View More

If you are going to buy just one book to explain food allergies to your young child, I thoroughly recommend “Peter Can’t Eat Peanuts”. The author, Nadine O’Reilly, is a psychologist, and “Peter Can’t Eat Peanuts” evolved from a bedtime story she made up for her peanut allergic and asthmatic son.

The plus points…

For me, it’s a good all rounder. It tells the story of Peter, who eats a peanut, has an allergic reaction and has to go to hospital. The book then takes you through how the doctor and Peter’s mum teach Peter how to stay safe with his peanut allergy. It’s easy to read aloud (most pages rhyme…), short enough to hold a preschooler’s attention throughout, yet detailed enough to make all the key points, namely:

  • If you have a peanut allergy like Peter, then eating peanuts will make you sick.
  • If you feel sick, tell a grown up immediately.
  • You should wear a medical ID bracelet (my son was particularly impressed Peter’s bracelet was orange, like his).
  • You need to carry an EpiPen (my son wanted to look at our trainer pen after we finished the book).
  • You need to check ingredients labels.
  • Don’t eat other children’s food at school, parties or playdates.

I’m hoping that if we read the book a few times, it will help me to teach D to say “no thank you, I have a peanut allergy” when he’s offered food (something he needs to know for the school playground from this September!).

Any downsides?

I read the book before reading it to my son and was confident it was age appropriate for him (at 3 1/2-years old). However, one thing I didn’t foresee was my son being worried by the fact Peter at peanuts in hisown house. At bedtime after reading the book, I mentioned to D that the next day we were visiting family and I had bought some chocolate chip muffins to take along. His response: “They have peanuts in them?”. When I reassured him they wouldn’t and that nothing in our house contained peanuts, he replied “Peter ate peanuts in HIS house”. Cue me tying myself in knots slightly, trying to explain that Peter didn’t know that he had an allergy until he ate the peanut, so that’s why there were peanuts in his house … but after that, Peter’s mum checks the labels, just like we do. I hope I said enough to reassure him. I guess I’ll have to see if he mentions it again.

I also wish I’d skipped the page where Peter asks his mum if he’s done something bad, which had caused his allergy. At 3 1/2, thoughts like that haven’t occurred to my son yet (and it probably doesn’t help for me to be planting them!).

In summary … and how to order

I would say “Peter Can’t Eat Peanuts” strikes the balance of being detailed without being scary and would be suitable for young children of preschool age and over.

If you see this book available in the UK, do post a comment below. I got my copy from the US from Amazon.com. It was being sold for a mere 7 cents, however the total cost was around £10 with shipping.

View More

Today’s allergy entrepreneur sharing her story is Hailey Phillips, the founder and creator of Allergy Adventures, which aims to help “children with food allergies live safe, happy and healthy lives, filled with fun and adventure”. If you visited the Allergy Show this year, you’ll no doubt have seen the Allergy Adventures zone for children. Every time I passed, the stand was buzzing with children taking part in craft activities whilst parents snapped up the fun storybooks about Minoo, Woot and friends and their magical lunchbox adventures. Allergy Adventures are already improving children’s experiences at hospital allergy clinics and will soon be increasing allergy awareness in schools. Here Hailey talks about the many ways in which she is helping children to have a positive mindset about their allergies.

Hi Hailey. It’s great to talk to you about Allergy Adventures. Let’s start with how it all began. I know you have coeliac disease … but that a huge inspiration behind you founding Allergy Adventures was your niece?

Yes, my niece was diagnosed with an egg allergy at eight months old. But it wasn’t until she was two that I started to realise how emotionally damaging food allergy can be for children as they get older.

Birthday parties, school lunches and seasonal festivities like Easter, Pancake Day and Christmas, are just a few of the times when children with allergies can feel excluded.

And it’s not just the feelings of ‘missing out’; extreme allergic reactions can be terrifying.  My niece had an anaphylactic reaction at her nursery when she was two, and we’re currently going through a series of food challenges to nuts after she had a reaction late last year. She’s now seven and still hasn’t shaken the pesky allergies off.

So with all of this in mind, I gave up my full-time job in London as a graphic designer – sorry mum! – to create Allergy Adventures®, with the aim of helping children with food allergies learn about their condition in as light-hearted a way as possible. I created the maze design in recognition of the confusing journey that parents start on when their child is diagnosed with food allergies.

