18 September 2018

Useful Allergy Resources: Tools and Apps

Useful Allergy Resources: Tools and Apps

Dealing with food allergies can be daunting. Here are a few useful tools and apps to help you stay safe and live well. 

TOOL: Allergy Cards

Allergy Cards are essential especially when managing multiple food allergies. It's a great way to communicate safely and effectively with kitchen, medical, airline staff, etc. that your food allergies are very serious. Having the allergy card in-hand ensures that they can refer back to the card instead of having to rely on their memory. It increases the likelihood of a safe and positive experience. 

Allergy cards especially come in handy if it's necessary to communicate in a language that you may not be fluent in. Have handy a stack of cards in a few languages, because too much gets lost in translation, especially when talking about LIFE THREATENING food allergies. 

I have 250 allergy cards printed and ready to use at all times, just like business cards. They can get wet, get lost, go back to the kitchen, etc, and I don't have to worry about losing them. 

Most people want to help, but it's our job, as the people with the disease, to help educate others and give them the tools to help us. 

I've traveled the world with 14+ food allergies and intolerances. I've survived but I've had both wonderful as well as scary episodes. 

APP: AllergyTranslation

Found in the App Store on I-phone. Great for translating up to 10 allergens into different languages. The App is free but cards cost $8.00 to order. AllerCoach can also create food allergy cards for you in English and other languages.

APP: AllergyEats 

Trusted by food-allergic diners since 2010, AllergyEats is an awesome guide to food allergy-friendly restaurants across the United States. 

AllergyEats provides valuable peer-based feedback about how well (or poorly) restaurants accommodate the needs of food-allergic and food-intolerant guests. This sharing of real experiences from other food-allergic diners allows you to quickly and easily find restaurants that may be more willing and better capable of properly addressing your dietary restrictions. It's very helpful when narrowing choices and is usually best suited for families with little ones. It focuses mainly on the top 10 allergens.

I frequently add my dining experiences to the app because I only eat local and off the beaten path so there may not yet be data for these restaurants. The app will only become more useful as we all provide feedback from our experiences!

Paul Antico is the founder and CEO of AllergyEats and has been a huge influence in the food allergy community for quite some time. He has proven to show continuous passion for the cause. Check out AllergyEats in the App Store or online.

TOOL: Nima Peanut Sensor

This Fall Nima launched the Nima Peanut Sensor, a smartphone-connected device that scans food for peanut allergens. It's not intended to replace your EpiPen but it's designed to provide one additional data point about your food. It can help you make a more informed decision before taking that first bite. Independent testing reports 99.2 percent accuracy. Unfortunately, it's currently quite pricey, $299 for the device alone or $289 for the device plus 12 testing capsules. 

~Chef Lara

21 August 2018

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: MaryKate Hughes

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: MaryKate Hughes

AllerCoach Graduate and Founder of FACTS Coach: Food Allergy Consultation, Training & Support

MaryKate Hughes
Facts Coach

What is your professional background?


Explain how allergies have affected your life or the life of someone close to you.

I am the parent of a child with multiple, life-threatening food allergies. The impact of this on her life and on mine is hard to quantify. We, together, have learned so much about emergency action planning, anaphylaxis, epinephrine, and other types of reactions. We have learned what is in our food and how it is made, and how and what to eat to keep her body safe and healthy. Beyond this, food allergies have helped both of us learn to speak up to advocate for our needs, to know and communicate what will and will not work for us, and to prioritize people and relationships over the importance of any specic food. Food allergies have made us more vulnerable and stronger, all at once.

What motivated you to become an AllerCoach?

I believe we are stronger together. Allergies are on the rise, and the experience and knowledge of how to thrive on a special diet is out there but is not always easy to find. I have a passion for talking with people, teaching new ways of doing things, coaching them through issues and challenges to develop new mindsets, and helping people grow through what they go through. My daughter, who is almost 8, was also very supportive and encouraging. She is eager to share her knowledge and support with the world as well. I am motivated to model for her that our challenges can be our strengths when we share what we know with others to make their journey a bit easier and their load a bit lighter.

