organizing

Grandparents, Friends & Sitters

The other day I posted a little bit of information showing you my sitter folder. Here are a few more thoughts to expound on that post just a little bit.

It is really important to educate any and all of your children’s care takers no matter who they are: family, friends, sitters, schools, or daycares. They need to at least be willing to follow your instructions even if they think you are a bit controlling or crazy. We have been blessed with family who support us in this endeavor. I can never put it into words the support my mother has given me over the years. If you are reading this, thank you so much.

Something to realize, while we are on this note, not everyone will understand or support you. This will be hard to deal with and require a great amount of maturity on your part. There are a few people in our lives that think we are making this all up and don’t understand what the “big deal” is.  Do your best to educate, but do not become stressed and worry too much about it. This is coming from a person who always puts too much value on what other people think; trust me you will be better off learning to let it go. It is hard enough to deal with the allergy needs as it is. With that said, let’s move on to some helpful hints.

  • When it comes to preparing food show them where the safe food is, as well as, where the safe kitchen supplies and utensils are. If you already have separate sections marked it should be easy. It would be a good idea to put create directions and put them in your folder.
  • When you are traveling, it is safest and easiest to keep your children’s food in a cooler or crate. When we visit my family we will leave crates of food in the kitchen out of the way, but in an easy place for anyone to get safe food for Little Miss. This has proved to be a wise move on our part because my parents have a revolving door and always have company. When other people have come to the house, while we have been out, they have been told about the crates. EVERYONE knows anything there is safe!
  • Keep notes out. While this may seem simple, sometimes when family is visiting from out of town it is too easy to forget if you are heading out. Even if family has been taking care of your children for awhile and are familiar with their allergies, it is best not to assume. They may need to reference a list to be sure or remember something.

These are just a few more thoughts to help you with family and friends.

Until next time,

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Notebooks

Somewhere in the process, the organizing side of me, started a notebook that ended up being the most sane thing I did in the beginning and I took it everywhere I went. I don’t refer to it as often anymore since I’m so familiar with Little Miss’ food allergies I don’t need it as much, but I do keep a folder for sitters and family updated regularly.

Here are a few ideas of what I keep in my notebook:

Product lists: products that are safe and products I needed to look into.

Manufacturers list: calls that are made and noted.

Labels of safe food: this one I didn’t do, the idea came from someone else, it can be a good idea for ease until you are confident of safe products. I can also see it coming in handy if someone else is doing shopping for you. Just hand them the labels and you can be sure they will bring back safe food.

New and improved: this was again to remember to call the manufacturer’s to find out what changed.

Rotation diet lists

Recipes: keep track of what you did each time you substituted something to help figure out what worked and what still needs working on. Do this especially if you have a beloved recipe you want to re-create allergy-free style.

Articles: any allergy-free articles to read when I had the time. I researched a lot in the beginning from Harvard Medical school, Celiacs and other medical websites.

Doctor’s Instructions

Sitter notes: keep lists of safe foods, where to find what is needed, and any medical needs if something should arise.

Summary folder

Having a separate folder, one made of plastic to last longer, with notes for sitters or family is extremely useful. Keep summary lists of all that you need in easy to reference style. I have lists and information printed on cardstock and usually laminated:

  • Directions to the hospital and doctor’s office
  • Information regarding using her nebulizer machine
  • Food allergy lists
  • Medicines and supplements she takes
  • What to do if she has an asthma attack or starts getting wheezy
  • Other information and needs worth knowing

lists

Until next time,

Allergy Food Restaurant Cards

Having mentioned restaurant food cards more than once, I thought it was time to show you an example or two. There are other websites that sell these or request that give then your e-mail address first before offering them to you for free. While I understand the reasons why they do that they are not very hard to make yourself and I think you should have the information for free with no strings attached.

Write up something that included all of your food allergy needs, print it on cardstock and to make it last longer laminate it and carry it with you always. In the future I might create some “pretty” ones for you do download, so keep an eye out for those.

We have even found these helpful when going through airport security with all the extra medicines and food  we need to carry with us.

Here are examples of a restaurant cards:

It can be as simple as this one: (our pediatrician even printed this information on her letterhead for airport security)

Warning: FOOD ALLERGY ALERT
I have a serious food allergy to Gluten – Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Soy Sauce and Malt.

All flour, breads, grains, pastas, cereals, wheat germs, cake, bread crumbs, cookies, spelt, kamut, triticale including

Sauces, creams, gravy thickeners, salad dressings, baked goods, toppings, and seasonings.

No Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Soy Sauce, Malt!
If I eat any meal that has been prepared with, cooked with or processed with these foods I will need immediate medical attention.

Or more detailed like this example:

I have an allergy to gluten. Gluten is in wheat (and wheat flour), oats, rye, and barley (malt). It can also be hidden in additives, spices and condiments. Please make sure that my meal does not contain any of the ingredients listed, as well as the following additives:

Modified food starch (corn and rice are fine)
[and any other things that are forbidden on your list…]

It is also important that my food doesn’t touch other foods with gluten during the preparation process. Please do not cook my food in the same oil or use the same utensils you used for foods with gluten in them.

THANK YOU!

Here is yet another option:

Attention Chef or Restaurant Manager:

My name is Little Miss and I have severe, life-threatening allergies to:

Milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish, Peanuts, Tree Nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc.), Soy, Wheat (or whatever is on your list of allergens)

Please help me avoid all of these foods so that I may stay safe and healthy by making certain that any food that I eat does not contain any of these foods as ingredients.

