Trigger Talk

TRIGGER is an independent, not for profit awareness initiative. Please help protect food allergy sufferers by watching and sharing the information provided. Our hope is that by raising awareness we can prevent avoidable accidents and help keep children safe.

Your Child Has Food Allergies: Now What?

Once your child’s food allergy has been diagnosed, the initial adjustment to your family’s lifestyle can be a challenging time and a source of concern. Adjusting to living with food allergies can take some time and based on our conversations with parents it seems the first two years after diagnosis can be the most challenging.

To assist you, we have compiled a list of helpful tips to hopefully support you with this transition.

The first thing you need to know is that food allergies are manageable. Initially it may seem to be a daunting task to keep your child safe but food allergies can safely be managed with the proper education, preparation and support.

Always follow your doctor’s advice about ways to avoid trigger foods and remember- each child and each allergy is different.

Always remember to take your child’s medication with you. This may include antihistamine medicine, adrenaline / epinephrine autoinjectors (it is recommended that you carry more than one autoinjector).

Have a family action plan should an emergency occur.

Read labels, Read Ingredients; Shopping for a special diet can be a challenge at first and reading food labels will become a part of every-day life.

Talk to others who are dealing with the same challenges. A number of social sites and nonprofit organizations offer information and forums for discussing food allergies.

Plan ahead – Holidays, birthday parties, family gatherings, eating out and days out need more planning.  Make sure you have the right food and drink for your child and advise others of their allergy and how they can keep them safe.

Research, Research, Research. Knowledge is KEY.

If you would like to share your story or helpful tips please contact us at info@triggerawareness.org or connect with us; www.twitter.com/triggernow or www.facebook.com/triggerawareness.org

The Teal Pumpkin Project

For families with children who live with food allergies, Halloween can be a tricky time. The fun of trick-or-treating can be actually dangerous, if not life-threatening, when a child does not know what is in the Halloween treats.

In 2012, a Tennessee mother named Becky Basalone, whose son suffered from anaphylactic food allergies, had the idea to paint a pumpkin teal, the color for food allergy awareness, and put it on her doorstep for Halloween.

Basalone’s idea worked so well that in 2014, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) created The Teal Pumpkin Project which encourages people to display a teal pumpkin or teal colored sign at their front door let allergic trick-or-treaters and their parents know that safe treats are available.

The project has rapidly spread to all 50 states and 14 different countries as parents, neighbors and doctors help spread awareness of the impacts of food allergies.

“I think the Teal Pumpkin Project has been so meaningful for families affected by food allergies not only because it helps create a safer, happier Halloween for kids with food allergies, but also because it’s a movement that recognizes the seriousness of a disease they’re managing daily.”

– FARE senior director of communications Nancy Gregory.

To find out more and to take part: www.tealpumpkinproject.org

 

 

Push For Police To Carry Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

A recent proposal would have police officers carry epinephrine auto-injectors and trained in the use of them for medical emergencies.

In many cases police are first on the scene of an emergency call but if it’s a medical emergency, their hands are usually tied until medical teams arrive.

Tragically, this was the case for Illinois mother Shelly LeGere when her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, who had no known allergies, went into anaphylactic shock last year.

Shelly says police officers were first on the scene and arrived within minutes but officers were not authorized to carry or administer what might have been a life-saving dose of adrenaline – Annie LeGere died a week later.

Now her mother is working with Illinois state lawmakers to encourage police and others to get training and legal permission to start carrying epinephrine.

State Senator Chris Nybo is sponsoring the bill. He says school transport companies, parks and daycare centers are among those also targeted in the bill which would limit liability of those administering it in an attempt to save a life.

To find out more please visit;

The Annie LeGere Foundation Inc.

www.amazingannie.org

 

Trigger Awareness Celebrates Fourth Birthday

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of our Trigger Food Allergy Awareness Initiative.

What started out as a simple idea to make a film that was accessible to everyone in the hopes of raising awareness to help teachers- like my daughter’s kindergarten teacher (Mrs. E) who expressed a wish that she had something to ‘show students and parents’ to educate them on the real dangers of food allergies and the potential lethal reaction they have – launched this four year journey.

After launching ‘TRIGGER AWARENESS’, seeing the amazing response as well as experiencing some of the roadblocks, we know the real need to raise awareness and the impact understanding has on the lives of those with food allergies. These experiences have shown us the real need to have information made available to all.

I would like to thank everyone who helped us along the way and thank our hard working team of Jo, BC, Sue J, Giv, Tas, Tye, Jenny and to all the active food allergy parents/community members and of course – YOU, who are reading this now. We want you to know that it is the inspiring food allergy community, teachers, parents, medical professionals and the amazing food allergy children that drives us further.

Moving forward, we remain passionate and committed to providing FREE independent films and resources until a CURE for food allergies is found.

Again, Thank You!

Grace Farah – Founder

TRIGGER AWARENESS

 

Rhymes Can Help

Rhymes can be an extremely useful learning tool to help children remember what to do in certain situations. Creating your own food allergy safety message is a fun and challenging exercise for the whole family.

