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LEAP study and the groundbreaking results…

It has been a very interesting week for the allergy world!

News broke on Monday morning of the LEAP study into peanut allergy, and the ground-breaking development that the risk of peanut allergy could be significantly reduced by changing current methodologies.

640 patients aged 4-11 months were involved in the study, and were chosen as they were considered at ‘high-risk’ of developing peanut allergy due to suffering with severe eczema and/or egg allergy.

Patients were split into 2 groups, half of which were asked to eat peanut protein contained in 3 or more meals, each week. Whole nuts were not used, due to the risk of choking in small children. The other half of the group were asked to avoid nuts until the age of 5. Questionnaires were completed by all families involved on a regular basis.

The results of the study suggest that peanuts introduced to the diet of ‘at-risk’ babies from 4 months onwards significantly reduced the chances of them developing a peanut allergy by the age of 5. When they say significant, it really is. It is believed to reduce the chance by as much as 80%!

Seeing as peanut allergy is one of the most prevalent of allergies, and the number of people, particularly children, becoming affected is increasing significantly year on year, it’s almost too good to be true.

The method used during the study is portrayed as quite radical, but is it?

If something is suddenly introduced to a diet, where previously it hadn’t existed, there is always going to be a chance that the body will have an adverse reaction to it due to it being ‘foreign’. The thought processes behind it are that introducing to the diet early on, will most likely ensure there is little or no reaction.

It makes sense!

I said as much to my father-in-law, who immediately responded with:

‘Well I didn’t come into contact with peanuts until I was at least 8 due to the rationing after the war, and I’ve not become allergic, nor had any reaction when I tried it, nor did my older brother, cousins, or any of my school friends!’

I guess he has a point. But then again, it’s just as possible that he isn’t a person likely to develop allergies, so was never going to have a reaction.

There are some people that will always be more predisposed to allergies, just like Callum. No-one truly knows the reasons why, and that’s why studies like this are crucial to help us understand allergies more, and learn how to control them better, or even better, to pre-empt like this study suggests.

As the parent of a child with a severe nut and peanut allergy, and owner of an allergy focused business, I have read the details with much interest, and am very keen to see how this progresses!

For me, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but for now, I do remain slightly sceptical, particularly because many other factors need to be taken into consideration such as in terms of other allergies already discovered in patients, family history and so on. It will be interesting to see how the patients progress in the coming years, and whether any do go on to present with allergic responses later on. I will keep everything crossed that they remain allergen free!!

There is a flip side to this study though, as is sadly always the case. For many years, the advice given to parents has been:

  • Avoid peanuts until at least the age of 2
  • Avoid consuming during pregnancy
  • Avoid consuming whilst breastfeeding

As a result of the news breaking of this study, I have seen numerous posts, tweets, and articles focusing on the guilt that parents the world over are now feeling, as well as anger and frustration. They have diligently listened to advice given by GPs/ Consultants/ Health Visitors to keep their little ones safe and away from any potential danger to nut exposure/ ingestion, and now the advice could be about to change, advising people to do the exact opposite.

It’s conflicting for sure, and an alien concept to get your head around when you’ve become so used to doing the opposite it’s second nature!

The articles currently in circulation have been part of many people’s discussions, unsurprisingly, and they are bringing up a whole host of emotions for many!

Parents who have children suffering with allergies, particularly peanut mustn’t beat themselves up. It’s very new information, and there’s much more research to be done. They most certainly haven’t done anything ‘wrong’. Life with an allergic child is tough, bloody tough. Blaming yourself for not ‘protecting’ your little one following the information that is coming out with this study is not going to help anyone!

Importantly, parents mustn’t start changing the way they wean their children, particularly if they suffer with eczema and/ or egg allergy. They should seek medical advice before applying this sort of introduction to their little ones diet. The study was conducted in a safe and controlled way, with medical assistance available in case of reaction.

We as allergy parents battle the odds daily, and ultimately, as long as our children are safe, happy and not reacting, then surely we’re doing something right!

