Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five Reasons I Love Kids With Food Allergies

No, I don't mean five reasons I love my kids with food allergies
(I hope that goes without saying)

Five reasons I love Kids with Food Allergies Foundation

What is Kids With Food Allergies?

"Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) educates families and communities with practical food allergy management strategies to save lives and improve the quality of life for children and their families. One of the unique ways we provide this help is through our award-winning online community. Our community is the largest online support community for families raising children with food allergies and it's free!

"In addition to recipes and educational resources, KFA hosts a diverse allergy community with over 20 specialized support forums for members, live chat events, photo and video sharing, and blogs published by our leadership and distinguished Medical Advisory Team." (taken from their website)

Why I love being a part of KFA:

1. Practical Help: When I first learned about Brennan's food allergies, I left the allergist with instructions to strictly avoid milk, eggs, and peanut. That's really all the instructions I received. It took a long time to learn how to read labels, to find new recipes, and to adapt to all the other little changes it takes to cope with a food allergy diagnosis.

Kids with Food Allergies helps parents figure out how to make the doctor's orders translate into everyday life. We draw on the experience of thousands of other parents that have walked down the path. It was another parent on KFA that told me the name of a dairy-free cheese that actually melts and tastes good. Other parents have shared recipes for treats that are free of all of the most common food allergens. Just this morning, I was talking to a good friend from KFA who offered me a recipe for a high-calorie muffin that might help us reach Lauren's new calorie goals.

2. Recipes: I used to have several food allergy cookbooks on my shelves. Often I'd find that there were only a handful of recipes that appealed to our family, fit our allergy needs, or met the strict taste criteria that my kids insisted on.

Right now, KFA has over 1200 recipes in their online database, and it's growing all the time. I love that I can search the database by which allergens I am avoiding -- there's no sense looking at wheat-based cake recipes when I need a gluten-free one.

(Note: Many of the recipes are available only to family members. To me, it's a bargain to have access to the recipe collection for only $25 a year, instead of purchasing seldom used cookbooks that I have to dust.)

3. Food and Cooking Help: It's not just the recipes that have helped me feed my family well. KFA has an entire area dedicated to food and cooking help. In that area, I can ask a question about any of the recipes. For instance, just yesterday we were discussing which gluten-free flour blends would work best if you couldn't use rice flour.

It's very common to see someone mentoring a new food allergy mom that really doesn't know how to cook anything without a mix. Many of us will share that we are much better cooks than we were before we started dealing with food allergies.

KFA isn't just about making sure kids have safe foods. We often aim to make safe foods spectacular. I often look there for help designing my kids birthday cakes. Here's the one that we came up with a few years ago:

4. News and Research: Kids with Food Allergies is an ideal place to go when your child (or you) is first diagnosed with food allergies. I highly recommend From Confusion to Confidence: KFA's starter guide to parenting a child with food allergies.

It's also an ideal place to go when you want more in depth food allergy knowledge. KFA has a certificate of compliance with the HONcode (Health on the Net). Among other things, it means that content on there goes through a review process before being added. It also means that we are encouraged to provide resources (links, citations) for any health information shared. It's common to see parents discussing articles from either mainstream news sources or professional medical journals. I personally want to keep up to date with the newest research and like being able to easily find the ones I'm most interested in.

5. It's home. It's a place where people understand the stress of living with food allergies. It's a place to see how everyone else keeps up with their epi-pens. It's a place for parents to share how they deal with food based activities in their child's classroom. It's a place where another mom understands the time I was in the grocery store and wanted to cry because a formerly safe food changed its ingredients. It's a place where I can safely say, "I'm having a hard day." We've all been-there-done-that.

Sometimes just knowing someone else understands makes all the difference.

Kids with Food Allergies makes that difference -- a difference for parents who are working so hard on behalf of their children, a difference in the lives of children.

Disclosure: I've been volunteering with KFA for many years. We moved from a yahoogroup to our website about 7 years ago, and I was there even before that transition. I obviously wouldn't continue to work with an organization I didn't believe in. My post today was written simply because I want to share KFA's resources with everyone that needs them and not for any compensation.

After you visit Kids with Food Allergies and add it to your bookmarks, be sure to hop around to some of the other blogs participating in the Homeschool Crew Blog Hop this week.


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