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Allergies in the media…

I’ve wanted to write a post about this for a while. In fact, if truth be told, for a long while. And especially since Callum’s story hit the press!

Allergies have been out of the press for a very long time. But suddenly they are coming more to the fore.

I’ve helped to fuel this, and for that I am proud, very proud! And as long as I can, I will continue to do so!

Along with the recent press coverage, the BBC are currently showcasing a series of programmes based on allergies on Horizons. It has provided much debate within the allergy world. One of the topics discussed, features current reports that suggest there could be a link between antibiotics being consumed during pregnancy, and resulting allergy issues later down the line. Data does suggest that there could definitely be a correlation. And I for one, am most definitely open to the idea that they could be on to something. Although, I didn’t take any antibiotics during my pregnancy with Callum, nor did I during labour, or immediately after, and he is still suffering with multiple severe life threatening allergies!

With allergies, there are 2 key aspects, IgE mediated, and non-IgE mediated. IgE mediated allergy usually presents with immediate severe symptoms, whilst non-IgE symptoms usually occur over a longer period of time, hours or even a few days.

A wonderful source of helpful, useful and totally up to date information is Allergy UK. Take a look at their food allergy page for more details. It provides a wealth of information that can help you on your allergy journey, and was a great source of support and advice when Callum was first diagnosed.

The critical part to all of this, is that a lot of the articles recently released in the press have not provided factually correct information about allergies, apart from the one that included Callum’s story, and this is something I am passionate about changing. How can the situation with allergies be improved if the information provided doesn’t even help the cause?

Allergies, their causes, their symptoms and the ensuing hell that follows a reaction, need to be made more aware of. It’s not something that can be taken lightly. Severe allergies can be life threatening. That in itself should command a lot more respect than currently is given.

Ultimately, many many more people need to be educated! This particularly applies to the majority of our healthcare professionals! I know, it’s shocking to those outside of the allergy world, but sadly, it’s very true!

Take for example this nugget that I was provided with last week:

‘Mother to Health Visitor – I’m not sure what to do about my baby gaining sufficient weight due to his CMPA (Cows Milk Protein Allergy), is his special formula giving him enough? Should I supplement with something else?

Health Visitor – Have you tried giving Hipp Organic formula?

Mother – no of course not, it contains milk!

Health Visitor – well that’s ok, the cows have only organic feed so that shouldn’t be a problem for your little one’

This, thankfully, was said to a mother who was clued up to the allergy situation for her baby. Imagine however, if the mother was in a black bewildering hole, at the beginning of the long allergy journey, and took what the Health Visitor said as gospel as she quite simply didn’t know any better.

Now imagine if that baby was IgE mediated allergy, and giving milk protein product resulted in an anaphylactic shock? Scary concept or what!! And this information imparted by someone that mothers should be able to trust…

Too many people who sadly become part of the allergy world, spend months battling to get their children accurately/ correctly diagnosed. And are often faced with incorrect, inaccurate and unhelpful information being provided to them.

For the most part, a mother, who let’s face it, is very clued up and in tune to their little one, will know if something is amiss. They book an appointment with their GP or healthcare professional, voice their concerns and if lucky, their concerns are taken seriously, and the child is referred to a specialist – usually a Consultant/ Allergist etc and then placed on a treatment pathway. This is a minority situation!

Sadly, the reality for over 80% of children diagnosed with allergies is a long battle, with much frustration as parents desperately try to prove allergy reactions, often serious ones, punctured with frequent visits to the GP, and if really unlucky, many visits to hospital/ A&E.

For anyone who follows this blog, you all know it was most certainly the case for Callum. And as awful as it sounds, he’s very much not alone.

It isn’t ‘the latest in thing’/ ‘the new fashionable thing’/ ‘an inconvenience’/‘simply not happening’, or even the insulting ‘maybe we need to see if you’re suffering from PND (Post Natal Depression)’.

Oh yes, some mothers I’ve spoken to have actually been subjected to that insensitive question, whilst sat in front of a GP, with their child suffering with a severe allergic reaction, a food diary and photographic evidence as proof, and the GP has outright dismissed it.

At best, it’s shocking, reality is it’s damn scary!

The key to resolving this situation is to get healthcare professionals far more clued up to the situation. Training programmes are now starting to take place, which will assist in their decision making, and ultimately improve the time it takes for an allergy diagnosis to happen.

It is important to note that there are some very clued up, helpful and frankly impressive Consultants who, once you are finally able to access, will resolve the situation very quickly by putting your child on a treatment pathway that will ensure their allergies and resulting reactions are kept at bay.

I will visit this topic more in the future, but I thought it important to really explain the situation as I see it at the moment!

What do you think? How long has it taken/ did it take for your little one to be diagnosed? Where the symptoms taken seriously?

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Left over roast risotto…

It’s a bit of a tradition in our house to have a Roast most Sundays. In fact, it’s quite rare to not have a Roast on a Sunday. There’s nothing more comforting is there! It’s all about taking it slightly easier than the rest of the week, and the house smelling utterly amazing whilst everything cooks.

Callum loves to ‘help’ me prepare everything, by collecting up all the vegetables from the tray, peeling the skin off the onions, counting out the carrots…. It’s lovely to watch!

So, you spend all that time on a Sunday, making a scrummy roast, but then you get a whole load of left overs. There are many things you can do, such as pies, soups, stir fries and so on. But you can also make a really scrummy risotto, which is a big hit with the kids.

