What is a Total Elimination Diet?

A Total Elimination Diet is a strict diet used to determine food allergies.  This is usually the last hope at solving severe health problems after many other solutions have failed. Many people have found relief from ailments that they didn’t even realize were related to their diet.  Most people develop an intimate understanding of their own body, their responses to food, and triggers to their environment.  

In a TOTAL elimination diet, a person removes ALL foods, supplements, beverages,  and body products from their daily routine.  They substitute a strict diet of anti-inflammatory foods for 2 weeks minimum to reach baseline.  Baseline means that zero to minimal health problems remain.  (Someone with more severe damage not related to allergies might need alternative medical care as well.).

After a baseline is reached, foods are reintroduced, one at a time every 4-7 days, over a course of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the allergies.  The introduction of foods begins with the foods most likely to cause problems, usually the top allergens list and the foods most likely to cause inflammation in the body.  

During the entire diet, a journal is kept detailing day, time, location, foods, physical ailments or relief, and mental ailments or relief.  If the elimination diet is being done for a breastfeeding child, then a journal should be kept for both mother and child.  

Usually, one or more foods reveal themselves as the diet progresses.  Avoiding these triggers is usually the best way to have relief from health ailments.  This would be the first step to a healthier lifestyle for those with allergies.  Afterward, learning about holistic health and nutrition will aid you in having a long-lasting, comfortable life.  

Notes

  • A TED is NOT a starvation diet.  You MUST eat non-inflammatory foods for this to be successful.  Simply eating nothing is not conducive to healing.  
  • Baseline might not be able to be reached if you are on medication for any health ailments.  The majority of all medication is full of corn-based products and inflammatory chemicals.  Someone who is allergic to corn will continue to react.  Many people with corn allergies have their medications compounded with non-corn derivative fillers.  Pharmacies and allopathic MD’s are not aware of the names of corn derivatives and will state that there is no corn.  See this list for an idea of how corn is found in medical supplies.
  • If a food has failed a trial, it’s best to not introduce another food until you have recovered from the fail. This can take 2 to 4 days.
  • Almost every probiotic on the market has corn in it.  Many probiotics are grown on corn.  Only Gut Pro is corn-free.  Generally, it is best to discontinue probiotics on a TED because some people cannot tolerate them, allergy-free or not.  I personally prefer food-based probiotics over pill-based anyway.
  • Fruits and vegetables at the normal grocery store are sprayed and waxed with corny chemicals.  If you are allergic to corn, you might continue to react.  The best fruits and vegetables are the ones grown at home.  The second best is the farmers market or from local known safe farmers.  Third best is a local food co-op or health food store.  Typical grocery stores are generally not safe and have very few safe foods.  
  • Organic does not guarantee your food is allergy friendly.  Many foods that are organic can still be waxed or sprayed with corny products.  
  • Just because one person does well with a food on a TED, doesn’t mean you or your child will.  No food is considered “safe” until the baseline is reached.  If you haven’t reached baseline and you are SURE your food isn’t contaminated with corn, try mixing something up on a suspect food.  For example, if you think your sweet potato is the culprit, cut it out for 4 days to see if there is any change.  
  • It can be dangerous or ineffective to attempt a TED alone without sufficient education.  Seeking out a nutritionally based chiropractor, a holistic nutritionist, a holistic MD, a naturopath or another nutrition-based health care provider can be beneficial in helping you.  
  • Not all allopathic MD’s or allopathic allergists are fully aware of or are legally allowed to assist in determining the CAUSE of your health ailments. Many of the tests to attempt to determine why you are ill are costly and dangerous and are often ineffective.  Research thoroughly EVERY part of your medical procedures, including risks and side effects.  Research thoroughly EVERYTHING that might be injected or taken orally.  This goes with ALL medical care, including holistic approaches.  
  • Education is the best tool to come to your aid.  The more you know about what you put in your body and how it affects your body, the better armed you will be.  You are your own best ally.  You are the one who has to live with the choices you make.  You are the one who will either face the fallout or the benefit of your decisions.  Every other person involved is simply another tool to aid you.  They don’t have to live in your body for the rest of your life, you do. 
  • It’s ok to say no to something that isn’t working. No matter how much time or money you’ve invested into a certain approach to your health, it’s ok to let it go if it isn’t helping aid you in your goal of better health.    

I hope this has helped you understand what a Total Elimination Diet is and how it can help you become more aware of your body and take charge of your health.  I pray that you and your family find answers to what is ailing you so that you can not just survive, but thrive.  

