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Staying on the ball…

One thing is for certain when living with allergies, you have to be totally aware of everything going on around you!

You literally have to know what is going to happen, almost before it happens, so that you can stay one step ahead of the game.

It’s hard work, and a tiring, all consuming process, but one that ultimately keeps your little one safe as much as possible. Or at least it usually does!

I’ve written a post before about attending birthday parties, and how to cope with them when dealing with allergies.

You need eyes in the back of your head, especially with a fast little dude like Callum.

Callum is incredibly lucky, not only does he have me watching him wherever we go, but he also has Chloe, his fabulous big sister, who is always watching out for him! She’s simply fab!

Truth be told, she is an absolute godsend! To him, and to me!

She watches him like a hawk, tries to include him in all the party games she’s involved with, and also makes sure that he doesn’t eat anything he’s not meant to. To be fair to Callum, he’s very good, and doesn’t eat anything that I’ve not given him, but it’s incredibly reassuring to know that Chloe’s also watching to make sure he’s ok – especially if my back is turned for even just a moment.

Now, I like to think I’m fairly clued up when it comes to allergies and parties, or just going out in general. I write articles about how to cope, I coach on the top 10 things to look out for, how to deal with tricky situations, and I support other parents who’ve had bad experiences.

Well, here’s where I confess that even the best of us get caught out!

Yep, we really do!

A couple of weekends ago, we were at a party, and I had done my usual party lunch box for Callum, so that he could eat safe food.

I’d also checked out the party room, so I knew where the possible danger areas could be, and moved any dangerous foods (ie likely to cause a severe allergic reaction) out of his reach.

I even asked the parents to do an announcement to everyone in the room not to feed Callum, and the quick version of the reasons why.

I’d also made sure that the area where Callum would be sitting whilst he ate, was totally safe and had no residue on the table (a potential source of allergic reaction).

Brilliant, or so I thought. Everyone was aware of his situation, the dangerous foods were out of reach, and maybe I could actually relax a little bit after all….

Yep, that didn’t last long!

The entertainer had heard the announcement about not giving Callum ‘anything’ at all.

Sadly, it wasn’t taken on board.

Any allergy mum will tell you that you get a kind of sixth sense, you just know when you need to watch your little one closely. Thankfully my awareness radar was on full alert!

Once all the children had eaten, they went on to play party games with the entertainer. I was helping to clear up some of the party food, but then stopped and started to watch Callum closely.

Thank goodness I did!!

The entertainer had started a game of musical statues, and was tapping the ones doing well, and placing a large chocolate coin on their head.

Callum was chosen.

And had a chocolate coin placed on his head.

A chocolate coin.

A dairy filled, severe allergic reaction inducing chocolate coin…..

Oh god!!!

2 mothers either side of me, noticed my immediate sharp inhale of breath, and the rush of panic going through me.

Thankfully, Callum is very well trained by us, and so good at knowing what he can and can’t eat. I’ve never been more proud of him.

He looked at me, I shook my head to indicate ‘no’, and he came running to me straight away with his hand out, to give me the chocolate coin.

I always carry ‘safe’ sweets with me, so that he never misses out. I’m not ashamed to say, I gave him double the normal trade off, plus a big amount of cuddles!

There were no tears, no tantrums, no stamping of feet, no rage.

Just a calm acceptance.

We have always been totally honest with Callum, and as a result, he knows what makes him feel utterly rubbish, he knows what makes him sick, gives him nasty nappies, causes nasty eczema patches.

He knew to stay away.

For that, I am so incredibly proud!!

I may not have been able to prevent him from being given the contraband on this occasion, but by staying on the ball, a major crisis was averted.

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The UK Blog Awards 2015 (#UKBA15)…

When I first began to write this blog just over 9 months ago, it started off as a quiet, neutral place where I could note down the things that were playing on my mind. In fact, if truth be told, it’s probably how most people who write a blog started out.

Well, let me tell you, a blog is a wonderful thing, it really is!

  • It’s almost like a pet, in the way it needs to be fed information and nurtured to see it grow
  • It’s always there for you, even if you do occasionally neglect it a bit when life gets in the way
  • It listens, and lets you tell your thoughts and worries without interruption, or more importantly, argument!
  • It lets you voice your fears without reaction
  • It helps you to reach the answer you’ve been trying so desperately to find
  • It provides a full support group at the times when you really need it most

For me, this blog was a means to try to get my head around everything that happened to Callum and to us as a family.

Anyone who reads this blog knows we have been to hell and back, on a journey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, to try to get Callum as well as possible in spite of the daily challenges he faces.

Tears, frustration, anger, despair, depression, fear…. None of this truly depicts the tough challenge we have faced as individuals and as a family.

The battles have most definitely left their scars, but we’re still standing, and fighting as a unit to keep Callum well.

As the blog has grown over the past few months, it’s started to reach people who need the support and advice on here the most. And for this I am both proud, and thankful. I promise to keep being there, for everyone, and anyone who needs it. Just knowing someone can relate to what you are going through helps more than words can ever describe!