What were your key takeaways from the AllerCoach program?

The AllerCoach program taught me so much about the prevalence of food allergies and the huge gap that exists between diagnosis and daily living. The systematic approach to cooking, dining out, travel, and self-care amplified my toolbox and expanded my awareness and empathy for the diversity of special diets in my community and around the world.

How have you implemented what you learned from the AllerCoach program?

I launched my coaching business and blog during Food Allergy Awareness Week this year, and am working with clients to identify needs and goals, and offer services matched to their needs. Many of my clients have specific needs around meal-planning and identifying safe foods, while others access my support to plan for safety at school. Still others are working through challenging symptoms and seeking answers. Regardless of where someone is on their journey, I am honored by the opportunity to coach them through it.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you personally?

I love writing, teaching, and connecting with people, and this allows me to do all three on a regular basis. It has expanded my knowledge, confidence, and skill set to take my experience, passion and abilities into the world to support others who are dealing with food allergies.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you professionally?

The Allercoach certification taught me so much about how to start and run a successful coaching business. The step-by-step guidance in addition to opportunities for reflection and inspiration have helped me envision my business but also bring it to fruition. I am grateful for the balance of content knowledge, business-building skills, and practice this program offers.

Please tell us more about your AllerCoach business:

You can find me at www.factscoach.com, on Twitter @factscoach, and on Facebook at FACTS Coach. Please reach out - I would love to hear from you!

15 August 2018

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Jaclyn Tran

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Jaclyn Tran

AllerCoach Graduate and Founder of My Simple Palate

Jaclyn Tran
My Simple Palate

What is your professional background?

I have been a Licensed Vocational Nurse for over 10 years. Before my nursing; I had worked in a hospital setting consistent with Billing, coding and medical bill charging. I also worked in an operating room for almost four years as a unit Secretary/Scheduler and that is when I fell in love with helping others.

Explain how allergies have affected your life or the life of someone close to you.

Allergies have affected my life as both my children and husband experience multiple food and environmental allergies. All three suffer from anaphalaxis from multiple foods; and both my children have eosinophilic esophagitis.

What motivated you to become an AllerCoach?

What motivated me to become an AllerCoach was my understanding of the severity of allergies; and the lack of education available throughout the community. I wanted to combine my passion in nursing to help families and individuals affected with allergies and special diets; by becoming an AllerCoach. I believe by obtaining the education with the AllerCoach program; I am better prepared to expand my non profit work and help educate my local schools, youth groups and community as a whole.

What were your key takeaways from the AllerCoach program?

Key takeaways from the AllerCoach program I have would be "An Allergy Can Happen to Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime." And there are "15 million Americans currently living with a Food Allergy. Out of that 9 Million are Adults." We always tend to think of children first and allergies do not discriminate.

How have you implemented what you learned from the AllerCoach program?

I have implemented everything I have learned by taking action! I meet and network with multiple groups throughout orange county. In addition my online facebook, instagram, and twitter accounts are up and running. I created a wonderful presentation to the City of Mission Viejo " What to Expect when You're Expecting: The 411 and when to Call 911." I had a second event in July. I have also been asked to become a school allergy liaison and present and educate the Staff.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you professionally?

The AllerCoach certification has helped me professionally by allowing other outside professionals to include me with their programs. Prior I was not allowed due to not having my certification.

Available on Amazon

26 July 2018

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Susan Freel

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Susan Freel

AllerCoach Graduate and Founder of Susan Freel Coaching

Susan Freel

What is your professional background?

MSW, MA, CPC   Health Promotion

Explain how allergies have affected your life or the life of someone close to you.

As a family, we have been dealing with food allergies since 2001, as both my children were born with multiple food allergies.

What motivated you to become an AllerCoach?

