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How much money do you spend on food each year when living with a food allergy? According to a study conducted by food allergy researcher Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, and her colleagues, food allergy diagnosis has a major economic impact on families. The highest proportion of direct-out of pocket costs stem from the cost of special diets and allergen-free food, accounting for $1.7 billion per year.

Although these foods can be more costly than their non-allergy counterparts, there are ways to cut down on spending. These five easy tips can help stretch your dollar:

1. Shop the sale items

Browse through local grocery store ads before planning your meals or making your grocery list. Buy allergy friendly options when on sale if possible. To help you get the best bang for your buck, purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season.When produce is in season, it’s at its peak flavor and is generally more abundant, making it more affordable.

Want a certain fruit or vegetable that is not in season? You can still buy the fresh item, or include frozen fruits and vegetables in your diet, as they are comparable in nutritional quality. Make sure to check the ingredients list to avoid things such as added sugar or salt.

2. Plan your meals and create a grocery list

Planning your meals is a great way to cut down on your spending and ensure there are options for everyone in your family, including those with food allergies. Pre-planning helps you control what and how much you buy without worrying about over spending. Check your refrigerator and pantry to see if you can incorporate any of these items into your meals. Create a grocery list to help keep you focused, reduce shopping time, and help you purchase only the foods that you really need for the week.

3. Reduce Waste

Reducing waste helps can make your food go further. Try to eat highly perishable items earlier in the week and less perishable items toward the end of the week. Pack leftover items for lunch or save them for dinner the next night. This can also be a convenient option during a busy day.

Sick of eating leftovers? A great way to get over the leftover blues is to make a new creation with what you have, or freeze it for a meal the next week. For example, left over chicken could be used in a casserole, salad, frittata, or soup to name just a few.

What if I have food that is passed the best if used by/before, use-by or sell by date? These common phrases can be a bit difficult to decipher, but are related to food quality, not food safety.

  • The best if used by/before date indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality.
  • The sell by date is for stores to know how long to display the product for inventory management.
  • Finally, the use-by date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date, except for when used on infant formula.

This means that you do not have to throw these food items out immediately. They are safe to consume even after the date. Use your best judgement and toss foods that are moldy or have a, “off” smell.

4. Buy generic and compare allergy-free brands

Generally, generic brands are just as good as the original and are less expensive. Compare the nutrition facts label to see if there is a difference in nutritional content or possible allergens. Allergy-free brands can be costly compared to their non-allergy counterparts, but costs between allergy-free brands can vary.

5. Use nutrient-dense, low cost foods

Instead of expensive meats, which tend to be the highest dollar ingredient in a recipe, try other nutrient-dense protein options such as beans, lentils, eggs, peanut butter, tofu and canned fish. It’s important for those with food allergies to replace the nutrients that are missing after eliminating the problem foods. Nutrient dense foods make this possible, and there are low cost options.

To get the most out of your meat purchases, purchase a larger quantity of meat when it is on sale and freeze some for future use.

Being allergy friendly doesn’t have to break the bank! Try these five tips to lower your grocery costs.

By Kendal Schmitz, Dietetic Intern at Allergy Associates of La Crosse


  1. Gordon B. 10 Ways to save time and money at the grocery store. EatRight Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/save-time-and-money-at-the-grocery-store.
  2. Gordon B. 20 Money-saving grocery shopping tips. EatRight Academny of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/eat-right-on-a-budget/20-money-saving-grocery-shopping-tips.
  3. Cox J. 7 Ways to shop healthy on a budget. EatRight Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/7-ways-to-shop-healthy-on-a-budget. 2016.
  4. What fruits & vegetables are in season? Fruits & Veggies More Matters. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season 
  5. Food product dating. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/fsis-content/internet/main/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating. 2016.

The post Save Money While Grocery Shopping with Food Allergies appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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Allergychoices by Taylor Pasell - 1M ago

Whether it’s itching, burning, or redness, eye irritation is just that — irritating. Understanding what’s causing your symptoms can help you calm the redness and get back to seeing clearly. We’ve outlined the difference between pink eye and allergies, two common causes of eye irritation.

Pink eye

Cause: Virus or bacteria

Contagious: Yes

Symptoms: Pus and mucus, burning, sore, redness

Where: Starting in one eye, potentially spreading to both

When: Year round

The biggest difference between pink eye and allergy is the pus and mucus that can gather in the eye. The infection will start in one eye, and potentially move to the other eye, which is also unique to pink eye.