Have you tried a TED? What was your favorite foods that worked for you? What foods did you say “I never want to eat this again when it’s over!”

Are you on a TED right now? How’s it going?

***Disclaimer*** This is not medical advice. These are my own personal experiences from my own TED that are shared for awareness. Please consult your own medical practitioner before beginning a TED.

Making Your Own Dried Basil

Making Your Own Dried Basil

Making dried basil is so incredibly easy, I think my children could do it!  Plus, homemade is always so much cheaper than the store, after the initial purchase, it’s free!

I grew my own basil this year and it did really well!  I’ve tried to grow basil one other time when my neighbor gave me a gift of basil in a pot.  It died within a few months, sadly.  If you know anything from reading my blog, it’s that I don’t give up easily.

When Nate saw a potted basil plant at Walmart earlier this year, he suggested we give it another try.  I immediately jumped on the idea.  We brought our new plant home and it did exceptionally well! In fact, it became enormously bushy.  I have had to prune it back a few times.

I love having potted basil year round.  Pinching off a few leaves for snacking on with tomatoes and cheese is one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh basil.  I also love to cook with it after it’s been dried.  It’s one of my main herbs that I use.

Here are the steps I use to make my own dehydrated basil.

  1. When your basil gets especially bushy, trim back the stems until it has a nice compact shape.
  2. Put the stems in a strainer and gently rinse them off.
  3. Shake the excess water off of the basil.
  4. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them in the dehydrator.  Use a fine mesh or fruit leather attachment for smaller leaves.
  5. Dehydrate until leaves are dry and crumbly.
  6. Put basil on a plate and crumble into small pieces.
  7. Put dried basil crumbles into a spice jar.
  8. Lable jar.

You can check out how I have dried basil in my videos!

What I’ve Learned From A Year of Dedicated Blogging

What I’ve Learned From A Year of Dedicated Blogging

I started my blog as a fun hobby.  In the first few years, I only made a couple of posts.  I knew I wanted to do more, especially since I was making the investment in paying for hosting.  Letting my blog sit there seemed like a waste of money.

It wasn’t until my circumstances changed that I decided to dedicate time specifically to blogging.  My health had taken a turn for the worse, I had to quit working.  I was struggling with accepting my new life and the depression that came with significant change.  I knew I needed to fill the void of work with a new hobby.

Blogging seemed like the perfect way to occupy my mind and fill my time with something positive.  Since I stopped taking professional portraits for other people, I reminded myself that I could still be a photographer, only, I would be taking images for myself.  I decided to challenge myself with something I have always wanted to do, a 52 project.  It was a lot of fun and I love the way my images turned out.  From there, it became easier to blog about things.

With the end of school nearing, I decided to add another challenge to my blogging, vlogging.  This took my blogs to a new level, as I had videos to go along with my writing.  I initially started vlogging for fun and as a challenge to warm me up to what I really wanted to do.  I wanted to do a video series on the challenges of severe, life-threatening allergies.  Along with this, I will have accompanying blogs that detail in writing the facts that go along with my videos.

Over the past 5 years of health struggles, I have done an extremely large amount of research.  Some of the things I researched had little to no information and I had to really dig in order to learn.  It was so hard to gain footing in the world of severe allergies.  Not many people are allergic to nearly the entire world, and there isn’t a handbook that goes along with it.

I knew that I wanted to help people and make their journey a little easier, by sharing my story and experiences.  I wanted to help someone avoid some of the mistakes I’d made in the beginning, or maybe find a new way to help them cope now.

I realized that I had found the purpose of my blog.  I guess you could say I found my niche.  This information isn’t only helpful for those with severe allergies.  It is beneficial for everyone.  I tell people that I am the canary in the coal mine.  If my health takes a dive because of my sensitivity to chemicals, then It can’t be very safe for other people either.  Even if they’re not having a life-threatening reaction to it.  Toxic chemicals are not beneficial to anyone.

Holistic health and nutrition can benefit everyone live a healthier, more meaningful life.  Living life without toxic chemicals reduces the risk of having cancer, heart disease, eczema, diabetes, and more.

I love sharing what I’ve learned with others.  Blogging gives me a platform so I don’t have to drive my friends and family crazy by constantly talking about the latest medical article I’ve been reading.  It allows me to share my photography.  It allows me to be creative and give me an outlet for my lack of ability to work.  Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate and enjoy my ramblings and my photography.