Here are a few we came up with;

‘If you’re not sure if the food has nuts, avoid it completely, no ifs, ands or buts.’

 ‘Food Allergies are real – and that’s the deal.’

‘Read the label before you buy it and read the label before you try it!’

‘If you have a reaction immediately take action.’

Using rhyme can help your child remember their action plan. The key is to use different opportunities to help your child learn and remember, these can range from things like taking a trip to the local store to preparing a meal.

 

The Big Debate: Should Peanuts Be Banned at School?

When it comes to food allergies one of the most heated debates occurs when the topic is about the need for peanut-free schools and classrooms. The divide between those who fall on both ends of the spectrum seems to come from a matter of experience- those whose children are in serious danger from a nut allergy and have seen the effects first-hand on their children’s health and indeed, very life and those who simply have not been exposed to these dangers and do not see the issue as ‘such a big deal.’

What we need to keep in mind is that food allergies are on the increase and more and more children starting school have at least one serious allergy.

While parents have control in the safe haven of their own home once their food allergy child is of school age it can be a daunting and often frightening proposition to send them to school.

Paramount, of course, is doing all we can to keep all children safe and out of harm’s way, but secondly, what needs to be understood is that allergic students may often feel left out not just unsafe, but socially awkward and worse- isolated or even bullied at school.

The other consideration needs to be the teachers; with the increase in allergies comes an increase of a teacher’s responsibilities and duties. Anyone who has experienced an anaphylactic episode will tell you it can be an extremely stressful situation and as teachers are on the front line of a child’s care at school their voices, opinions and contributions need to be heard and taken seriously.

Some critics claim that the problem with having nut free schools is that it presents a ‘false sense of security.’ This view simply undermines food allergy sufferers and their caregivers who know firsthand that regardless of how vigilant one is occurrences will still happen. There is never a 100% guarantee of a nut-free or any allergen free environment.

The difference is that in a nut free class or school there will be less chance of contact with the food in question and thus, naturally fewer reactions or emergency situations.

We appreciate it’s a sensitive issue for all sides, but it is an outright life-saving issue for some dealing with these allergies.

Whether a school decides to be ‘nut free’ or ‘egg-free’ or any other food restriction intended to protect children attending their school, it does seem clear there needs to be open communication with all parties involved.

The Need For A Balanced Diet When You Have Food Allergies

 

The first duty in preparing safe meals for children with food allergies is avoiding the offending ingredient or allergen(s). However, by avoiding these ingredients, a real risk exists that food allergy sufferers may be missing out on important nutrients that help maintain good health and stronger immune systems.

Research in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND) warns that such diets can produce vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia and other symptoms affecting a child’s growth.

A balanced diet is essential. Discovering what important nutrients may be missing from your child’s diet as a result of the allergy and replacing it with an alternate source is recommended. Just one example of finding alternatives to ensure proper vitamin and nutrient absorption is the following; if the allergen is milk- which is rich in protein, calcium, Riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, B12, which are essential for bone mineralization and growth. You can replace milk with meat, fish, poultry, legumes, eggs (fortified milk substitutes), leafy greens and other calcium-fortified foods.

Of course, you should only use these replacements if they are also safe for your child and if you are not sure, have your child tested. Each sufferer is different and discussing your nutritional needs with your allergist, family physician and/or nutrition expert is imperative.

What age should children self-carry and self-administer their auto-injector?

There are many issues regarding keeping food allergy children safe; one of the more contentious issues is at what age a child should self-carry and self-administer their auto-injector.

For many parents administering the auto-injector can be an extremely daunting task and therefore, asking a child to do it does raise concern.

We have received several emails regarding this issue and while each child is different, the decision really should be determined by their maturity, their understanding of their symptoms, willingness to take on the duty and on the advice of their family allergy expert.

The child must be ready to act in an medical emergency and in doing so, is beyond the capabilities of many children not in their teens. To start with, you can encourage your child to be involved in managing their allergies, starting with simple things like knowing to tell people what food they are allergic to, reading labels etc then progressing to practicing on a self-injection trainer and then graduating to carrying their own.

When they are confident enough, you will both know, but preparation and training are the key

Spotlight on families dealing with Food Allergies – Nicole O’Dell

As part of food allergy awareness month, we have been putting the spotlight on people and families dealing with this medical issue. Nicole O’Dell has three children, two have food allergies and each day brings a new set of obstacles to overcome and victories to be celebrated. She writes about it on her blog www.mommytalk73.com  Here is Nicole’s story:

When did Food allergies come into your life?

My eldest son and my daughter both have food allergies. My sons allergies are not life threatening, but still cause him a lot of discomfort, and he has become very aware of making good food choices even when at school and Mommy and Daddy are not there to help him. My daughter on the other hand was allergic to both milk and egg, but in the recent months has out grown the milk allergy (Thank God!!). Her egg allergy still remains, and is life threatening. She is severely allergic to eggs, which requires us to carry an Epi-Pen Junior where ever we go.