If you suspect you have pink eye, you’ll want to visit your doctor. They will determine if the infection is due to a virus or bacteria and give you treatment options based off of that. Oftentimes antibiotics or eye drops are prescribed, and once they run their course, the infection is cleared.


Cause: Airborne allergens

Contagious: No

Symptoms: Itching, watering, puffy, redness

Where: Both eyes

When: Allergy season

For those with allergic rhinitis, itching and scratching can occur in the eyes, just like it does in the nose. When airborne allergens circulate through the air and come in contact with your eyes, your body tries to fight back against the unwanted contact. Histamine is released, and that’s when symptoms occur.

Antihistamines or antihistamine eye drops can help cover the symptoms, but they will reoccur every year when your bothersome allergy is in bloom. An allergy test is a great way to determine what allergens cause your symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy is an ideal way to help treat your eye allergies. In addition, you can make lifestyle changes based off of your identified allergens, like closing your windows during peak season, running an air purifier, or avoiding certain outdoor areas.

The post Pink Eye or Allergies? appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices

Managing a food allergy is difficult, especially when first diagnosed. Leaning in to friends, family, and support groups is an awesome support, but what about food allergy tools online? We put together information on three that are worth exploring, Allergy Eats, My Teal Ticket and Spokin! Check them out.

Allergy Eats

Food allergies shouldn’t prevent you from going out to eat! Allergy Eats, available online and through an app, is a guide to finding allergy-friendly restaurants wherever you are. It has an easy to use search option, using a zip code, city or state, restaurant name, or allergy.

Users eat at a restaurant and leave a comment and rating about their experience on Allergy Eats. When you search for a restaurant, you see a rating out of 5 stars and any comments that have been left. It’s a great way to understand what others with food allergy experience when visiting a restaurant.

My Teal Ticket

Once you decide on a restaurant, My Teal Ticket is the next step. Katie, experiencing many food allergies herself, needed a way to make sure her meal order was safe, from the server to the chef. She made — appropriately titled — teal tickets that alert the kitchen of her allergies, along with her order.

Each ticket has a checklist of allergens, and checking the boxes alerts the kitchen of what cannot be included in the meal. There’s also a cross contact box that can be checked to signal that cross contact is an issue. The back of the ticket has a spot to mark the table and seat number, as well as a place to write your order.

It’s an easy way to alert the restaurant of your allergies, right next to your order! It’s a bright teal color, so getting mixed in with other orders is nearly impossible. My Teal Ticket makes mix ups and cross contact easier to avoid, and your meal easier to enjoy safely.


Last but not least — Spokin! Spokin is a food allergy app that you can access from your phone and your desktop. It offers so many resources; you won’t know where to start!

The Spokin blog gives information on so many topics, from Allergy-Friendly Pumpkin Spice Products to Allergy and Celiac Friendly Donut Shops. The travel section gives insight on food allergies all around the world. There are product guides, holiday guides, recipes, resources and way more!

Do you have food allergy tools that you love? Tell us about them in the comments!

The post Food Allergy Tools Worth Exploring appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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Katelyn Stelzer, Dietetic Intern, Allergy Associates of La Crosse

Have you heard the recent buzz about rising milk allergies in the U.S.? For those with a milk allergy, it’s important to replace the nutrients taken away when eliminating milk with alternatives. Here you’ll find milk’s essential nutrients, the importance of milk in the human diet, and alternatives to milk.

Milk’s Essential Nutrients

Cow’s milk is the usual cause of a milk allergy, but milk from goats, sheep, buffalo and other mammals can also trigger a reaction. The two major proteins in cow’s milk are whey and casein. Whey is found in the liquid part of milk and casein is found in the solid part (curd) of milk that curdles.

Cow’s milk is a good source of protein, with each cup delivering about 8 grams.

In America, milk and dairy products are a top source of calcium in the diet, one cup providing 290 mg of calcium. Critical for many body functions such as nerve conduction, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and membrane permeability, calcium is most known for its role in bone formation and health.

Other essential nutrients in milk include phosphorus, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium, as well as vitamins B12, A, E, and D. Milk provides a significant amount of calcium and vitamin D, which are not so readily available, or absorbed, from any other source.

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bones. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin naturally found in fish, fortified in common foods such as milk, as well as being available as a dietary supplement. Our bodies also produce vitamin D when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin. For people with multiple food allergies, sufficient calcium and vitamin D may be difficult to obtain from food sources alone, so in some cases, supplements of these micronutrients are required to ensure optimum nutrition.

