How to Tell If Your Child Has a Food Allergy

Most children can eat anything and experience no reactions at all. Other children develop or are born with food allergies. When a child has an allergy, or intolerance, to any type of food a reaction will take place.

When a reaction to a certain food occurs it is always within an hour of eating that food. Usually it is within minutes. When a child is truly allergic to a food an amount as small as a couple of bites will cause a reaction. The symptoms of an allergic reaction are increased mucus in the sinuses and through, aching or swelling of the thought and airways, flushed red face and ears, a feeling of really not feeling well, and vomiting. Hives often result. Hives are raised red blotches on the skin. These symptoms will be very noticeable. There is no mistaking an allergic reaction to a food.

If your child displays any of the above symptoms after eating a specific type of food pay close attention to if they are okay or not. Any time the throat swells emergency care must be received. Some children break out so severely that medication is needed promptly to adverse the reaction so that they can breathe. Take all food reactions very seriously. If you notice your child’s ears or face is turning red as they are eating something immediately offer them something else. The less they eat of a bothersome food the less of a reaction they’ll have. Watch carefully for signs when offering any new food to your baby or toddler especially.

If there are any foods that seem to always cause belly aches and flushed faces it is a good idea to stop serving that food. Sometimes the symptoms of an allergic reaction are subtle. It’ll only be red ears and a belly ache or a loose bowel movement.

Any time you suspect any type of allergy or problem with your child the right thing to do is to call your doctor or pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can run tests that will let you know if there is a food allergy to the food or if it is simply an intolerance. People can be unable to tolerate certain types of foods and not be actually allergic to them. Your doctor will also advise you about like foods that could also cause a reaction.

It is very important to contact your doctor promptly if your child ever has a reaction to anything. Food allergies should be taken very seriously. Food allergies can be very tricky. For example, a child who has an allergy to eggs will not be able to eat food items containing eggs. There are hundreds of food items that contain eggs.

Medication is often prescribed for anyone who has an allergy. If your doctor determines that your child does indeed have a food allergy he or she will prescribe allergy medication. This medication is different than the allergy medication you buy at the store. It is only prescribed for children who need it.

Once your doctor confirms your child’s food allergy it will be very important for you to read all food labels carefully. Food packages always contain ingredient labels and allergy warnings. If you don’t read the labels on the foods you serve your child you may accidentally give them a food containing their allergen food. It will be very important to avoid the allergen food at all costs as to not trigger a reaction even when your child is taking the medication. Thanks for reading and take care!

Reducing Allergens in Your Bedroom

Experts agree that our keeping our bedroom as free as possible from allergens makes a huge difference in the quality of life for asthma and allergy-sufferers. There are several steps one can take to reduce the allergens in the bedroom.

First, if possible, avoid carpet and rugs. This is not always possible, especially if you are renting. If you cannot remove the carpet, then vacuum daily with a hepa-filtered vacuum (change filter often), paying close attention to areas behind and under furniture, and have carpets professionally cleaned every three months.

Use only curtains that can be machine washed, and avoid mini-blinds (they can be a dust magnet). Take the curtains down and wash them every two weeks. Roller shades are also a good option if you need the privacy. A cotton/poly blend or cotton denim washes well. If you have dry clean only drapes, then take them to the cleaners regularly.

Dust mites can multiply, especially in upholstered furniture. aacuum your mattress monthly to remove dust mites. Cover your mattress with a mattress pad that is machine washed in hot water weekly, along with your sheets. Also use a pillow cover under your pillow case. Use natural materials, such as cotton for your sheets, blankets, etc. Wash or dry clean blankets or bedspreads once a month.

Dust all furniture surfaces twice weekly. Use a non-scented furniture polish on wood surfaces, or a small amount of lemon oil. Don’t forget to dust light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Avoid pillows or comforters with feathers or down. Many people are allergic to feather pillows, so it is usually best to avoid them unless you know there is not allergic reaction. Instead choose synthetic-filled pillows and comforters that are labeled allergen-reducing.