But the journey can be rewarding when you find a way forward; be that a successful free from bake in the kitchen, or finding a new free from product to try.  And for children, the maze creates a look that’s fun, and I mix this up with exciting ideas and new things for them to discover. This helps them to manage the seriousness of food allergy, and to keep themselves safe around food.

Allergy Adventures booksYou have a range of children’s storybooks where characters with different allergies go on all sorts of adventures. Was this something you created originally for your niece?

Yes. I wanted to help my niece realise that, in spite of her food allergies, she could enjoy a variety of other foods that wouldn’t make her ill. And above all, make it a fun learning experience, so I came up with my quirky characters who go to magical places and have cool adventures with allergy-friendly foods. There’s an onion ringmaster at a circus and a beetroot monkey at a zoo, who does a very funky dance. It sounds a bit wacky, doesn’t it? I obviously read way too much Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was a kid!

But behind the fun there are serious messages in the books that teach children how to keep themselves safe around food, and to always look out for hidden allergens.

“My Seaside Adventure” hit the shops before Christmas, which tells the story of Woot who is allergic to nuts. Another character Boskus is peanut allergic – is he going to have his own adventure sometime soon?

Allergy Adventures Woot nut allergyAllergy Adventures Boskus peanut allergy

Ahh Boskus, I’m a bit worried that he might be a victim of Allergy Adventures®’ success! Although his story is all sketched out – he has a pretty wild time on some dodgems made from jelly – he may have to wait a little before I can bring him, and his funfair adventure, to life.

I’ve just been awarded a grant by the Wellcome Trust to develop an online workshop for schools – I’ll come back to that in a minute – so that will knock out much of 2014. And beyond that… well, I’m hoping 2015 will be his year!

I’m even wondering whether he might make his début in an eBook, I’d love to know what readers think of that idea…

 

Last year you launched the “Allergy Adventures Passport Pack” at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and this is now also being used at the James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth and by Dr George du Toit in his private allergy clinic. Can you tell us a bit about the passport pack? Are there plans to introduce it in other hospitals across the country?

Allergy Adventures passportThe idea for the Passport Pack came about after I saw how stressful and scary children can find a trip to the allergy clinic. Often parents aren’t really sure what will happen, and so families arrive at the hospital feeling anxious, with vague thoughts about being pricked on the arm and maybe having a reaction.

I wanted to create something that would appeal to children, explain clearly what would happen to them during their visit, and also instills a proud sense of achievement on completing their journey. When children arrive, they are given their own Allergy Adventures® Passport and as they visit each part of the clinic – height, weight, dietician, etc – their Passport is stamped by the nurses and consultants. At the end of the visit they receive a reward certificate and a sticker.

I’m currently working behind the scenes to introduce the Allergy Adventures® Passport Pack into other hospitals, but I’ve also had some great support from parents who have been mentioning the Passport to their clinics. That’s what happened at Great Yarmouth; a parent asked her hospital to consider the idea, the medical staff got in touch and now the Passport is up and running. Never underestimate parent power!

Your online workshop for schools sounds like a fantastic project – tell us more!

Yes, this was huge news for Allergy Adventures! Recently I was awarded a grant by the Wellcome Trust to develop an online, science-based workshop for schools, to help improve awareness and understanding of food allergy in schools.

The workshops will include fun, educational videos, which will provide the focus for classroom activities. Through a series of cool experiments and explorations, children will learn facts about the human body, such as how the immune system reacts to a threat (allergens) and how medicine can be used to counteract a reaction. Children will also learn key safety points too, to help keep friends with allergies safe.

I’ll be working with a team of experts to produce the workshop, including paediatric allergy specialist, Dr Adam Fox, and psychologist, Dr Rebecca Knibb. It’s a great opportunity to build awareness and understanding about food allergies in schools, and will hopefully lead to children with allergies feeling less excluded.

It’s very much in the early stages, but I’ll be keeping everyone informed of my progress on Twitter and Facebook!

And whilst the workshop is developed you have an educational safety poster for schools? Where can people get hold of a copy for their school?

By visiting: http://shop.allergyadventures.com/products/allergy-poster

Allergy Adventures poster

Finally, you are currently carrying out some research into cooking lessons, food allergies and schools? How can Nutmums.com readers help?