As a parent whose children were diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I learned that changing the way our family thought about how we lived our lives was the first step to ensure that our children did not feel they were defined by their diagnosis. I became passionate about helping my family and others find ways to navigate through life's transitions.

What were your key takeaways from the AllerCoach program?

The program was comprehensive, professional and empowering.

How have you implemented what you learned from the AllerCoach program?

Instead of focusing on obstacles, we need to strategize safe and healthy ways to live our lives the way we choose.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you personally?

With information, one can lead and educate from a place of positivity and empowerment instead of from a place of fear and misconception.

How has the AllerCoach certication helped you professionally?

By empowering me to reach out to others living with food allergies and food intolerances. Through coaching, I found a way to take my experiences and help others in transition to live their lives with less uncertainty and more purpose, direction and balance.

Please tell us more about your AllerCoach business!

As a parent whose children were diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I learned that changing the way our family thought about how we lived our lives was the first step to ensure that our children did not feel they were defined by their diagnosis.  Due to my experiences with my family's food allergies, I became passionate about helping others find ways to navigate through life's transitions.  Instead of focusing on obstacles, we need to strategize ways to live our lives the way we choose.  Through AllerCoaching, I found a way to take my experiences and help others live their lives with less uncertainty and more purpose, direction and balance.

12 July 2018

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Lori Moussapour

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Lori Moussapour

AllerCoach Graduate and Founder of To Empower U

Lori Moussapour

Please introduce and promote your AllerCoach business!

Lori Moussapour is the founder of To Empower U.  She is a social worker, coach, public speaker, and educator - whose mission is to help people push through challenges to find both passion and balance in love, work and play. As a parent of a child with several food allergies, she is particularly dedicated to the food allergic community. She launched Food Allergy U, a division of To Empower U, to support, educate and empower those living with food allergies and to promote more sensitive, informed and inclusive communities. Lori offers one:one coaching and social work services in office or online. She is especially committed to helping individuals and families with food allergies manage worry and stress. She uses evidenced based programs to coach and counsel those whose anxieties take up too much emotional real estate. In this work, the goal is to help clients harness the protective factors of worry to promote healthy allergen vigilance and to mediate the unhealthy ones to promote overall well-being. Lori writes a blog to inspire personal or professional growth and change and to empower the Food Allergic community.  To learn more visit  www.ToEmpowerU.com.

What is your professional background?

Social Worker, Educator, Coach & Consultant

Explain how allergies have affected your life or the life of someone close to you.

I am the parent of a child with food allergies.


What motivated you to become an AllerCoach?

As I gained experience as a parent of a child with food allergies, I gravitated towards mentoring others and local community advocacy. In good time, I wanted to reach a larger community. My background in counseling and coaching was specific to a broad range of clients, but I wanted specialized professional development in meeting the needs of the food allergy community.


What were your key takeaways from the AllerCoach program?

I valued the emphasis on individualizing services based on each client's needs. It aligned with my work ethic and business practices.


How have you implemented what you learned from the AllerCoach program?

The program offered substantive information about food allergies and other medically necessary diets. I have used some of this content to create social media posts for client, community and global educational, awareness and sensitivity programming.


06 July 2018

International Chocolate Day

International Chocolate Day, July 7th!

Celebrate With These Delicious Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cupcakes!

Chocolate contains a mixture of ingredients. The main ingredient is typically cocoa powder, which is a processed version of the cacao bean. This powder is then mixed with a variety of other ingredients which can include sugar, fat, emulsifiers, and soy lecithin.
Many types of chocolate are also made with milk products, and/or are made in the same work-space as chocolates that contain nuts.
For people who are allergic to chocolate, it can be difficult to work out exactly what is causing the reaction because of the variability of the ingredients. 
Here is an allergy friendly, quick and easy, chocolate cupcake recipe that is FREE of dairy, soy, nuts, peanuts, sesame, and vanilla. Happy International Chocolate Day!

