Archive for January 2012

Stay at the Grand Californian for $179 per night…and get the latest Food Allergy Information

Last year, we learned that the FAAN conference was going to be at the Grand Californian at Disneyland.  For those of you not familiar with FAAN, FAAN is one of the most trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis.  For many years, they have been doing FAAN conferences, but most of them have been held on the East Coast.  Last year they decided to host a conference in Orange County and my wife was able to attend.

First off, if you have a child with Food Allergies you will not want to miss this conference being held on June 9, 2012.  I encourage you to view the conference details and decide for yourself, but the content presented at the event is invaluable.  Our support group has benefited tremendously with the content from the FAAN conference.  The information is completely current and there are plenty of people to connect with people to answer questions.  The cost of the conference is completely affordable at a price of $125 per person (even if you are not a FAAN member).  FAAN members pay $100 per person.  You can find out more conference details at the FAAN website.

But aside from the amazing content at the conference itself, the most amazing part is that you get to stay at the Disneyland Grand Californian for the MOST AMAZING PRICE EVER!!!  If you have never been here, it is absolutely amazing.  There are really (3) Disneyland hotel properties:  Paradise Pier, the Disneyland Hotel and the Disneyland Grand Californian.  This is an amazing property with tons of things for the kids.  Even if you do not step one inch into Disneyland, there is plenty to do with all of the pools, Downtown Disney, etc.  And once again the best part…the price.

So what is this amazing price?  $179 per night.  This is truly an amazing price and in my opinion, a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay at this resort at this price.  For some comparison, just check the Disneyland website to see what it costs for a Friday/Saturday night stay at this resort during summer.  It works out to $460 per night (see the image below).  So you really only have until May 9th to book this…so please do not miss out.  You get a mini-vacation with the family and a great conference packed with the latest food allergy information for you and your family.

Are we going?

Absolutely.  Last year we missed the "cuttoff" for the event and had to stay a Paradise Pier.  We still had an amazing time…but we ended up spending just as much at a less-desirable hotel.  The plan for our family is to stay at the hotel on Friday and Saturday nights.  On Saturday, my wife will attend the FAAN conference for the full day, while I drag the kids off to the many pools.   In fact, we probably will not even step foot in Disneyland that weekend because there is so much to do at the hotel.  The bottom line…is that this a great event at an amazing price.  You can even park "2 cars" with a single parking fee.

Even if you cannot afford to stay at the hotel or if there is a conflict with something else…try to make a point to get at least "one of you" to the conference…as the content is just that good and valuable.

If you do end up staying at the hotel…make sure that you plan a bit on the "food" side as I am not sure what is available for food choices at Downtown Disney.  The Rainforest Cafe is pretty good when requesting "specialized meals" for food…so if you decide to make the trip, make sure you do a little homework ahead of time.

Also…if you are going,  send us an e-mail or leave us a message so that we can connect up at the event ([email protected]).


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Like Oreos…Pavillions Cinnamon Rolls are Milk and Egg Free Too

When talking about food allergies, it always nice to be able to find those "magic" foods (and treats) that somehow dodge the bullet of problem food allergy ingredients.  For our family, "milk" and "peanuts" are the ones to avoid and every now and then you come across that "Oreo" type snack.  I use the Oreo analogy because for whatever reason…Oreos do not contain eggs or milk (but they do contain wheat and soy)..  And when it comes time for that non-traditional, non-healthy breakfast food for the kids, it is the Pavillions Cinnamon Rolls for us.  Now the caveat is that you "always" want to check the ingredients each and every time…but somehow this product does not contain any "milk." (as you can see by the incredients…it does contain wheat and soy).

About a year ago, my wife discovered this magical breakfast treat.  Of course, with all things that are 90% sugar…you will probably have your best results if you only give your kids 1/2 a serving…as a full serving with our munchkins will usually result in a full 45 minutes of bouncing off the ceiling…so just be forewarned.   

The price of these bad-boys are $3.99 for a pack of six…but you can usually find them on sale for $1.99.  Pick up a couple and freeze the other pack for "emergency" mornings where only a child-bribe will get you through the day.