You will need:

  • 1 large/ 2 medium sized spring onions – chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small cup of risotto rice
  • Left over roast meat – cut into bite size chunks
  • Left over roast vegetables – cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 pint of stock (I used homemade stock to ensure it was wheat/ gluten free)
  • Handful of grated dairy-free ‘cheese’

Method:

Place the onion and garlic in a large frying pan, along with the olive oil, and fry over a gentle heat for around 8 minutes, until the onion has become soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, place the left over roasted meat and vegetables in an oven proof dish, cover with foil, and heat at 180c/ 320f/ Gas 4 while you prepare the remainder of the risotto.

Add the risotto rice to the frying pan, and stir well with the onion and garlic, so that the rice is coated with oil.

Slowly add the stock, a ladleful at a time. After each addition, stir well and allow the liquid to be fully absorbed, before adding some more. Continue until all of the stock has been used.

Remove the meat and vegetables from the oven, add to the frying pan, and stir until fully combined.

Add the grated dairy-free ‘cheese’, mix well, and serve.

Enjoy!

Left over roast risotto

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Is it a cold?…

It’s been just over a week since the day arrived for allergy testing.

And I’m still trying to get my head around it all!

We’ve now had written confirmation of the results of the RAST test, which show that Callum isn’t suffering from coeliac disease. I am so grateful and relieved, words can’t even describe. It’s also unlikely that he is suffering from Crohns. Again, thank god!

This kid goes through so much already, he really deserves a bit of a break!

The most likely result we have been given, is that Callum is suffering from Non IgE, non-mediated wheat allergy. This confirms the suggestion of removing all wheat products from his diet. Once completely out of his system, allowing his system to cleanse itself, and then slowly reintroducing to see if any symptoms occur is the only way of truly getting an accurate result.

To be honest, if it helps to relieve the horrible symptoms he’s currently experiencing (excess bloating, discomfort, bloody stools….!) then I’m all for it.

Anything to make him more comfortable and less in pain!

We were also advised to slowly start to reintroduce egg as he showed up negative during testing.

I’ll be honest, I was (and still am!) somewhat wary of this given his previous reactions to egg!

The safest way to test, is to give food that has egg in baked form, so what better way than to create another cake recipe – which I will post soon, I promise!

So, I made a kind of apple clafoutis type cake, that takes 40 minutes to bake. And it’s still dairy-free, wahoo! J

All good so far!

Gave a slice to Callum, and he loved it!!

Still good!

The cake was given to him for lunch yesterday.

Within an hour, he had puffy eyes, shiners, and seemed out of sorts.

By last night he had a snotty nose, was itchy and eczema was flaring….

He had us up most of the night due to his eczema making him incredibly uncomfortable.

And then, all day today he’s been very very snotty, coughing, sneezing, itchy, nasty nappies……..

My guess is ‘reaction’, it seems too much of a coincidence!!

So, my question to you lovely lot:

Reaction or a simple cold?

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Simple blackberry jam…

Blackberry jam

Autumn is my favourite time of year. Absolutely nothing compares to it!

Winter is beautiful, but can cause many issues with eczema and the central heating being on.

Spring is the start of hay fever season, and Callum sneezes and has streaming eyes constantly.

Summer brings the hot temperatures and sore, dry, itchy skin, more hay fever, and also increased issues with asthma.

Autumn however, still has warm enough temperatures for the days to be enjoyable, sunny enough for the kids to still want to play outside, and the countryside turns into a beautiful picture, as the leaves turn their wonderful shades of red, orange and gold.

You wake up in the morning to mist, and as the sun burns through, the days become glorious.

The fruit and veg that you’ve been cultivating all summer become ripe and ready to eat, and quite scrummy! (a cheeky greengage off a tree, or a plum, or a newly ripe late tomato – yummy!!)

And on top of that, you get the extra fruit, the stuff that mother nature nurtures and gives back to us as an extra surprise.

Blackberries

Rosehip

Elderberries

…….

Bet you’re smiling as you’re reading now! :)

So, the best way to keep that smile, is to make some scrummy things with those extra delights! I’ve been playing around with a recipe for a blackberry cake, which I promise to share another time. Then there’s the crumbles, oh the crumbles!

And the stews and casseroles. You know the ones, where you can put them in the slow cooker at the start of the day, with all the root vegetables in season, and come home to a house smelling simply amazing!

Yep autumn is fab!!

A recipe which is a huge hit in our house, is simple blackberry jam. It’s so quick and easy to do, and it tastes soooo good!

This recipe will make around 6-7 jars.

You will need:

  • around 900g fresh blackberries (washed!)
  • 1kg jam sugar with added pectin
  • a tablespoon of dairy-free spread (I find the stork bar is the best)

Method:

Add the blackberries to a large saucepan, and crush with a masher (or blend until smooth) – depending on how smooth you like your jam!

Add the jam sugar and cook over a gentle heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir continuously to ensure the jam doesn’t stick or burn. (Do not allow the jam to boil!)

Add the tablespoon of dairy-free butter and stir in until dissolved

Increase the heat, and stir continuously, until the jam is boiling itself into a roll (it will roll and bubble and can’t be stirred down!)

At this point, boil for 4 minutes.

After the 4 minutes is up, remove from the heat and then pour carefully into warm sterilised jars.

Cover, label and leave to set!

Enjoy!

(This jam is wonderful on toast, in cakes, on pancakes or even stirred into porridge!)

NB: Try it and let me know what you think, I promise you’ll never buy shop bought again!