author of Feeding Eden

Power Lunch for Kids: Meet LaLa Lunchbox

Parents know our kids need some control over their food (but not too much.) We also know that it would be super helpful if our kids understood some food basics like ... cookies are not a good source of protein and balanced meals can include both vegetables and snacks.

Meet LaLa Lunchbox - a clean, focussed and effective app that empowers kids by allowing them choose and plan their meals in advance, and motivates with playful icons.

How does it work?

"Your kids get to personalize and design their lunchboxes with fun monsters and colors, and then plan their lunches for a whole week at a time. They simply swipe their choices into their lunchbox from a large selection of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and snacks. Along the way, they learn that a balanced lunch includes items from each category. Parents can easily personalize and edit the items available to their kids."

My favorite twist - and yes of course it's a food allergy twist - is that the founder, Gillian has a lifelong history of multiple anaphylactic allergies. Her brainchild app, in part, stemmed from her relationship with food. She explained, "As an allergic person, I think it could really benefit allergic kids who I'm assuming are like me and want to gain and keep control over any aspect of food that they can reasonably attain. I also think that from a parent's perspective, customizing the available list is comforting - and you can take pictures of specific brands and add them in once you know are safe."

I have LaLa Lunchbox and recommend that you check it out along with Gillians's blog. A great way to begin the new school year...


Back To School with Feeding Eden

This is a BIG Back To School year for our family: My children are starting a new school this fall. For Eden, in addition to making friends, meeting teachers, and navigating unfamiliar schedules and locales -- he will have to learn how to manage new food allergy safety routines within the routine of his school day. It won't be an entirely new ball game, but one with different rules. For example: Our old school was "peanut and nut aware" and our current school is "peanut and sesame aware" but nuts are eaten freely. In our old school Eden navigated a cafeteria filled with allergens (dairy, legumes, soy, fish, etc.) but this year his classmates bring lunch and eat in the classroom. These seemingly small differences offer fresh challenges but also opportunities for social equalizers.

Some of my own Back To School food allergy preparations and tips are cited in this article on NBC News:

Allergy anxiety: For some parents, new school year brings new fear

(and no, I don't agree with every viewpoint in the piece so feel free to comment here after reading.)

Back To School Webinar for Food Allergy Families

Kids With Food Allergies Foundation - one of the best of the best online food allergy communities - is holding free Webinars for parents on: "What Parents Of Kids With Food Allergies Need To Know About Food Allergy Management in School"

Now is great time to check in there and sign up: The first Webinar was so helpful that there will be a second Webinar live in late August.

Young Food Allergy Entrepreneur Makes It EZ

I've always loved the strength of the digital food allergy community. Largely, "we" are a supportive group of self-made advocates. But what about our kids?

Well, it was pretty cool when Emily Zauzmer (a 16-year-old with lifelong anaphylactic food allergies to tree nuts, peanuts and other legumes, sesame seeds, and some fruits) got in touch about her latest innovation: Emily created and designed two sites: EZgreetings and EZeatings. EZgreetings sells $5 email singing grams for 100 occasions — from birthdays to holidays and more. Emily sings and records each singing gram, and all profits, to date more than $5,000, go to food allergy research at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

But EZeatings reflects our communities need for solutions to living while research progresses. EZeatings provides links to the nutritional information (provided by chains) for over 50 major food chains nationwide. I cruised around this site and Emily's information is updated and thorough. Makes perfect sense: These are restaurants that food allergic teens and college students will frequent.

What a pleasure it was to bookmark a website created by a young adult who "wishes not to be a victim of her condition but rather a link to the solution." In a recent Huffington Post piece (HERE) I concluded, "As my son grows towards becoming a teen I want him to think different -- to choose exactly what to make of his life, not just his food allergies." With EZeatings, Emily is leading the way.



Coming Clean: Why Antibiotics Need More Play in the Food Allergy Game

Why has there been an increase in food allergies? First, researchers believe there is genetic component. Now piggyback that premise with several "multi factorial" triggers. The real dispute? Which trigger is the Biggest and Baddest food allergy catalyst? A situation I described on The Huffington Post.

