteria.

Dr. Nagler and other experts believe that genetics alone cannot account for the dramatic increase in food allergies. They are exploring the theory that environmental stimuli interact with the immune system to promote allergic disease. To this end, researchers are studying how the microbiome – the vast collection of microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, that inhabit our bodies – influences our health. While some of these microbes cause disease, others keep us healthy. For example, some probiotics (that is, “good” bacteria) help us digest our food, while others regulate the immune system and protect us against “bad” bacteria.

Dr. Nagler and her team have been studying mice to learn how specific environmental factors – such as diet, antibiotics, intestinal worms, and “bad” bacteria – alter the environment of the gut, making the rodents more susceptible to food allergies. Data from previous studies support their theory. Antibiotic use in infancy, in particular, has been linked to the rising incidence of allergic disease. Dr. Nagler has shown that administering oral antibiotics to mice before they are weaned depletes populations of good bacteria from the intestines. As a result, these mice are predisposed to allergic responses to food.

If successful, this mouse model ultimately may enable scientists to develop and test new probiotic formulations, which would be used to prevent food allergy in infants or to enhance the protection that  existing treatments, such as oral immunotherapy, might provide. It is important to keep in mind that, while promising, this potential therapy has not yet been studied in humans.

This innovative research exemplifies a crucial goal of FARE’s strategic plan for food allergy research: attracting gifted investigators to the field of food allergy by providing long-term support that allows them to advance their work and generate enough data to merit larger grants from the NIH and other federal agencies.

To learn more about current FARE studies and our research vision, please visit www.foodallergy.org/research.

Recipes for an Allergy-Friendly Super Bowl Sunday

superbowlblogSuper Bowl Sunday is almost as much a celebration of food as it is football. Try these crowd-pleasing recipes as you watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos – all are free of the top eight allergens!

No-Fuss Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 (19-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside. In small bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well to coat peas. Spread peas onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until peas are golden and crispy.

White Chili

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 T. garlic
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken broth*
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram

In large frying pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in cumin. Add turkey and cook until browned. Place turkey mixture into a deep soup pot and stir in remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil at medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. *Check ingredients of all canned items.

Quarterback Ribs

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. pork spareribs
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T. tomato paste, 3 T. hot water, 1 T. light brown sugar; mixed together
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Lightly grease baking sheet. Set aside. Place spareribs in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 40 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Place spareribs on prepared baking sheet. Brush half of sauce on ribs. Bake 40 minutes or until tender, turning every 8 to 10 minutes, basting with remaining sauce.

We hope you have fun cheering on your favorite team!

Does Early Exposure to Nuts Lower a Child’s Allergy Risk?

ImageAre children more likely to develop a peanut or tree nut allergy if their mothers eat nuts during pregnancy or while nursing? Over the years, a number of studies have attempted to answer this question, but the results have been inconclusive. According to a new FARE-funded study, eating nuts during pregnancy does not cause food allergies in children. Further, although more studies are needed, it is possible that eating nuts may prevent a child from developing a food allergy.

In an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics on December 23, a research team affiliated with Harvard Medical School reported on their study, which suggests that mothers who do not have allergies and who eat nuts during pregnancy may lower their children’s risk of developing a peanut or tree nut allergy. The study, which was funded by FARE, received considerable media coverage.

The team, led by Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier, looked at the history of 8,205 participants in the Growing Up Today Study 2 (GUTS2) – children who were born between 1990 and 1994. The researchers reviewed records of the mothers’ diet immediately before and during pregnancy, and shortly after the infants’ birth. Of this group, 308 children had a food allergy, including 140 cases of peanut or tree nut allergy.

The incidence of peanut or nut allergies was significantly lower among the children of mothers who did not have food allergies themselves and who ate nuts at least five times per month compared to those who ate these foods less than once per month. “Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases the likelihood of tolerance and thereby lowers the risk of childhood food allergy,” the researchers concluded. They noted, however, that additional studies are needed. “The data are not strong enough to prove a cause-and-effect relationship,” commented one of the authors, Dr. Michael Young. “Therefore, we can’t say with certainty that eating more peanuts during pregnancy will prevent allergy in children. But we can say that peanut consumption during pregnancy doesn’t cause peanut allergy in children.”

A study that should shed more light on this issue is currently underway. The LEAP (for “Learning Early About Peanut Allergy”) Study, conducted by Dr. Gideon Lack and colleagues at King’s College London, has been following 640 children since infancy to determine whether or not exposure to peanuts early in life can prevent the development of peanut allergy. This study, which is co-funded by the National Institutes of Health and FARE, should be completed in 2014.

2014 Patient Assistance Resources for Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

If you have been prescribed epinephrine, FARE recommends that you carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times to make sure you have quick access to this life-saving medication. It’s also important to replace any expired auto-injectors right away so that you always have an up-to-date device.