Keep your baseboards, window and door moldings, and lamps dusted weekly. Do not open your windows to air out the bedroom. This allows pollen into the room and makes an allergy sufferer miserable. If your air seems stale, invest in an air purifier. There are some really good models that are inexpensive, such as Hamilton Beach’s purifiers suitable for one room.

If you have pets, keep them out of the bedroom by closing the door during the day and while you are sleeping. Even if you are not allergic to your pet, you may be sensitive to things that collect on fur, such as pollen and grasses.

If you have central air, use a filter that reduces allergens. Have your vents professional cleaned once a year. Vents can harbor mold, mildew, and pollen and continue to blow it into the air, greatly affecting the air quality in your home.

Do not burn scented candles or keep potpourri or air fresheners in your bedroom, as most allergy sufferers are sensitive to scents. Do not use scented carpet spinkle or scented laundry products.

Never keep fresh flowers in the bedroom. If you feel you need to add softness to your room, consider a non-flowering plant.

Closets can be a source of dust and dust mites since clothes can hang for a long time between wearing, so always keep the closet door closed. Rotate your clothes often, and keep clothing that is not worn often in garment bags. If your closet has carpeting, don’t neglect to vacuum it when you do the bedroom or mop if you have a mopable surface.

By improving the air quality, your allergy sufferer will have a restful, comfortable sleep and have much less problem during the waking hours. If you sleep with an allergy sufferer, chances are your sleep will also improve as they rest better.

Mountain Cedar Allergies in South Texas: What the Chamber of Commerce Forgot to Tell Me

If you live in South Texas you likely know someone who suffers from mountain cedar allergies. From December to early spring the pollen from mountain cedar blows through the air. The combination of warm days and cold nights are perfect for the mountain cedar pollen to quickly develop. With the change in temperature the pollen is released from the trees floating and drifting on the wind.

Pollen levels rise quickly and with the windy weather common in the hill country surrounding Austin and San Antonio. With the light airborne pollen it often seems as if the air is hazy with pollen.Cars are often coated with the yellow pollen.

With all the pollen floating around it’s easy to understand why allergic reactions can occur. Mountain cedar allergy is really an allergy to the ashe juniper. Known as mountain cedar, though it is not a cedar tree, the allergy is also known as cedar fever.

There are many possible ways of treating this allergy. You can use prescription and over the counter allergy medications. If you do use allergy medications, take them the same time every day. This keeps your blood level of medication up where it can fight the pollen. Taking the allergy medications only when absolutely needed means your body has to wait until the blood level is where the medication can counter the effect of the cedar pollen

Be careful when driving or using machinery or tools. The problem is many of these medications make people sleepy and are unsafe to use while driving.

Here are some tips, which may help you manage your mountain cedar allergy.

1. Exercise in the afternoon or evening. Cedar pollen counts are highest in the morning.

2. Shower in the evening and wash your hair. This way you’re not taking cedar pollen to bed with you.

3. Keep pollen coated clothes separate from other clothing. Leave shoes at the door to avoid tracking pollen throughout your home. Or leave a bath mat inside your door where people wipe off their feet prior to walking around your home. Wash the bath mat every other day and replace with a freshly washed mat. You may want to put your clothes in the dryer on air to remove the pollen.

4. Keep windows closed in the home and car. Use a HEPA filter on your air conditioning unit and change frequently especially from December to April (prime mountain cedar pollen months)

5. On bad pollen days consider wearing a facemask to filter out the cedar pollen. Facemasks are widely used in Japan where cedar pollen is also a big problem.

6. Use a dust cloth, which holds the dust and is disposable or washable. Or use a damp cloth to wipe down countertops and surfaces. Put the used cloth in the washing machine after using.

7. Once cedar season is over consider removing the cedar trees on your property and replacing them with other trees.

Desensitization treatments either from an allergist or acupuncturist have worked for some people. There are options available to treat mountain cedar allergies. Talk with your health care provider to find the best choice for you because suffering from mountain cedar allergy is no fun.