Beliefs vary: Robyn O'Brien, political advocate, examines our food sources. A recent study funded by the Food Allergy Initiative uncovers geographical patterns for food allergic populations. And of course there is the much acclaimed Hygiene Theory which points to a recent lack of generally harmful agents in our society; agents such as bacterias, viruses and parasites, which may strengthen the immune system.

In my book, Feeding Eden, I ask a question:

When Eden was born he was given antibiotics to clear excess fluid from his lungs. The NICU (neo natal intensive care unit) advised us. They said so. Was that it? Did those antibiotics tip Eden's first domino? 

Due to recent research my answer may not be long in coming. There may be reason to question the uber-sterile (and of course life-saving) environment of the NICU which relies on the kind of antimicrobial safety discussed HERE. And after reading THIS ARTICLE in The New York Times, I concluded that, yes, exposure to healthy bacteria as early as during the birth process, may have later health implications in terms of food allergies.

I have a feeling breakthroughs in this area of food allergy research are soon to come.


PBS Expert Q&A on Managing Feelings That Arise When Children Have Restricted Diets

So I'm a PBS Parent "Expert" this week discussing the challenging emotions surrounding restricted diets. My son has been eating a diet restricted from dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, sesame and several kinds of beans for a grand total of ... eight years. That's a long list of foods and a long time. So please pass the word on anyone you know who contends with a special diet and tell them I'd love to hear from them right here:

Managing Feelings That Arise When Children Have Restricted Diets @ PBS Parents


Breakfast Outside The Box

Barely took 10 minutes to make this: Added water and olive oil to Cherrybrook Kitchen Pancake Mix, melted Enjoy Life Foods Mini Chips in the microwave, and thawed some raspberry sorbet. Why? My daughter wanted to eat a donut that someone had given her for breakfast and we both wanted Eden to have something equally "special." A few bites into the donut my daughter asked me if she could have Eden's breakfast instead!

Sandwich Night

Often, during the "Q and A" portion of book reading, I'm asked this question: "How do you eat as a family with your son's allergies?" And my answer (which I describe in the final chapter of Feeding Eden) is that most of the time we don't have the same food on our plates. Usually, our plates have a common idea, like pasta, or burgers or sandwiches or chicken. From there, safety modifications and preferences are superimposed. Our recent "Sandwich Night" serves a great example. Below are my children's plates (ours have been edited out for brevity.)

This is my son's sandwich. It's a repeat performer. An Italian roll drizzled with olive oil, then layered with chopped tomato and yellow pepper and topped off with arugola. The side was rare find. He is not fond of any sandwich meats but when we were in the store we saw some saw and affordable Bresiola (which is Italian cured beef) and he wanted to try it. He made the whole thing  entirely himself.

This is my daughter's sandwich. She wasn't all that hungry so chose an open face whole wheat slice with honey mustard, American cheese, salami, olives and baby gherkin pickle.

As a food allergy parent my mindset is to think outside the meals of our own childhood and be open to new but safe creations.

Feeding Eden: A Reader Comments

I wrote Feeding Eden for two reasons:

1. So people and especially parents who live with food allergies could read their story (at least in part.)

2. So people who don't live with food allergies could read our story.

Following is an exerpt from a note I received from a reader named Jennifer L:

I just finished reading Feeding Eden.  Like Eden, my son Isaac has multiple
food allergies, asthma, and eczema.  I found myself crying several times
while reading your book.  THANK YOU for taking the time to write and publish
such a wonderful resource.  My son was diagnosed at 10 months old and is now
7 and a half years old.  Your story was so very similar to ours in so many
ways, I could see myself and my Isaac in the stories in your book... I have never written anything to an author before because I have never truly been so touched by a book.

Just so it's "out there" I'm grateful to have received quite a few notes like these and I cry pretty much every time I do.

Thank you all for reading...


ALLERMATES are a new source of allergy resources and products for parents and their children. The company has a fabulous website, offering educational content about food allergies along with a line of cute customized allergy alert products including comfortable wristbands and necklaces with dog tags, lunch boxes and t-shirts. ALLERMATES "funs up" the necessity of food allergy I.D. and addresses the sensory needs of children: Their products are colorful, soft and - most importantly - convey the allergy safety alert. Parents of children who already wear Medic-Alert jewelry could easily integrate Allermates into their child's accessories. Just in time for summer camp...