Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Food Sensitivity Testing [Book Review]

Food sensitivity can be somewhat of a grey area within the food allergy community. Meaning, some feel that because food sensitivity/intolerances are not life threatening, they should not be considered as important/detrimental as allergies that cause anaphylaxis. While I understand and agree that these are two very different areas of allergies, I feel that those who are suffering from sensitivities and/or intolerances should never be made to feel that their health issues are any less important. Just as there are varying levels of how people react to food allergies, there are also varying levels of how people can react to foods with less of a reaction. My point being- just because a food intolerance is not life-threatening, does not mean that it is not life-altering.

OK, I will push my soapbox aside just a little so that I can share my thoughts on a book that I recently reviewed. Julie Langton Smith MSc authored "Food Sensitivity Testing: The Principles of Bioresonance and Biofeedback Therapy"". Yes, this is actually my idea of fun because for seventeen years, I have been and will continue to be completely intrigued at how food effects our body. So when I was asked to review this book, the inner food geek in me said yes immediately.

food sensitivity bioresonance biofeedback therapy

Things I Appreciated About This Book Julie's book contains (mainly) short chapters and is written as more of an essay or manual versus a book. I admit, when I received the book I felt a bit overwhelmed as if I was just the tiniest bit out of my comfort zone. Once I began reading, I enjoyed that the simpler, matter of fact writing style is used so as not to make my brain wharp in the process. One of the terms used within the book that I absolutely adore is (CAM) Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. I know that in recent years, integrative medicine has been kicked around but I feel Julie's CAM label makes these alternative health options feel more personal. On the very first page it reads "Many illnesses remain a mystery for both patient and physician." In today's medical society, this is key. So many (including myself) have gone from doctor to doctor, seeking answers with difficult to diagnose symptoms and understanding that there are, in fact, things that are still not easily understood makes it so very accepting to allow both patients and physicians to know sometimes more is necessary to heal. 

patient care health care allergiesStaying open minded is also a focus in this book. Mainstream physicians may or may not be taught the importance of how a meaningful approach to our health care can vastly improve how we heal in multiple ways. One such example is the difference between a ten minute appointment with a General Practitioner and a CAM physician who "spent at least twice as much time with patients compared to mainstream" (page 5 of her book). Being heard is what counts when a patient is seeking answers on how to proceed and how to heal. As a patient who is not feeling well and may not have felt well for months or even years, it can be very frustrating and stressful to spend the time setting up an appointment with a doctor, waiting to get the appointment, then having it end badly within just minutes because that is the time that they are allowed for each patient. 

Things I Saw As a Red Flag Although Julie's book is about food sensitivity, there were two areas that caught my eye in a negative way. One of her chapters states "Thankfully, a nut allergy has less severe symptoms.".... if you are a food allergy mother or have food allergies, are you reading this like "Excuse me?!" Maybe I misread it, maybe I did not understand the context of that paragraph but I find this statement to be extremely dangerous. There is no way to understand how an allergic reaction will effect each individual nor is there any proof that nut allergies have less of a severe reaction than other allergenic foods. I feel the author may want to consider my thoughts going forward for the safety of her readers.

A second area of the book is mentioning shellfish allergies. The author's statement to this is " Generally this kind of reaction is seen in adulthood."Again, I may be seeing something beyond what she intended but I feel this too is a dangerous statement to share with her readers. Allergic reactions can happen at any age, any time, even after ingesting the food many times before without a previous reaction. No, the focus is not on food allergies but if the author is choosing to include this topic, I recommend that the wording be carefully chosen.

What Is This Book About? The author shares a lot of helpful and useful information in her book. Again, in my opinion, the book reads more like a manual than a book (not sure if this was the author's intention or not) which makes for a quick read. One positive that I did appreciate is that nowhere within the book does the author state her opinion, she simply shares all avenues of information. Her topics and chapters include:
  • Multiple types of therapies to offer a wider patient care plan (such as art, dance and music therapy)
  • Explains how food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies may relate to different areas of health related issues, not just physical reactions as many expect
  • Explanations of digestion and how poor nutrition and digestion can effect other areas of your body when you are not well
  • Sugars, fats and proteins and how they relate as different avenues of health issues
  • Case studies with notes, comments and questions for the practitioner to consider using
  • Sample patient letters, explanation of test results and the importance of receiving patient feedback
Overall, I have mixed feeling about this book. I do not review items, food or otherwise, to bend the truth or mislead and please remember that my opinions are always just that, my own opinions. This being said, I feel the author was helpful in collecting the information that is contained in this book but I am a bit confused about who it is aimed toward. Is it written for a patient? If so, some of the information is helpful in giving people new avenues to look at in terms of their tricky health dilemmas that have gone undetected. They may be seeking answers about other areas of treatment or even trying to understand why their body may be reacting in ways that do not make sense to them or their doctors. Is this written for a physician? If so, how practical is it to think that physicians will need this book? I am not trying to seem abrasive, just realistic. Am I wrong in thinking that a physician would learn this information from education and not necessarily look to a book outside of their schooling for it? 