The Importance of Milk in the Human Diet

Milk is a unique food in human nutrition for several important reasons. It’s the indispensable first food of the newborn infant. Ideally, the first milk a baby ingests is its own mother’s milk; if not possible, human milk may be available from a donor.

The next recommended option is milk-based infant formula. Formula manufacturers try to imitate human milk as closely as possible in order to supply all the known nutrients required for the baby’s optimal growth and development. When an infant has a milk allergy, there are specialty allergy-free formulas available to ensure adequate nutrition and growth without dairy.

In children and adults with a milk allergy, it’s essential to obtain alternate sources of all the nutrients in milk. Luckily, these nutrients can still be obtained through other foods and beverages while following a milk-free diet.


Today, there is an abundance of fortified non-dairy beverages such as soy, almond, cashew, oat, coconut, rice, hazelnut, hemp, pea, quinoa, and flax milks. Keep in mind that not all plant-based milk brands and styles are created equal. There are various choices including sweetened and unsweetened, vanilla or chocolate, added protein or original, and so on. Reading the Nutrition Facts and product labels will help you select the best alternatives that provide protein, calcium and vitamin D to your diet.

When comparing non-dairy substitutes to cow’s milk, the most important nutrients to look at are calcium, fat, and protein. Most non-dairy substitutes will be fortified, which means nutrients have been added to the product.

Comparison of milk substitutes to 1% milk per one cup serving
Type of Milk Calories Protein Fat Calcium
1% milk 102 8.22 g 2.37 g 300 mg
Soy Milk (Silk) 110 8 g 4.5 g 300 mg
Pea Milk (Ripple) 75 8 g 5 g 450 mg
Oat Milk (Pacific) 130 4 g 2.5 g 121 mg
Hemp Milk (Pacific) 140 3 g 5 g 282 mg
Almond Milk (Silk) 60 1 g 2.5 g 300 – 450 mg
Rice Milk (Silk) 113 0.67 g 2.33 g 200 – 400 mg
Coconut Milk (SO Delicious) 70 < 1 g 4.5 g 100 mg
Flax Milk (Good Karma) 25 0 g 2.5 g 300 mg

The Dietary Guidelines recommend including non-dairy food sources in the diet that are rich in calcium such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, salmon, soybeans and soy products, black and navy beans, and fortified breads, cereals, crackers, and beverages for children and adults avoiding milk.

Not only is there a wide variety of milk substitutes available, there are many nutritious foods to pair them with for a boost in your diet:

  • Add to fortified oatmeal and cold cereals
  • Blend with kale and frozen fruit for delicious smoothies
  • Mix it in with dark leafy greens, beans, and grains for creamy soups
  • Sweeten your coffee with it
  • Try it in baked goods and dinners

Two to three servings of fish per week are recommended for supplying adequate vitamin D to your diet, too. Consuming protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds can provide adequate protein while on a milk-free diet. Whether you or your child is avoiding milk, there are plenty of non-dairy options to supplement those missing nutrients.


  • Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children. WAO.
  • Dairy Alternatives for Kids Who Won’t – or Can’t – Drink Milk. Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • James JM. Growth Comparison in Children With and Without Food Allergies in 2 Different Demographic Populations. Pediatrics. 2015;136(Supplement)
  • Milk allergy. Mayo Clinic. June 2018.
  • Vickerstaff Joneja J. The Health Professional’s Guide to Food Allergies and Intolerances. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2013.

The post What Are You Missing From Milk? appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Katelyn Stelzer, Dietetic Intern at Allergy Associates of La Crosse

Many people mistake a food intolerance for a food allergy. For those with diagnosed food allergy, contact with a certain protein causes the body to produce an immunoglobulin E antibody (IgE), which can result in a variety of symptoms. The majority of food allergy diagnoses require complete avoidance of foods containing the allergen. A food intolerance involves limiting intake of that food as it is difficult to digest, but doesn’t cause an immune response.

Whether someone has one or multiple food allergies, their diet will be restricted in some shape or form, which puts them at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Nutrients are necessary for proper growth, development, and good health at all stages of life.

Signs that you’re not getting adequate nutrition include:

  • Increased or frequent illness
  • Weight loss for adults and
  • Lack of weight gain or growth in height for children

Even when consuming adequate calories, there is still a chance your diet may be lacking certain nutrients. Specific symptoms can be signs of deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, but can also have varying causes.