Tips for Allergy Season

When winter changes into spring it is usually much appreciated, at least until the allergies start. Most people occasionally will suffer from an allergic sneeze here, or a watery eye there. However, for the chronic suffers, the allergy season can bring pain and discomfort while trying to carry out normal daily activities.

To curb allergic reactions, it is important to know the cause. Most common allergies occur from tree or grass pollen. However, allergic reactions can also come from mold, animal dander, and plants. In addition, a new season can bring about new allergies, so visit an allergist or immunologist to be tested.

If knowing the cause is half the battle, limiting it effects is the other. Depending on were you live, the pollen count will very. Pollen is spread by wind and rain. Therefore, keep the windows closed, and take an evening shower to remove pollen from hair, skin and clothes before going to bed. Your area’s pollen count can be checked by visiting the American Academy of Allergy Asthma amp; Immunology website (aaaai.org).

Millions of Americans suffer from allergies, and there is no shortage of relief techniques being offered. Relief from allergies can come from medication, vitamins, energy-based treatment, or an air filtration system. An air filtration system removes dust and pollen from your personal area/space. A popular choice to fight allergies is medication, specifically, antihistamines. Antihistamines works by blocking the chemical that causes many allergic symptoms, but it is not a cure, and many users are not completely satisfied with their medications as they tend to cause drowsiness. Newer antihistamines available include, Zyrtec, Allegra, Clarinex, and Claritin. To get similar results, vitamin supplements can also help allergies. For example, Histazyme, is supplement containing calcium, vitamin C and A, zinc, and manganese which acts as a natural anti-histamine.

However, if you do not want to become dependent on medication, or tend to forget to take vitamins, many sufferers report success with energy-based treatments, such as acupuncture, and visits to a chiropractor. Although energy-based treatments have its skeptics, many people who tried it have had success in suppressing their allergic reactions. If your current treatment is not working, it is important to consider many techniques to help relieve the symptoms, because as you get older allergies do not disappear, and new ones can be created.

Foods that Reduce Allergies!!

We all hate that time of year when our noses get stuffy and runny, our sinuses get swollen and painful, and our eyes itch like wildfire. However some of us deal with these symptoms all year long, all our lives! It’s miserable! I’m always complaining that I want plastic surgery on my nose – just take the darn thing OFF! I don’t need it, can never smell or breathe out of it, what’s the point?!

I’ve taken just about every allergy medication under the sun. From Allegra to Singulair (I take that for my asthma -doesn’t do squat for my allergies), from Benadryl to Sudafed. Anything to clear my nasal passages. The only thing that works 100% for me is Benadryl, but the drowsy affects of it make it not very ideal for daily use. I’ve also started to get a jittery side affect from Benadryl, after I’ve taken 2 pills every day for two or three days in a row. Not a good feeling – feels like I am jumping out of my skin.

I’ve recently started looking into alternative, holistic medicine. I’ve grown up a severe asthmatic, always sick as a child and in and out of hospitals especially around the holidays, and as a result I’ve grown up on pharmaceutical drugs. I didn’t know any better. If I have a health issue, I immediately run to the doctor and get a prescription. Now that I’ve had some altercations with pharmaceutical drugs, my eyes are opening about man-made drugs and how they are really just all for profit.

Here are a couple of natural ways to ease your allergies.

NUTS!

Nuts are good for you anyway, they have the good fat and with only a handful of almonds your body stays full for a good 4 hours – a good way to stay on track with a healthy diet. Nuts are also filled with magnesium and vitamin E. We all know vitamin E is super awesome for our bodies and its both an immune booster and an antioxidant. Studies show that the wonderful vitamin E is a preventative for upper respiratory infections. As an antioxidant, it protects our bodies from free radicals, which can actually damage our oxidative tissue which is one of the causes of our allergy and asthma attacks as it causes inflammation.

GRAPES!