Chocolate Cupcakes With Fresh Red Raspberry and a Light Chocolate Mint Icing

1 bag sugar and Spice chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup of Earth Balance Soy Free
3 eggs 
2/3 cup of rice milk
1 tablespoon of maple syrup 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
24 raspberries (can be done with chopped strawberries or blueberries as well) 

Heat oven to 350 degrees 
Mix ingredients (except raspberry) together using an electric mixer for 1 min 30 seconds 
Pour mix into cupcake pan w paper baking cups 
When cups are 1/2 full place one berry in the center and continue to fill until just under 3/4 full. 
Bake for 15-20 min 
Let cool and then place one rasp atop each muffin.

05 July 2018

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Tami Pyles

AllerCoach™ Spotlight: Tami Pyles

AllerCoach Graduate and Founder of Thrive on Consulting

Tami owns Thrive On Consulting in Louisville, KY. She is also a food allergy mom who has managed multiple food allergies for over 6 years. Her background in food allergy management and advocacy coupled with her professional experience in coaching and training allows her to work with clients to overcome fears, put safe practices into place, and Thrive On with food allergies.

Tami Pyles

What is your professional background?

I hold an undergraduate degree in Communication from Ohio University and a master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University.  Prior to founding Thrive On Consulting I worked in higher education and training and development for 15 years where my responsibilities included overseeing the direction and success of programs at major universities and leading a Fortune 500 company's training and development team. 

Explain how allergies have affected your life or the life of someone close to you.

I know first-hand what it is like when your family learns of a life-threatening food allergy.  Motivated by my desire to keep my daughter with life-threatening allergies safe, I have worked to promote food allergy awareness since receiving our daughter's diagnosis in 2010.  I started Thrive On Consulting in 2014 to utilize my vast and first-hand knowledge of managing food allergies, as well as my coaching and training and development skills, to assist families who are dealing with food allergies and to provide engaging training sessions on food allergy awareness.

What motivated you to become an AllerCoach?

As I launched my business, I wanted to be certain a had a breadth of knowledge of all food allergies, not just the ones that my family was managing.  I was also intrigued by the content of the business portion of the class.

What were your key takeaways from the AllerCoach program?

My key takeaways were: a deeper understanding of all food allergies; key social media and marketing skills; and a broader understanding of the the food allergy community. 

How have you implemented what you learned from the AllerCoach program?

From food allergy information to business approach, I have been able to implement components of the program into my practice.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you personally?

I was able to not only build out my food allergy knowledge and business skills, but it has also helped me to connect to some great people that have helped to grow and compliment my business.

How has the AllerCoach certification helped you professionally?

It has helped me to establish a broader network in the food allergy community and gain access to professional conferences and events.

22 March 2018

Navigating the legal ins and outs of food allergies

After seeing how many people engaged after a recent social media post on food allergies in the legal system, I thought I'd take a moment to provide some further education. I will say our AllerCoach (TM) program has an entire section on this. It is my least favorite section to teach, because let's face it,  I'm not a lawyer. It's hard to explain how the legal system works, when that's not my profession. I've had to understand it more as a business owner and as a community advocate, however.  So as you read this keep in mind,  this is just from my personal experience and time on this earth.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. There are existing laws related to the safety of those with food allergies.

2. If you want to understand how laws work, first you need to know that every state, county and city have different policies. Just because something is a federal law, doesn't mean it's enforced at the local level. Where do we see this most clearly today? Marijuana laws,  of course.

3. If you want to change the law or create a new law,  I cannot expresses the importance of being involved with your LOCAL political system, because this is where we, as individuals, can make THE BIGGEST impact.

4. Modifying an existing law seems much easier than creating a brand new law.  When I am talking to city council members, policy makers and so on, they all like to have a good example of where it's been done before and then write or adopt a law based on what's already existing.

Existing Laws

United States Federal Laws:  

The 2009 food code revision lists in section 2-102.11 that food establishments must have a manager/owner during all hours of operation onsite that have been trained in food allergens, cross contaminations, and symptoms of allergic reactions. They must also train all staff members in their specific duties about allergens.