Nutrients in the Top 8 Food Allergens

The top eight allergens in the U.S are milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish. These eight foods are the most common and account for 90% of food allergy reactions among people in the U.S.

Below are the nutrients provided in each of the top eight food allergens, and suggested alternatives for those who are eliminating a food allergen from their diet.

Allergen Nutrients Provided Suggested Alternative (if not allergic)
Milk Protein, Calcium, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, D, B12, Magnesium, Zinc, Potassium Increase protein foods: Meat, fish, poultry; whole grains, nuts, mushrooms, bright yellow and orange vegetables, fortified foods/beverages (with B vitamins, Calcium, Vitamin D)
Eggs Protein, Iron, Biotin, Folate, Riboflavin, Selenium, Vitamins A, D, E, B12 Increase protein foods: Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, lentils, dairy; fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, dried fruit
Wheat B vitamins, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Chromium Alternative fortified grains (barley, rice, oat, corn, rye, quinoa, amaranth, farina), soybean, legumes, egg, milk, nuts, seeds, apples, banana, spinach and potatoes
Soy Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid Protein foods: Meat, legumes, whole grain bread products, egg, nuts, peas, seeds, milk, dried fruit
Peanuts and Tree Nuts Protein, Magnesium, Manganese, Biotin, Copper, Niacin, Chromium Protein foods: Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, dairy; whole grains, vegetable oils, soybean, eggs, fruit, vegetables, leafy greens
Fish and Shellfish Protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, Potassium, Niacin, Vitamins B6, B12, A, E Protein foods: Meat, poultry, legumes, fortified whole grains, oils, eggs, seeds, nuts, dairy; vegetables, leafy greens
Alternatives to create balance and variety

It’s important to meet your nutritional needs with a balanced and diverse diet while avoiding your allergen(s). Generally, it’s recommended to aim for a diet with the least amount of processed fiids. The best way to replace those nutrients is to find safe food alternatives with similar nutrients. Look for nutrient-rich replacements in whole foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Grains (excluding wheat)
  • Legumes (excluding peanuts)
  • Seeds

A growing number of food companies now make foods free of many common allergens. When choosing foods, take time to read the labels and nutrition facts to ensure the food is safe to consume and nutritionally adequate to replace lost nutrients not consumed due to food allergies. Choosing products with shorter ingredient lists may be the healthier option.

Tips for success

Below are some tips to help plan meals and snacks:

  • Focus on all foods you or your child can safely eat by making food lists.
  • Separate the foods listed into meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) and then into food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, dairy).
  • At each meal, use MyPlate as a guide to choose a food from each group to obtain a good balance of nutrients.
  • Create variety by pairing different foods together for different meals and preparing them in different cooking methods.
  • Diversify your diet by trying new cultural foods. Remember to always read food labels.

Eliminating major foods or food groups from your diet can have negative implications if the missing nutrients are not replaced. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can assist patients with food allergies by creating strategies for short-term and long-term avoidance of food allergens, while focusing on the nutritional adequacy of their overall diet. Specific focus areas in which RDNs may be most beneficial to patients with food allergies include safe and nutritious food substitutions, label reading, advice for dining out in restaurants, and managing food allergens in schools.

For those looking to add an extra measure of safety, beyond avoidance, consider treating the cause of the allergy safely with sublingual immunotherapy.


  • Collins SC. Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Role of the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergies. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:1621-1631.
  • Diagnosing Food Allergies: Current Guidelines. eatrightPRO – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol.2010;126(6):S1-S58, December 2010.
  • James JM. Growth Comparison in Children With and Without Food Allergies in 2 Different Demographic Populations. Pediatrics. 2015;136(Supplement).

The post Replacing Lost Nutrients Due to Food Allergies appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices

Anxiety and depression come in all forms — so does allergy. But are the two conditions related? Dr. George Kroker, partner at Allergy Associates of La Crosse and a co-author of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol explains the intriguing link between allergies and anxiety and depression. More notably, he has often seen gratifying improvements in both conditions after treating the cause of the allergy.

“I think with allergies and the nervous system, there are two possible interactions. One direct effect is that in certain susceptible patients, a specific food or inhalant can make someone feel tired, depressed or anxious. There’s also, however, where the misery caused by the allergy condition leads to secondary anxiety and some depressive symptoms from that,” Dr. Kroker explains. This latter, indirect effect is common for many serious, chronic illnesses in general; not just allergy.