If you are interested and would like to read a copy for yourself, you can find it on Amazon. For more information about the author Julie Langton Smith MSc I recommend you visit her website for the Langton Smith Clinic. I want to thank the publishing company for sending me a copy to review and asking for my thoughts, it is always appreciated to be included.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Shellfish Allergy? Read This!

Do you have a shellfish allergy? NutriSon does.

For those of you who do not fully understand food allergies, one in thirteen people are diagnosed with a food allergy. That means that specific foods can cause life-threatening situations and cross-contamination must be handled and avoiding your allergens is a must.

Now, what if I told you that in the future, your foods and other everyday items may be covered in packaging made from lobster shells? If you have a shellfish allergy, are you going into a cold sweat? Because I am. Just thinking about how this may effect my son as well as millions of others with this allergy. The thought behind it is harmless- it's meant to be a biodegradable product to help reduce waste in the environment (I fully support being eco-friendly). But stop and think- it may be covering a lot of items that you purchase safely right now.

- Would the packaging be required to be labeled for allergens?
- Would it be a cause of cross contamination by being placed with other packages that are not made from this material but touched it, was handled prior to other packaging?
- Would every single food store/processing plant/restaurant/etc. be mandated to be retrained on food safety and handling to reduce the number of allergic reactions from a simple package of food?

This invention is in process and is not even a thing yet but I am already so very uneasy.

I first came across the article here and was intrigued but (as I shared) worried. According to Business Insider "A team of students at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London has developed a method that turns lobster shells into biodegradable "plastic". 

Operating under the name The Shellworks, the group creates planters, wallets, plastic bags, and more, from a substance called "chitin", which is biodegradable and reusable."

Read that. Let it sink in for a moment. Again- the idea is amazing! Save the earth, help our environment but.....make all those with food allergies panic. It's NOT just plastic wrap. It's so many other things - everyday things that are incorporated into your life. Wallets... picking out a wallet that is made from lobster shells... I am shuddering. This being said, I still seek knowledge, opinions and information as not everyone's allergic reactions are the same. My first step was to ask others within our food allergy community about how they feel about it. Here are some of their comments and concerns:
  • "I'm really concerned about this. Thank you for sharing it. I'm going to keep all the information. I already sent it to all of my family because both my son and I are so allergic"
  • "Kind of freaked me out. I'm breaking out just looking at it."
  • "Is it an actual risk? I think back to the walnut shell astro turf that I've seen and wonder if there is enough protein in the shells to make an issue? Definitely something to be aware of!"
  • "I am curious though as some have reactions to touching it and some react to cicadas because of the exoskeleton."
  • "OMG that really could kill me I think? My son and I are both Ana[phylactic] allergic."
  • "It would definitely be a concern for me, but it looks like this is just the shell, what part of the shellfish causes the allergy?"
  • "For someone with a severe allergy any protein at all is a risk. I really think we need to look away from food sources for packaging- as much as I want something safer for the environment."
  • "Seriously frightening to me as one with a shellfish allergy because I am sure they don't label it as shellfish."
  • "With my seafood allergy, I don't trust it! No way!"
  • Definitely worrisome for us!!"
My next step was to reach out to The Shellworks in London and voice my concerns for our community. I was pleased that they replied very quickly. Their response:

"Hi Tracy,

The RCA comms department forwarded us your email. Thank you for reaching out. 

The material is actually hypoallergenic once we process it. We break down the polymer into chitosan, which is actually used in medical and pharmaceutical products and has proven to be biocompatible and hypoallergenic.

It is one of the benefits of using this polymer so that it can become a viable sustainable alternative to plastic. Hope this addresses your concerns."

Are you comfortable with this response?
Do you have any situations that you would like to share that may support using or not using items such as this?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Free Asthma Education!

With asthma and allergies increasing, so does the need for more education and support. Finding budget-friendly avenues are always helpful but free support is definitely always welcome as well. I feel that most of us can agree that the journey of asthma and allergies can seem overwhelming sometimes and can leave some of us feeling a little on the helpless side as well. I am proud to say that this is the exact reason I began doing what I do- nobody should feel alone. Our community is amazing at supporting each other and with technology on our side, we can connect with someone just about any time of day, anywhere in the world.