This law only applies to states that have adopted the 2009 food code, in establishments that serve the public directly. Most health department inspectors aren't enforcing this law and many establishments are not even aware that this exist. Although the National Restaurant Association has put up a specific Allergy Training program available through ServSafe and many other businesses have been created to train restaurants specifically.

FALCPA has been in place since 2004 and requires that 8 allergens be listed in plain English on packaged food goods that are distributed across state lines. What does this mean for food allergic individuals? Locally produced products may not be required to list major allergens or all ingredients on packaging. Also if you have food allergies outside of diary, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fin fish, shellfish or

State Specific Laws: Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, Virginia, Illinois all have specific laws pertaining to food allergic diners in restaurants. Most of them are about the same. They require restaurants to ask guests if they have food allergies, to keep posters in the kitchen on top 8 food allergens, and have at least one person trained on food allergies. 

Georgia has a law that allows any entity serving food to carry epinephrine at their establishment and releasing any liability the establishment may have if they have to administer the life saving medication in case of an allergic reaction.

City Specific Laws: New York City and St. Paul are two cities that created laws relating to food allergy awareness in restaurants specifically some time ago. It was more adding the phrase, "if you have food allergies, please inform a server." to a menu and keeping a poster on the top 8 allergens available and visible to staff members in the kitchen.

Ongoing training, awareness, frequent food allergy drills with staff, and having food allergy safety specific tools are the the way help keep food allergic diners safe. While not all food allergic reactions are fatal, in any moment, without notice, they could become fatal.  The CDC reports that every 3 seconds someone is sent to the hospital for an allergic reaction. Not all allergic reactions go reported, however. Allergic reactions do have levels. Anaphylaxis is the worst- which is a whole body response. I've had reactions that I just manage but it's uncomfortable and painful. Hives and sour stomach are nothing compared to the long term damage it does to our immune systems.

It's just as much our responsibility as food allergic diners to take accountability though. We have to inform staff (no matter what) that we have food allergies. Even if you think it's impossible. I always carry a food allergy card- that lists all my food allergies and that I carry an epinephrine pen. This should be just as much of a law as making food service professionals take a training. We need to be partners in food allergen management.

If you are interested in changing the laws in your state, I suggest first talking with your state's restaurant association about at least adopting the 2009 or newer federal food code- if they have not done so already. It's easier to adopt something already in place then having to create something from scratch, and there are other benefits to the state in doing so, usually. FARE also has a guide, https://www.foodallergy.org/sites/default/files/2017-08/Restaurant-Toolkit.pdf

On the advocacy and impact side, explaining to local groups in food service management the importance of food allergy education and asking them to update their policies, is almost as important if not more than changing a law. Just because there is law on the books, doesn't mean it will be enforced or even enforced properly. A restaurant receiving a fine or a lawsuit because they killed someone or made someone sick, is not enough. Any establishment responsible for serving food to people should be trained because it's the responsible thing to do. There is a nice way to go about this. It's also more than just kids. Adult onset food allergies also exist. Anyone of their workers is subject to developing an allergy- latex, food or other environmental allergens, and that could impact their ability to work.

For more information on taking a course in food allergen management please contact us.


29 January 2016

Sharing life saving medication- to do or not to do?

I cannot believe we have to ask ourselves this question!

As someone who must carry epinephrine with me at all times in case of an episode of anaphylaxis shock- I would be more than willing to share my medication to save another person's life- because I can't put a price on life. It is in fact what keeps me from remembering to not leave home without it, I figure if I won't do it for myself, what if someone else needed it? 

When my son had his first allergic reaction at 15 years old, I used my medication to save his life. Equally my son has used his rescue inhaler to save my life. Yet a Texas school suspended two girls for doing so. The girl who shared her medication should have been given a medal. The school should be thankful it didn't have to report the death of a child.