After a year of dedicated creating every month, I can definitely say that blogging is something I enjoy and will continue to do.  Thank you for those of you who have commented, shared, liked and followed me over this last year.  I have loved hearing that you enjoyed something I shared.  Hopefully, I’ll have more fun things for you in this coming year!

Love, Melissa

Dear Mom Of A Child With Hyperactivity…

Dear Mom Of A Child With Hyperactivity…

My son has always been on the go.  He’s always been fast, energetic and too curious for his own good.  Unfortunately, he inherited this from both his father and me.  My brother and I were energetic and curious as children and I know we drove our poor Mom crazy.  I’ve heard stories from Nate’s Mom about when he was little too.  One about taking off to the local park alone as a toddler comes to mind.

There is a difference between a normal energetic child and a child with extreme hyperactivity.  Although Mr. Awesome could run circles around me on a normal healthy day, there are days when he is abnormally “crazy” energetic.  When he was 5 years old, he developed an allergy to food dyes and preservatives.  My little guy cannot tolerate them.  They make him hyperactive to the point where he can’t focus or slow down.  There is no reaching him, he’s gone.

I can remember one time when he had been exposed vividly.  He was running around, making loud incoherent noises and banging into things.  I grabbed him into my arms to try to get him to stop.  He flailed around while I tried calling his name.  As he flopped backward across my lap, with a crazy wild grin on his face, his eyes rolling wildly, joyfully screaming, arms and legs waving about, I remember feeling my heart break for my son.  I will never forget that.

Another time, when he was older, we did something we never usually did.  We were running late to meet family and we stopped at Mcdonald’s.  We don’t normally eat at Mc D’s, but we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was the only place to eat for many miles.  After my son ate his food, he told me, “Mom, I feel like I’m going crazy.”  After that he did.  He went into his usual hyperactive world where we can’t reach him.

To us, watching from the outside.  It looks like he is wildly out of control.  He looks like he’s had a gallon of sugar.  It’s frustrating, especially in public with other people watching and judging.  It’s hard worrying about my son and caring for him, but it’s also hard because I know others simply think I can’t control my son.

Over the years, we’ve found that avoiding food dyes and preservatives is what he needs to be functional.  We know when he sneaks candy from his sisters because he goes wild.  Because of this, we’ve stopped buying things that can cause him to react.  I try to find him treats that are safe as an alternative so he doesn’t feel left out.  Unfortunately, we’ve found he also reacts to perfumes and artificial scents in the air since he has an allergy to corn.   So reactions in crowded places are common.

With my own allergies.  I have the unique perspective of being able to walk in my son’s shoes.  With exposure to corn, I develop anxiety.  If my allergy bucket is really full, or I get a big dose of corn, I get extreme anxiety and hyperactivity.  It’s not fun.  I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding corn, but every once and awhile I accidentally get exposed.  Last week was one of those times.

Normally, if this happens, I try to minimize the damage as much as I can by drinking bentonite clay water and fasting until the feeling has passed.  I try to stay productive and channel my energy into cleaning.  Sometimes I distract myself by playing games on my phone (1010!, Word Cookies and Sims Freeplay) or watching a movie or listening to soothing music. This time, I used the opportunity to write a letter to myself.

I’ve switched it up a bit so that it applies to any parent with a child with hyperactivity and/or anxiety.  Although boys, girls, men and women struggle with hyperactivity, I’ve written this as I’ve written it to myself about my son.  If you’d like to write a letter to yourself and add your name and your loved one’s name, please feel free to do so.

Dear Mom,
The next time your child is going a million miles an hour, remember this.
For your child, having their mind race is not fun, it’s intense.  It’s hard to focus, hard to be still, and hard to remember what you were doing.  It’s like a video that has been sped up really fast and is dragging you along with it.

You can help him.
Be kind.
Be calm.
Speak slow and clear.
Give him one task at a time.
Be forgiving and help him remember when he forgets.
Get down to his level.
Show your love through actions.
Be the rock of stability is his rushing river.
Play slow, soothing music to help calm him and help him focus (The Guild of Ambience or Weightless)
Have a clean, calm environment.
Go outside and and let him run around and soak up vitamin D, it’s good for both of you!
Give him tablet time and take a time out if you need it.
Pray.
Love him.
Breathe.

You can do this!  It’s hard for you, but it’s also hard for him.  Thank you for loving him enough to care to try.

I hope this helps you.  Being a parent is tough, but being a parent to a child with hyperactivity can be extremely challenging.  Sometimes taking a minute out of our day to remember what they’re going through can help when we feel our patience slipping.