Since part of my mission is to share to help others, I wanted to make sure I posted about two free events for July and August. If they do not necessarily pertain to you or your family, feel free to pass the information along to others. If this post helps even one person, I have done my job!

Tuesday, July 23rd 3-4 PM EST 

Allergy Asthma breathe webinar free

FREE webinar hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network "Type 2 Inflammation: Severe Asthma and Co-Morbidities". Dr. Bradley Chipps will discuss and answer your questions on the basics of Type 2 Inflammation and what it means for patients with severe asthma as well as co-occurring conditions. This webinar can be attended virtually or via telephone. If you would like to ask the Doctor questions or comment, signing in virtually is the way to go. To attend, you must be registered so don't forget to sign up here and don't forget to share (because sharing is nice, helpful and we need to do more of it).

Saturday, August 24th 9AM - 3PM CT 

FREE CARE- Conference for Asthma Research and Education
Chicago, IL
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital
225 East Chicago Avenue
11th Floor Conference Center
Chicago, IL

CARE is for patients and healthcare professionals. Attendees will:

  • Learn about emerging asthma treatments
  • Hear about the latest asthma research
  • Learn patient advocacy and management strategies
  • Hear from leading asthma specialists
  • Get your questions answered
  • Receive a free breakfast and lunch, an inhaler spacer and asthma resources
Sessions address adults, teens and children 9 years and older- attend as a family, bring a friend or come solo for your own benefit. The conference is free to attend but travel vouchers of $20.00 are available (please contact sschoessler@allergyasthmanetwork.org). Registration and complete details here

This event is held in conjunction with the "Asthma Week at the American Thoracic Society" Patient Education Program and is presented in partnership with Allergy & Asthma Network, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, PAR (Public Advisory Roundtable) American Thoracic Society, Northwestern Medicine- Feinberg School of Medicine and SOAAR (Science & Outcomes of Allergy & Asthma Research). 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Forward Your Food

Typically, when anyone discusses food allergies, the rule of thumb is DO NOT SHARE YOUR FOODS. This year, I broke this rule. I even asked others to help me break this rule and they agreed. I have done this before and I hope to do this again. Sometimes, breaking the rules is better than following them. Here is why.

pay it forward food allergiesFor a third time, I am proud to share that I partnered with multiple companies for an amazing cause- the Pay It Forward movement. Are you uncertain of what this is all about? The Pay It Forward movement takes place every year on April 28th. Once every year, everyone is asked to do a random act of kindness. I first heard about this mission and participated in 2015 and then again last year in 2018. I strive to continue to help others and part of my purpose is to share allergy-friendly products that I know, trust and love. The fact that these same products are more than happy to work with me to achieve this makes my heart smile with gratitude.

Here it is July and Pay It Forward happened back in April. Normally, I post about things soon after they happen but this year, I wanted to wait just a little bit. So many others would be sharing and posting about their act of kindness, then May went into full bloom with food allergy awareness and giveaways. I wanted to give the Pay It Forward movement it's own special time that would have a chance of being noticed a little bit more. Not for the sake of getting any credit but in the hope that others might also join in and do what I have been doing for the years to follow.

Gratitude for Goods First and foremost, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the companies that worked with me to make this year's mission complete. This year, I am proud to share that 10 anonymous families of a local Elementary School received a completely full bag of food. When I say full, I mean I was panicking, thinking that all of the foods may not fit! My other fear- can an Elementary school student carry this bag home without the bag ripping?

allergies food donations gluten free

Each bag contained the following product items:
In addition to ALL of this, Lowes Foods (Robinhood Road, Winston Salem NC location) also put together the bags with all of these items as well!
food bag donations lowes foods

- Chocolate chip cookies
- Trail mix
- Spaghetti
- Pasta sauce
- Cereal
- Grape jelly 
- Pancake & waffle mix

I absolutely love this project and hope to continue it each year for as long as I can. Although the selected families may not have food allergies, they also may have food allergies. I like to imagine that out of all of those families, at least one or two has someone who opened the bag and was grateful they were able to eat at least one food safely (if not more). I like to think that some of the families learned more about the products that are available and how food choices really are important.

Will You Participate Next Year? This is such a simple way to make someone smile for one day a year. I encourage all of you to visit the website for more details, share and plan how you can be a part of it in 2020. There are no rules- you can be as creative as you want to be. You can do one thing or several things. The point is to do it. Help others. Be part of the change. Some want to be remembered for having their name in lights but my only goal in life is for people to say "She helped others".