The Allergy & Asthma Network shared this story: "Two Texas middle school students shared a quick-relief albuterol inhaler earlier this month, it sparked a debate on whether it’s appropriate for asthma patients to share inhalers as well as how schools should handle similar situations. The students had unknowingly violated a school policy that prohibited sharing prescription medications such as inhalers and both were suspended from school." Read full article

It is my opinion that all life saving medication should be carried in all first aid kits. In fact, unless the medication would kill someone else if used improperly- it should NOT require a prescription. Pain relief is sold OTC but life saving medication is not?  With the rise in medically diagnosed food allergies (not just with kids but adults) this is something we should consider fighting for with legislation. 

While the story is about sharing an inhaler. There is a current petition to make epinephrine an over the counter medication. Click here to view.

Allergic reactions or Asthma attacks can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone without previous notice. Both of these are life threatening illnesses. Although these illnesses may become life long chronic conditions, and people will learn to navigate life differently, it's not something that can be predicted.

As a whole our society needs better training on how to handle episodes of any life threatening chronic illness. A course in public health/safety as a high school requirements that address these issues, may not be a terrible idea.

29 September 2015

Food Health

In May 2015 we traveled to the FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) conference in Long Beach, CA where we met new CEO, Dr. Jim Baker.  

We learned that one thing we can do to improve our overall health and give us a better chance of fighting food allergies, was to eat a more fiber rich diet. Leading medical researchers spoke at the conference on food allergies. When they were asked about taking probiotics, the researchers claimed there was no probiotic on the market that showed significant value, therefore go with fiber rich diets instead. 
So our research began. Of course instead of taking fiber pills, we are much more interested in food that will fuel our system with appropriate amounts of fiber. As a side note we found that those looking to maintain weight or lose weight have a greater likelihood to do so with high-fiber diets. 
Researchers found overall, eating an extra portion of fruit a day led to a weight loss of 0.24 kg, while eating an extra daily portion of vegetables brought a weight loss of 0.11 kg.
Eggplant is  low in calories, but high in dietary fibers, vitamin C and B-6.  

A one-cup serving of eggplant meets 10% of daily fiber needs, 5% potassium, 3% vitamin C, 5% vitamin B-6, 1% iron and 2% magnesium.

Vitamin B6  is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body clock. 

The average adult 19-50 years old needs about 1.3 mg per day of vitamin B6. 

People who have food allergies, celiac, kidney problems or alcohol dependency have difficulty getting enough vitamin B6 in their diets and may require more B6 rich foods. Click to see children's B6 requirements. 

People almost never get too much vitamin B6 from food. But taking high levels of vitamin B6 from supplements for a year or longer can cause severe nerve damage, leading people to lose control of their bodily movements. Hence we try to avoid supplements. 

What if you don't like Eggplant? 

The first question is- do you know how to prepare and cook eggplant?  Often times we don't like something because it's not been prepared in a way that allows the flavors of the item to be highlighted.

Recently at a private dinner party for some members of  (Nappy Roots), Chef Lara made an eggplant and mushroom cream sauce to go over a pasta dish served with chicken and shrimp. Very few people at the table that evening believed they like eggplant, but everyone's dish was clean that night, no complaints. 

It's very simple to create the sauce. While the skin of an eggplant is rich in antioxidants- it also turns the sauce a little more purple, therefore it's up to each chef to remove the skin or leave it on.

3 cups eggplant cut into small chunks
1/2 cup white mushrooms cut into small pieces
3 cups of rice milk plain
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil
3 tablespoons of garlic
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Place ingredients into a blender and liquify for about 2 minutes.
Place contents into a sauce pan and simmer on low heat stirring occasionally until heated
Pour over spaghetti squash or other noodle of choice.
Garnish with fresh parsley or basil.

Ask us about more great eggplant recipes. The trick is the olive oil, salt and roasting technique often. Grilled eggplant remains nutritionally in tack and flavorful.

Other foods high in Vitamin B6 are potatoes, chicken, fish and non citrus fruits. 

Check out the latest video on potato health, subscribe to the Food Allergy Gal, YouTube Channel