Have you become a better cook as a result of having food allergies?

If you are anything like me, having severe food allergies and sensitivities has made me healthier. Living with allergies has made me much more aware of what I eat. I must say, most of the credit can go to my soy allergy as it seems like there are preservatives in almost everything these days! The soy allergy has kept me far away from any processed foods and cold-cuts at the deli as well as the marinated meats and most sauces you would find at the local grocery store. As a result, I have  spent a fair bit of time looking up recipes, getting ideas from others and trying new ingredients that I had never heard of before, and hadn’t the slightest clue how to pronounce!

I absolutely LOVE to be in the kitchen and try new recipes and spice blends. The aroma in the kitchen when cooking curry, or when a tasty soup is on low and simmering is AMAZING! Preparing the vegetables is usually a little time consuming, however it is always worthwhile. There is nothing like a home cooked meal! And all of ours are just that. If you don’t cook much and the idea of cooking more from scratch seems like one that is not going to happen, I highly recommend sitting down, brainstorming a list of the meals you enjoy most and the “comfort food” meals. Then, have a look online, as there are so many variations and some a lot easier than others! Finding recipes from someone who lives with allergies, or even a gluten-free diet is an added bonus, as they will likely have suggestions for substitutions and such ( ie: milk, eggs ).

A few sites I really like for recipes are;

My Gluten-Free Goddess

All Recipes

Living Without

Allergic Living

I learned how to cook fairly young and am very thankful to my parents and grandparents for that. If there’s one thing I would recommend, it would be to teach your kids how to cook. :)

If you are eating out with food allergies, one of my best tips is to keep it simple! Remember, the more different ingredients in the meal you order, the more risk. This is just something I have learned through experience. I’ve would also rather eat out with friends and socialize over a simple dish so I am not fearing a reaction. In my mind, there’s no point in risking it. However some restaurants, you might feel confident that they have you covered and truly “get it” and in these situations you might be more confident trying something different. I have asked for fancier dishes in a few restaurants where I had a really good talk with the manager and chef and felt confident that they were being as careful as they could possibly be in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. More on this train of thought to come in another post!

And, if you are interested here is an article about just this topic; “How Food Allergies Have Made Me a Better Cook”

Back to School and Asthma

With classes approaching, asthmatics (children and young adults alike) will be faced with unique challenges and awareness of the triggers will be of great importance. How have you prepared for your child’ return to school in the past? If you are a University student, what does back to classes mean to you, that is if you were off for the summer…

I know I had a tough time, especially during pollen season. However, there is usually a work around, and hopefully some of your professors are understanding and willing to accommodate. In my own experience, discussing your allergies and asthma with the professor at the start of the course and/or making an appointment to talk with them during their office hours is always a GREAT idea!

Here’s an interesting article about back to school with asthma. http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3598314

Asthma attacks and Flare-ups

Have you or someone you know ever had to be on prednisone? After such a flare-up were you able to fully identify what the triggers were that lead to the asthma attack? Most of the time it is hard to know EXACTLY what the trigger/triggers were. Sometimes it is a combination of things and our body is not able to handle it.

The last 10 days have been hard as I had a flare up with my allergies and asthma which has resulted in my being on prednisone. As annoying as the side effects can be, I am glad to be feeling better. This is the first serious flare-up for me in quite some time and it makes me realize that though I have lots of support, a great allergist and family doctor, there are still some actions I can take, which would make me even better prepared for any similar attacks in the future.

Do you have an adequate “Asthma Team” in place? Here in Victoria, BC we have an Asthma Clinic which has a pulmonary specialist on call. Do you have a pulmonary specialist? What is your action plan, or the action plan for your son/daughter or loved one? Having a proper plan in place is very important. Do you have a peak flow meter and know how to use it? Knowing what your lung capacity is when you are feeling at your very best and when you are feeling tight provides a great way to monitor your lungs. The American Association of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a great article on peak flow meters and how important they are; “A peak flow meter for asthma is like a thermometer for a fever. It helps monitor what’s going on inside your body.” AAAAI

I highly recommend having a glance through National Asthma Patient Alliance – Asthma Society of Canada‘s website. Do you know many others who struggle with asthma? Are you wondering how others deal with their asthma and how they might have overcome some of the challenges we often face on a day to day basis? Have a read through some real-life stories on the Asthma Society of Canada’s website! It’s always nice to know you are not the only one :)

 

 

XXI World Congress of Asthma is around the corner!

I am very excited to be attending thanks to Allergen NCE. There is a little more information on their website now about the topics that will be discussed and the FINAL Program is also up!

Looking through the numerous sessions, titles and keynotes & speakers has been extremely inspiring, as my primary concerns and interest lie in why asthma is on the rise, and, how to manage asthma in the work place or school. It is one thing to have a home that is clear of mold and dust and is controlled, however I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with alternate environments which have multiple triggers that are beyond my control.

Over the next few days, I will be looking through the program and trying to figure out which sessions I will be attending! It’s like looking at a menu! Hopefully I will be seeing some of you there!

BTW, I can’t seem to find abstracts yet either…

:)

Traveling with Allergies

Have you found yourself in a “pickle”, trying to weigh pros and cons and decide whether or not you will be able to travel safe? Ever turned down opportunities without trying to find a work around for your food allergies?

Here’s an article I wrote for the AAIA a few yrs ago, that is still very valid. Have a read, let me know what you think! =)

A Lifetime of Experiences – By Erika Ladouceur

 

Many Olympic Athletes have asthma too!

“The Most Common Chronic Disease Among Olympic Athletes Is Asthma”

How many athletes do you know who have asthma? I know my asthma caused challenges with competitive sport, however I have been quite successful none the less!

3 cheers to all those athletes who are training with asthma much like many of us! =)

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/248494.php?nfid=60793

A day in the life of…

Do you sometimes wonder what a day without allergies or asthma would be like? Do you wish you would have a day where you wouldn’t have to think about carrying medications around, eat whatever you want and basically not have to worry. Well, to be frank, I think we all do. Usually it is days where we seem to be sneezing uncontrollably or perhaps when we miss out on a fun dinner party because there is a cat in the house. Or…

I used to have these thoughts cross my mind from time to time, but I have come to realize that everyone has a challenge they face at one time or another. Some might deal with eating disorders, depression, accidents & injuries that have left them unable to even walk again. My point is, we all face challenges and though I think it would be amazing to live a day without a single allergy or asthma worry, I know I am stronger for having overcome all of them; although some with better outcomes than others. I say “overcome all of them” because I have made it to today. After having anaphylactic reactions, asthma attacks, struggles with attending some courses in school, missing out on parties and special events and many others, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that I am hear. I am healthy. And I have people around me who I trust, care about and love.

Life is about perspective. In my mind, the one thing I hope to see more of is talk. More awareness. For others to grasp what “I have a life threatening allergy” really means. What it implies, what they can do to help. I believe this is something we are all contributing to and will only get better with time. Life can be a real roller coaster. I think it boils down to how prepared you are for the ride. :-)