Red grapes in particular are good for preventing allergies and asthma. The skin on the red grape is filled with more delicious antioxidants as well as resveratrol, the good stuff found in red wine. A study shows that red grapes help allergies and wheezing.

APPLES, ORANGES, AND TOMATOES!

Just more super foods that are insanely rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and anti-flammatory properties which can suppress your allergies.

**TIP** Fruits and Veggies that have a deep color to them have more goodies inside for your body! Eggplant, radishes, red apples, plums, you get the idea!

COOK WITH OILS THAT CONTAIN OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS!

Canola Oil and Olive Oil are the best to cook with. They both have eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Both of these properties will substantially improve your allergies. EPA is also present in Walnut Oil, Flax seed Oil, and even salmon. Again, eat your nuts! They are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Plus they fill you up quickly!

GARLIC AND ONION!

These two foods are natural anti-histamines! How exciting right?? They both contain naturally occurring anti-histamines that can counter an allergy attack! (Hey, I’d rather have garlic breath then to take a Benadryl and be drooling unconsciously on the couch).

HONEY!

Especially if you are allergic to pollen when spring rolls around, it would do you good to start having a teaspoon or two of honey (local if you can). This will help you build an immunity to pollen. Plus its so yummy and much better for you than refined sugar!

So fill your body up with these scrumptious delicacies that nature provides to us and nip your allergies in the bud!

Common Allergy Triggers

Spring has sprung – and with it most of the things that make us sick. Everyone is allergic to something these days. If you’re like me, you’re allergic to a lot of things. Here are some ways to identify, treat and limit your exposure to common allergy triggers.

Pollen

Ah, the flowers are so beautiful this time of year, blooming like mad and sending out lovely pollen into the world to make more beautiful flowers. Lucky us, right?

Common symptoms include those associated with hay fever: runny, itchy nose and eyes, congestion and embarrassing sneezing fits. Most people counter pollen allergies with antihistamines. If I have to be outdoors for too long in the spring, I find it helpful to take a pill and use nasal spray before I go out. Closing the windows helps, too.

Dust

For many, dust is a common, year-round allergy trigger. Technically, it’s not dust that’s making you sick but the mites living in the dust. Dust mites are microscopic insects that eat dust particles. Here’s another fun fact about dust: dust is composed mainly of sloughed-off human skin cells.

Dust allergies cause the same symptoms as pollen allergies. Keep your home clean. Seriously, it helps. Wash your bedding frequently, sweep under the bed before the dust bunnies collect and use hypoallergenic covers on pillows and mattresses. If you’re able, replace old carpeting with hardwood floors. Until then, make someone else do the vacuuming and invest in allergy-reducing vacuum cleaner bags.

Mold

Mold grows best in damp, dark places like basements, inside drop ceilings and behind walls. Mold grows pretty much anywhere you wouldn’t think to look. If you live in a wet climate or you’ve ever had leaky plumbing, chances are very good that you’ve got mold growing somewhere.

Symptoms range from mild headaches to severe autoimmune disorders, depending on the type of mold you come into contact with. Keep your home well ventilated and use bleach when you clean.

Pets

In the spring, animals “lose their winter coats” by shedding excess fur to stay cool during the hotter months. Technically, your allergies are most likely triggered by secreted oils carried on the fur.

An allergic reaction to a pet feels like hay fever, and you may also get hives. Stay out of your pet-owning friends’ homes, or take over-the-counter allergy medication to combat symptoms. If it’s your Fluffy or Fido triggering an allergy, consider shelling out the cash for a HEPA air filter or allergy shots.

Insects

Allergic reactions to insects are usually triggered by bites or stings. Humans are allergic to mosquito saliva, which explains the swelling and itching, and any number of poisons secreted by spider bites. Bee and wasp stings cause sever allergic reactions in some. Having cockroaches in your home, work or apartment building may also trigger an allergy. Cockroach feces contain irritants and may cause respiratory problems.