For some, after being exposed to their offending allergen, the nervous system is impacted directly, causing anxiousness or depressive symptoms. “In other words, they’ll eat something and get terribly anxious or depressed with the food,” Dr. Kroker explains, “In adults we tend to see more fatigue and depressive symptoms from foods or chemicals. Patients will get an exposure to a food and their mood will change, usually down, and they won’t feel well.”

Dr. Kroker gives an example, “I had one patient see me who turned out to be very sensitive to gluten products. When she came to see me, she was so depressed that she was making arrangements for her funeral because she didn’t figure she could go on much longer this way. After we finally tracked down that gluten was causing problems, she’s been feeling much better physically and mentally.”

In contrast to adults, children often have agitation from offending allergens or chemicals. “Food dyes or chemicals may affect a segment of children with attention deficit where they eat the food with dye or coloring, and their nervous system just does not tolerate it well. Hyperactivity and agitation are often noted. This is not an allergy, technically, as it’s not an IgE mediated condition.” Some substances simply influence the nervous system to react in susceptible children.


Anxiety and depression can appear indirectly, too, for anyone facing a chronic condition that impacts their quality of life negatively. “People with allergy are no different than anyone else who has a chronic medical condition that impacts their quality of life. If you’re chronically tired, you have low grade headaches, low grade stomach aches, and you ache in general, you’re not going to be in a particularly good mood and you may have some irritability,” Dr. Kroker states.

For those with environmental allergy, the inconsistency of symptoms can cause worry and anticipation. Dr. Kroker explains, “One of the worst things about allergy is people can’t predict how they’re going to feel. Sometimes they’ll be okay on a given day, and on other days for no apparent reason to them, they feel terrible and they can hardly function. This inconsistency breeds anxiety for them, which is, I believe, a natural thing.”

The food allergy community often speaks of anxiety of accidental exposure to their offending allergen. The seriousness of food allergy and possible anaphylaxis is a burden that’s hard to ignore. In addition, there is the anxiety certain patients with severe food allergies experience whenever they eat out or travel. One small bite of what they are allergic to may be life-threatening, and anxiety in this sense is a perfectly normal response. 


Dr. Kroker states that he will sometimes see a new patient who says “Something’s missing. ‘I know I’m depressed, I have some mental fogginess, I’m tired a lot of the time, my blood work is normal. I went to my physician and my physician said I’m depressed and I need to be on an antidepressant. I’ve gone on an antidepressant and it really hasn’t done anything but make me more tired. The doctor switched the antidepressant to something different and I’m not doing any better.’” In this situation, there can sometimes be a hidden allergen aggravating or even causing their depression.  The danger is that if someone is having depressive symptoms due to an allergen, typical antidepressant treatment may not help.

Identifying what gives someone neurologic symptoms and removing it will help them initially. After identifying and removing the allergen, that added measure of safety can often minimize anxieties as well. Immunotherapy treats the cause of the allergy, therefore reducing the symptoms after exposure. Dr. Kroker says, “If you can figure out what is causing their primary neurologic issue, they can get better and they may not even need their antidepressant medicine, or at the least, need even less medicine.”

In addition, if you can treat the patient with a life-threatening nut allergy so that they can confidently handle an accidental exposure, then their anxiety is greatly relieved as well. Either way, treating with sublingual immunotherapy can help both the direct as well as the indirect aggravation of the central nervous system from allergy.

The post Are my allergies giving me anxiety? appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices

There’s no doubt that food allergy parents know their way around Google. After a food allergy diagnosis within a family, online searches are common: Safe restaurants, ingredient lists, “grocery stores near me.” When leaving the comfortable bubble of your hometown, no amount of searching can make you totally comfortable.

A bit of uncertainty will just make you ask more questions and take extra caution, and when it comes to food allergy, that’s a great thing. Emily Melby, RDN at Allergy Associates of La Crosse, makes it a little bit easier to pick a safe hotel for your upcoming travel or spring break destination. She gives insight on how to choose a hotel, what do ask when booking, what you can’t forget to pack, and what to do when you arrive at your hotel.

When choosing

The biggest thing to consider when choosing a hotel is location. Not only should it be close to all the activities you have planned, but close to safe restaurants and grocery stores, and a hospital, too (just in case!)

