Category Archives: Uncategorized

Non-Medical Ways for Dealing with Pollen Allergies

Spring is in the air – but so is pollen. Many of my food allergies are related to my pollen allergies, and so in years past I’ve simply avoided the outdoors once the trees start blooming.

This year, however, I’m training and fundraising for the Paramedic Ride (www.paramedicride.ca), and so I have been biking outdoors A LOT. My allergist and I have been tweaking my medications to make this more possible, but I also have a few other non-medical options that I use to cope.

  • Rinse: Similar to a Netipot©, saline sinus rinses let you squeeze saline up your nose, through your sinuses, and back out. So gross, yet so satisfying when you’re sick, and very helpful during pollen season.
  • Cool: Cold, damp cloths are so soothing on the eyes. I listen to podcasts or sleep while I’m doing it and just let it soak in. My niece’s strategy is to hold a cloth on one eye, and read with the other, then switches.
  • Shower: When the pollen gets sticky, more frequent showers can be helpful! I also find showers to be soothing on the lungs.

As with any other treatment, find things that work for you, and check with your medical professionals before you try something new.

What techniques do you use to cope with pollen, and get yourself outdoors?

– Janice H.

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Travelling in the Winter with Allergies

When people travel in the winter, most of them head to somewhere warm like Florida, Jamaica, or Mexico. I’ve always been the odd one out – I’ve never been interested in going somewhere warm and relaxing on a beach. I moved to Finland when I was 19 and spent a year living in its lovely northern coolness, preferring the forest hikes and rocky ground over a sandy beach. The winter was another realm of newness for me, where the sun disappeared for three months and the country became a bit less lively. Naturally, this meant I had to explore. You know what is even better than living in a northern country during the winter? Going even further north, to its most northern region!

My friends and I went on an official exchange student tour to Levi, a small ski-resort town in Lapland. Have you seen the video floating around Facebook of glass-roofed igloos you can sleep in while watching the northern lights? That’s Lapland, and it’s every bit as beautiful in person! Instead of the glass-roofed igloos, we chose a much more affordable winter cabin to stay in, partially because they had their own kitchens and I could prepare my own food. Who knows what kind of restaurants are around in the arctic, and I found it easier to book an accommodation with a kitchen than to try and contact restaurants in advance.  I had heard from friends who had gone to Lapland previously that food in grocery stores is expensive there, so I packed some extra food from the south to take with me. I also packed my own dish soap and sponges for the kitchen, so I didn’t have to worry about finding any there once we arrived if the cabin didn’t have any. We found a grocery store to get some fresh produce, but otherwise I had brought precooked meals and snacks with me.

While there, I managed to find a restaurant that was amazing for the management of my food allergies (peanuts and soy). There aren’t many choices for restaurants in Levi, and most of them serve similar dishes to one another, so I wasn’t holding my breath on being able to eat out (hence why I packed so much food). My friend and I were able to find a locally-supplied reindeer restaurant, where all of the dishes featured some component of reindeer. I really wanted to try reindeer, since I knew there was a low-risk of a reaction for me and it was locally sourced. The waitress and chef were knowledgeable about food allergies and the waitress was able to translate my questions into Finnish to make sure the chef understood. In the future, I’ve made sure to travel with translation cards, but at the time, I fully trusted this chef’s knowledge of food allergies and the waitress’s translations. My friend and I split a massive reindeer burger, and I didn’t have a reaction! Allergy win!

Because the local culture relies so heavily on the wild reindeer, a lot of the tourist activities have to do with reindeer in some way. I went on a reindeer safari with a friend, where we were in a sled led by a reindeer. Afterwards, the reindeer’s owner brought us to her cabin for a warm drink and some cookies. She grabbed a fresh package of cookies for me, to minimize cross contamination, and since they were cookies I had eaten before and had checked the ingredients on, I was okay with eating them from a new package. We also went to a museum that had an outdoor reindeer park, where you could feed reindeer! The owners of the reindeer could confirm the feed for the reindeer was safe for me to handle, as it was just dried moss, but offered me a pair of plastic gloves to put over my own gloves if it would make me feel better. I fed a lot of reindeer, and I’m not sure if they were more excited to be fed or if I was more excited to feed them (see the photo? Not sure who is more excited). Overall, the week was fun and reaction free, and totally worth the little bit of stress that packing extra food caused.