I was desperate to have this information out there when we were at the beginning of our journey, and knowing this blog can offer the very information that is crucial to help people going through the same journey, is just amazing!

Out of intrigue, I checked the blog’s ranking on Tots 100 at the beginning of the week. I don’t usually, it’s a new blog, and is only just starting to get somewhere in the world of blogging. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found out it’s currently ranked 474 out of 1000’s!

I’m so proud of this! It won’t mean much to many people, but to me, it means my hints, tips, advice, recipes and support is reaching the very people that need it most, the ones that are living the hell we have. And, hopefully, it’s helping them, even just a little bit!

On top of that, this blog was entered into the UK Blog Awards 2015 just to test the water, I never expected it to be accepted, and for that I am truly blown away.

To help us continue spreading the word about allergies and eczema, I would be so grateful if you would vote for us using this link:

http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-intolerant-gourmand/

On a personal note, thank you so so much for the support shown to this blog. I promised a year ago to make a difference in the allergy and eczema world, and strive to make diagnosis, support and advice better. Slowly but surely, since setting up The Intolerant Gourmand as a business, we’re starting to make a difference, and we won’t stop until we’ve transformed the way allergies and eczema are managed!

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The flu jab…

Now we’re approaching winter, it’s come round to that time of year when mention of the flu jab returns. For at risk/ vulnerable people with conditions that predispose them to a higher chance of suffering badly if they caught flu, it’s a great opportunity to protect themselves.

It is offered to the over 65s, people with comorbidities, and front line NHS workers amongst others.

The idea behind the flu jab is to get enough people to take up the offer, so that not only people who need the protection have it, the people who can’t have it will be more protected during the flu season.

Callum has been offered the chance to have the nasal spray for the past 2 years. Unfortunately, as it is egg based it would cause him a reaction. The added problem Callum has, is that even a simple cold can cause major problems for him, so it simply isn’t worth putting him through so much pain and discomfort in the hope he will get some protection.

Jon and I are both offered the flu jab through our work, so to give Callum the best possible chance of being protected, we both get it.

Anything to help our brave boy!

Jon never really gets any reaction, a day of sniffles a few days after having the jab, and that’s it.

Me on the other hand….. a whole different kettle of fish!!

This is the 4th year running that I have had the flu jab, and whilst I’m assured by my work colleagues that there’s no active flu ingredient in the jab, it floors me every single blooming year!

Literally!

Exactly a week to the day after having the jab, I get a sore throat, which progresses to a nasty cough, aching limbs, blocked nose, the shivers and so on. And after a week of this, I lose my voice and all the other symptoms still continue!

It’s almost like my body makes me go through a mild version of flu symptoms whilst trying to ‘accept’ the jab.

It does leave me feeling utterly lousy, and I’m currently on the 2nd week since having the jab, so this week has been somewhat of a struggle, I have to say!!

BUT!

When I consider everything Callum goes through, what he puts up with, and the challenges he faces on a daily basis, I kind of have to man up and just deal with it.

Me having to deal with minor symptoms is far better than the other far more terrifying alternative of Callum actually catching flu. It would undoubtedly result in a hospital admission and leave him very very poorly.

And that, quite simply can’t happen!

If you have it offered to you, please do take up the chance of having the flu jab, you just never know who you might be helping!

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The humble pumpkin seed…

Roasted pumpkin seedsSo, halloween arrives, you buy the outfits for the kids to go trick or treating in, you stock up on a ridiculous amount of sweets/ treats for the little ones that come knocking on your door, and you get the pumpkins to carve.

Now comes the hard work. And let’s face it, it is hard work!!

The scraping out of the stringy stuff in the pumpkins, the scooping out of the flesh, so you can actually make something edible to enjoy after all your hard work. This can take a long time, size and amount of pumpkins depending.

For me, it seems like there’s an awful lot of waste that goes on when it comes to pumpkins!

People often discard the humble pumpkin seed. Truth is, it’s an incredibly healthy snack, with an abundance of benefits to us:

  • They help us to get a good nights sleep, thanks to sleep enhancing amino acid tryptophan that converts to serotonin
  • They’re packed full of mineral magnesium, a known natural relaxant
  • They help to stabilise blood sugar, and are great as part of a balanced diet when trying to lose weight
  • They have high levels of Omega 3

Not bad for something we normally chuck in the bin, eh!

Pumpkin seeds are wonderful once toasted, and this simple recipe really transforms them into a healthy snack that everyone will love. This can also be done with butternut squash seeds too, and can be enjoyed on it’s own, sprinkled over soup, or onto loaves.

You will need:

  • Pumpkin seeds, washed, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Chilli powder
  • Chilli flakes

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c/ 340f/ Gas 4. Place the seeds in a roasting tray, pour over the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle the salt, pepper, and a large pinch of chilli powder over the top.

Stir until very well combined, and then roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Make sure you stir well every 10 minutes or so, so that the seeds roast evenly. It will help to give them a really nice crispy crunchy flavour.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle some more salt, and also a large pinch of chilli flakes, and stir until well combined.

Leave to cool (if you can wait that long!) and enjoy!