They can head over to my blog – HERE – and answer my very short questionnaire. Or they can email the answers to me at: hello@allergyadventures.com. The results so far have been fascinating, and there’s a clear need for teachers, at both primary and secondary level, to be more aware about food allergies.

Thanks so much for talking to us, Hailey!

Contact details

 

For a review of the Allergy Adventures “My Seaside Adventure” nut free storybook, click here.

Childrens Book About Allergies View More

“My seaside adventure” by Hailey Phillips (author) and Ivana Zorn (illustrator) is the latest “nut free” story from Allergy Adventures.

Woot is allergic to nuts. When he takes a bite of his turkey rainbow wrap something magical happens: he shrinks into his lunchbox. Once inside, he finds lots of safe foods he can eat, whilst at the same time having fun doing things like surfing a lemon wedge and dodging rolling cucumber slices.

Whilst it might at first glance sound a bit trippy to the adult reader, the aim of the story is to emphasise the foods that someone with a nut allergy CAN eat. In fact, every food mentioned in the Allergy Adventures books are free from the top 14 allergens.

I find storybooks about allergies a great way of broaching the subject with my son, in an indirect, relaxed way, without it sounding like a surmon from me. My Seaside Adventure certainly grabbed my 3-year-old’s attention, whilst teaching him the important message that when people with nut allergies:

 “meet new people [they] must let them know that food and I do not always go”.

My son also loved the page at the end of the book where Woot introduces his friends … Boffle with a wheat allergy, Boskus with a peanut allergy and so on. We had to run through Woot’s friends several times so I could tell D what each character was allergic to. He’s at the stage now where he has begun to appreciate that some of his friends are allergic to different foods (and, conversely, that some people are absolutely fine eating nuts). So we spent some time with me saying “That’s Boskus, he’s allergic to peanut” “Like me!” and “That one’s Minoo, who is allergic to eggs” “Like Joshua!” and so on.

There are also tiny pictures of nuts (or nut-containing foods: biscuits, chocolate and marzipan) hidden on each page, so your child can search for them and then play “squish the nut”. This enabled me to say to D “ah, that one’s a chocolate, because some types of chocolate can have nuts in”. How much of this sunk in, I don’t know… but it can only help with raising his awareness.

Win a copy of My Seaside Adventure!

My Seaside Adventure is available to buy from Allergy Adventures and Amazon. However, if you’d like to WIN a copy – we have one to giveaway to a lucky UK reader! Simply fill out the contact form below and the winner will be drawn at random on 1 March 2014.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

What Is The Name Of The Main Character In My Seaside Adventure?

KootHootWootMoot

** SPAM FREE** Your email address will NOT be used for any other form of communication by Nutmums.com or any other 3rd Party.

And the winner is…

NAOMI CHAPPELL! Congratulations Naomi – hope your child enjoys reading all about Woot’s nut free “Seaside Adventure”! With the book, we will also enclose an Allergy Adventures food allergy safety poster for your child’s school or nursery.

(And just to say a big thank you to everyone who entered!)

View More

“The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter” by Sharon Chisvin (author) and Carol Leszcz (illustrator) is a rhyming story for young children about a girl named Sam with a peanut allergy.

The book:

  • Teaches children about food allergies, by explaining that, as far as peanut butter is concerned: “Sam can’t ever smell it or touch it or taste it … Or cook it or roast it or fry it or bake it”.
  • Sets out what might happen to Sam if she ate peanut butter, including that “she wouldn’t feel well … Her tummy would hurt and her tongue might swell …”.
  • Carries the key message that, although Sam is sometimes upset that she cannot eat peanut butter, she must remember that “Everyone in class has something special or different that no one else has”. Continue Reading
View More

“The Diary of Cyril the Squirrel” by Lucy Wann aims to help children aged 3 to 7 come to terms with their nut allergy.

Cyril is allergic to nuts (which is clearly particularly unfortunate for a squirrel). His diary teaches nut allergic children to:

  • Always carry their medication.
  • Never swap food.
  • Wear their medical bracelets.
  • Check ingredients (and, in particular, check for themselves rather than take someone’s word that a food is nut free).
  • Be comfortable with taking their own nut free food to parties. Continue Reading