Apps like Allergy Eats and Spokin can help you research nearby restaurants and find reviews from real people with allergies. Thousands of restaurants have received reviews and input from other travelers with food allergies, which can be some of the most trusted advice. Also, reach out to friends with allergy in their family or online food allergy groups for recommendations. Emily says this personal recommendation often gives an extra level of comfort.

Emily also says, “Knowing which hospital is available and how far away it is from your hotel and activities is important.” Hopefully you won’t have to visit, but just in case, you’ll want to be close by, especially if you won’t have access to a car.

When booking

Informing the hotel of your food allergy ahead of time is key. “I would actually recommend prior to making the reservation, call the hotel, inform them that you have a food allergy that can cause a very severe reaction. You don’t want to do it last minute, so definitely give them a heads up in advance.”

It’s appropriate to ask questions about how they clean the room and if they’re able to guarantee a safe stay. Make sure to get the name of the person that you spoke with in case you have any issues when checking in.

When making a reservation, also be sure to check what amenities are provided, for example, will you have a refrigerator, microwave, or small kitchen for making your own safe foods if needed?

When packing

Grab your sunscreen, pajamas and toothpaste, but don’t forget these essentials, too!

  • Medical ID bracelet
  • Safe food
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Medical release
  • Action plan
  • MyTealTicket restaurant order form that alerts the staff of your specific food allergies

“Of course, your epinephrine should be with you no matter what if you have it prescribed to you. Make sure it’s not expired,” Emily says. “Think about questions like, how long are you going to be gone? Do you need a couple of them, just in case? Are you able to refill the epinephrine at your destination if needed? Do you have an up-to-date prescription from your physician?”

When you arrive

When you check in, remind the front desk that you have food allergy and that the person you spoke with when making the reservation ensured a safe room. Don’t forget to ask any questions that you need to, whether it’s about the breakfast or room service.

Once in your room, Emily says, “Scan the room for problem food items.” Certain hotels may provide snacks like walnut chocolate chip cookies or chocolates. Make sure to remove any that are unsafe.

“It’s hard to know if the hotel is vacuuming or wiping down every surface in the room. If it’s going to make parents feel better, bring disinfectant wipes to clean. If there’s a microwave and refrigerator, it’s not a bad idea to wipe them down before use,” Emily adds.

That’s a wrap! Do you have additional tips you consider when booking a hotel? Let us know in the comments. If you’re interested in adding an additional measure of safety, consider how allergy drops following the La Crosse Method™ Protocol for food allergy might reduce issues in case of accidental exposure.

The post How to Choose a Food Allergy Friendly Hotel this Spring Break appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices

As if sneezing and itching wasn’t enough, some people experience heartburn symptoms due to their environmental and/or food allergens. Throughout his 37 years as an allergist, Dr. George Kroker, partner at Allergy Associates of La Crosse and a co-author of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol, has seen many patients with complex allergy conditions who have experienced heartburn as a symptom of their allergy condition.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

A common allergy condition that’s becoming increasingly recognized is eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE. EoE is a buildup of disease-fighting white blood cells (called eosinophils) in the esophagus that cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Chronic cough
  • And for some, heartburn

In a susceptible individual, certain foods and airborne allergens can trigger eosinophils to accumulate in the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn and pain with swallowing. There can also be a sensation of food “sticking” in the throat

When these symptoms occur, most people take an antacid and hope for it to work its magic, but when it doesn’t, they often make their way to a gastroenterologist.

To determine if a patient has EoE, Dr. Kroker says, “The gastroenterologist would do an endoscopy, putting a scope down the esophagus and finding — with a biopsy — that there are too many allergy cells, i.e., eosinophils. ” Sometimes this problem will respond to certain kinds of acid blocking medications (i.e, “PPI responsive EoE”) but often there is no positive response.


Under these conditions, and after discovering an abundance of eosinophils and no response to acid blocking medications, patients are typically sent to an allergist to identify the offending allergen and treat the cause. Because there are no commercially available, standardized medications for EoE, lifestyle and diet modification, and allergy management are the often the best treatment.

For those with a determined food allergy, certain foods can cause flare ups in the esophagus, and desensitizing the body to that allergen with immunotherapy can help to eliminate heartburn and other EoE symptoms. Milk, wheat and eggs are some of the most common to cause issues in those with EoE.

Dr. Kroker has also seen patients with traditional seasonal allergies experience heartburn, too. He says, “There are actually patients who have been described in medical literature who have ‘seasonal EoE.’ Every fall, they feel heartburn, difficulty swallowing, a burning sensation in their throat, pain with swallowing, and then it goes away and gets better as the season changes.” Just like with food allergy, treating the cause of the environmental allergy can eliminate the response in the esophagus.