 

In addition to Lapland, I’ve also travelled to Iceland during the middle of February. Preparing for that trip was a bit different, because I was going with a friend who is a Type 1 Diabetic who had never travelled before, and we needed to make sure we planned our excursions with her eating times in mind. The flights we found were such a good deal, so we couldn’t pass them up. We made a schedule for our tours, packed a bunch of easy-to-prep meals and snacks we could take with us during tours, found a small Airbnb© apartment with a kitchen, researched some restaurants that had nutrition information for her and allergen information for me, and headed over to Reykjavik for three days.

Once we got there, everything we had planned fell apart. Iceland experienced the worst storm it had had in 100 years, every road in the country was closed for two days, two of three tours were cancelled, buses couldn’t get driven on the hills within Reykjavik, buses to the Blue Lagoon fell completely off the roads, grocery stores were running low on supplies, emergency services couldn’t get anywhere in the country …you get the idea. The storm didn’t stop for the entire three days we were there and the snow was past my waist when we left.

Thankfully we had packed a suitcase full of food for ourselves, so I didn’t need to worry about a reaction to a new food or us not having enough food for my diabetic friend. We had researched restaurants beforehand, so we knew exactly where to go in Reykjavik if we ran out of food at the apartment. Allergies or weather, nothing held me back from visiting Iceland’s Viking-age longhouses! It’s a truly beautiful country, and we got to experience it in a unique blanket of snow not many people will ever experience. We even found some nice Icelandic dogs to pet!

Even when you have a perfectly planned trip, things can go sideways. Usually it’s not the-worst-storm-in-a-century type of issue, but being prepared, having an open mind, and having a backup plan is key. My advice is to bring extra food no matter where you’re going (sunny or snowy!), have a clear idea of what you will need to do in an emergency, make sure you have valid travel insurance that covers food allergies, and make sure you have extra supplies of whatever medication you may need during your trip. If you’re going somewhere cold in the winter, make sure you have somewhere to store your auto injectors so they don’t freeze up. If you haven’t gone somewhere extra snowy during the winter months, I highly recommend it. Beaches are nice, but reindeer are nicer!

-Danielle B.

 

 

Backcountry Camping: Food Ideas

Camping has always been an important part of my life. With my new food allergies, however, I thought that part of my life was over. It took a year for me to figure out simple sandwiches… but I started researching my own shelf-stable food, and it led me back to camping! I’ve been most inspired by reading books from my library like Cooking the One-Burner Way by Buck Tilton, and running across websites like www.wellpreserved.ca and https://www.thesodacanstove.com/alcohol-stove/how-to-build.html.

Cooking Options:

– Stoves: If you want to save money and weight, you might look at making a simple pop can alcohol stove. I am a huge fan of my Coleman emergency stove, as it uses a solid fuel, and is thus much safer to store it long-term in my car (where my emergency supplies live unless I’m camping!).

– Buddy Burner: We used to use these all the time in Guides! http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/buddy-burner-scouts-first-stove

– Milk Carton Stove: These are basically mini portable barbeques. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlkv6n7x47s

– Baking while camping is possible, either within the coals of your campfire, in a dutch oven (if you want to carry it…), or bringing a solar oven with you.

Breakfast:

– Pancakes and Crepes: Have you found a basic pancake recipe you can use with your allergies? If not, try the crepes at the bottom of this post- http://foodallergycanada.ca/2016/12/holiday-guide-tips-resources/ Pancakes while camping are a lot of fun. PRO TIP: To prevent sticking, be sure to grease your pan well (butter/marg/oil/whatever!), and wait until your pan is up to temperature before you start cooking. Never, ever, use old non-stick pans over a fire… Teflon pancakes are gross. Don’t ask me how I know that.

