Monday, August 11, 2014

Peanut Free Classroom Poster

Peanut Free Poster 

A fellow food allergy mom sent me a request for a classroom sign for a peanut allergy. Previously I only had one for peanuts and tree nuts together. I am so glad that she asked. It was a fun opportunity to make her a poster, and hopefully help her child have a reaction free school year. 

If you have classroom poster ideas for food allergies send me an email at and I would love to incorporate your child's allergies in the poster.

We are starting school this week, and my daughter will also have a poster on the outside of her classroom door.  She can't wait to start! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Food Allergy Resources for the Elementary Teacher

Preparing for Food Allergies in the Classroom

Helping you prepare for a safe, and inclusive school year. I have gathered my favorite materials, books, snack lists, links, safety information, and training for the classroom teacher.  As a former teacher and a food allergy parent, I know how overwhelming it can be for everyone.  I hope this list makes it a bit easier for you, your child, and your child's classroom teacher.

List of Accommodations:

Your Child's 504 Plan
Make sure that your child's teacher has a printed copy of the accommodations that are necessary to keep your child safe, and included in the classroom.
If you do not have a 504 Plan, make sure that you do have an Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) in place with an included Emergency Plan. Have that printed out and given to your teacher as well. Make a list of accommodations needed for safety, and inclusion in the classroom, and go over the list with the principal, and teacher to make sure that it is all agreed upon.
Wondering what plan is best for your child?  Here is a great Q&A on the topic of 504 Plans and IHCPs from FARE

Printed Emergency Plan:

FARE's Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan (also included in 504, or IHCP)
FARE's plan outlines the symptoms of mild allergic reactions to anaphylaxis, and lets the teacher know what to do for each possible type of reaction. This can be printed out for each teacher, nurse, food service, and staff member who will be watching your child.   *I use wallet sized photos (school photos may work) to attach to each plan. I like the idea of having a color photo on each as they are more recognizable.

Printable Handout on Anaphylaxis  From Kids With Food Allergies (KFA)

Print out a copy for the teacher Handout on Anaphylaxis

Book for Preparing Student, and Teacher:

The No Biggie Bunch's "Everyday Cool With Food Allergies"
This is a great book for food allergies as it teaches your child food allergy safety, as well as illustrating food allergy safety points for the teacher.  It explains why reading labels, hand washing, safe snacks and other safety measures are important for your child, and teacher. It is written the highly respected food allergist Dr. Michael Pistiner.  This book can be read by the teacher and child together to make sure that they both know the food allergy safety rules, and why they are important.

Downloadable book for the Teacher:

From the NEA Health Information Network (HIN) National Education Association 

Hand Wipes or Hand-washing:

You may want to supply the classroom with Wet-ones hand wipes if sinks are not easily accessible.
If there is not a way to wash with soap and water before or after eating, hand wipes can remove food proteins.  Here is an article about removing food residue and why antibacterial hand sanitizer does not work for food allergies.

Posters for the Classroom:

Order, or print off a few posters yourself for the classroom
My own Free Printable 8x10 peanut/tree-nut free, or dairy free posters
From FARE: Be a Pal poster for team building, and allergy education
From KidsCanHaveFun: Free printable signs for almost any food allergy, table signs and more
From Cool Allergy Awareness Posters 

How to Read Food Labels for Food Allergies: 

Print this out for your teacher:
From FARE: Printable pages "Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen"

Safe Snacks/Treats:

A list of safe snacks that your child can have complete with brand names and a notice to check each label every time as companies can change ingredients at any time.
* For Peanut, Tree-nut, and Egg Allergies has a great routinely updated list of safe snacks, treats, and candy. 
* For other allergies, make your own list of safe snacks, candies, and treats, and update it as needed.
* Attach list to safe box of snacks and treats for the classroom.
* Keeping a stash of shelf stable treats in the safe snack box, or frozen cupcakes at the school is an easy way to stay prepared for school birthdays if food treats are served.
* Candy is often used as incentives or prizes, so having a bag of safe candy in the safe snack box is also a good idea.
You can also add a handout like the one I made to be put into the sub folder, and printed for specials teachers: Food Allergy Alert
*Safe Snack Box: A box, or plastic container with a lid for safe snacks, and treats.