We know those prescription costs can add up, so we encourage individuals and families who are managing food allergies to take advantage of the following options to help make this medication more affordable.

copaycard-cc1. Mylan Specialty’s “$0 Co-Pay Offer” for EpiPen® Auto-Injector

Available to both cash-paying and commercially insured patients, the “$0 Co-Pay Offer” is valid for up to three EpiPen 2-Pak® cartons or EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® cartons per prescription, as patients may need to access two EpiPen or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors in multiple locations. Eligible patients can use the offer with an unlimited number of prescriptions until the coupon offer expires on December 31, 2014.

Learn More

auviq2. Sanofi’s “$0 Co-Pay Offer” for Auvi-Q® Auto-Injector

With the savings offer, most insured patients will pay $0 out of pocket for their Auvi-Q prescription. Cash-pay patients can receive up to $100 off per two-pack of Auvi-Q, up to a maximum of three two-packs per prescription. Fill out the form to join the “Support & Savings Program” to access the offer. This offer can be used an unlimited number of times until the coupon offer expires on December 31, 2014.

Learn More

genericcoupon3. Lineage Therapeutic’s “$0 Co-Pay Offer” for Generic Epinephrine Auto-Injector

The approved generic for Adrenaclick® is available as of June, 2013 and may provide a lower-cost option to patients. Commercially insured patients will receive their epinephrine auto-injector at $0 cost. Cash paying patients will receive up to $300 off their out-of-pocket cost (This offer is valid for a maximum savings of $100 per pack (limit of 3 packs)).

Learn More

Be advised that the devices operate in different ways, so it is important to discuss your options with your doctor and be properly trained to use the device. You can find tips for getting the auto-injector you want and links to important information about each product, and training videos on how to use them on our the epinephrine auto-injector page of our website. Please note that these offers are not valid for prescriptions covered by or submitted for reimbursement under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal or state programs.

Food Allergies in 2013: A Year in Review

What a remarkable year! As a community, we have accomplished so much to make life better for those with food allergies. With so many important milestones taking place in 2013, we decided to take a look back at some of the significant moments in food allergies from this year:

10. New auto-injectors became available
In 2013, two new epinephrine auto-injectors came on the market, providing more options to patients.

9. World Allergy Week and Food Safety Month were dedicated to food allergies
Demonstrating the growing prevalence and awareness that food allergy is a global public health issue, both World Allergy Week in May and Food Safety Month in September were dedicated to educating the public about food allergy.

8. Sports teams showed their support
Northwestern University hosted the first-ever peanut-free college football game in 2013. Additionally, Major League Baseball teams across the country welcomed families managing food allergies for nut-free or nut-controlled games. The Seattle Mariners, along with other teams, even invited kids with food allergies to throw out the first pitch.

7. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published the first national school food allergy guidelines
These guidelines are intended to support the implementation of school food allergy management policies in schools and early childhood programs, and guide improvements to existing practices. Implementing these guidelines may help schools reduce allergic reactions, improve response to life-threatening reactions and ensure current policies are in line with laws that protect children with serious health issues.

6. Celebrities raised awareness
Celebrities like Julie Bowen, Adrian Peterson, Jerome Bettis, Jo Frost and Kenton Duty stood up to help bring awareness to the serious nature of food allergies. They spoke up on talk shows and public service announcements, and told their stories about their connection to the cause. Additionally, prominent bloggers gathered for the first annual Food Allergy Blogger’s Conference (FABlogCon) for a weekend of learning, support and inspiration.

5. FARE launched a public awareness campaign about food allergy bullying
During Food Allergy Awareness Week in May, FARE released a public service announcement about the growing concern of food allergy bullying. The video has more than 36,000 views on YouTube and helped bring attention to the issue. In December, a bill was filed which would require schools to put in place a policy that addresses food allergy bullying.

4. The media shined the spotlight on food allergies
The New York Times made a splash with their “Allergy Busters” article about the latest treatment for food allergies; they also ran an opinion column by author Curtis Sittenfeld urging increased availability of epinephrine in schools. And Anderson Cooper hosted teens Danielle and Lauren Mongeau, who advocated for the successful passage of a bill in Rhode Island that created a food allergy awareness training program for restaurants. Also related to restaurant awareness - FARE and the National Restaurant Association partnered to create the first comprehensive, interactive national training program for restaurant personnel to help them become more food allergy aware.

3. The FARE Walk for Food Allergy had a record-breaking season
The 2013 FARE Walk for Food Allergy season was the largest in its history, raising $3.6 million for food allergy research, advocacy, awareness, and education – a $1.2 million dollar increase from 2012.

2. The Discovery Channel aired a special documentary about food allergy
Narrated by Steve Carell, this documentary explored what it is like to live with life-threatening food allergies, how families and individuals managing food allergies are working to raise awareness in their communities, and the vital research underway to find effective treatments and a cure.

1.  The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act was signed into law
On November 13, President Obama signed this historic and potentially lifesaving legislation – the first federal law encouraging schools to stock epinephrine for use in allergic emergencies. At the signing ceremony, the president revealed that his own daughter, Malia, is allergic to peanuts.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered, donated, and helped raise awareness about food allergies in 2013. We look forward to building on the momentum of this banner year to bring us even further toward fulfilling our mission in 2014: safety and inclusion for those with food allergies, while relentlessly seeking a cure.