What do you do when your child has a hyperactive episode/meltdown?  What are your child’s triggers?

 

Getting Lost on Norberg Trail

Getting Lost on Norberg Trail
Camping, Day 6

When I was researching the area for things to do, I saw Norberg Trail as one of the highlights.  It looked breathtakingly beautiful.  With the rain and our busy schedule, we didn’t get the chance to check it out.  On our last night there, I decided that I would wake up early the next morning and head out alone.

I woke up and hit snooze once or twice.  Half of me wanted to say forget it and sleep in.  The other half knew I’d be mad at myself later for being lazy.  So I rolled out of bed, packed up and drove to the bathrooms for a shower.  Then I set out for my hike!

I felt a bit excited about going alone, as though this was a secret adventure.  Part of me felt guilty for leaving everyone behind, but they all wanted to sleep in any way.  I felt nervous anticipation as I pulled into the parking spot.  Would it be as beautiful as I had hoped?  I do have a tendency to romanticize destinations.

Thankfully, it was as peaceful and lovely as I had imagined.  Walking the short trail to the lake was relatively easy.  There were rocks embedded in the ground to navigate, but it wasn’t as bad as Kawishiwi Falls.  The view of the lake through the pines was delightful.  The fresh air invigorated my senses.  I was ready for a good hike around the lake.

Before I left, I checked out the map on the sign and I knew there was a loop around the lake.  Down near the water, I could see a trail going off to the right.  I knew there was another trail further up near the parking lot, but I thought it was the one that led to the other lakes.  I set off to the right since it seemed to be a clear beaten path.

Everywhere around me was the wonder of creation.  It was hard to resist stopping frequently and photographing the lovely ferns, trees, moss, mushrooms, and plants.  I noticed that there were a lot of mosquitos, so I tried to keep moving.

Every so often, there was a fallen tree across the path.  At a few spots, the path was impassable and had to be trekked around.  It seemed that many had done so before.  I wondered if some of the damage was from recent storms, but on further inspection, it appeared that they were all felled by beaver.

As I got further along the trail, it became more difficult to find the path on some of the roundabout excursions.  I didn’t want to disturb any plants or animals, so I tried to be careful where I stepped.  I had once been attacked by a swarm of bees as a child when a friend stepped on a ground hive.  The emergency room doctor told me that I would most likely be allergic to bees after that since I had around 40 stings all over my body.  Stepping on a hive alone in the middle of the woods was not an appealing idea of a way to start my day.

There came several times where I couldn’t find the trail.  I didn’t know if I had gone off completely or if it was so wild that it was simply difficult to see the path.  Perhaps others had given up and returned the way they had come?  I found it hard to believe that everyone had given up and not continued along.  Periodically I found a trail again, much to my relief, but the majority of it was off-road.

I was swarmed by mosquitoes and I didn’t want to stop for long anywhere.  I kept my hood up on my sweatshirt to protect my head and neck despite the rising temperature.  I kept forging forward, stopping only at completely impassable spots.  I backtracked often, climbed deeper into the woods many times and went up and down steep hills. I often contemplated giving up and going back, but I’m not a quitter.  I think I also held hope that at some point it would get easier.

 

I did eventually get on the trail again near the very end.  It was wide and looked extremely easy to hike on.  Later, while reviewing the map, I found that the trail I went on was not mapped.  The trail I thought led to the other lakes was the main trail.  It made a very wide loop around the lake, far from the water, which is why I didn’t stumble on it till the very end.

The lake wasn’t very large, but the path I took was not easy, so it took a considerable amount of time.  My entire journey was a little over an hour and a half but it felt much longer.  I thought I had been out there for at least three hours.  I estimate the other trail might take someone 30-45 minutes.  By the time I got back to the van, I was relieved.  I was proud of myself for waking up early to exercise and for continuing around the whole lake.  I went on an adventure and survived.  The quote “Get Lost In the Woods” has a whole new meaning.

Even though I got lost and eaten alive by mosquitos, I don’t regret my journey.  Staying on the trail might have been easier, faster and with a lot fewer mosquitos, but the images I got while going off trail are some of my favorite from the trip.  I got to see nature in its wild state.  I found beauty that I probably would not have seen, had I gone the other way.

After arriving back at the campsite, we packed up to head home.  Poor Cat was having anxiety attacks because she was afraid everything wouldn’t fit.  I had her walk away, but she hid just around the corner and came running back when we tried to put stuff in.  Cat is an excellent organizer.  When I go shopping, she makes everything nice, neat and perfect in the cart.  It drives her crazy when everything is out of order.

