Friday, March 19, 2010

Tip of the Day: Where to Get Your Calcium When You're Allergic to Milk

How to get the calcium you need when you are allergic to milk:

I have been allergic to milk my entire life. I have never had a drop of it. Therefore, I had to find a way to get the calcium my body needs. I found the best way to do this is through eating foods that are rich in calcium. My weekly diet consists of almonds, sunflower seeds, green vegetables, soy products like soy milk and tofu and a piece of salmon at least once a week. I also sit in the sun for a little bit every day in order to soak up the much needed vitamin D that helps you absorb calcium.

My MD told me I needed to have 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. At my last physical he asked me how I have been getting my calcium all of these years and I told him, "by my diet". He said that it wasn't enough and gave me a supplement to take every day.

My tip for you today is to say that if you are allergic to milk, make sure to ask your doctor if you are getting enough calcium to maintain healthy and strong bones.
Evidently, for me, my diet was not enough, so I hope you make sure you are getting what your body needs.

Nicolle Avery

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tip of the Day: The Importance of Reading Labels with Food Allergies

It is imperative to read every label and the entire list of ingredients of every product you buy, every time you buy it.

To ensure your safety and health you must read the list of ingredients of every product you purchase and intend on eating. Even if you have bought a product 1,000 times and you have the list of ingredients memorized, you must read it again if you plan on ingesting it. This is because a company can at any time choose to enhance a product by using milk or egg. They have also been known to announce this change by very fine print on a package and of course, adding it to the ingredient list. This is why you must read the list of ingredients every time.
I suggest this even if the product you're buying says that it is 'vegan' or 'milk-free' or 'egg-free'. Make sure they really are what they say they are.
It is also important to know that there are many more words to describe the presence of egg and milk besides the words egg and milk. You will want to go to the library and look up all the words that mean egg and/or milk are present in a product. Your doctor should also have a list to share with you so that when you are reading labels, you are informed and prepared. And if for any reason you have doubt about a specific ingredient, call the manufacturer and ask.
For those of you who are allergic to wheat and gluten, you have probably found out that those allergens can be hidden in words like 'natural flavorings'. 'Natural flavoring' can also be code for the fact that egg is present in some form.
These are the kind of things you need to avoid when shopping.
Talk to your doctor and do your research at the library.
And above all, be educated about ingredients and what they mean and then read every label and list of ingredients every time you buy a product.

Nicolle Avery

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tip of the Day: Overcoming Fears About Food Allergies

How do you overcome your fears about food allergies:

I don't know about you, but sometimes I have let my fears about food allergies hold me back from doing the things I love to do, like eating out and vacationing. The fear I have especially flares up after having a severe allergic reaction. I have experienced a few near death moments and sometimes I have been too scared to eat for weeks after one of those.
I also have been known to be afraid of large crowds where I can't see an easy and quick way out to get to a hospital if I need one in an emergency. And even the thought of getting on a plane where I am 35,000 feet above a hospital has been known to scare me to the point of crying and begging the flight attendant to open the plane door to let me off.
But it really doesn't need to be like this. Living with severe food allergies can easily cause panic, fear and stress, but I believe there are ways to cope and handle these issues surrounding allergic reactions and food allergies.
1. Always carry your Benadryl and Epi Pens.
2. Wear a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace at all times.
3. Tell every friend, relative and co-worker about your food allergies and what to do in case of an emergency (If your friend or relative is not interested in being aware or helping you in an emergency then I think you should let that person go. Co-workers need to be informed regardless of their interest in your health.)
4. Dine in restaurants where the wait staff and kitchen staff care and cater to food allergies.
5. When making travel arrangements call the airline and hotel and inform them of your food allergies and ask what they are able to do to ensure your safety.
6. When you go to a large concert or event buy seat tickets near an exit. Never put yourself in a position where it would take you pushing your way through a crowd of 100 or more people to get help if by chance someone dropped a peanut on you at a ball game.
7. Mentally prepare yourself when dining out, taking a trip or going to a concert. Think of your action plan of how you will handle an emergency before you leave your house. Be prepared.
8. In case of an allergic reaction, remember to always stay calm. Going into panic mode during a reaction will only make the reaction worse. Just breathe and take the steps you need to in order to survive.