Articles covering details such as this study do tend to arm ill-equipped people with information. Unfortunately it does mean that some people then want to give you suggestions, when perhaps they have little or no experience on the subject, which can prove challenging!

I have, myself, been on the receiving end of unhelpful ‘advice’ from people who simply don’t get what it is like to have a child with severe allergies and the daily battle you face to keep them well. The advice is given with the best of intentions, for sure, but when you get told:

‘maybe Callum would be better if you’d given him a little bit of nut when you were weaning him, and not been so strict with his diet with the other stuff…’

Quite frankly, it takes all my will power not to hit them, and I am not a violent person by nature!

It was when we were in the midst of trying to figure out the allergies that were making Callum so very poorly, that we gave him a chocolate roulade at a year old, with sweetened chestnut purée in it (not knowing what we know now with regards to his allergies, and still very naïve) and he suffered an instant severe reaction. He now has an epi-pen as a result!

Callum looks much better today than he did before, because of being so strict and careful with his diet, and getting rid of the very things that were making him ill. So, people (not medically trained!) suggesting after months and months of elimination, trial, error, tears, frustration, despair and more, that giving him exactly what makes him so severely ill would have made him better, does take the biscuit somewhat!

That aside, the study does give hope to future generations, that maybe just maybe, the battle against peanut allergy could be about to improve. I for one think George du Toit and his colleagues have certainly set the benchmark for how allergies are managed in years to come and I’m excited to see what more will be found out in the future!

And who knows, perhaps other allergies may have ground-breaking developments like this too.

This allergy mum is definitely hoping so!!

 

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Lots of change, and pancake time!…

In our neck of the woods, it’s half term this week, and the kids are loving it! It’s been a time for the family to re-group, as there’s been a few changes in our house over the past couple of weeks. The biggest change being that I have now gone self-employed to work on Intolerant Gourmand full time! There’s been so much to sort out, finalise, implement and set up over the past few months, but we’ve done it!

The business has become very busy (which is fantastic!) and it’s meant that I no longer had time to work elsewhere. It’s a win win situation! I work from home now, instead of commuting for over an hour each way every day – the reduction in the fuel bill alone is impressive!! And the amount of extra time on my hands to actually be productive is wonderful!

The biggest win out of all of this, I am now there for Chloe and Callum much more!

For over a year, I haven’t been able to pick Chloe up from school, and have relied on Jon, friends, and a child-minder to pick her up instead. Whilst Chloe didn’t mind, I did! I desperately wanted to be there for her every day, but sadly it wasn’t logistically possible.

Now it is!

And Callum has had the hours he spends at his lovely child-minders reduced too, so I get to spend a bit of time with him in the mornings before dropping him off! Fab stuff!

So, with all this change, and trying to catch up with a lot of spinning plates, I didn’t realise that it’s pancake day tomorrow!

Yikes, that’s ‘crepe’t up on us hasn’t it! (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Now, pancakes have a simple enough recipe, you create a quick batter using the basic ingredients of egg, milk, flour, pinch of salt and you’re off!

Well, it’s not quite so simple when you have a child highly allergic to dairy and egg, and also to wheat!

So, I have 2 recipes for you that work equally well, and cater for most allergies! On top of that, they are ridiculously simple, and taste just as good as the real thing, so no one will ever know they are special allergy safe ones!

Recipe 1

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs (can also use Orgran egg replacer)
  • 1 cup flour (can also use gluten free such as Doves)
  • 1 cup milk (can also use alternative milks such as soya, oat, almond)
  • Pinch of salt (if not using for small children)

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and smooth and lump free.

Leave to settle for 5 minutes, before pouring a ladle’s worth into a hot frying pan which has been greased

Fry for 1 minute on each side, flipping to turn over!