I had OCD as a child, so I understand the anxiety that having something out of place causes.  I remember having to wash and rinse my glass a certain amount of times.  It used to drive my Dad crazy, maybe because I was wasting water.  As an adult, I get that.  As someone with OCD, I HAD to do it or I felt anxiety creeping up on me, making me feel like the world would end.

Years later, my Dad told me- You know, the glass washing thing you used to do is not a bad idea, it helps cool the glass down so the water is nice and cold when you drink it.  I don’t know if he was just being nice, but it meant the world to me that he was trying to understand and connect.

Once I developed allergies to the entire world, OCD began to creep back in my life.  I remember a day when my Mom asked me for a box of tissues and I almost didn’t let her have it because then I would have an uneven number of tissue boxes.

Later that night, as I replayed the event over and over in my head (Yaaay anxiety), I was trying to figure out why I was acting so crazy.  I mean, it was tissues.  Not sharing was selfish.  I didn’t really care about the tissues.  I love my Mom and I enjoy giving her things.  I couldn’t have an uneven number of tissue boxes though.  Yes, I admit I was a bit slow to come to the realization that the OCD might be back.

Now that I know what my food allergies are, the OCD isn’t as bad.  I would say it’s almost non-existent most days.  Although a messy house always makes me feel freaked out.  I’m not saying my house is spotless, it’s usually a mess.  There is a tipping scale that makes me freak out though.  If the kitchen is messy, I can’t breathe.  The kitchen must be clean.

When I have a large amount of exposure to allergens close together, also known as a full bucket, the OCD comes creeping or slamming back.  Bad exposure makes the volume of OCD turn up high.  I clean and clean and clean.  Although it’s nice to get some cleaning done, the panic that happens in my head is never fun.  I’m always thankful to get back to normal after an allergy flush or detox.

Anyway, back to camping!  We got everything into the van and Cat managed the rest of the time packing with her outward OCD volume turned down.  I’m sure inside it was still high, but I’m proud of her for gaining control.

On the way home, we stopped at a thrift store in Cloquet.  Cat got some anime(manga? Or anime?  I can never get those two straight.) and Cupcake got another book.  The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.  Nate drove the first half and I drove the remainder.  We unpacked and enjoyed the rest of our day in the comfort that only home can bring.

Have you ever gotten lost while hiking?

Check out our video!

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 5, Day 2: Kawishiwi Falls

Did you miss Camping, Day 5?  Read about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/went-2341-feet-underground/

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017
Every year we go to Hastings Rivertown Days.  One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go to The Dime Carnival.  The kids play games to their heart’s content and win tickets to pick out fun prizes.

Every year, it always seems as though it’s on one of the hottest days of summer.  Since the carnival is in a parking lot, the heat is reflected up off the asphalt, making it feel even warmer.  This year was no exception.  Not about to let a little heat ruin our day, we enjoyed the carnival and hid out inside the prize area to cool off when needed.

Princess has always loved picking ducks in the duck pond.  Mr. Awesome loves the jumpy house.  Cupcake loves all the games.  Cat is starting to get to an age where the carnival is too young for her.  She loves helping the younger kids play the most.

After cooling off at home, we went to the library to drop off some books and pick up some more.  As soon as I walked into the library, my eyes started itching.  Cat said “Oh look Mom!  A beautiful dog!”  I turned to see a huge white dog near us walking across the library.  It must have been a therapy dog.  Unfortunately, because of my allergies, I left the building while the kids had fun picking out books with Dad.  Outside I enjoyed photographing the library’s beautiful garden.

We stopped at Walmart for a few necessities and I got a contact case and solution so I could take out my contacts ASAP.  My eyes were burning so much I could barely see.  After I removed them, in the middle of the aisle at Walmart, I felt such relief.  Although I was now blind.  I had to hold Nate’s hand through the rest of our Walmart trip.

My vision is -8.50 for contacts.  I’m not legally blind with my contacts (legally blind is a legal term used to sort out those who can apply for medical benefits.  Anyone who can not see with corrective lenses after a certain point is considered legally blind.  I am very thankful that corrective lenses work for me.  I will never be able to have perfect vision even with them, but it’s still a blessing I am thankful for.).  Without them, I am blind.  I can’t see definition, I can only see basic blurry shapes.  I can see colors, dark and light.

