Lurking Ingredients

Lurking Ingredients

Grocery shopping takes ten times longer for people with food allergies.  We have to read every single label to make sure the food we are buying is safe.  Sometimes it’s not just food that we have to watch out for though.  I’ve found my allergens popping up in places I never expected to see them, especially makeup.  Here’s what I’ve learned about makeup in respect to food allergies… so now when I want to feel fancy, I don’t get a horrendous rash or have to go the the emergency room.  (Yay!)

As much as I love LUSH, some of their products just aren't great for me...
As much as I love LUSH, some of their products just aren’t great for me…

I like to read ingredients for skin products.  I had a tube of lotion that I used several times before realizing it had almond butter in it.  Luckily, I did not have a reaction, and quickly stopped using it.  Now I am careful to read through all those crazy ingredients in tiny print on the back label before buying lotions.  This also goes for lip balms, lip gloss, lipsticks, etc.  You never know what they may have sneaked in there.  Sometimes this requires a little deeper searching (maybe investigate the company’s website to see what kind of ingredients they use.  It seems that a lot of “all natural” makeup companies use ingredients with nuts.  Apparently almonds are great for cosmetics (check out this article on the subject) for people who will not have a reaction after using them.  Coconut is also a common ingredient in makeup from what I’ve observed.

I also try to avoid sharing lip balms/glosses/sticks with my friends.  I worry that they may have used the product after having eaten one of my allergens, thus contaminating it.  For the same reason, I am extremely hesitant to share my own lip products.  This can be a bit of a hassle for me when I do theater.  Stage makeup is often shared by everyone in the cast.  I never mind using my own makeup when I can.  For anyone involved in theater, I recommend learning how to use foundations, blushes, eye shadows and liners, mascara, lipsticks, etc. and applying these on your own.  This way you can use your own makeup and stay in your comfort zone.  Remembering all your lines is nerve-racking enough.

***By the way, I absolutely adore LUSH even though they use nuts in some of their products.  I have talked to the extremely knowledgeable staff at several store locations and have been directed to safer items that they feel are less likely to have come into contact with their nut products.  My personal favorite items are their perfume, hair spray, and lip gloss.  Happy makeup shopping!

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Feed the Birds ❅

Feed the Birds ❅

When you look out your window in the winter, everything looks a little drab and lifeless.  Maybe there is a coat of snow covering the ground, or maybe there are just dead leaves.  And maybe there are little squirrels and birds looking for food.  In the winter, I love hanging bird feeders in my backyard and watching and listening to the birds.

This female american goldfinch has been frequenting this feeder often in the past few days.

I take great caution when entering bird stores.  A large portion of bird seeds and other food products for birds contain nuts and peanuts.  I don’t want to have a reaction filling up a bird feeder, so I recommend reading the ingredients before buying birdseed.  If you are worried about having an airborne reaction in a bird store, you can order products online.  Products usually have a description of what is in the food, so you can avoid your allergens.  For example, one birdseed may list shelled peanuts (which I avoid), while another may list sunflower seeds (which is not one of my allergens).

You can also make your own nut free bird feeder by smothering a pine cone with cream cheese and then covering it with birdseed.  Attach a string and hang it outside.  (This is an adaptation of a common classroom activity that used peanut butter instead of cream cheese.  I always had to sit out for that one.)  Feed the squirrels as well by tying a length of twine around one end of a corncob and hanging it outside, making sure that squirrels will be able to reach it either from the ground or a tree branch.

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The Wonders of Sunbutter ❁

I had my first PBJ yesterday.  Well, it wasn’t really a PBJ- it was actually a sunbutter and jelly sandwich.  I made sure to explain this to my friends so they were not alarmed to find me eating something that looks like peanut butter.  Sunbutter is the closest thing to peanut butter that I can eat without having a severe reaction.  Sunbutter is made with sunflower seeds, which I can eat.  (Sunflower seeds are not tree nuts.)  It makes a nice substitute for peanut butter.  Try it on ice cream, crackers, sandwiches, celery, apples… anything, really.

Made with sunflower seeds, sunbutter is peanut butter without the peanuts.
Made with sunflower seeds, sunbutter is peanut butter without the peanuts.

I love sunbutter paired with chocolate, so I was excited to try Sun Cups.  Made without gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, corn, or soy in a nut and gluten-free facility, they are the Reese’s for allergy kids.  The claim on the package, “delightfully delicious”, is most certainly true!

sun cup 2

Reese's cups for those with peanut allergies
Reese’s cups for kids with peanut allergies
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Two New Obsessions

First of all, a massive thank you to Mrs. Reulbach for introducing me to the blogging world!  I’ve certainly thought about starting a blog, but I don’t think I ever would have been successful without learning all the particulars.  I am definitely obsessed with blogging now.

These cupcakes from Walmart are delicious!
These cupcakes from Walmart are delicious!

My second new obsession is chocolate cupcakes (shocker, I know).  When I was little I would run around the grocery store picking up every box of chocolate cookies, brownies, or candies and frantically read the ingredients, hoping that maybe this time they would be safe for me.  Usually they weren’t.  This is why I was super excited to find Walmart’s mini chocolate cupcakes that are made in a peanut-free facility and are free of tree nuts.  It’s not often that the bakery items stacked in a beautiful tower at the entrance of the store with an adorable little label are the ones with that glorious little peanut with its giant red X through it.  Each box contains a dozen cupcakes which fluffy cake and creamy icing.  They make the perfect treat, and I’ve been eating them rather often…

Always happy to see this kind of allergy warning on chocolate.
Always happy to see this kind of allergy warning on chocolate.
How to Fly Safely

How to Fly Safely

Going on a plane ride when you have a food allergy is quite daunting.  As the plane starts to lift off the ground, all those “What if…?!” questions start to circle your head.  What if I have a reaction thousands of feet above the ground (or rather, the nearest hospital)?  So here are a few tips to keep you a little safer when you fly.

plane

1) Tell an attendant associated with your flight about your allergy.  Ask them if they would be willing to make an announcement on the plane before takeoff and ask people to refrain from eating your allergen.

2) Ask if you can board the plane early and if someone could wipe down your seat in case the person sitting there before you ate your allergen.  I recommend supervising this to make sure they are thorough.

3) Ask the flight attendants if they could avoid serving your allergen on the plane.  (I usually request that they do not serve those packaged peanuts, but I don’t worry so much about the products that may contain nuts.)

4) Pack your own food.  If your flight is short, bring a snack food that you eat often.  If your flight is longer, get takeout from a restaurant at which you eat often.  Chipotle is my go-to restaurant for traveling because none of their food contains my allergens.

This chart is featured on Chipotle's special diet information page.
This chart is featured on Chipotle’s special diet information page.

Have a nice flight and safe travels!