Stay inside or use a hypoallergenic insect repellent if you’re worried about insects triggering allergies. Unless you have cockroaches – then you should stay outside.

Sources:
www.webmd.com

Discovering My Allergy Changed My Health

The moment I decided to change my life was nine years earlier than the moment I figured out what needed to happen to make that change.

In the spring of 2000, I’d just turned twenty-eight, and had been struggling with health ever since the birth of my son the previous summer. I was sleepless, headache-y, chronically tired, my joints were aching and I was unable to pick up the car seat or even write my name sometimes (gripping a pen was too painful.) I was mildly overweight, but not so much that it should have me unable to move. I’d tried several diets over the months, but I had to be careful since I was breast-feeding.

The epiphany came for me when I went to the doctor’s and he gave me a work up and discovered, among other things, that my cholesterol was 237. It was the AHA! moment. My dad had been in and out of hospitals for twelve years with heart attacks, and I was aware that I had many cards stacked against me. Young as I was, I certainly didn’t want to be headed down the same path of health destruction.

I started following primarily vegan eating plan, and implemented four-mile walks on most days. I initially slimmed down quite a bit, but my symptoms of misery persisted. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgea. I accepted this diagnosis with somber resolution, and began trying to research it.

As the years went by, I began having more symptoms. My headaches turned to migraines after the birth of my next baby. My skin began to have regular outbreaks of terribly painful, burning, cyst-like sores. The patches of outbreak were on my thighs, breasts (armpits) and by my neck, mostly, with some on my chin. It was embarrassing. I went on an anti-depressant. I struggled with irritable-bowel-syndrome more than ever. (That had been a problem my entire life).

Finally, in 2009, I went to my chiropractor’s and told him I really needed help. “You can’t touch this part of my back, though,” I told him. “And I know that’s where it needs to be adjusted, but I must have suffered nerve damage at some point. I will scream and die if you touch me there.” I was referring to my lower back.

It was this lovely man, who’d done extensive training on nutrition, who finally told me flat-out that I was allergic to wheat. I thought he was crazy until he started listing all the symptoms I’d been suffering without my prompting. He said the reason I had such intense sensitivity on my lower back was because of fatty tumors, which were a direct result of my wheat allergy.

He told me to give up wheat.

“I’ll try,” I said.

“You can’t try. You have to just do it, Laura.”

I went home that day, wheat-free, and never looked back. In two weeks, absolutely every symptom I had went away (except for the fatty tumors under the skin, which take a while to diminish). I have been wheat-free for a year-and-a-half, and have lost forty pounds. Interestingly, every time I went vegan, my symptoms increased because my consumption of whole wheat increased! I know I’m still learning about where the hidden wheat is (and my body never fails to let me know when I’ve had some by having a skin outbreak, diarrhea, or a migraine,) but I finally have the energy to take on a healthy exercise routine. Understanding that I didn’t have to accept a diagnosis that was going to make me a slave to disease was the most empowering moment of my life.

Loratadine: Allergy Relief for a Third of the Cost of Claritin

Since living in Florida (I am going back 20 years now), I have had a real problem with itching eyes that sometimes weep and a runny nose. I have tried nasal sprays and eye drops, but neither have helped that much. When over-the-counter Claritin came out, I purchased a box of 10 pills, and I remember saying to myself that they cost more than $1 a pill. The good thing was that they really did help me.

So when the generic brand came out, called Loratadine, I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to try it. It has the same strength 10 mg. as Claritin and the first purchase cost me half the price of the brand name.

Loratadine is an antihistamine and gives 24 hour allergy relief in just one tiny white tablet. It states that it gives relief for “hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, itchy throat and nose.” However, the most important information for me was that it is non-drowsy, as I take it in the mornings and need to be alert.

On the days I have forgotten to take Loratadine, within a few hours my eyes feel almost cloudy and I feel as if I need to rub them. As I do wear eye makeup that would be a disaster.

