Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Little Chef's Card Victory

First, a confession:  We don't go out to eat with the kids very often for a variety of reasons, one of which happens to be avoiding food allergy hassles.  And by "hassles" I mean both cross-contamination risk and the hassle of having to talk to restaurant staff about allergies.  There, I said it.  I am not very practiced at it, and so I still feel...shy?  Embarrassed?  Like I am bothering them?  

I know it's important for us to go out, and to model proper food allergy behavior for Georgia so that she can grow up to one day handle all of this on her own without a second thought about it.  I get that.  I'm just admitting here that I do not love it, and it is something I am having to force myself to practice. 

So anyway, that's a little bit of background, but tonight I have a success story to report.  Georgia and Joe went out for their first ever daddy/daughter dinner date, something we've been trying to incorporate in order to give each of our kids a little more one on one time with us, their awesome parents. 

Joe called ahead to the restaurant, Dunlay's on the Square, to ask what kind of oil they use for their french fries and to confirm that the same oil was not used for frying fish, since Georgia has both nut and fish allergies.  Whoever he spoke to on the phone assured him no fish were fried in the french fry oil.  

Fast forward to the restaurant.  Joe brought our little laminated chef's card along and handed it to the server while mentioning Georgia's allergies and placing her order.  The server returned momentarily to the table, apologetically explaining that it turns out fish had been fried in the french fry oil earlier.  What a great catch!  Ah, the power of communication. 

So, I guess the lesson here is: yea for chef's cards!  And also: suck up any feelings of embarrassment over being a high-maintenance customer, and always communicate!  (To his credit, Joe is really better about this stuff than I am.) 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sesame Reaction

Please ignore the fact that I titled a post "2012 Allergist Appointment" (or something like that) and then never got around to describing that appointment.  I'll get back to that eventually (maybe).

In the meantime, I thought I'd mention that several weeks back, Georgia had an allergic reaction to sesame.  Thankfully, it was minor and subsided after a dose of Benadryl, but it was a little disheartening nonetheless.  You see, as important as it is to be vigilant about avoiding Georgia's allergens, when we do it successfully I think it sometimes lulls me into a false sense of security.  I start thinking no reactions = no allergy, as opposed to no reactions = no exposure.  I had begun to think that maybe, just maybe, Georgia had outgrown her sesame allergy, and at our 2012 allergist appointment I was asking the allergist about doing a sesame food challenge.  (We were told, "maybe next year, depending on her test numbers.")  So, having convinced myself that maybe she wasn't even really allergic to sesame anymore, it was a bit of a bummer to find out that nope, she still is.  (Funny, this happened with egg a few years back, too.  Although I guess that experience should give me hope since she has since outgrown her egg allergy.)

The story of what happened just illustrates once again the importance of always reading labels.  We were at home, and Georgia asked for a sandwich so I made her one using some store bought bread we had on hand.  It was a brand we typically buy but turned out to be a different variety than what we normally buy.  I didn't even notice that the packaging was slightly different until Georgia took one bite of her sandwich and started complaining that her throat and face itched.  At that point I grabbed the bag, realized it was something new, and scoured the ingredients to find, sure enough, sesame.  Oops.

Now, I don't want to play the blame game, because there is no point to that.  We're all doing our best to keep our house allergen free to keep Georgia safe, no question.  But I couldn't help but be curious to understand how this happened.  It turns out that while at the grocery store, my husband Joe asked Georgia to grab the loaf of bread off of the shelf and put it in the cart.  She was happy to oblige, and he did not stop to read the ingredients (seeing that she had picked up the right type - or so he thought), and no one noticed that it was a different type of bread than our usual stuff.  So, lessons learned: (1) probably can't trust the 5 year old quite yet on food selection without double checking her work, and (2) we all need to pay more attention to slight differences in packaging.  [All experts and smart people agree that even if the packaging looks the same and it is something you've eaten 1,000 times before, you should still re-read the ingredients every time before purchasing, because you never know when the recipe of a processed food, or its manufacturing practices, have changed.  And that is 100% good advice, but I'm just being honest here and admitting that we do not always follow it.  I have not, for example, been re-reading the mac 'n cheese ingredients every time I buy a box of our "regular" brand.]

Another lesson:  maybe I should get back to making homemade sandwich bread more often.  I did that regularly for a year, to the point that we rarely bought bread.  The recipe contains only 6 ingredients (including water), and the whole family likes the taste even better than the store bought stuff.  It's not that time consuming to bake, but let's face it - does take more time than pulling a loaf off the shelf at the grocery store!  So I just need a figure out a way to work it into the schedule more frequently.