Food Allergy Books for the Teacher to Read to the Class:

Joey Panda and His Food Allergies Save the Day: A Children's Book 

The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies 

Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel 

Mangos for Max 

Patty's Secret: A Tale About Living with Food Allergies  

Food Allergies and Me: A Children's Book

Food Allergy Videos for the Class:

Arthur: Binky Goes Nuts (2007) 

Alexander the Elephant Who Couldn't Eat Peanuts (Human Peanut Allergies) (1994)

List of Possible Allergens in Classroom Materials:

Make sure the teacher has this list printed for them:

Letters to Parents of Classmates:

For severe allergies, you may need the teacher to send home a letter to the other parents. The letter can explain the severity of the food allergy, and the accommodations that they can help with to keep your child safe and included in the classroom, class parties, birthdays, and projects.  If needed, it can also include a list of safe snacks, and/or food free treats.  After reading a few samples, I wrote my own, and emailed it to the teacher who made it her own with slight changes, approved it, and then it went out to the parents in my daughter's classroom.

Sample Letters:

List Of Food Free Treats for Birthdays and Rewards:

Print a list of ideas for your child's teacher, and other parents.

Food Allergy Training for Classroom Teachers:

This is a great training module for you to share with the teacher!
It is from

Educating the Whole Class, and Team Building:

Email your child's teacher a link to this program!
FARE's Be a PAL: Protect a Life education program is a wonderful way to teach the entire class about food allergies, and looking out for each other!

I hope that you have a fantastic, fun, safe, and inclusive school year!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guest Blogger for Neocate Formula!

Recently I was invited to write a guest blog post for Neocate's Food Allergy Living Blog. As many of you know Neocate is a formula for infants and children with food allergies.  I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to write a guest post for them as they help so many in our food allergic community.

You can read it here at Neocate's Food Allergy Living Blog:

Check it out! I give tips on keeping our kids with severe food allergy sharp and ready for the new school year: "Preventing Summer Brain Drain for the Food Allergic".

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

School Nurses are Invaluable to Our Allergic Kids

These flowers are for school nurses everywhere. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The last day of school has come and gone. My daughter will be a second grader next year, and I am surprisingly excited for her to return to school in the fall.  Even with her severe food allergies, GERD, asthma, and eczema, she had a fantastic year because of the wonderful school nurse.  It eased my mind to have a medical professional on hand to assess any possible asthma or anaphylactic reactions that may happen at school.

We are so lucky to have a nurse at our school every day.  Many schools have a school nurse only part time, or not at all.  I have read that less than half of students have a school nurse every day, all dayWith the high rate of childhood asthma, severe allergies, and climbing rates of other health issues like childhood diabetes, the school nurse is needed, and invaluable.

In talking to the school nurses in the district I have learned that they are part-time, but some stay until the end of the day as they feel that they are needed, and even though their pay is part-time, they work full time hours to make sure that the children with medical needs are taken care of. I suspect ours feels this way as she is usually still there giving breathing treatments, cleaning up vomit, calling parents and checking temperatures at the end of the day. 

Our school nurse had my daughter in her office so many times this year for allergies, asthma, and anxiety, that I have developed a good working relationship with her. When I have gone into the nurse's office from time to time, I have noticed how busy she is, and how much she has on her plate. She has so many children going into her office each day, and is responsible for treating everything including minor lacerations, daily medications, insulin shots, asthma attacks, breathing treatments, anxiety attacks, and broken bones... Just to name a few.

Even with her hectic daily requirements, the nurse made my daughter feel welcome, and took all of her visits seriously, even if it was just an itchy eczema spot on her leg, itchy eyes, or a Band-Aid. So when my daughter had more serious issues, such as a possible food allergy reaction, or an asthma attack, she felt very comfortable going to the nurse for help.

In reading about school nurses around the country, and our state, I have found that many are over worked and underpaid, with some schools only having a school nurse available for a couple of days a week, or not at all. Many are expected to take attendance, and dole out daily morning medications at the same time, all while monitoring their students with serious chronic medical needs, and the daily multitude of childhood illnesses and injuries.

We need to give more to our school nurses. We rely on them for so much, and they are not given what they are worth.  If only every school had a full time nurse with full time pay for the countless hours that they put in to keeping our children safe at school.

What can we do to support our school nurses?  As parents who rely on the school nurse for our highly allergic children, we know how invaluable they are.  How can we help our school nurses?

I don't know the answer, but one suggestion is to partner up with other parents and take your concerns to your school board. 


Continued reading on the topic: 

In the News: Student dies of asthma attack, no nurse at school

Insightful article on the dangers of nursing shortage in schools: School Nurse Shortage May Imperil...

Here is a great article about the recent trend of cutting school nurses: When Schools Cut Nurses

Description of what a school nurse's job entails from NASN: Role of the School Nurse

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Peanut Tree-Nut Aware Asian Food!

Do you love Asian food, but have a peanut/tree-nut allergic child?  If so, then you too may be sorely missing your favorite Asian restaurant.