What You See

What I See

As you can tell from the image above, I can not see very well.   We stopped to get the kids ice cream at our local dairy co op, then checked out the craft fair at the LeDuc mansion across the street.  Since I couldn’t see, Nate took my hand and led me around.  He described what was around us and what was in each booth we passed.

I heard a familiar voice call out to me.  My friend’s Katie and Dusty from our Kingdom Hall were there!  I got a chance to check out an amazing card booth with them.  The cards opened up into intricate pop-up scenes all made of colorful paper.  One was a ship, another a camera, others were scenes of various places around the world.

Although I am blind from a distance, I can see up close.  I mean extremely up close.  Whatever I’m looking at must be a couple of inches from my eye.  What I do see from that close is detailed almost microscopically.  I can see the tiny details that the normal eye can’t see.

With the cards, I could see the fiber of the paper, the tiny cuts and details.  It was like stepping into a new world where fantasy and reality collide.  I intended to go back and purchase some cards after I got my contacts in, but sadly that was the last day.  Perhaps I’ll get the chance to see them again next year.

We purchased some sheets from a vendor and then went home to enjoy pizza and family night.  Thankfully I was able to put in a fresh set of contacts to see.  After that, we walked down to the river to enjoy the Hastings Rivertown Days fireworks.  It was a busy and fun day.

Check out the video of our day!

 

What’s In My Bag?

What’s In My Bag?

As someone with severe, life-threatening, airborne allergies, I need to carry some things with me at all times.  This means that whatever I carry must be light and easily accessed.  In addition, I need others to be able to find my emergency information fast.  I also need a way to alert strangers to my allergens should I become incapacitated.

Inside this little purse is a lot of necessities!


Top row, left to right: iPhone, pretty rocks, Vogmask, spare change, checkbook, pens and sharpie, essential oil roller bottles, Badger lip balms, Redmond Bentonite clay, Frozen tissues, hair binder and bobby pins, whipped eczema body butter, and wallet.
Middle row, left to right: allergy alert paperwork, backup star face mask, epi-pen, albuterol inhaler, and coin purse.
Bottom row, left to right: purse organizer, allergy tag, EpiPen tag, purse.

Allergy tags I use:


I keep both my lip balm and Cupcake’s lip balm for when she needs it.  Next to that I keep my essential oil roller bottles.  I usually have a couple more than what’s pictured.  I normally carry an anti-anxiety blend, first aid blend, Cat’s sore wrist blend, and Mr. Awesome’s ADHD blend.  Behind that, I tuck my tissues into one of the pockets.

My phone has medical alert information for emergency personnel.  My wallet has my insurance cards, my ID, my bank card, and membership cards.

I keep both face masks in a zipper pouch to keep them clean and safe from dust and other contaminants.  I take them out and use them in dangerous places where I might potentially be exposed to airborne allergens.

I put my checkbook into the other zippered pouch to keep it clean and safe from damage.  Yes, I still have a checkbook.  The DMV and the kid’s schools are pretty much the only time I ever use it.

The kids and Nate are always bringing me pretty rocks.  I stash them in my purse till I get home and put them in little bottles or on shelves.  I’m a rock nerd.  🙂


I keep my eczema cream in a little jar.  I also keep bentonite clay in a little container for emergency use.  Bentonite clay can help absorb toxins, it kills viruses and bacteria, reduces swelling and helps to reduce allergy symptoms from accidental internal exposure(eating allergens by accident).  It can also be used for bug bites.


My inhaler has saved my life many times.  I’m not a fan of most pharmaceuticals, but when it comes to asthma, I don’t mess around.  Thankfully, I rarely have asthma attacks anymore since I cut wheat from my diet.


My epi pen still scares me, even though I’ve had it for years.  I’ve taught my family how to use it should I ever pass out.

What do you keep in your purse or bag?

Managing Exposure

Managing Exposure

Avoiding allergens can be really difficult.  For those with severe allergies, this can be challenging and sometimes lonely.  Managing exposure takes a lot of preplanning.

I try to keep these things in mind before considering leaving the house.

  1. Will there be airborne allergens where I’m visiting?
  2. How long is the event?
  3. Will I need to bring food?
  4. Do I have my inhaler, and epi-pen packed to go with?
  5. Emergency Paperwork
  6. Is there someone there who can help me should I become exposed?
  7. Do I have my face mask for high-risk situations?
  8. Do I have my essential oil blends to help me breathe and stay calm?
  9. What is my exit strategy should there be dangerous allergens?
  10. Recovery
  11. Know Yourself/Your Child/Your Partner/Your Friend

For those new to allergies, there are a lot of potential dangers that you might not even be aware of.  For those with family members or friends that you want to be considerate for, then hopefully these tips will help you too!