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Do You Feel the Need to Medically Validate your Food Allergy with Others?

It makes me sad when I read articles like The Huffington Post's Article, "Food Allergies Much Less Prevalent Than Claims Of Food Allergies, According To Expert".   The article points out that if someone makes a claim that they have food allergies that you have the right to "question them" to make sure their claims are "medically valid."  This article, along with others , fail to miss the daily battle that parents with kids with food allergies go through daily.  This is a serious "life or death" situation that we get to experience with our kids daily…over something as innocent as a peanut, a glass of milk or a even a cookie.

As a parent of two kids with two different life threatening food allergies…..the routine is oddly familar to parents who have kids with food allergies.  You get up in the morning and you pray that the Lord will give your child protection and a shield from coming into contact with anything that might send them to the hospital.  This is not a game we play.  This is not a way to get "preferential treatment" or "special" treatment.  This is serious stuff we are dealing with.

For those of you who have kids without food allergies…just close your eyes and image a make believe situation with me for a second.  You send you kid to school to sit at a table where everyone is eating poison.  Arsenic….cyanide….all the bad ones.  However, you get to send your child into this environment every day…..without your assistance.  You send them to sit a table where everyone around them is enjoying poison that does not hurt them…but would definitely hurt your child.  You hope that they do not come into contact with anyone.  Would it be reasonable to just ask people to wipe their hands after a meal?  How about a mandatory trip to the bathroom to wash-up?  But this unimaginable environment exists for kids everyday who suffer from food allergies.  This is what it is like.

And from another perspective, there is the battle of understanding and tollerance.  Most of the time teachers are accodating and understanding.  Sometimes they are not.  Many schools understand your medical condition and accomodate your requests…..and many schoold will not.  Parents of kids in your class will hopefully understand and be compassionate….and sometimes parents may feel "put out" because they are unable to pack peanut butter in their child's lunch.

And this is where the Huffington Post article exacerbates the problem.  We need more understanding….not more questions "whether our medical claims are valid."  Our children just want a safe environment to learn without the constant fear of coming into contact with things that are going to send them to the hospital.  

Think about it another way,  Would you ever consider asking someone who says they have "cancer" to "medically validate" their claim?  How about someone with ADD?  How about someone with Down's or Parkinsons?  The answer is obviously…of course not.  Why would we?  It would seem ludicrous….and just as ludicrous as asking someone with food allergies if their claim is "medically valid." 

Many people do suffer from food intollerances, which can be severely challenging and difficult….but because they do not involve the immune system….not life-threatening. The parents who attend our meetings have kids with life-threatening food allergies.  According to FAAN:

What are the common symptoms of a food allergy reaction?
Symptoms may include one or more of the following: a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and even death. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after the person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic.

The two takeaways from this story are simple.  Point number 1.  If you or your child suffers from food allergies, put your trust in the Lord above for protection (The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him; Psalm 28:7.)  And point number 2.  If you do not have food allergies, but you happen to someday cross paths with someone that tells you (or their child) suffers from food allergies…please do not ask them to "medically validate" their claim.  The last thing they need in their day is to convince you that their very real and very scary "medical condition" is true.  

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Chances are the Lunch You Just Ate Would Not Be Safe if You Had Food Allergies

This is a real photo of my lunch at work the other day.  For the last year, I have really made a huge effort to adopt a healthier life style by eating correctly.  This is a great lunch.  570 calories.  A bijon spinach salad, with nuts and raisins.  Some pita crackers and light swiss cheese.  I typically top it off with an Apple.  It looks healthy and it is a great way to adopt to healthy living (see the Daniel Plan as as good place to start).

But if you look closely at this "healthy" lunch, there are at least 4 coomon food allergies that are deadly to children with food allergies (or anyone with food allergies for that matter).  This is the reality of the situation and something that many of us take for granted.  Both of my kids have different food allergies and would be unable to consume any of my lunch.  But, I can just eat this lunch and not think twice about it.  I don't question what I put in my mouth, I never think whether it will hurt me or not….and I never wonder if eating something is going to send me to the hospital.  Honestly, I never think about it….but the other day I did.  I looked down at the plate and realized that most of what I was eating was not safe.  Not safe for my kids…but also not safe for most people afflicted with food allergies.