Well, I have great news for you! If are missing your favorite dish because of being worried about taking the family to Asian restaurants due to the risk of peanut/tree-nut cross contamination, then you are in for a treat!

There is a blog called the Nut Free Wok that will give you the recipes, tips, and Asian grocery buying know how that you need to bring your favorite Asian dishes to your table, safe, and food allergy friendly!

The author of  Nut Free Wok  Sharon Wong is an amazing cook, and she shares her printable Asian recipes and tips in an easy and family friendly fashion. Not only does she share her fantastic food allergy friendly recipes and tips, she also shares her journey as a food allergy advocate and mother of two. She shares links and tips for food allergy safety, inclusion, and day to day living with food allergies.

My current favorite recipes are the mouth watering Chicken Pineapple Fried Rice Recipeand the fresh and delicious Pea Shoots with Garlic and Ginger Recipe . The recipes are easy to print and follow. Check them out! 

Need help making steamed rice to go along with your dishes? Sharon has tips for making the perfect rice too! 

If you are like me and have no clue where to start when planning an Asian dish for dinner, then Nut Free Wok is perfect for you. It will walk you through everything you need to do from grocery shopping to making side dishes and desserts! Yummy made easy! 

Sharon Wong is working tirelessly for the safety of the children of California, and is a key player in getting the state's stock epinephrine law updated so that all children can have access to life saving epinephrine at school, and school staff will be trained to know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.  To learn more about the bill, visit California Advocates for Food Allergies which she co-founded. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dairy Free Classroom Poster

Dairy/Milk Free and Dairy/Milk Aware Classroom Posters 

I made this with a friend's daughter in mind. She has a severe dairy allergy, and has hives with skin contact. Many people are surprised that a dairy allergy can be life threatening.  

Most associate dairy allergies with lactose intolerance, and do not realize that they can be just as severe as the well known peanut, nut, and shellfish allergies.  I did not realize that they could be so severe either until meeting this lovely little girl. 

Many dairy allergies are outgrown by the age of five, but more and more they are unfortunately sticking around throughout the school years. 

To print, right click on image, save to device, print.  It will print as an 8x10.

Substitute Teacher Handout   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Allergy Shots and the Mysterious Reaction that Wasn't

The mysterious reaction that could have brought the immunotherapy to an end.

The first of my daughter's allergy shots went off without a hitch. She loves her Shot Blocker, and uses the Buzzy Bee on the opposite arm for distraction.  She sits on the table with the shot blocker pinched on one arm so that she does not feel the needle, a lollypop in her mouth to ease the pain, and the Buzzy Bee on the other arm to look at and distract her so that she does not think about the shot, or look at the needle. Sigh, whatever it takes! I would do magic tricks, or stand on my head to distract her if I could!

The Reaction: After the third set of shots she ended up with a large red rash that appeared on the same arm. I wondered if it was eczema, and if so, was it from the shots? Her next set of shots was three days later as we were doing the shots twice a week. The nurse was concerned, but because my daughter has eczema flare ups, we thought it may be a coincidence.  After the next set of shots our concern turned into something more. That night she was covered head to toe in what looked like a bright red severe eczema flare up.

I notified her allergist right away who was very surprised as she is on a very low dose shot, and he told us the bad news: We may have to stop the allergy shots. I was so upset as we had spent a year considering them, researching them, and had spent months convincing our daughter (who is terrified of needles) to go through with them. She was doing so well, barely flinching with the shots, and was excited to see if they would help her.

Little brother saves the day! 

The rash that we all assumed was eczema, as it looked just like it, took five days to go away. We decided to give the shots one more go, and then terminate the immunotherapy if there was a further reaction.  I was up all night worrying about what we would do if immunotherapy was no longer an option.

Surprisingly, the day before the next allergy shot, her little brother gave us the answer to the mystery reaction, and we were able to go ahead with the shots with no fear! The allergist was very relieved, and amused! My son solved the mystery by developing a bright red rash, an exact replica of his sister's rash, from head to toe. I took him in to the doctor, and he was diagnosed with Fifth's Disease. A virus that caused him to have a runny nose, and then at the end of it, after he was contagious, a bright red rash that covered his body. I was ecstatic! I have never been happy before about my children being sick, of course, but this meant that my daughter most likely also had Fifth's Disease, and not a reaction to her allergy shots!

We were not 100% sure, so we proceeded with caution. We waited a good ten days, and then started the shots once more. No reaction! We were all so happy, and relieved. We are now back on track with the allergy shots, and on the up hill climb to better health! There may be some reactions along the way, but not this time!