Serve with your favourite topping (lemon and sugar, fresh fruit and golden syrup, jam and whipped dairy-free cream, dairy-free chocolate sauce)

Recipe 2

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed until smooth
  • 1 cup of flour (can also use gluten free)
  • 1 cup of milk (can also use alternative milks such as soya, oat, almond)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a bowl, and beat until well combined.

Leave to settle for 5 minutes, before pouring a ladle’s worth into a hot frying pan which has been greased

Fry for 1 minute on each side, flipping to turn over!

Serve with your favourite topping (lemon and sugar, fresh fruit and golden syrup, jam and whipped dairy-free cream, dairy-free chocolate sauce)

Enjoy!

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The Liebster Award….

Liebster Award Logo

This is a post that is somewhat different to what we usually do – let us explain more!

There are some days that just plod along as normal, nothing major happens, and you get to the end of the day, and bam something lovely happens.

This happened to us last week!

So, there we were, checking the blog and comments received during the day, as we always do, and we see a link to a fab blog that we follow After the rain where we find out they have nominated us for a Liebster Award.

I’d not heard of a Liebster Award before, and after a bit of research found out that it’s given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. Liebster derives from German and translates as sweetest, nicest, beloved, pleasant, cute, kind, welcome. How lovely is that!

A very big *thank you* is now winging its way to Tara! :)

I started to write this blog post straight away, but I must confess that I found it harder than I first imagined, and I like that, because it made me step out of my comfort zone!

There are some simple rules to follow when accepting the award:

  • You have to post the award on your blog
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and have less than 200 followers
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees a set of 11 new questions

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I’m half French, hence the ‘h’ in my name (Nathalie)
  2. I can speak French fluently, although a little rusty with some words!
  3. My business is based on allergies due to my son and his multiple allergies, but I myself am allergic to pineapples – they make me violently sick
  4. I can’t eat too many tomatoes, they give me chronic stomach pains
  5. I hate the volume on the TV or car radio to be set at an odd number, if it is I feel compelled to change it to an even number!
  6. I have family dotted all over the world, and am thankful for social media which makes it much easier to stay in touch with them all!
  7. Ever since I watched ‘Witches of Eastwick’ I’ve not been able to eat cherries in any form, I literally can’t stand them!
  8. I fess up to being ‘one of those shoppers’ who takes ages to put things in their trolley, checking every single label, and sighing/ getting cross if it contains something the little dude can’t have, or if the ingredients on a previously safe product have changed and become unsafe, and wistfully remember when food shopping was much simpler (boy did I take it for granted!)
  9. I wish that I had magic powers to get rid of allergies the world over, and I sometimes have to pinch myself when I’m asked about the business, and meet people who tell me how it has helped them!
  10. I have written a number of books (cookbooks, children’s books, chick lit) based on allergies and the journey of the past 3 years, and working hard to find a publisher for them all
  11. I find these sorts of things really difficult to write, but I’ve actually quite enjoyed doing this one!

Q&A (fab questions Tara):

What is the story behind your blog name (even if it’s your name)?

It is based on my little boy who is allergic to lots, but still loves his food! There are many business and blog names using ‘allergy’ or ‘allergies’ or ‘allergic’, so I wanted something that would still convey that, but also be a bit different. It’s also a play on the initials GI (gastro intestinal) due to the tummy troubles he has as a result of his allergies.

Is there one particular post you are most proud of? (Please link it)

Yes there is, and it’s actually a very recent one which received an incredible amount of hits and shares. It depicts what life is really like when dealing with allergies and a little one, and many readers could relate!

https://intolerantgourmand.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/you-know-youre-an-allergy-mum-when

Has anything surprised you about blogging?

Most definitely! I love writing, I always have done, and find it very enjoyable, so I knew that I shouldn’t run out of content for the blog, although at first I was a little concerned. It’s amazing where you find your inspiration though, just a random conversation can lead to 2 or 3 blog posts, which in turn lead to more. I have a notebook with me where-ever I go, so that if an idea pops into my head, I can write it down before I forget about it!