Thinking about all of this can be overwhelming for someone who has just been diagnosed or has lived with it for years, but it's necessary.

If you have a plan and are prepared, your fears should subside. I can't say they will be eliminated, but I think being prepared and feeling safe wherever you go is a big help in healing your fears.

Nicolle Avery

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tip of the Day: is a Website You Must Check Out

If you are living with food allergies then I strongly suggest you take some time to discover what has to offer you.

I did and I am thoroughly impressed. The website offers products, recipes, a blog site and current news updates about important allergy information.
The site is easy to navigate and beautifully designed.

After walking into health food stores or local markets I am lucky if I can find a few aisles dedicated to egg-free, milk-free, wheat-free and gluten-free food items and baking products; but this website offers you an online store that feels like it's aisle after aisle of safe products.

I encourage you to check out this wonderful website designed for people who suffer from a single food allergy to multiple food allergies.
235 Apollo Beach Boulevard, Ste. 101
Apollo Beach, Florida 33572
Owner: Jamie Stern

Thank you and enjoy!

Nicolle Avery

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tip of the Day: Great Egg, Milk & Wheat-Free Cracker

Does anyone make a great cracker that is egg, milk and wheat-free:

When making spreads, dips and layered appetizers that will only work with the perfect cracker it can be hard to find a milk, egg and wheat-free cracker that is tasty and safe to eat. However, at my local health food store I have found one! It is made by Ener-G and the product is called Wheat-Free Crackers. But it gets better; the box lists that they are gluten-free, wheat-free, milk-free, lactose-free and egg-free. This is a great tasting cracker.

I highly recommend checking out:
Ener-G Foods, Inc
P.O. Box 84487
Seattle, WA 98124-5787

Nicolle Avery

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tip of the Day: Planning a Wedding with Severe Food Allergies to Egg & Dairy

How to plan a safe wedding when you have severe food allergies:

Currently, I am planning my wedding that will be this Spring. The toughest aspect we have had to face is choosing a catering company that is right for my food allergies.

We started planning our wedding over a year ago and we didn't realize that we would have problems finding a caterer that would be able to handle severe food allergies.
However, we certainly have been shocked to find out what some had to say to us over the course of planning our big event. We found the perfect location only to discover the one caterer contracted for this venue would not take on our event because they thought my food allergies were a liability. They asked if I would have my mom make me a plate of food that was safe for me to eat and bring it to the event. My heart sank because I have done that my whole life and this time it was different because it was my wedding and I felt I shouldn't have to do that.
It took a while but we finally found a caterer that listened to me and understood what I wanted my day to be like. The sales staff and kitchen staff at Puff n' Stuff located in Maitland, Florida are knowledgeable, accommodating and are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that I will be able to safely eat what I want to on our big day.

Make sure you schedule a meeting with the head chef of each catering company you are interested in for your event. Let the chef know what you are allergic to and how safe they have to be in the kitchen to ensure your safety. If at that time the chef feels he can accommodate you then you will want to create your menu and from there meet with him again. You will need to go over each menu item and the ingredients within the item. Let him or her know that every label needs to be read for the things you are allergic to and if a substitution needs to be made, the chef should know what would work best. For example, they were planning to serve a yogurt sauce with the fresh fruit and since I am allergic to milk they will be using a soy yogurt instead. They did this with many things on the menu.

It can be done. You just need to do your homework and leave yourself plenty of time to find the right caterer who will accommodate your food allergies before you set a date.

Thank you Puff n' Stuff!