Peanut, tree-nut free classroom poster, Food Allergy classroom poster

Peanut, and Nut Free Poster for School and Daycare

My daughter's classroom has been peanut, and tree-nut free for Kindergarten, and now first grade. So far it has worked out well.  She has many other allergies, but peanut and tree-nut are her most severe.

There are many great signs out there, but I was looking for one that mentioned hand washing as well as keeping the allergen out of the room. It was a lot of fun to make this.

I am so grateful for the  helpful input that I received from my food allergy support community! Thank You!

Email me at if you have a poster need that is not shown here, and I can create one tailored to your needs.

How to Print:  It prints as an 8x10.  To print, double click, or right click on the image, save to your device, and then print from your printer. 

New: Prints as an 8.5x11

Sub folder handouts:

Class Letter from Teacher to Parents: 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Dad! Dads and Food Allergies

Dads and Food Allergies

A common issue that comes up frequently on food allergy support groups is that the father of the child with food allergies seems to not take the food allergies seriously.  A common complaint/worry is: "My husband does not seem to understand that food allergies are a real danger".

There are many good guesses as to why this is such a common and shared issue, and I am sure the reasons are different for every family.

For my own family, it took some time for us to be on the same page. Since I happen to do the majority of the grocery buying and cooking. I was on the front lines daily. The pressure was on me to buy the right products with the right ingredient list. One slip up, and that could mean a trip to the ER.
Reading every label every time may sound easy, but as you probably know, it's not that easy, or that simple.

Because I had taken on the role of head chef, and sole nutrient gatherer, I naturally was the one reading the food allergy books, and scouring the Internet for medical journals, blogs, support groups, and anything that I felt could give me a greater understanding of what products were safe, and which were to be avoided. I also was teaching part-time, and so was the eyes and ears, and "historian" for the allergist appointments.

Being the main food and health recognizance officer for the family naturally led to my greater understanding of the issue. Filling in my husband on the issue did not come as easily... Listening to my daily ramblings on the subject was about as entertaining as watching the grass grow in the fall. 

As time has passed, I learned to forward the articles that I found, include him in the doctors visits, trust that he could make a grocery store run for the right/safe products, and let him research food allergies on his own. We are now both educated about food allergies, and I have found that Dads are very important in the food allergy equation.  They can be phenomenal advocates for their children's safety and inclusion in school, and family gatherings. They can also shop, cook, and dine out safely with their kids, all while modeling good food allergy safety such as: reading labels, asking questions, bringing safe treats from home, and carrying epinephrine.

My kids are still at the tender age where Dad looks cool no matter what he's wearing, or doing. In their eyes he is a superhero. Seeing him carry epinephrine, ask questions, and pack a safe treat will go a long way in creating good habits for the future, when he may seem just a tad less than cool.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Allergy Shots for Kids!? Our Environmental Allergy Shot Journey Begins!

 Our Allergy Shot Journey Has Begun!

I was very nervous, and worried about my daughter getting her first allergy shots. But, with Buzzy Bee, a lollipop,  and a Shot Blocker, the first allergy shots went better than I could have ever imagined!

My seven year old daughter was terrified, but with these three things, and a lot of talking them up as being almost painless, she barely even winced!  She was thrilled that the shot was almost painless!

We are both excited that she is on her way towards being able spend less time sneezing, eye rubbing, itching, wiping her nose, wheezing, and coughing, and hopefully one day, snuggle with Grandma's cat.

The 35+ weeks of weekly shots seems endless, 5 years of maintenance seems like an eternity, but it will be worth it! Hopefully...

I felt silly bringing in a shot kit with the skin distractors to the office, because I called ahead, and the nurses had never seen either the buzzy bee, or the shot blocker, they have nothing for kids... But it was worth it!

My daughter is normally shaking, and crying, and they worked to keep her calm, and happy.

I would not say either would make the pain non-existent. Both seem to work in the similar way of confusing/stimulating the nerves/skin, so the focus is not all on one tiny spot where the needle goes in. Plus there is the psychological comfort of being told that it will help, and that there is something being used to make the pain and fear go away.

The shot blocker reminds me of acupressure points, here it is: the buzzy bee vibrates, and has a frozen pad that can go on it as well. Here is the site for it

The nurses loved them! They told me that I should do a U-tube video as they have many young patients who could really use them.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Food Allergy Alert Daycare and School Handout

Food Allergy Alert Daycare/School Handout

Here is a handout that I made for Daycare, Sub folder, and Specials Teachers to compliment FARE's Emergency Food Allergy, and Anaphylaxis Plan

I made one for my daughter for daycare and pre-school and had it posted in the snack cabinet. For elementary school it may be helpful to have in the sub folders, and for specials teachers. 

To print double click, or right click on image, save image to your device, and then print: