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Each Family’s Food Allergy Story Differs: Find Your Own Voice

VoicesWhen our family was introduced to food allergies fourteen years ago, I never would have expected to foresee how it affected our lives in so many different ways. I’m not talking about the additional stress or cooking or even the multiple times that were just overwhelming but the future “us” with food allergies. When a family is given a food allergy diagnosis, time seems to stand still for a little while. Usual events are not handled the same way and every little thing that used to be part of your life must be stopped, rewound and rethought to ensure everyone’s safety for the rest of your lives. Your menus change, your thoughts change, your family and friends change and, eventually, your voice changes. I’m talking about the voice that everyone uses to discuss what is near and dear to their heart.

Choose Your Own Voice However you decide to share your food allergy passion, it’s important to use what you feel is best for you and your family’s situation. Yes, you can go with the flow and share whatever the current food allergy trend is but before you do, think about it. Is it something that you truly believe in? Does it feel as if it is the right connection for what’s going on with your personal food allergy journey? Is it something that you feel absolutely comfortable sharing with others? If you are not answering yes, I recommend that you think on it just a bit longer. There are many ways to advocate for food allergies and not all of them are always accepted by everyone. The most important thing is to make sure that you are comfortable accepting it.

Allow Others Their Own Voice This is where you may find yourself to be challenged just a bit. It’s hard enough to advocate on a level that’s right for you but it can be equally tricky to know how to let other people advocate in a way that is not yours. Two mothers arguingWhen you become passionate about what you need to tell others, there is sometimes a fine line between advocating and becoming overbearing when someone else is explaining how they must handle their food allergies. The food allergy community is one of the strongest families you will ever meet and need. Just as a regular family disagrees, so do your food allergy family members. When this happens, try to remember how you felt when you were so perplexed, unsure of where to start or what to do and give them whatever support you are able to give within your comfort zone. Sometimes just knowing someone else is there to listen even when they may not agree gives you more strength than anything.

The Range of Voices Not everyone wants to be as vocal as you, as active as you, as nice as you or as diligent as you. I will admit this was a difficult task for me to realize even in our own home. One of my favorite bloggers has a son close to my son’s age who began the website Food Allergy Ice Breaker to share his allergy passion. My son chooses to be very laid back about his food allergies. My daughter, who does not have life-threatening allergies, is an avid label-reader who looks out for her older brother as soon as she sees any possible allergy triggers. Then there’s me- the one with the big mouth who must share with everyone. You will meet people who seem angry and others that welcome you with open arms. Without this variety of voices, the food allergy community would have less strength and knowledge. These differences are what begin new conversations and bring us new information and that is something that keeps bringing us answers.

“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.”
– Don Miguel Ruiz

If you are not sure which direction you should go in, ask people. Use your trusty devices and Google everything until you cannot Google anymore. Keep notes and collect whatever you can until you know inside of your heart that you are at a good place to start. Most importantly, if you have done all of that and you still need more advice, just ask. Ask me, ask teachers, sit in on local food allergy support groups and absorb everything. Food allergies are complex and seemingly endless but so is the information to keep you going. For those days that are more difficult and you feel as if you cannot possibly even try to have a voice- know that you did your very best for that day and tomorrow is another day. You will see that when you do not have the strength to speak, so many others will gladly speak for you until you can again.

Eating Disorders Explained

girl watching a red appleFind out the facts about eating disorders, including what they are, who’s affected by them and what to do if you need help and support.

What is an Eating Disorder?

There are several different types of eating disorder, the most common being anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Eating disorders are mental health conditions that all involve an unhealthy relationship with food and eating, and often an intense fear of being overweight. If you have an eating disorder you may experience one or more of the following:

  • You have a preoccupation and concern about food and gaining weight.
  • You would like to lose weight even though friends or family worry that you are underweight.
  • You let people around you think you have eaten when you haven’t.
  • You’re secretive about your eating habits because you know they’re unhealthy.
  • Eating makes you feel anxious, upset or guilty.
  • You make yourself vomit or use laxatives in order to lose weight.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

It’s unlikely that an eating disorder will be the result of one single cause. It’s much more likely to be a combination of many factors, events, feelings or pressures that lead to you feeling unable to cope.

These can include low self-esteem, problems with friends or family relationships; the death of someone special; problems at school, college, university or work; lack of confidence; or sexual or emotional abuse. Many people talk about simply feeling too fat or not good enough. You might use food to help you cope with painful situations or feelings without even realising it.

In situations where there are high academic expectations, family issues or social pressures, you may focus on food and eating as a way of coping.

Traumatic events can trigger an eating disorder. These might include bereavement, being bullied or abused, a divorce in the family or concerns about sexuality. Someone with a long-term illness or disability (such as diabetes, depression, blindness or deafness) may also have eating problems.

Some studies have also shown that there are biological factors involved. In other words, some people will be more likely to develop an eating disorder because of their genetic make-up.

Who is Affected by Eating Disorders?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, sex or cultural or racial background. The people most affected tend to be young women, particularly between the ages of 15 and 25, and around 10% of people with eating disorders are men.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have an Eating Disorder?

People with eating disorders often say that the eating disorder is the only way they feel they can stay in control of their life. But, as time goes on, it is the eating disorder that starts to control you. You may also have the urge to harm yourself, or misuse alcohol or drugs.

If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to someone you trust. You may have a close friend or family member you can talk to. There are also a number of organisations that you can talk to, such as the eating disorders charity beat (0845 634 1414) or in the US at the National Eating Disorders Helpline (1-800-931-2237)* and the Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) or Samaritans USA (1-800-273-TALK)*.

Your GP (family doctor*) can also give you advice and talk to you about getting a diagnosis and the possible treatment options, which will depend upon your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.

Worried that a Friend or Relative has an Eating Disorder?

If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is common for someone with an eating disorder to be secretive and defensive about their eating and their weight, and they are likely to deny being unwell.

For tips on how to approach and talk to your child about eating disorders, go to Advice for parents. For advice for teens on how help a friend see Supporting someone with an eating disorder.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from beat by calling their helpline on 0845 634 1414. They also have a designated youth helpline on 0845 634 7650. (*or in the US you can call an advisor on the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237)

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

5 Phases Hybrid Glass Bottles: A Safe, Healthy Way to Feed Baby

With the arrival of one of life’s most precious gifts, we as parents find ourselves paying a little more attention to the world in which our children will grow. We naturally find ourselves wanting to give them the safest and best of everything. After the birth of our second child my eyes were opened and I became educated about how chemicals in the environment are affecting us, especially our children. I share my story to hopefully make people realize, we need to make some changes.

After years of disappointment from unsuccessful infertility treatments and multiple miscarriages we finally had a viable heartbeat from our baby. But the smiles were short lived when during a routine ultrasound our doctor informed us our baby could possibly have a birth defect. After numerous tests the defect was confirmed but did not appear to be genetic. There was no certainty on the cause but this particular birth defect was on the rise. In the mid 1980’s approximately 1 in 350 babies were born with this birth defect. By the time our baby was born, the numbers had increased to a staggering 1 in 125. I questioned many times what I could have done to prevent this from happening. It wasn’t until a few years later that I had an idea about the possible cause.

In April 2007, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about plastic baby bottles, and the hormone disrupting effects of BPA and phthalates. These chemicals leach from plastics into our foods and are found in products we use daily. After further research, I discovered studies have shown that even very small doses of these hormone disruptors have been directly linked to early puberty, malformed genitals, infertility, reproductive disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Those most vulnerable are pregnant women and infants. When I read these chemicals were leaching from plastic baby bottles into our babies milk I was mortified and thought there has got to be a way to get parents back to using glass bottles. I found, with the increasing concerns of using plastics, many parents wanted to use glass bottles but feared them breaking. I am an airline pilot. I never thought of myself as an inventor, but I felt the need to help new parents by giving them a better alternative for feeding their babies. Starting from a drawing on a paper napkin and over 4 years of product development I finally launched my hybrid glass baby bottles in December of 2010.

So what exactly is a hybrid glass bottle and how is it different from traditional glass bottles? 5phases bottles are a unique combination of glass and plastic that helps the glass resist shattering, but if shattering occurs, will keep both the broken glass and liquid contained with no mess. The removable and interchangeable glass inserts add convenience and affordability and make an excellent storage solution for pumped milk and formulas. They are also microwavable and freezer safe. This unique design earned us the 2011 JPMA innovationaward at the ABC show.

After everything we had experienced, chemicals and safety were our greatest concern when developing our bottles. 5phases glass bottles were inspected and tested by a third party for known toxic and harmful chemicals. This third party is recognized in the US by the FDA, Canada and in the EU for product safety and quality control. Our bottles passed rigorous infant safety and chemical testing.

People are becoming aware of the hazards of certain plastics. Studies have shown throughout its lifecycle, plastics can continually leach chemicals. Of most concern are plastics labeled #3 polyvinyl chloride, which contain phthalates, #6 polystyrene and #7 polycarbonates which contain BPA. However, there are still concerns associated with ANY plastics leaching chemicals when in contact with food, even BPA free plastics. Experts agree, the better alternative for baby is glass.

So why not just breast feed? I am a true advocate of breast feeding and there is nothing better or more natural than “mom “, but certain circumstances can prevent a mother from breastfeeding. Both of my children had protein allergies and the only solution was a prescription formula called Neocate. Our bottles simply provide a better alternative for moms who are unable to breastfeed and want to use glass.

There is a definite movement towards green living. We live in a world filled with chemicals, and in many instances avoidance proves to be impossible. For this reason we owe it to ourselves, and to our children, to minimize exposure to toxins whenever possible. My dream is one day, we as consumers will demand our products be safe without having to read the fine print on labels. Knowledge is power and with knowledge we can make a difference.


Helpful Bottle Feeding Hints:

  • Disassemble and sterilize new bottles by boiling for 5 minutes prior to use
  • Avoid overheating and test temperature in bottle before feeding
  • Keep baby propped up while feeding
  • Avoid putting child to bed with a bottle; tooth decay may occur with prolong liquid contact
  • Replace nipples regularly for normal wear and tear
  • Bottle feed baby under adult supervision only
  • Always transport glass bottles (and 5phases glass inserts) inside a protective sleeve to help prevent breakage

Note: Studies have shown heating breast milk and formula in microwaves may destroy important nutrients


Editor’s Note: We first showcased the 5 Phases Hybrid Glass Bottles on Pediatric Safety in February 2012. Since then these wonderful innovative bottles have won numerous awards including the 2014 American Baby Best Bottle Picks and the 2015 New York Family Magazine Best Bottle Picks. Our congratulations go out to the 5 Phases folks for 4.5 years of keeping babies healthy and safe.

Brown Bag Lunches: Tips for More Nutrition & Fun

It is a misnomer that a meal taken from home is healthier than eaten out. With all due respect, I can say that because I have taken thousands of diet recalls from people of all ages. What I have learned is that we are creatures of habit. We gravitate toward the same foods and meals to get it done quickly. Variety takes creativity, and let’s be honest, variety is generally frowned upon by most kids. They like their favorite foods, and those are the ones they want to see in their lunches each day. However, the sooner you incorporate a variety of foods into your daily diet, the easier it is for your children to accept it. That will become The lunch warsthe new normal.

But this isn’t just about the kids. We need to take a closer look at the quality and variety of our own lunches. I am an encourager of bringing your lunch to work. It saves time, you can maximize nutrition and minimize things such as sodium and saturated fat. We do get ourselves into a rut with the same ‘ole lunches as adults, too. So let’s look at ways to renew our lunch time choices.

MyPlate Template

Lunches brought from home are often unbalanced. Kids lunches are very heavy on fruit and baked chips with no veggies or just one kind repeated over and over (baby carrots!). Adult lunches are often too small and they wonder why they have such sweet cravings at night. A well-balanced lunch is not only having the right foods, but also having enough calories to fuel the rest of your day. That is why the MyPlate meal set-up is such a great visual:


Not only is it a good visual, but it is based on nutritional science for what your body needs – a lean protein, a low-fat dairy, a grain or starchy vegetable, a non-starchy vegetable and a serving of fruit give your body complementary nutrition visa vie the different food groups. These foods don’t have to be all separated, though. A good lunch example: a whole grain turkey wrap with field greens, tomatoes, red onions and avocado with a side salad and a yogurt parfait topped with fruit is a complete MyPlate. See how that works? Work on getting what you should have and what you should limit naturally becomes that – limited. Use the MyPlate template as your guide when putting lunches together and you will balance out well.

Break Out the Thermos

Why don’t we see thermoses used as much these days? I think it is great to have a warm meal at lunch, and for some, the only way to have that happen is by the use of a thermos. Most kids do not have the opportunity to heat their lunches up, so a thermos is a handy tool. For food safety, be sure you heat the food or soup to 160 degrees before putting it into the thermos. Use a food thermometer to ensure the correct temperature. Seal the thermos tight to avoid leaks and premature cooling. The food needs to stay above 140 degrees to stay food safe.

Thermoses open up so much more variety for you and your kids to eat at lunch. Leftovers, soups, crock pot meals, hot pastas/noodle/casserole dishes all become great options.

Eat Seasonally Colorful

Eating seasonally not only promotes variety, it has a tendency to be cheaper! Seasonal produce is cheaper overall. It is really important to vary your produce items to maximize the nutritional profile of your overall intake. We may love broccoli, but broccoli doesn’t give you everything you need and the minerals that the broccoli you eat everyday may be lacking. Locate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for the most economical way to buy local and seasonal. Allow the seasons to help promote a varied color on your family’s plate. What’s in season now? Find out HERE.

Try New Recipes

Spend a Saturday or Sunday browsing Pinterest for fun & healthy lunch ideas. I went ahead did the search for you, so all you have to do is click HERE. You can also browse some of Lemond Nutrition Pinterest boards. We are always adding practical food, nutrition, kitchen – and overall wellness pins we find and enjoy ourselves. You can also go to our nutrition resources page on our website to see some of the sites we recommend. Many of those sites have recipe ideas. Fold in some new food ideas periodically to change things up!

Fun Food Containers

You would think this would be especially fun for kids, and it is. Visually-pleasing meal set-ups are overall better accepted meals. But that is the same for adults! I did an entire post on this awhile back (Food Containers: The New Brown Bag), so check out some of the things we highlighted. Head over to the Container Store one afternoon. They have such a great variety of food containers that make eating lunches from home more fun.

Five Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy This Winter

Winter FunIt may be cold outside but winter needn’t be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family.

Here are five ways to make sure that even when your body is telling you to hibernate you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather’s like:

1. Eliminate your sleep debt

“On average we sleep six-and-a-half hours a night, much less than the seven to nine hours recommended,” says Jessica Alexander, spokesperson at the Sleep Council, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a good night’s sleep to health and wellbeing. But in winter, we naturally sleep more, due to the longer nights. “It’s perfectly natural to adopt hibernating habits when the weather turns cold,” says Jessica. “Use the time to catch up.”

Read more about how to get a good night’s sleep.

2. Drink more milk

You are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter so making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition is important. Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12. They’re also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. Try to go for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, rather than full fat, and low-fat yoghurts.

Read more about healthy eating.

3. Eat more fruit and veg

When it’s cold and dark outside it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important to ensure that you still keep your diet healthy and include five portions of fruit and veg a day. If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead, or sweet dried fruits such as dates or raisins.

Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede (rutabaga*) and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.

Read more about how to get your 5 A DAY.

4. Try new activities for the whole family

Don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity, maybe ice-skating or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach. Regular exercise helps to control your weight, boost your immune system and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.

Read more about different types of exercise for your and your family.

5. Have a hearty breakfast

Winter is the perfect season for porridge (oatmeal*). Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps you to boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre, which give you energy and help you to feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.

Make your porridge with semi-skimmed (2%*) or skimmed milk or water, and don’t add sugar or salt. Add a few dried apricots, some raisins, a sliced banana or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit the five-a-day target.

Read more about healthy breakfasts.

Editor’s Note: * translation provided for our U.S. audience

Study: Kids Missing Breakfast Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Family breakfast“Skipping breakfast in childhood may raise the risk of diabetes,” the Mail Online reports. A study of UK schoolchildren found that those who didn’t regularly eat breakfast had early signs of having risk markers for type 2 diabetes.

The study found that children who did not usually eat breakfast had 26% higher insulin resistance than children who always ate breakfast. High insulin resistance increases risk of type 2 diabetes, which is why the results of this study are important. It should be pointed out that while the levels were higher in children who skipped breakfast, they were still within normal limits.

The researchers questioned more than 4,000 children aged nine and 10 about whether they usually ate breakfast, and took a fasting blood sample for a variety of measurements, including their blood sugar level and insulin level.

