Reducing Food Allergy Risks at Partys

This weekend I attended two different birthday parties and I did not have any peanut allergy issues with the food because both neighbors checked with my Mom while planning their parties to reduce the risks.

The party food is listed below with my comments:

Birthday Party #1

  • Pizza from Papa Johns (OK for me)
  • Blue Bunny ice cream singles (oops she meant to get Blue Bell brand for me, so I just brought my own)
  • Mardi Gras season traditional King Cake (did not eat because of cross contamination risk from bakery, brought my Mom's cupcakes with a few extra for my friends because they like them too!)

Build Your Own Piza Birthday Party #2
Each kid got to build their very own DeAngelo's personal pizza using the raw ingredients! Mom had met with the kitchen manager at DeAngelo's Pizzeria a few days before the party to make sure it was OK for me. Some of their purchased desserts have nuts and they do use some nuts in their salads, but since those foods and activities take place in a separate area of the kitchen; plus the fact that peanuts are my true food allergen, the build a pizza party was determined to be low risk for me.

  • DeAngelo's pizza (OK for me, mine was a cheese only masterpiece made by my very own hands!)
  • Blue Bell ice cream singles (OK for me)
  • Cookie cake from a local bakery (did not eat because of cross contamination risk from bakery, brought Mom's safe cupcakes)

We know that birthday parties can be a source of anxiety for families with a food allergy but thanks to considerate friends, Mom's diligence and cupcakes, combined with our routine of always bringing my personal peanut allergy safe cooler... life is truly a PARTY!

Eating at Chick-fil-A Despite My Peanut Allergy

UPDATE:  6/29/09 This update is provided in response to some comments about our original Chick-fil-A post. Bo has eaten numerous times at Chick-fil-A's in many different cities both before being diagnosed with a peanut allergy and since his diagnosis, without having a peanut allergy reaction. For the record, he has been tested twice within the last two years and both times had a RAST score of over 100.

Prior to being diagnosed with a peanut allergy, I loved to eat and play at Chick-fil-A. However, we had stopped eating there immediately after I was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. One of the reasons my dad had trouble coming to grips with my peanut allergy diagnosis early on, was because he knew that I had never gotten sick after eating at Chick-fil-A even though they use peanut oil. The Chick-fil-A web site allergen info states that "all breaded chicken products and Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries are cooked in 100% pure peanut oil.

Then last month, while talking with several other parents of peanut allergic children participating in the peanut allergy treatment research study at Arkansas Children's Hospital, we learned that their peanut allergic kids were eating at Chick-fil-A without having allergic reactions. What we learned about Chick-fil-A after talking to the doctors and nurses at Arkansas Children's Hospital and to a manager of a Chick-fil-A, is that they, like many restaurants, use "pure, hot extracted peanut oil", which for most people is non-allergenic. However, "cold pressed/gourmet" peanut oils often do cause allergic reactions.

Mom was very nervous about me trying to eat at Chick-fil-A again so the head nurse of the study agreed to go with us to eat lunch there while we were in Little Rock. We all went to Chick-fil-A and I ate the chicken nuggets and waffle fries without having an allergic reaction or any other problems! Being able to eat and play again at Chick-fil-A is awesome because it helps me and my family feel like life is getting to be a little bit more normal again and it gives us another safe option for eating out when we are traveling!

This experience is just one of the many reasons we thank God every day for helping us to get into the peanut allergy treatment research study and for bringing Nurse Karen and Dr. Stacie Jones at Arkansas Children's Hospital into our lives.

Below are some other articles and comments about peanut allergy and peanut oil.

"Pure peanut oil is generally non-allergenic, but cold pressed peanut oil or oil contaminated with peanut protein through cooking may be dangerous."

"Studies show that most allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil (not cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil - sometimes represented as gourmet oils). If you are allergic to peanuts, ask your doctor whether or not you should avoid peanut oil."

Whether or not to eat foods prepared in pure, hot pressed peanut oil is an individual decision that individuals with peanut allergies should make on an individual, case-by-case basis after consulting with their doctor, reading the nutrition information, questioning the food preparers/restaurant managers, and taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

My Daily Dosage Is Up to 1.5 Peanuts!