“We always try to find the cause behind the problem. By identifying causative airborne allergens and food allergens, we can then begin to treat the patient with immunotherapy and some avoidance measures to make them feel better,” Dr. Kroker explains. After testing and accurate diagnosis, he treats the offending allergens with sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, and recommends diet changes based on test results and clinical judgement.

Regarding diet changes, the medical literature mentions 3 diet versions that can be helpful in managing EoE based on statistical analysis of foods that typically trigger EoE symptoms:  2 food, 4 food, and 6 food elimination diets. These “diet templates” are taken into consideration — along with the patient’s test results — in designing a diet for a patient.  In addition, allergy drops slowly and safely introduce the patient’s body to increasing amounts of the offending allergen, creating long-term tolerance and fewer EoE and allergy-related symptoms.

Some patients wonder if using allergy drops will make symptoms worse. Due to the way allergy drops are delivered following the La Crosse Method Protocol, patients don’t seem to have the flare ups that are common with Oral Immunotherapy (OIT). Allergy drops are a safe and effective method that can be used effectively in children and adults alike. Read more about allergy drops for EoE.

The post Could Your Heartburn Symptoms be Allergy? appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Emily Melby, RDN, Allergy Associates of La Crosse

As a society, we’re on the never-ending journey to stay young in mind and body. We do many things to maintain our youth. Exercise, eating right, limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoking are all factors commonly known to support a better aging process. Though wrinkles and graying hair may be a bother to some, they can be overlooked when spending hundreds or thousands of dollars each year to stop the signs of aging. In fact, the anti-aging market is estimated to surpass $216 billion by 2021 according to a recently released report.

But what happens when we begin to notice shortfalls in our cognitive functions? Is it as easy as purchasing the latest product touting improved brain health?

What is the MIND diet?

The MIND diet, otherwise known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was developed by Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues. It’s a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which are endorsed as top diets in the U.S. for reducing the risk of disease and supporting overall health. Initial findings suggest the MIND diet slows cognitive decline as we age. Currently, a MIND dietary trial intervention study is underway to verify these findings.

The MIND diet emphasizes various foods as being beneficial in preventing cognitive decline. When our cognitive health is at its best, we are able to think clearly, learn new things and remember the things we have learned. Of course, some cognitive changes are a normal part of aging. But when our cognition begins to falter, we may experience confusion, memory loss, and slower processing of new information.

What if we could maximize our nutrition to support brain health and help prevent or slow these changes?

What can you eat?

The MIND diet highlights ten “brain healthy” foods including:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • One glass of red wine per day (when appropriate)

It also recommends limiting or avoiding these five food types:

  • Red meat
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried and fast food

Specifically, the MIND diet advises eating a minimum of three servings of whole grain as well as a salad and one other vegetable each day.

The MIND diet also recommends eating:

  • Nuts most days
  • Beans at least every other day
  • Chicken and berries a minimum of twice a week
  • Fish once a week

The MIND diet also advocates drinking a glass of red wine each day for those who already drink alcohol.  Beginning to drink for a proposed health benefit is never recommended. For those who do not drink alcohol, consider have a serving of grapes or a small glass of grape juice instead. Resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine and grapes, is from in the skin of grapes and at this time is considered the major health promoting component of red wine.

What if I have food allergies?

The great thing about these recommendations is that even those with food allergies can adhere to many of the suggestions.

  • Gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum and teff are all whole grains when eaten in their unprocessed form.
  • If you have a nut allergy, consider incorporating seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp seeds.
  • If you’re allergic to fish, incorporate other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed, chia seed, walnuts, or soy products.

Living with food allergies can be challenging when it comes to ensuring complete nutrition, but it is possible. Strive for a wide variety of foods each day to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition. Allergy treatments such as sublingual immunotherapy can help you build tolerance to your allergens, potentially enabling you to eat foods previously not tolerated. If you have food allergies or intolerances and are concerned about your overall nutrition, a food allergy dietitian can help you navigate the tricky terrain of food allergies.

Fortunately, diet is not all we can do to support our brain. The Cleveland Clinic’s Six Pillars of Brain Health recommends staying physically fit, controlling your health risks, ensuring adequate sleep and relaxation, stimulating your brain with mental fitness and ensuring plenty of social interaction in addition to nutritional factors.