– Overnight Oatmeal: If you have a thermos, put oatmeal, hot water, and any number of toppings into it the night before. Seal the thermos very well before putting it into your sleeping bag. Breakfast in bed! Or… if you’re concerned about wildlife joining in your breakfast, you can just stash the thermos inside your bear-proofed pack. Warm breakfast without needing to make a fire in the AM for the win!

– Granola: Making your own granola in the oven ahead of time is actually pretty straightforward, and then you can bring powdered milk. PRO TIP: If you’re used to 2%, don’t expect to like instant skim powdered milk. Go for whole milk instead. You can get whole powdered milk from Bulk Barn (but remember to watch out for cross-contamination and ask a manager if you can have some non-opened product from the supply shelf), or from Medallion Milk, and should rehydrate it the night before if possible for the most normal consistency.

– Fried Granola: Over a stove/fire, carefully fry some butter & brown sugar. Then add your oatmeal, and whatever toppings you like. You could try coconut, dried fruit, candied fruit, seeds… the options are limited only by your allergies and your imagination.

– French Bread: If you can have eggs, you can apparently dehydrate your own to make powdered eggs… If, like me, you can’t… use fruit instead! I haven’t tried it yet with rehydrated fruit, but so far both banana and kiwi have worked fabulously to make something very close to French bread. And because they’re not perishable, the only advantage to powdering them would be the reduction in weight.

Lunches:

– Sandwiches! If you can have seeds, beans, or nuts, each can be blended in order to make a great sandwich filling. You can also use meat jerky, or bring some waxed cheese. You could even grill them! I’ve been known to add sprouts to my sandwiches, and since you can eat sprout seeds while you’re on the move, they might be a great way to bring greens into the backcountry. Check out www.sprouting.com for some ideas.

– Pemmican: One of the oldest camping foods in existence, pemmican might take some extra thought and effort to make, but it’s worthwhile. JAS Townsend & Sons has a recipe, and since most 18th century cooking is done over a fire, it’s a useful channel in general for camping recipe ideas. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxr2d4As312LulcajAkKJYw

– Hard Tack: This is what sailors used to make and bring on long journeys. It’s essentially a hard biscuit or cracker made from flour, water, and salt.

Suppers:

– Tin foil packets- These are best on the first day if they involve meat, but cooking inside a tin foil packet over hot coals is pretty amazing.

– Freeze Dried: Freeze dried meals are pretty awesome if you can find some pre-made without your allergens, but they aren’t cheap! There are some DIY methods out there, but I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet.

– Dehydrated Meals: There are a lot of resources out there about drying food and making dehydrated meals. PRO TIPS: Measure your food before you dehydrate, as the difference is how much water you’ll need to re-hydrate it. Use an insulated bag while rehydrating, when in doubt add extra water, and start rehydrating your meal long before you’re ready to eat.

– Canned Foods: Whether you buy canned food, can your own, or get mylar bags for a lighter option, there are tons of options for being able to use canned food when refrigeration isn’t possible. The National Centre for Home Food Preservation is a great American resource for how to do this safely: http://nchfp.uga.edu/

Dessert:

– You already know how to make a s’more… but have you tried roasted fruit? Golden kiwi is my personal favourite. Keep the skin on, and roast like you would a marshmallow. It’s a cool experience, as the juices in the kiwi start to boil, making the roasting stick vibrate! Eat carefully. Or you can try it as a banana boat- cut a lengthwise slit in an unpeeled banana, fill with marshmallows and chocolate, then wrap it all in tin foil.

– Citrus Muffins: If you eat out the inside of a citrus fruit, leaving only the hollowed out peel (with a lid), you can fill it with your pancake batter and bake it! Keep in mind you’ll need much less liquid for a muffin than you would a pancake.