How they have changed you?

Food allergies have changed me both as a Mom, and as a person. I used to be one of those people who got secretly frustrated when someone said they had a food allergy and couldn’t have something. I did not want to feel this way, but for some reason whenever I heard this “excuse” I kind of thought “Oh brother….here we go”.  Well, then I had my son, and soon realized the physical pain that allergies caused people, and I felt bad for ever having those thoughts. Watching my son feel so sick after certain food was very hard, but emotionally I did not fully understand the toll allergies took on a person and on a family until I had my daughter.

The hardest thing about dealing with food allergies?

The fear and worry of a food allergy can be down – right crippling. Not knowing if she is going to come into contact with something she shouldn’t and stop breathing at any moment keeps me awake at night. I remember getting her results from the doctor and just crying and crying because I knew life would never be the same. I also knew how people would not take this seriously- after all at one time in my life, I was one of those people. And now here I faced a huge world of triggers and I was not only responsible for keeping my child from harm, but I was in charge of keeping her alive- in a different way than most moms have to deal with.

The message you would want people to know about food allergies?

Food allergies are real. They are not a life style, or a choice. Yes, they may not all be life threatening, but a lot of them are. And even the ones that are not, still cause pain, and still cause every day challenges. If you do not have food allergies in your family and find yourself thinking “oh brother… here we go” when someone’s gives allergies as a reason why they can’t eat something or go somewhere… I challenge you to follow an allergy parent for one day. See what they face day in and day out. See how that Mama doesn’t have the luxury of zipping through the grocery store and grabbing whatever looks good, but instead spends hours reading labels in the isle. See how that daddy keeps his baby girl from playing on a swing set at the playground because another child just ate his snack while in the baby swing. See how that brother asks if “it’s his kind” when handed a cupcake at a birthday party? I can promise you this – you will never think “oh brother” again. You will most likely leave that day in tears because you never knew the pain and the worry an allergy family carry’s every single day.

Describe the activity you and your family will do when a cure for food allergies is found?

The day that food allergies are cured I think the first thing we would do as a family is go out to eat and order anything that sounded good. We would not bring any of our food from home, we would not wash the table and high chairs down before sitting. We will just sit down and eat, and not worry about a thing. I know this sounds so simple, and doesn’t seem like a huge celebration, but to us, it would feel like the biggest celebration in town.

To connect with Nicole:

Blog: http://mommytalk73.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mommytalk73

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mommytalk73

 

 

Comedians Stand Up For Food Allergies – It Must Be Taken Seriously

 

SPOTLIGHT On Los Angeles based comedian Steven Garza who discovered he was allergic to shellfish at the age of nineteen. He joins other comedians and performers to ‘Stand Up for Food Allergies’ next Tuesday night at The Comedy Store in La Jolla.

When did Food allergies come into your life?

“Food allergies did not cross my mind until I was returning from a surf trip up the west coast with a friend at nineteen years old. As a child I was an extremely picky eater, which may have saved my life in hindsight. On our way back to San Diego we stopped at a restaurant owned by my friend’s uncle. He served us jumbo size shrimp which I had never tried before. “Seems harmless” I thought. I scarfed them down and didn’t give it another thought until we were about an hour outside of San Diego. My throat felt funny, but passed it off as an oncoming cold. By the time I arrived home my entire body itched. Eventually the itching stopped and was replaced by swelling… massive swelling. My dad rushed me to the emergency room where my face looked like I was a prize fighter who just went twelve rounds with Tyson and began struggling to breath. Luckily, we arrived in time to be treated. A doctor asked me if I had eaten anything unusual. Bingo! I’m allergic to shell fish.”

How they have changed you?

“I am extremely aware of what I eat and what ingredients are included. I’ve had several occasions where I can’t eat at a particular restaurant due to shell fish being cooked on the same grill. Reading of ingredients has also become routine for me.”

What is the hardest thing about dealing with food allergies?

“You always have to be aware of what foods are around you, not only for myself, but with others around me. I’ve done a lot of traveling and spend most of that time worrying about my next meal and if it will have shell fish in it. This was especially difficult in Japan where everything seemed to be served with shrimp as if it were some kind of condiment. It gets uncomfortable when a friend eats shell fish around me and I have to ask them to wash their hands. Adults don’t like to be told to wash their hands.”

 The message you would want to send about food allergies?

“My life definitely revolves around food allergies to some degree. I’m constantly on guard worrying about what I touch and where I go. It was even a concern when I first met my girlfriend. I had to make sure she wasn’t a fan of shellfish or we’d have a big problem.”

Describe the activity you and your family will do when a cure for food allergies is found?

“This question plays in my head quite often. I’ve always wanted to try lobster. I hate those Lobster commercials on T.V. where the steam rises from the lobster shell and they top it with a buttery creamy sauce. Ahh! It looks so good!”

 

INFORMATION on triggerallergy.com IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE and any information or materials posted are intended for general informational purposes only. Any information posted on the web site is NOT a substitute for medical attention. Please see your health-care professional for medical advice and treatment.