The last purchase I made of Loratadine was a packet of 30 tablets and it was on sale for just $9.99. At 33 cents a pill I think that the generic of Claritin is an excellent buy. I would highly recommend it to anyone that has allergy problems.

We go from pollen, to grass, to rag weed, and trees here in Florida and the allergy season seems to last all year long. I have to wear glasses because with my allergies I would never be able to keep contacts in. Loratadine really does help me but it does not totally eliminate the itching I get in my eyes. It really does do good on drying up my nose.

Before taking any over-the-counter medication you should check with your doctor first.

Directions:

“Adults and children 6 years and over I tablet daily and must not exceed 1 in a 24 hour period.

Children under the age of 6 and people with kidney disease are to check with their doctor for advice”.

Loratadine is a product that I always keep in my medicine cabinet and also in my handbag. I always ensure that I take it with me when going on vacation.

So Claritin or Loratadine? Why pay for a brand name when the generic works just as well?

7 Ways to Rid Your Home of Allergens

Allergies are your bodies natural way of telling you it doesn’t like whats going in it. Your nose starts to get stuffy and runny, while your eyes get red and itchy. While there is no way to permanently get rid of the many types of allergies, there are many treatments. But if you do not wish to be medicated constantly for your allergies, try these doctor recommended tips to help ease your symptoms:

1. Install an Air Cleaner

Install an air cleaner that fits into the air intake of your air conditioner and heating unit. This will trap pollen and dust much better than a furnace filter would. Make sure you always change your furnace filter every thirty days as well. An air cleaner is pretty self explanatory. It literally cleans the air. The dust, and pollen gets sucked in to your air intake and, with the help of the air cleaner, comes out very unpolluted. It is worth the money you spend and you will notice a difference immediately.

2. Use your Air Conditioner

Using your air conditioner will help keep your humidity low, which prevents mold and mites from growing and multiplying. Also, if you install an air cleaner the air conditioner can filter the air while it cools. Fresh air is nice, but if your windows are open then you allow all sorts of airborne allergens to enter your home.

3. Purchase a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers can reduce the amount of allergens in the air. Drawing the moisture out of the air will stop the allergens from growing. The drier your home is the better you can breathe.

4. Clean with Bleach

Cleaning your bathrooms, kitchen, floors, windows, and walls with bleach will not only kill the germs and bacteria in your home, but it will also kill mold and mites. If you are sure that the bleach won’t discolor your belongings, then use if on everything you can. Clorox even makes a cleaner that has bleach in it that is safe enough to use in the refrigerator or on children’s high chairs. Anywhere in your house where moisture can build up is a target place for mold to grow. so keep those places especially cleaned with bleach.

5. Change your Sheets

Change your sheets and mattress pad as often as you can and wash the soiled in hot water with a small amount of bleach. Make sure you buy synthetic pillows, because you can wash them in hot water with bleach. Bleach and hot water will kill the dust mites (as stated above) and it will make sure you will have a breathable night. Covering your mattress in plastic will also help keep the mites out.

6. Get Rid of the Old Carpet

Putting hardwood floors down in your home in place of your old carpet will do wonders on reducing the amount of allergens in your home. Carpet holds dust, mold, pet dander, mites, pollen, you name it, its in your carpet. Most of the time vacuuming doesn’t suck it all up. If you must have rugs, then purchase throw rugs that can easily fit into your washing machine. Make sure you wash them in the hottest temperature setting to kill the mites.

7. Keep Pets well Groomed

Pets, especially dogs and cats, have pet dander which many of us are allergic to. Pets shed their dander daily and it circulates throughout your home. If getting rid of your pets is not an option, (in many cases it is not an option) then make sure that your pets are bathed and groomed properly. This will eliminate the amount of dander they will shed.

Eliminating the source of your allergies will reduce the amount of allergy medications you will need to take. Sure, taking the medication may be an easier alternative, but if you remove the allergens from your home you won’t need to mask your symptoms with pills. All in all, you will be healthier and your home will be free of whats making you feel awful. Just keep your eyes on the much larger prize: no allergies!!!