There are many things we can do to support our brains throughout our lives. What’s stopping you? Don’t wait! Incorporate brain healthy activities into your life now. Nutrition science is constantly changing, but researchers will continue to explore the effects of foods on our brain to help us keep our brains functioning at their best as we age.

The post Brain Health and the MIND Diet appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices

New Year’s resolutions are a great way to refocus on something you’ve been slacking on, usually health related. Knowing that only five percent of people with allergy actually get disease modifying treatment, focusing on allergy in 2019 is something many people could benefit from. Managing allergy can seem daunting, but choosing one (or all!) of these five resolutions for environmental allergy can help you live healthfully not only this New Year, but throughout your life!

1. Treat the cause

Airborne allergies in 2018 were worse than ever — trust us, there’s a study! If you’re fed up with nearly unending symptoms, treating the cause simply with sublingual immunotherapy may prevent symptoms for the years to come.

It’s easy. Start by finding a provider offering custom sublingual immunotherapy at their medical practice. We advocate the La Crosse Method Protocol, which Allergychoices can help them offer, because studies show its safety, that it works, it’s matched to patient’s allergies and level of sensitivity so there’s less risk of reactions or unnecessary treatment for irrelevant allergens, and it’s affordable.

Your provider will perform allergy testing to find what you’re allergic to and at what level, and they’ll develop a custom prescription uniquely matched to you. Allergychoices pharmacy can create the prescription and send it directly to you, and you take the drops from wherever you are, three times daily. You’ll have follow up appointments as needed with your provider — typically in two to three times a year. It’s an easy resolution to tackle as there’s hardly a time commitment, and the results can be long-term!

2. Track your symptoms

If you’re feeling miserable and can’t get to the bottom of “why,” allergy could be to blame. There are a many chronic conditions that can have an underlying allergy element. A few are:

Your resolution could be to go see a provider to treat your allergy, but first, you’ll want to track your symptoms. Let’s say you’re experiencing chronic migraines. There are certain elements you’ll want to track in order for your provider to know which tests to run. You may want to track:

  • What time of day did the symptoms occur?
  • Where were you when the migraine occurred?
  • Were you around any strong substances such as cleaning products or fragrances?
  • What did you eat and drink before the migraine occurred?
  • How quickly did the symptoms arise?

Track your symptoms in a notebook or on your phone and then bring that to your provider! It will not only impress your provider, but may decrease the amount of tests you need, too!

3. Incorporate vitamin D into your daily routine

Not only does vitamin D seem to boost people’s moods, it can help fight disease too! It has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of allergy, especially when used along with immunotherapy.

Dr. Mary Morris, Allergychoices Medical Advisor, partner at Allergy Associates of La Crosse and a lead author of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol says, “The role vitamin D plays is complex, but in general, it aids in the proper functioning of the immune system, and fighting disease. Studies in immunotherapy have shown positive correlation of quicker immunological response when vitamin D is given along with immunotherapy.”

How do you make increased vitamin D part of you New Year’s Resolutions? You can get it naturally from sunlight and certain foods, as well as through a supplement. You can read more about increasing your Vitamin D on a previous blog.

4. Be proactive

There are so many ways you can be proactive in order to minimize your reactions.

For those with seasonal allergies, Mike Kachel, RPh, Allergychoices Pharmacy Director, suggests treating your symptoms before they even show up. He says, “Don’t wait until it’s in full bloom to start treatment. Whether it’s immunotherapy or an antihistamine or nose spray, do it early.” Watch for pollen counts in your area, and be proactive!

Allergychoices also offers preseasonal allergy treatment for seasonal allergies, including trees, grass, ragweed and dust mites. It’s a rush-type allergy treatment that’s given eight weeks before peak allergy season to help reduce symptoms once the season hits. Special high potency drops are also an option for those with pet allergies to help build tolerance and make it easier to keep a pet in your life.

Indoor allergens like dust and pet dander can seem unending. Stay ahead of cleaning to avoid symptoms. Vacuum often, keep pets clean, and use HEPA filters. You can find more cleaning tips here!

5. Share your allergy story

If you’ve already taken control of your allergy with the help of Allergychoices or the La Crosse Method, talking about your experience can encourage others to try sublingual immunotherapy, too. You can share your story with us here, and if you’d like to share your experience, we can share it with others!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019! Now go tackle those resolutions.

The post 5 New Year’s Environmental Allergy Resolutions appeared first on Allergychoices, Inc..

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