Possible Airborne Allergen Dangers

Air Fresheners: Made with alcohol made from corn, chemicals and artificial fragrances that can make anyone, even non-allergic persons, sick.  
Look into buying a diffuser for essential oils* instead!

Anything peanuts or peanut butter: Peanuts seem to be one of the deadliest airborne allergens.  If you’re heading to a playdate with a friend, please check the label on your snacks if you don’t have allergens.  There are so many great peanut-free options out there!   It’s hard for those with allergens to safely go on a playdate for fear of peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix or peanut butter cookies.
I personally feel like a burden asking people to avoid peanuts.  I don’t like asking people to do things for me since I’m pretty independent and I don’t want to be rude.  However, I have to take myself out of my comfort zone and make sure to mention my allergies.  I figure it’s ruder to drop dead in front of my friends and upset them that they’ve killed me then to mention that I have an allergy they could please avoid.
One area that always scares me, is the giant peanut bin at the grocery store.  I always steer WIDE around it.  I try to be farther than eyesight.  I also wear a facemask in stores that are known to have them.  What is with that anyway?  Do people honestly eat so many peanuts they need a giant open-air bin of them??  Couldn’t they put them in bags or a small concealed bin?  It’s weird.
***Update***
After having an ANA attack at the store when they were adding peanuts to the bin, I no longer shop at stores with open-air peanuts.  Even with a mask, it is not safe.

Perfume:  Just like air fresheners, perfume is made with alcohol made from corn.  Plus, perfume has chemicals that disrupt hormones.  I read this incredible study that talks about how people have pheromones that attract you to the right mate that is genetically compatible with you.  People who wear perfume mask their pheromones, therefore causing them to marry a genetically incompatible person.  So, why wear perfume at all?  Go au natural, be you!

Candles: In addition to artificial scents, candles are made with paraffin, a petroleum waste product that has to be deodorized and chemically treated with bleach before it can be made into a wax.  It can be even more toxic than second-hand smoke.  The wicks of the candles are often made with lead.  A good alternative is to use beeswax candles.  Beeswax candles clean the air!  You could also use an essential oil diffuser*.

*Many oils are not safe to use around babies and small children.  In addition, you’ll want to be sure not to use oils if someone is allergic to what you’re using.  For example, I’m allergic to ginger and cinnamon, which are in a lot of essential oil blends.

Length of the Event and Bringing Food

Depending on how long I’m leaving home for, I need to plan how much food and water I should take.  I try to always keep quick snacks on hand at home to grab for short day trips.  If I need to leave the house during meal times, I need to do some preplanning for lunch or dinner.
If I’m going camping or out of town, I need to do a lot of planning.  Meal plans, food prepping and googling grocery store locations near where I’ll be staying, calling ahead to see if they’ll have at least one of my safe emergency foods.  It’s hard to bring enough safe food with for a long event, especially since I make everything from scratch, hence no preservatives.  Usually, I like to see if there’s a farmer’s market or health food store near where I’m staying because that’s a lot safer than a normal grocery store.

Inhaler & Epi-Pen

Since I have life-threatening allergies, I need to make sure I have my inhaler and epi-pen on me at all times.  So I have to double and triple check before I go anywhere.  I always keep an inhaler and epi pen in my purse.  I have spares at home too for back up.  I’m thinking of bringing two epi pens with me because I read a sad story where a mother missed when trying to inject her child and they didn’t have a backup, so her child died.  I can only imagine the anguish she must feel.  She was prepared and yet things still went wrong.  I would never have thought of having a back up on hand before reading that.  In addition, it’s always good to have your prescription up to date and if possible, to carry a refill prescription note with you in case you lose yours.
I was pregnant with my second daughter and at work when I started having difficulty breathing.  I realized I had forgotten my inhaler in another purse and I didn’t have one.  I called ahead to the nearest Target pharmacy.  When I got there, I was struggling to breathe but trying not to show it.  I was hoping I could quickly pay and be able to breathe again after using my brand new inhaler.  Instead, the clerk told me that my inhaler prescription had just expired.  I managed to wheeze out “But I can’t breathe!” He told me he would try calling my doctors office.  I managed to stumble over to the bench next to the pharmacy and tried to stay calm since stress can aggravate asthma.  I called my parents and managed to gasp out where I was and they immediately started speeding over.  By the time my Dad got there, there was a crowd gathered around me because I was barely breathing and turning blue.  I remember a good Samaritan trying to help me stay calm and coaching me through slow deep breaths.  My Dad was furious with the pharmacy and demanded that if they couldn’t fill my prescription they could at least call an ambulance.  After using my inhaler a few times I started to breathe a little easier.  The ambulance arrived and they checked my vitals and made sure I was getting enough oxygen.  It was terribly embarrassing and scary.  Since then I always check and recheck that I have my inhaler with me.