The results suggest that eating breakfast may reduce the risk of higher insulin resistance levels, but due to the cross-sectional design of the study (a one-off assessment), it cannot prove that skipping breakfast causes higher insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. And, as the researchers point out, even if a direct cause and effect relationship was established, it is still unclear why skipping breakfast would make you more prone to diabetes.

Despite this limitation of the study, eating a healthy breakfast high in fibre has many health benefits and should be encouraged.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from St George’s University Hospital in London, the University of Oxford, the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge and University of Glasgow School of Medicine. It was funded by Diabetes UK, the Wellcome Trust, and the National Prevention Research Initiative. The authors declared no conflict of interest.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS Medicine. This is an open access journal so the study is free to read online.

The UK media generally reported the study accurately, although claims the study “tracked” children over time are inaccurate. Researchers used a one-off questionnaire and blood test, and none of the results showed that the children were insulin resistant – they just had higher levels within the normal range.

Also the Mail Online’s headline “Youngsters who don’t eat morning meal more likely to be insulin dependent” appears to be written by someone without any grasp of human biology. All humans are insulin dependent.

What kind of research was this?

This was a cross-sectional study of nine- and 10-year-old children in England. It aimed to see if there was a link between eating breakfast and markers for type 2 diabetes, in particular insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. Higher fasting insulin levels are seen when the body becomes insulin resistant, which is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. As this was a cross-sectional study, it cannot prove that not eating breakfast causes children to be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, but it can show that there is an association.

What did the research involve?

The researchers used information collected from 4,116 children who had participated in the Child Heart And health Study in England (CHASE) between 2004 and 2007. This study invited children aged nine and 10 from 200 randomly selected schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester to take part in a survey looking at risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

This included questionnaires, measures of body fat and a fasting blood sample, taken eight to 10 hours after their last meal.

One of the questions related to how often they ate breakfast, with the following possible responses:

  • Every day
  • Most days
  • Some days
  • Not usually

Children from the last 85 schools were also interviewed by a research nutritionist to determine their food and drink intake in the previous 24 hours.

They analysed the data looking for an association between breakfast consumption and insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels adjusting the results to take into account age, sex, ethnicity, day of the week and month, and school.

What were the basic results?

Of the 4,116 children:

  • 3,056 (74%) ate breakfast daily
  • 450 (11%) had breakfast most days
  • 372 (9%) had breakfast some days
  • 238 (6%) did not usually have breakfast

Compared to children who ate breakfast every day, children who did not usually have breakfast had:

  • 26% higher fasting insulin levels
  • 26.7% higher insulin resistance
  • 1.2% higher HbA1c (number of red blood cells attached to glucose, which is a marker of average blood glucose concentration, higher numbers increase the risk of diabetes) 1% higher glucose (blood sugar) level

These results remained significant even after taking into account the child’s fat mass, socioeconomic status and physical activity levels.

In the subset of children asked about their food intake over the previous 24 hours, children eating a high fibre breakfast had lower insulin resistance than those eating other types of breakfasts such as toast or biscuits.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that “children who ate breakfast daily, particularly a high fibre cereal breakfast, had a more favourable type 2 diabetes risk profile. Trials are needed to quantify the protective effect of breakfast on emerging type 2 diabetes risk”.


This well designed study found that children who did not usually eat breakfast had 26% higher insulin resistance than children who always ate breakfast, though the level was still within normal limits.

Higher levels indicate a risk of type 2 diabetes, which is why the results of this study are important.

Strengths of the study include the large sample size, multi-ethnicity of the participants and accuracy of the body fat measurements rather than just relying on body mass index (BMI).

A limitation of the study is that due to the cross-sectional design it cannot prove that not eating breakfast would cause diabetes, but it does show that this may begin to increase the risk. The study is also reliant on self-reporting of usual breakfast intake.

Eating a healthy breakfast rich in fibre has been linked to many health benefits and is thought to contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. As the researchers point out, further studies will be required to verify the link, such as through following children over time to see which ones develop diabetes.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.


“Skipping breakfast in childhood may raise the risk of diabetes,” the Mail Online reports. A study of UK schoolchildren found that those who didn’t regularly eat breakfast had early signs of having risk markers for type 2 diabetes…

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