I have been participating in the peanut allergy desensitization treatment research study at Arkansas Children's Hospital for 6 months now. When I first started back in July of 2007, my skin tests showed strong reactions to very small amounts of peanut and my daily dosage started out with me eating approx. a few grains per day. My daily dosage is now about the equivalent of 1.5 peanuts!

Recently I was asked what the allergy skin tests for my peanut allergy study feel like. It feels like a cross between a sting and a pinch as they have to scratch your skin in different places to put the different drops on you. For me, they do this on my back. It took me a few times to get used to the stinging/pinching feeling but it only lasts a few seconds and now the worst part is the itching for 15 minutes without scratching! The different drops all have different solutions to determine how allergic you are to different levels of peanut (low, medium or high). When the nurses are doing my skin tests they actually draw a circle around the red, itchy area with an ink pen to show how big or strong my allergic reaction is to each of the different test spots on my back. Then they put scotch tape over each of the circles and gently pull up (like removing a band-aid). The ink circles show up on the clear tape and they put the pieces of tape on my charts for comparison to earlier tests. Hopefully, my circles are getting smaller.

The best part of these allergy skin tests is after the 15 minutes is up, they wash your back with a cold wash cloth and put anti-histamine cream on you! Ahhh, that feels good! Then you get a reward of playing Nintendo Game Boy or other games and sometimes you even get to pick from the prize room.

So as you can see, life in a peanut allergy treament research study, is tough... not!

In closing, I'd like to give a shout out to my LSU Tigers for winning the 2007 football National Championship! Now maybe, the doctors and nurses in Little Rock can cut me some slack since we lost to their beloved Razorbacks this year. GEAUX TIGERS!

What Peanut Free Foods Does Bo Eat?

We have added a new food page with examples of the peanut free manufactured foods that I like to eat. The list includes snacks like Skittles and SMARTIES, breakfast foods like Bisquick pancake mix and Eggo Waffles, plus Blue Bell ice cream and more good stuff! (Don't worry, I like to eat fruits and vegetables too, especially broccoli.)

We also list the peanut safe fast food restaurants I can eat at despite having a severe food allergy. I sure wish the list was longer.

So check out our new Peanut Free Foods page and then submit a comment telling me what your favorite peanut allergy safe foods and fast food restaurants are.

Introduction - My First Peanut Allergy Blog

It's Christmas day 2007 and this is my very first blog post ever and the official launch of the ASK ABOUT MY PEANUT ALLERGY site! Actually I talk and Mom and Dad type on the computer paraphrasing for me. Please bare with us as we are all new to this blog and web master thing. (NOTE: We haven't finished building our response forms yet, so feel free to send Dad any comments with tips on how to make my site better! )

It's hard to believe it's been over a year ago since deciding what to eat became such a serious part of my life. It was Thanksgiving week 2006 when I had my severe reaction described in the "FAQ" page. A few days later, a Pediatric Allergist was able to confirm my peanut allergy. It's amazing how quickly your life can change so dramatically. We went from eating out several times a week (one of the perks of living in Louisiana) to thinking we were going to be all eating oatmeal the rest of our lives!

There was so much stress in the first months after my diagnosis. Suddenly every food item was a major threat and we all felt sorry for ourselves. It was especially hard for family and friends to understand how what was perfectly acceptable meals and behavior yesterday, were suddenly risky and even life-threatening to me. The phrase "over-the-top" was used a lot to describe our initial reaction to my peanut allergy diagnosis. But as Mom kept saying, "The most important job Dad and I have is to protect you and until we really understand how to live with your peanut allergy, it's not worth taking unnecessary chances!"

It's now a year and half later and how things have changed for the better. Eating Christmas meals at two different family events this year went really smooth. Mom did a great job of coordinating with everyone to ensure all the food would be peanut and tree nut free. There were a few desert items brought by people that were from bakeries, not ideal, but those things were identified and kept away from the main food. They were not served until the very end when I was able to avoid the kitchen area all together.

I am also very excited that after 6 months in a peanut allergy desensitization treatment program at Arkansas Children's Hospital, the daily dosage that I eat is up to the equivalent of one and a half kernels of a peanut! Learn more by reading the "Treatment Research" page.

Well that's it for my introductory blog. I hope you find this site interesting and helpful. I will continue to update my progress with the peanut allergy treatment study and hope you visit often.