Nicolle Avery

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tip of the Day: Orlando Restaurants that Cater to Egg & Milk Food Allergies

If you are ever in Orlando and need a bite to eat in a place that will help you find an egg and milk-free menu item I have a few suggestions:

I love to eat out. I have found a few restaurants in Orlando that are always kind and help me find something on the menu that is safe for me to eat. Now I will say, if you are dining in an establishment that also serves food items you are allergic to there is always the possibility of cross contamination leading to an allergic reaction, but these are places I have felt care about their customers and their food allergies.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen
1235 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32804

This kitchen serves up some incredible vegan dishes. Everything in their kitchen is vegan. My favorite is their Fire Chili served up every Friday.

Stardust Video and Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Rd.
Winter Park, FL. 32789

This is one of my favorite places to eat. They have the most delicious salads. Stardust Video and Coffee has a variety of vegan and vegetarian options and if you love meat you can always add a side of chicken or pork to your dish. Everything is made fresh each day in the kitchen. They do serve items that contain milk and eggs, but if you let them know you have food allergies they will be very careful and honest with you about what they can offer you that is safe for you to eat.

Cityfish Restaurant
617 East Central Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32801

If you like fish I think this is a great place to go. When I informed the server about my severe egg and dairy food allergies he took it very seriously and let me know what would be safe for me to eat. He read ingredients to me and notified the chef of my condition. I ordered the salmon and boiled potatoes and have been back many times to do it again. It was delicious. They also serve food items with egg and milk so you need to make sure you let the server and kitchen staff know about your food allergies and see if they can offer you something that is safe for you to eat.

My Allergist has often told me that my food allergies are so severe that it is not wise for me to dine out. However, over the years I have come to find out that there are some establishments that will bend over backwards to help me eat safely. If you have food allergies and you dine out in a place that uses egg and milk in their kitchen, there is always a risk of having an allergic reaction. Talk with you doctor before you venture out to eat; ask your doctor to advise you on dining out. Make sure that dining out is right for you.

Nicolle Avery

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tip of the Day: Airplane Travel with Food Allergies

How to make flight travel easier with food allergies:

I'd like to write several pieces on air travel with food allergies but today I will start with this simple tip.
If you are severely allergic to certain foods and have to carry Benadryl and Epi Pen's with you at all times then before you embark on your air travel make sure to have your doctor write you a letter stating that you or your child must carry Benadryl and Epi Pens at all times during the flight due to the serious nature of your food allergies.
When your purse or bag is being searched and security personnel asks about these items you will be able to quickly address the question with the letter and be on your way in no time.

Nicolle Avery

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tip of the Day: Great Vegan Cheese Options

If you are allergic to milk, but would love to make cheesy recipes I have a few suggestions.

Over the years there have been a few products that say they are dairy-free and throughout the life of the product they have changed their ingredients and added a milk protein or something else that took them off of my 'favorite list' due to my dairy allergy. Even if you find a product that says it is vegan or egg-free or dairy-free you must read the label each time you buy the product because the list of ingredients may change from time to time.

With that being said, there are two kinds of vegan cheese I love. I use vegan cheese from Follow Your Heart and vegan Sheese 'cheese' from If you decide to try these products make sure you read the list of ingredients every time you buy them. But for now, these cheese substitutions are vegan and great!

I have found these products in Whole Foods Market and local health food stores.

Nicolle Avery

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tip of the Day: Always Play It Safe When You Have Food Allergies

Always play it safe when you have food allergies:

After working hard all day yesterday I was hungry and tired. I just wanted something quick and easy that I did not have to make so I drove to a fast food restaurant and ordered 2 plain hamburger patties. And because I was tired I did not take the time to ask the questions I normally ask, like what other food items are on the grill and do the French fries have a coating and if so may I read the ingredients?
Instead I ordered the food and ran home to eat the patties. Within minutes I was having an allergic reaction.
I do not blame the fast food restaurant; I do however blame myself for not playing it safe and taking the time to ask the questions I needed to ask.
Even when you are hungry and want something fast it is important to not take your health for granted. To ensure your safety it is always best to follow the procedure you have in place for dining out every time, even if you are tired and just want to eat. When it's a matter of life and death like it is in my situation, it is better to take your time and do it the right way even if that means dinner is delayed.

Nicolle Avery