Hugs to My Helpers I want to send out an additional thank you to the companies that helped me to make this year the biggest and best year so far. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Lowes Foods, SunButter, Barney Butter, Crispy Green, Schar Gluten Free, Applegate, Safe Catch, Pathwater and Gluten Free & More Magazine.

Friday, June 28, 2019

How Does Medicare Cover Allergies?

Anyone who has allergies knows how finicky insurance companies can be when it comes to allergies. Heck, ANYONE who has insurance can understand how challenging it can be to get clear guidelines regarding what is covered and what is not. Having allergies and/or food allergies adds a new level to questions that you may have for your insurance agent. After all, being able to afford prescriptions that are life-saving and necessary are a huge part of the process. All of us can use some clarification to ease out minds and help us to feel a little less overwhelmed.

Today is National Insurance Day, what better way to share a guest article written by Danielle Kunkle. Danielle specializes in sharing content that helps people really understand Medicare (what it is, which part covers what, etc.). She is also on the Forbes Finance Council as their Medicare Expert. Danielle (and I'm sure, so many others) asks "There are a lot of questions surrounding allergies and Medicare such as what part covers what, does it cover medication, etc?" Let's find out what she has to share!

Allergies Insurance Broker Medicare
Whether seasonal or chronic, many Americans suffer from allergies. Allergic rhinitis affects over 50 million people in the country, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. If you get medical care for your allergies, here’s how Medicare covers allergy tests and treatment.

Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

If you are significantly affected by your allergies, you may receive allergy shots as a form of treatment. First, though, you need allergy testing. There are two main types of allergy testing that Medicare may cover: These are puncture or scratch allergy tests, also known as per cutaneous allergy tests, and intradermal allergy tests.

  • Percutaneous allergy tests check for allergies to foods, inhalants such as mold and dander, insects that bite or sting, and certain drugs like penicillin.
  • Intradermal allergy tests check for allergies to inhalants, certain drugs, and insects that sting.
blood work testing allergy testUsually, an allergist will recommend a percutaneous allergy test first. If the results are negative, the doctor may also perform an intradermal allergy test. These allergy tests are covered under Part B. Under Part B, you pay 20% of allowable charges after your deductible, which is $185 in 2019.
If you have positive allergy testing, your doctor may order allergy shots. Allergy shots are usually given by a medical professional in a clinical setting. Injections in a doctor’s office are generally covered under Part B.

Asthma and Durable Medicare Equipment

If someone has chronic allergies or is highly allergic to specific allergens, they could also have asthma. Asthma attacks are sometimes brought on by certain airborne allergens. If you are allergic enough to a certain allergen, it could trigger an asthma attack. People with severe asthma usually carry a rescue medication such as albuterol. Albuterol can come in the form of an inhaler and in a tube that can be used with a nebulizer. When medication is used in combination with durable medical equipment (DME) such as a nebulizer, then both the medication and DME are subject to Part B coverage.

For Medicare Part B to cover your DME, a doctor must prescribe it, it must be medically necessary, and you must order it from a Medicare-approved DME supplier. Part B covers DME at 80% of allowable charges. Medications for your nebulizer are also typically covered by Part B. When your asthma medication comes in the form or a pill, inhaler, or any other oral version, the medication will be subject to Part D coverage. While on a Part D plan, you will pay a monthly premium, as well as a copay or coinsurance for your medication. Check your plan’s formulary to be sure your medication is listed; if not, your doctor may prescribe an alternative drug.

Medigap Plan G

A Medigap plan pays after Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and it helps cover the gaps you’re responsible for such as copays and coinsurance. Medigap Plan G covers covers nearly all your out-of-pocket expenses under Original Medicare, including the Part B copays and coinsurance, and any excess charges. Protection with Plan G means you won’t have to worry about paying for your allergy and asthma treatments. Instead, you can focus on staying healthy and enjoying your golden years.

A big thank you to Danielle for reaching out and offering this information to help our community and for what she does each and every day to help others! If you would like more information from Danielle directly, you can visit her on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Food Allergy - Flannel & Fluffs

I wanted to wrap up my May Food Allergy Awareness giveaways and end on a soft note, literally.

food allergy support stuffie animalA company that I have known for many years recently announced that they were closing their Talk For Me Tees store and my heart sank. However, this was not the end of their products but instead, a new beginning that completely flooded my hearts with oooh's and ahhh's. Food allergies can cause times of anxiety, loneliness, not feeling as if you fit in with everyone else. And sometimes, having something to hug and hold just makes those negative feelings seem a little easier to bear. Luckily, Flannel and Fluffs came to the rescue!
I mean, who would not want to hug an adorable support stuffie?! Unlike live support animals, these stuffies are guaranteed to be TSA-friendly and are offered with a specialized flannel depending in your need. For this giveaway, we have a cute and fuzzy gift for one person.