Also, please make certain that none of these foods touched the food that I ordered (prepared in the same frying oil; cut with the same knife, etc.).

Thank you for helping.

Since we have multiple food allergies ours is similar to the one first above. We have the food allergies listed on two different cards that are laminated together front to back.

I hope this helps.

Until next time,

Dealing with School

While our family homeschools and does not deal with school, many of you out there need do some suggestions and help with your children’s allergies at school or daycare. These are things that I  have learned because of dealing with preschool programs or church programs, but they are tips that will help you when you navigate through school as well.

In General

  • The first and most important thing you need to do is to call for a meeting before school starts. Ask for a meeting with any teachers your child will have, the principal, school nurse and cafeteria manager. If you have materials written out including a clearly written summary regarding your child’s allergies and a more in depth look at the particular food allergy this will help tremendously. It will give you something to share from as well as information for them to look at later.
  • Be sure to talk with all the teachers again when school first starts. Give them a stash of allergy-free safe foods for any surprises that might come up.
  • Birthdays and holidays always bring parties and with parties, food. There are two suggestions here. One is to get a list of all the birthdays and holidays when school first starts so that you can make cupcakes or snacks for your child to bring with you that day or you can keep cupcakes in freezer. The second option is for the teacher to use the stash for each party.
  • For lunches or snack time (daycares and pre-schools) either be sure that the cafeteria can offer allergy free food or plan on your child always bringing their own. Some cafeterias are willing to create some allergy-free foods a couple of days a week, according to a source of mine, and therefore your child can feel like they don’t always have to bring their own food. This is one of the areas that you will need to be upfront about and ask lots of questions.
  • As for brown-bagging it, it is the easiest thing you can do, but you will need to talk with the cafeteria staff and your child about swapping food. It happens and your child really needs to be discouraged from doing it.

For Daycare and Preschool Children

  • Ask for snack list so that you can provide similar snacks to have there.
  • If your child does not speak yet, one really good suggestion that I received was to make a button that says “Don’t Feed Me….(whatever is on your list)“. This serves as a reminder to caretakers. It would be a good idea for an older child that has speech delays too.
  • For your young preschoolers, now is a good time to begin to teach children to ask about ingredients, as well as, to know what they can not have. When you tell them they can not have gluten, also tell them that gluten is in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Say it every time you talk about their allergies and they will learn it. Little Miss knew this inside and out at age 2. She also knew to ask if something had gluten in it. Everyone thought it was cute that she’d ask about everything,wanting to know if it was gluten-free, even potatoes or vegetables.
  • You will probably need to check that the daycare or preschool has clean facilities where food is prepared and teach the caretakers about cross-contamination.
  • Young children will need supervision at snack time or if bottles are out and about all the time. We had to stop attending a group program because this was a problem. Little Miss ended up in the hospital after drinking a bottle and eating food she took from another child. The teachers and caretakers do their best and accidents can happen, but if it is not working out for your child, change the daycare or pre-school.
  • Young children will often eat play-dough and other craft items; you will most-likely need to provide your own since most of these are made with gluten.

Don’t feel bad about having to inform any staff of issues and needs that you have.

Hope this helps.

Until next time,

MamaT

Traveling Tips

Now that you have a handle on your allergies at home you are faced with a new situation: traveling. This will undoubtedly cause a little fear and trembling. Maybe you have not already figured out how to handle food allergies at home and have not braved a few restaurants, so heading out of town, state or the country could be really scary.

Here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Kitchen in a suitcase: everyone makes fun of me about this one, but that’s okay. When we travel by air we have quite a bit of luggage. It’s a very sad state to find oneself in, especially when you are typically one of those people that can travel for a week-10 days with only a carry-on. What’s in all this extra luggage? Well, with children you know there is already an extra suitcase for all the things they need. When you have food allergies and are going some where that doesn’t have a specialty food easily available you need a suitcase for food. When traveling with Little Miss we get two carry-ons; one is filled with food and the other has our camera and all her medications, nebulizer and other medical supplies! It is part of traveling.

    We typically head to see family that live in a small community where we don’t have a lot of allergy-free food options. What makes it a bit worse is when her cousins are around too, because I need to be ready to come up with something similar to what they are eating sometimes at a moment’s notice. Since I can’t just pick up allergy-free pizzas, I need to bring all the flours and baking supplies to make the pizza. Cookies and snacks? Again, I need to have some with us that she can eat.  Oh, and on that note, depending upon where and how long you are going: it could be a good idea to bring a few utensils and at least pot to cook with.

  2. If you will be staying in a hotel try and find one with a kitchenette. If you can not do that at least ask for a refrigerator.
  3. Check a list of local restaurants and call ahead before going, asking the same questions you would ask ahead in your own local restaurant.
  4. If you are headed overseas to a foreign country try to figure out language for your allergy needs before you go. Even better still would be to ask someone  fluent in the language to translate a restaurant card for you to take. Keep in mind that if you will be traveling in areas where few people read, it would be a good idea to have a picture on your card of the allergy with a slash through it. Ie. peanut with slash.
  5. Traveling by air? It is best to plan on bringing your own snack, but it is possible to call ahead and figure out a snack or meal.

These are just a few tips that I hope will help you. The more you plan ahead for traveling the easier it will be when the time comes.

Bringing your own food is easy and generally a good idea no matter when you are away from home. It isn’t hard to put snack-packs together and stuff them in suitcases to take overseas either, just in case you might have to miss a meal or two while out and about.

Until next time,

MamaT