– Pie Filling Surprise: My Girl Guide unit loved making these when I was a kid. Take two oatmeal cookies, put pie filling or jam between, wrap in tin foil, and throw into the coals for 10~15 mins. They’re pretty epic, and you can really use any cookies or jams.

Snacks:

– Cookies, Crackers- If you vacuum seal these into smaller packets they’ll last longer.

– Popcorn: Check out http://thecookful.com/campfire-cooking-pop-corn-open-fire/ for some ideas.

– Make your own trail mix! Enjoy life has some pre-made with dried fruit and seeds, but I prefer to make my own with cereal, seeds, dried fruit, candied fruit, and occasionally chocolate chips (though that can get messy!)

Happy Camping!

-Janice

 

Summer of TAG 2017: Join race car driver Alex Tagliani in raising awareness of food allergies

This summer, join Canadian race car star Alex Tagliani in the Summer of TAG 2017, as he races across Canada and helps to raise awareness about food allergies and the importance of educating others along the way! Through this joint initiative, undertaken by Alex and Food Allergy Canada, with the support of Pfizer Canada (Canadian distributor of EpiPen®), Alex hopes to reach Canadians from coast-to-coast.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the Summer of TAG, help us make it a year to remember by participating in some key activities planned this summer.

How you can be involved

  • Participate in the Drive the Discussion contest – Help raise awareness of food allergies by posting your favourite food allergy tip on our site to be entered to win one of five weekly prizes and a grand prize from Lowe’s/RONA. Value of up to $500 for the weekly prizes and $2,500 for the grand prize. Contest closes on August 20, 2017.
    Thank you to Lowe’s Canada for their generosity in donating these prizes for the contest!
  • Attend a race – Cheer Alex on at his races across Canada and help to promote food allergy awareness with him.
  • Check out Alex’s top 10 list and share with others – Alex provides his advice for having a safe and fun summer.

Webinar: Managing food allergy in college/university

June 25 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm EDT

Join us for a lively webinar led by a panel of post-secondary students with food allergies as they impart their tips and best practices for managing food allergy in college/university settings.

Details of this webinar

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  • What is the webinar about: How to navigate post-secondary school, and live safely on campus with food allergies. The panel will share their experiences, insight, and provide strategies on how youth can identify food allergy risks on campus and how to prepare accordingly.
  • Who is presenting: A panel of youth with food allergies who are currently attending post-secondary school.
  • When is the webinar: Sunday June 25, 2017 from 8pm-9pm EDT
  • Who should attend: This is a must-attend session for youth who are soon entering, or already in, post-secondary school. Parents of youth, school staff, and others who are interested in this topic are also welcome to attend.

Register today

The Best (and Worst) Food Allergy Jokes

As with most humour, there is the potential to offend your audience. As someone who has lived with anaphylaxis my whole life, I often find comfort in my ability to laugh things off or look at the brighter side in life. I understand wholeheartedly that this is a serious condition with potentially life-threatening consequences. If any of these jokes are distasteful and offensive to you, I apologize. They are, in my opinion, the best (and worst) food allergy jokes out there!

Two happy woman friends laughingDid you hear about the Frenchman who could only count to seven?
-He had a huit allergy

What does an allergic person have in common with bees?
-They both have hives!

Did you hear about the convict who had allergies?
-He broke out

Why didn’t the child with allergies play the board game Clue?
It contained Mustard!

Why did the chicken cross the road?
-To avoid his allergen

What did the night owl say to his pal the early riser?
-I’m allergic to mornings.

Teacher: Where’s your homework?
Student: I’m allergic to homework.

1: Knock, knock.
2: Who’s there?
1: Auntie
2: Ben who?
1: Anti-Histamine

1: Knock, knock.
2: Who’s there?
1: May
2: May who?
1: May contain trace amounts of ‘nuts’

What was the cause of the tech-guru’s most recent seafood reaction?
-Her new shell-phone!

– Nicole K.

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