I bring this up because as your children get older (in the 6 plus range), they will start becoming more and more concerned (and sometimes anxious) when it comes to food and eating.  You want them to be aware and you want them to be knowledgeable.  However, this type of discernment (I believe) comes with some emotional prices.

So the next time you sit down to have your healthy (or even non-healthy) meal?  Think about about how you never worry whether the meal will hurt you?  Whether it will make you sick or make you ill?  All the little things that we take for granted daily….and then think about it through the eyes of someone else.


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Saddleback Church

No Support Group Meeting in January

Saddleback Church

Welcome to 2012 everyone.  We hope that you had a great and safe Christmas holidays with all of the food gatherings.  Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to meet in January due to other conflicts that week…however, we are very exciting about some of the things we have planned in 2012.

The next Saddleback Church Parents of Kids with Food Allergies Support Group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2012 and you will not want to miss it.  Our goal is to have an allergist come to our meeting to help answer any questions that we may have on food allergies.  If you are interested in attending this event, please make sure that you sign up so that can know how many people to expect for this special event.

Once again….no meeting in January 2012….but a special meeting in February 2012 (that we want to know if you are coming or not).

Lastly, just a reminder that the OCFoodAllergy Forum is now active and people are posting to comments.  We definitely encourage you to check it, register and be a part of the conversation.  You can find more information by going here:


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Managing Food Allergies at P.F. Chang’s

If you are anything like our family, just the thought of good Chinese food can bring a smile to your face. But if your kids have food allergies, then most of the time you will be avoiding Chinese resturants at all costs. But we have discovered some good news at one of our favorite resturants….P.F. Chang’s.

On our last visit there, we were on a mini-vacation and really had thought that our best option for our kids was going to be plain chicken and white rice. But after speaking with the manager of the resturant, it turns out that on request, they will provide you with a detailed list of items that are “safe” for a specific allergy. The key is that you will want to request this each and every visit, but as you can see by the image below, if you child is allergic to milk (like ours), then you actually have a lot of great options for food at the restuarant.

So when you and the family feel the urge for Chinese food with your food allergic children, then consider a visit to P.F. Chang’s where they can provide some very detailed information regarding a multitude of food allergies.

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Food Allergy Options at Costco’s Food Court

Is it just me or has the Costco shopping excursion become a staple of the weekend family ritual?  From this parent's perspective, the love of Costco centers first aroiund savings, secondly around the amazing free food cart samples inticing you at every aisle and lastly knowing that the Costco "return policy" is on part with Norstrom's.  All of these things combined insure that we come back over and over again….the lure of $1.50 hot dogs, inexpensive movie tickets, 20 pound bags of tortilla chips and filling up on the lowest gas in the city.

However, on the dark side of any store that serves free food samples, especially from the perspective of a parent of kids with food allergies….Costco can be a very challenging experience.  Most of the time, the "sample" food carts are seldom serving "safe" foods…so attempting to keep Child 1 and Child 2 content while shopping can be a challenge.  Can I have that?  Can I eat that?  Every corner is filled with no's and more no's.  For a while I have known about the "safety" of the Costco Fruit Smoothie…which I typically can easily feed 2 to 3 kids and provide a safe food treat while I shop through paradise.  As with any food item, I check the ingredients on every visit…but ultimately, it does help get me through the store easier than having to say "no" every 22 feet.

Today while at my local Costco, I was able to get a copy of the "Costco Food Court" Nutrional and Allergen Data (Dated 3/16/2011).  This sheet contained a detailed list of the food allergens found in food items at Costco; namely, Wheat, Milk, Egg, Anchovy, Tree Nut, Almonds and Soy.  The contents has been summarized in to the table below.

As always with all things relating to food allergies, it is always advised that you should ALWAYS request for the current food ingredients for the items that you are ordering.  Food recipes can change at any time and a food that may have been safe in the past…may not be safe now.  In other words, please do not ASSUME that the information above is correct or accurate.

The allergen information in the table above is to merely help "guide" you to discover new "options" on food items offererd at Costco that may give you new options when shopping with your children on your next visit.





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