What has really taken me by surprise is the many different countries that the blog has reached – that has truly blown me away! The blog started as a means to get thoughts and fears out there, so that what we were going through didn’t seem quite so overwhelming. As it evolved and reached more people, helping them with what we have learnt along the way it has humbled me. We receive emails all the time, thanking us for supporting and providing answers in an often bleak area, and I am so proud we have been able to achieve this! It has been an amazing journey so far, which I hope can continue for a long time yet!

What do you do when you procrastinate?

The hubby will immediately say that I grab my phone and jump on the social media networks! But I call that work, when it’s structured! For me, it’s more likely to be to write a new recipe, or to bake. Baking a cake is the best way of ‘wasting time’! And you get to eat the end result…. Happy days! :)

Do you have a favourite quote? (I’m collecting them for a quote wall in my office, which is actually my bedroom).

If it’s meant to be, it will be!

I’m a big believer in fate. If something is meant to happen, it will do. We might not always get there by the simplest of means, or we may ignore the first time it calls, but if we are meant to do something, or meant to have something, it will find us!

If you had an entirely free day to spend on your own doing something for your own pleasure what would you do?

Oh wow, now this is something that I think all working mums dream of!! I’d start the day by having a lie-in, an obvious choice maybe, but my god it’s a must! Then I’d book into a spa for the day with the besties and have a day of girly catch up and pamper sessions, followed by a late afternoon tea, where I would actually get to finish a cup of tea/coffee while it is still hot!!

Do you prefer city, country or coast?

Country or coast in equal measure, as long as the coast isn’t part of a city. I really don’t like the hustle and bustle, noise and dirt of the city. I worked in the centre of London for a few years, and it really took the shine away when you had to battle to catch the tube and jostle along overcrowded pavements.

We live in the middle of the countryside with rolling hills around, the back garden backs on to fields with horses, cows, sheep etc. Sounds idyllic and it really is! The kids love it! I grew up in the country myself, and I’m so glad they are getting the same opportunity. Callum’s first word was ‘tractor’, says it all really!

Do you have a favourite book?

Ah, now this is a difficult question to answer I have been a book worm since I was a little girl, and have read many fabulous books over the years so it’s really hard for me to pick just one!

Are you a morning person?

No! I struggle in the mornings, and find I’m much happier and more productive the more the day progresses! That probably stems from not getting a good night’s sleep, and then resorting to drinking copious amounts of coffee to help me through the day!

Did you have a favourite television programme as a child?

Yes, but it will show my age if I say any more!

*whispers quietly* ‘button moon’, ‘raggy dolls’, ‘rainbow’, ‘puddle lane’ and ‘sooty’ – all firm favourites!

What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?

Not to be frightened of change or doing something different to everyone else, and to always believe in yourself!

When I was at school, and trying to get into uni, a teacher of mine told me I’d never get far because I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. It really dented my confidence. I’m sure most 18 year olds don’t really know what they want to do with their life, and go to uni or start working to find what is right for them. When the time is right, the answer will come, and they will end up doing what is right for them!

 

I would like to present my awards to the following bloggers:

The pie patch

Free2Bake

The Stripy Bear Tales

Feeding my intolerant child

Pinkiebag

Baked potato mummy

Growing Trends

Dairy Free Switzerland

Just fooling around with Bee

Dairy Free kids

Alpha Beata

And if you accept the award I would like you to answer the following:

  1. Why do you blog/ what made you start blogging?
  2. Do you have a favourite place where you like to write your blog posts?
  3. What would you like to achieve with your blogging (if you haven’t already)?
  4. What is your most memorable blog post and why (please post the link)?
  5. Tea or coffee?
  6. Sweet or savoury?
  7. What is your favourite meal and why? (I’m writing an article on people’s favourite meals and how it influences us/ makes us feel)
  8. What did you want to be when you were younger?
  9. What is your favourite time of the day?
  10. What would your dream job be and why?
  11. What one bit of advice would you give to someone just starting out in the blogging world?