Emergency Paperwork

I have a printout of my and my children’s allergies in my purse.  I also have plans to make a medical directive.  I recently got this cute first aid pouch that I’m adding all of my emergency stuff to.  It’s good to have a clear plan for emergencies, especially if you need to visit an emergency room or you are unconscious and need someone to make medical decisions for you.

Is there someone there who can help me should I become exposed?

I’m lucky my parents were able to rush over with an inhaler and that someone was able to help me.  I’m not sure what would have happened if they hadn’t.  I might have been in the news as Pregnant Woman Dies in Local Target.  I’ve had other close calls and somehow, I have always been fortunate enough to have had someone I love nearby to aid me.  When I can’t breathe, I can barely talk.  The whole world narrows down to survival, trying to breathe.  Almost nothing else exists.  It’s hard to think about anything else.  If I had to dig for a lost or hidden inhaler or cross a room or a building to get to it, I might not make it.  Back up people are necessary.  It’s humbling having to constantly rely on having someone to protect you and be there should the worst happen.  I don’t know what I would do without my friends and family.

Do I have my face mask for high-risk situations?

I try to keep a face mask on for sudden airborne exposure.  Some restaurants use peanut oil and driving by one can be dangerous.  If I see one from a distance I can either close my car windows or thrown my face mask on or both.  If I’m in a place where there’s a lot of air freshener scent or maybe cat or dog dander, I might put on a face mask to prevent me from breathing in more allergens as I try to make a speedy exit.

Do I have my essential oil blends to help me breathe and stay calm?

I’ve recently discovered essential oils and I love them!  I’ve found they help with my breathing and also help ease my anxiety.  I’ve made a few blends that help me and keep them in my purse for easy, quick access.

What is my exit strategy should there be dangerous allergens?

It’s good to get a layout of the land in a new environment.  Should I find myself in danger, I want to skedaddle as fast as possible.  Not knowing a safe exit can be dangerous.  As I’ve mentioned above, when it’s difficult to breathe, it’s difficult to think clearly.  Relying on instinct and memory is easier than desperately attempting to escape in an unfamiliar area.  Plus, not knowing how to escape can elevate stress levels and cause a panic attack on top of an asthma attack.

Recovery

After you escape a dangerous situation, you’ll need fresh air, a safe calm place to recover your breath and someone to watch over you should you need more help.  Having safe water to sip is also very helpful.  Don’t attempt to reenter a dangerous situation and risk re-exposing yourself.  The second exposure close to a first is always more dangerous.  Your helper should be able to help recover any personal items left behind in your flight.  If you’re alone, find someone who can help you.  Do not put yourself in harms way again!   I think I usually try to keep everything right next to me in case I need to do a quick grab and go.  I have left stuff before and had to send people in.

Know Yourself/Your Child/Your Partner/Your Friend

Be aware of yourself.  Listen to your body, your breathing, your skin condition.  Or that of your child/partner/friend with allergies.  If you suddenly start coughing, don’t assume you’re suddenly, mysteriously coming down with a cold.  Listen carefully to your body.  Are you in a crowd?  Is it possible there are people around with one of your allergens?  Are you having any other reactions?  Is your face feeling weird or numb?  Is your face swelling?  Are you breaking out in hives?  Are you having trouble focusing?  Are your hands itching or swelling?

Medical Alert Tags, Bracelets, and Necklaces

Should I ever be alone in a situation where I need strangers to help and I’ve become incapacitated, then I need a way to share important information with them.  I have medical alert tags that are attached to my purse.  They let strangers know that I have severe food allergies and also that an epi-pen is in my purse.

I also have a medical alert bracelet and necklace.  Should I ever be rendered unconscious, this can help emergency crews know what to avoid using on me.  There is a lot of corn in medical equipment and exposure to it when I’m already struggling could have severe consequences.

Hopefully keeping these things in mind will help you with managing exposure as it has me.  What do you do to manage exposure?  Do you do anything different or have anything helpful to add?