Family Recipes Offer A Slice Of Life For Allergy Sufferers

We’ve all heard about walking in somebody else’s shoes to understand them better. Though we can never truly experience the life of a person afflicted with severe allergies, those of us without any can sure try. Dismissing someone’s allergies for the sake of simplicity is all too tempting. The fact is that if someone you love or respect has allergies, the best way to cope with it is to put yourself – as best you can – in his or her shoes.

There is no doubt this rule is always put to the test. My wife and I enjoy going out for dinner. How we go about planning or choosing a restaurant is different than most. First off, my wife Jennifer is allergic to an armada of assorted foods. Some examples include flour, wheat, eggs, nuts, potatoes, dairy, seafood, and corn. “The worse thing about my allergies is that I have already tried these foods before and I know what I’m missing,” she once told me. How the allergies arrived remains a mystery. It all comes down to the usual debate about environment or genetics. None have sufficiently given her some comfort.

What makes ordering off a menu so difficult is that some of these foods or ingredients are essentials in many cooking recipes. For example, it’s not enough for her to ask if any of the foods have come into contact with nuts. She needs to know exactly how all foods are prepared, and this can often feel like a heavy chore. No matter how diligent we are, we can never be sure. We put our trust in strangers and that leaves a hint of worry.

Many times she is tempted not to ask any questions and just order. This is exactly what she did on one occasion, and she nearly paid a heavy price for it. In her denial she proceeded to order an entrĂ©e at a restaurant without asking any questions. To her astonishment she was allergic to three-quarters of the dish. When she asked the waitress how a straight forward dish can become so avant-garde, the waitress apologized and said “Yes, the chef like to be adventurous with his dishes.”

Our friends have understood when it comes to choosing an establishment. They know Jennifer will have to pick the place. It’s made our job that much easier. As for the restaurants themselves, they have been more than accommodating in going the extra mile in making her feel comfortable.

“Restaurants are more open and aware than they were 15 years ago,” explains Peter Hrib, a chef at Sentaure Restaurant in Montreal. “The culture has changed. For example, at this establishment we have changed our menu to a nut free environment. Staff and cooks are also more sensitive and educated about allergies. More often than not, they themselves are close to someone with allergies.”Still, it’s a difficult process for her to endure. She has to painstakingly go over the menu with a server each time, all the while having to overcome her discomfort for putting people through such an ordeal. “Why can’t I be normal? I want to eat that!” usually escapes her mouth at the dinner table. She’ll often stare at what I’m eating and all I need to say is, “…it does not taste as good as it looks” – unless we are eating at my mother’s, in which case she knows I would be lying. Mr. Hrib puts it this way, “People should not feel burdened anymore. When it comes to your health, do not risk anything. Ask as many detailed questions as possible. We’re ready for it.”

Finding a place where we can eat well and in peace is tough. There is, however, one place where we feel right at home – at my mother’s. For my mom, Jennifer’s allergies had a wide impact on the family as well. Decades of stylized and personalized Italian cooking were suddenly altered for her daughter-in-law. It was a remarkable act of generosity as it’s not easy to change traditional recipes on the fly. Luckily, my mother is talented enough to make the adjustments and still make things taste great.

“How does it feel to have such an effect on my cultural household?” I once asked her, not knowing my attempt at humor would actually move my wife to light tears. “I can’t believe what your mother has done for me. She has gone way beyond anything I could have asked for.” “It’s nothing,” I told her. “It’s what most Mediterranean mothers do. They literally live to cook and feed.”

Whether in the fast-paced surroundings of a restaurant or within the confines of a comfortable home, allergies follow people everywhere. It’s important that everyone remains diligent and offers support to a person with allergies. It’s the least we can do, for we will never know how it truly affects them deep down. For my wife, it upsets her that she’ll never be able to try her mother in-law’s tiramisu. However, I would not be surprised if mom figures it all out. Nothing would make Jennifer – and me – happier.