I admit, even as an adult, I would love to have one of these. NutriDaughter saw the photos and got all excited, thinking we were expecting one and I had to let her down easy (chocolate helps...if only it was an Enjoy Life Foods Big Bar). This particular stuffie is a Schnoodle .... I need to say that fast, several times (lol). The Schnoodle is dressed in it's own Food Allergy Support flannel, ready and waiting for a new home! I know that I ask that everyone shares my giveaways but this one especially, if you have children or know of anyone who needs this, please share away! This giveaway could very well become Schnoodle Central :)

Do I have your attention?

flannel fluffs stuffed allergies animal

Warm & Fuzzy Details:

- This contest is open to US residents only
- Contest begins Friday, May 31 2019 and ends Thursday, June 6 2019 at midnight
- As always, no purchase necessary
- Contest entries to be described through Rafflecopter (you can trust it)
- One winner to be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter
-  If the initial winner does not come forward within 48 hours, a runner up will be selected
- Please allow up to three weeks for shipping (these fuzzy guys don't just make themselves!)
- All of your information will be kept confidential (I do not share)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to everyone and thank you to Flannel and Fluffs for supporting our food allergy community, being a part of my May giveaways and continuing to support other communities as well in the most adorable way. Visit Flannel and Fluffs on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

food allergy support stuffed dog

Thursday, May 23, 2019

You Are My Allergy Superhero

I don't know how everyone else has been feeling this month but I have seen some amazing allergy support! Posts, tips, recipes and so much love within our community that my heart and soul are bursting with gratitude. In keeping with the feelings of food allergy super powers, I was excited to hear that Allergy Superheroes wanted to participate in my month of giveaways. After all, they are superheroes!

allergy superheroes family wearing capes
This is them!!!

Let me backtrack for just a minute and share how I met these wonderful people. A few years ago, they had an exhibitor booth at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. What caught my attention is that they were just so down to earth and eager to meet so many of us within the food allergy community. Between that and the humor of Dean (Mr. Allergy Superhero?) trying to get me to dance with the group at night, I can easily say that an instant friendship was born. (Just for the record, Nutrimom dancing is horrific...kind of like the episode of Elaine dancing in Seinfeld). Over the years, I have seen Allergy Superheroes embrace our community, grow their business and become one of our extended family members.
black mug diet life
This week, one of the giveaway gifts is this adorable mug provided by Allergy Superheroes. Picture yourself waking up and beginning your morning sipping out of this mug. Better yet, imagine sitting across from someone who has just tried to tell you that your "diet" is unjustified. This mug can be your superpower and the kryptonite for all those people who need to be educated about your allergies. For all of those times when you need to bite your tongue, smile and try to be polite but need to get your point across, this mug can be your voice.

Who's Super Ready to Enter? If you said "ME!" then you are in the right place! First, let's do a quick rundown of the rules:

  • I use Rafflecopter to help you get to the entry information
  • Just do what the Rafflecopter tells you (unless it's against the law, which it won't be)
  • Sharing- I LOVE when people share because, well, it's just another way to help others
  • If you want to leave a comment on this post, it would be awesome
  • Try using positive visualization...I cannot guarantee that it will help but it can't hurt
These are details I have to include:
  • This contest begins Friday, May 24th and ends Thursday,May 30th 2019 at midnight
  • US residents only (apologies to those who live in other countries, I still love you!)
  • No purchase is necessary (you can shop at Allergy Superheroes, but it does not increase or decrease your chances. Just sayin')
  • 1 Winner will be randomly chosen via Rafflecopter (that's why we hired the guy)
  • Your information is always safe with me (I do not sell or share because only mean people do that and I am not that person)
  • If the winner does not come forward within 48 hours, I will ask Rafflecopter to choose a new winner
  • ...Do you think Rafflecopter sounds like a type of dinosaur because I kind of do
Congratulations to Cassandra D
Our Winner!

An Extra Share Why do I also love AllergySuperheroes? Because they too feel that a Big Bar is absolutely necessary. I adore their willingness to partake in my mission and I love that they appreciate my sense of humor ... Enjoy Life Foods, I hope you do too!

Enjoy Life Foods Big Bar
Photo courtesy of AllergySuperheroes

Make sure you visit Allergy Superheroes on the web, Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

food allergy fun superhero