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Let's Talk Raising Healthy Kids

AllergyEats – Eating Out When You Have Food Allergies

Eating in a restaurant can be fun, but if you suffer from allergies or follow a special diet, it can be difficult to know what items on a menu you can trust. MomsGetReal™ has discovered an amazing site, AllergyEats, designed to help parents and allergy sufferers with finding restaurants that can accommodate special diets. We sat down with owner Paul Antico to learn more. You can follow his blog for useful information about food allergies and restaurants that can accommodate your needs.

MomsGetReal™ (MGR): What is AllergyEats?

Paul Antico (Paul): AllergyEats is a peer-based, online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants. Individuals with food allergies rate their dining experiences for the benefit of others (and themselves) who subsequently search for allergy-friendly restaurants. AllergyEats also includes links to restaurant web sites, menus, allergen lists, certifications, gluten-free menus, phone #’s, directions, and more. AllergyEats also includes Dining Tips from the experts and the AllergyEats Blog, devoted exclusively to dining out with food allergies. Basically, AllergyEats is the one-stop source for all information related to food-allergic dining away from the home.

MGR: Why is this site relevant to moms (and dads, and other caregivers?)

Paul: Parents and other caregivers have to be vigilant 24 hours a day regarding what a child ingests. Therefore, dining out can be particularly stressful (and yes, dangerous). The level of knowledge about food allergies and ability to handle food-allergic customers varies tremendously restaurant by restaurant. Some establishments put a lot of time and training into being as safe as possible when serving food-allergic diners. AllergyEats wants to help parents and caregivers find these restaurants (and avoid their opposites) to make their family’s dining experience as safe and comfortable as possible. This is especially true when traveling, where a family may not have their “go to” restaurant that they dine at regularly. AllergyEats is not only the best starting point for finding food allergy-friendly restaurants, but also an all-in-one resource for so much more information related to hundreds of thousands of US restaurants.

MGR: What was your inspiration for starting AllergyEats?

Paul: I was inspired to start AllergyEats based on my own experiences dining out with my two food-allergic boys.  We are a family of 7, so dining out isn’t easy. We’ve often had trouble dining out while traveling, be it in a large city such as New York or a smaller town such as Lake Placid. One night, I was driving around on a Saturday night with just my two food-allergic boys trying to find a comfortable place to eat. I was not as knowledgeable as I am now about how to have a safe dining experience, so I needed to be extra cautious. That translated into us driving for over two hours, searching for just the right restaurant. The kids were complaining with hunger in the back of the car when I said to myself, “I wish there was a guide.”  And so was AllergyEats born!

MGR: Can you talk a bit about users’ reactions?

Paul: User reaction has been great – very supportive. I get so many “Thank You’s” and a lot of comments such as “This is just what we’ve been looking for” or “I wanted to start something like this – it’s such a great idea.” It’s always nice to get those emails or hear those comments. That said, I enjoy the criticisms equally as much, given that they help me improve the site and create a better user experience. There are certainly those who have suggested that the guide is not useful or it’s flawed, but there will always be comments like that, especially during the ramp-up phase.  More important are criticisms like “You don’t list what allergies the commenter has” or “Your database is missing restaurants.” When I hear certain comments like these often enough, I make sure they get rectified to make the site better for everyone. It really is a community effort, both in rating restaurants for the good of all, and in helping improve the site and its features.  (By the way, both those two criticisms listed above were often voiced early on and have been successfully addressed.)

MGR: How is AllergyEats different than other restaurant review sites?

Paul: AllergyEats is different than other review sites in a few ways. Most importantly, reviews are strictly related to a restaurant’s ability to cater to those with food allergies – there are processes in place to keep this from being a “general” restaurant review site. Further, the review process is made very simple for the rater. With a commitment of less than a minute, a user can rate a restaurant by answering 3 simple questions – that’s it! Most users will still add a comment about their experience, but it’s not necessary. In addition, unlike other review sites, AllergyEats includes a lot of factual information about the restaurant, such as menus, certifications, allergen and nutrition lists, gluten-free info, and more. Lastly, AllergyEats has the simplest and most intuitive user-interface of any restaurant review site anywhere. Some people without food allergies are even using the site to see which restaurants are closest to them, check the menu, and call for a reservation!

MGR: How can our readers benefit from AllergyEats?

Paul: Readers caring for children with food allergies can clearly benefit from AllergyEats by giving themselves a head start in finding a safer, more comfortable dining experience (please note that there is no such thing as a guaranteed safe experience). In addition, by adding their own ratings, they are increasing the value of AllergyEats for the entire community, including themselves. Further, parents can share AllergyEats with their periodic caregivers (e.g. grandparents, babysitters, etc.) who may be responsible for taking food-allergic children out to eat. Most importantly, however, AllergyEats can open up new dining-out possibilities for those families who dine at the same one or two restaurants every time out, for fear of trying someplace new. That is my goal for AllergyEats. Dining out is a wonderful experience, especially for children. Why should those with food allergies have to miss out when there are so many careful and caring restaurants out there?

Categories
Toddlers

How to Raise a Drug-Free Pre-Schooler

Since the foundation for all healthy habits — from nutritious eating to face washing — is laid down during the preschool years, they are a great time to set the stage for a drug-free life. The following 7 tips from The Partnership at Drugfree.org will help you work with your preschooler so that she’ll grow up happy, healthy and drug-free.

  • Talk to your child about the joys of healthy living. Discuss how good you feel when you take care of yourself — how you can run, jump, play and work for many hours. A great conversation starter: “I’m glad I’m healthy because I can…”
  • Celebrate your child’s decision-making skills. Whenever possible, let your child choose what to wear. Even if the clothes don’t quite match, you are reinforcing your child’s ability to make decisions.
  • Stress the need for your child to take personal responsibility for his own health, well-being and personal environment. Your instructions should be concrete, relate to your child’s experiences, and stated positively. Turn chores like brushing teeth, putting away toys, wiping up spills, and caring for pets into fun experiences that your child will enjoy. Break the activities down into manageable steps so that your child learns to develop plans.
  • Help your child steer clear of dangerous substances that exist in her immediate world. Point out poisonous and harmful chemicals commonly found in homes, such as bleach, kitchen cleansers and furniture polish. Read the products’ warning labels out loud to your child. Explain that she should only eat or smell food or a prescribed medicine that you, a relative or other known caregivers give to her. Also, explain that drugs from the doctor help the person the doctor gives them to but that they can harm someone else.
  • Help your child understand the difference between make-believe and real life. Preschoolers give meaning to things they don’t understand in order to make sense of their world — but their meaning doesn’t necessarily reflect the real world. Ask your child what he thinks about a TV program or story. Let your child know about your likes and dislikes. Discuss how violence or bad decisions can hurt people.
  • Turn frustration into a learning opportunity. If a tower of blocks keeps collapsing during a play session, work with your child to find possible solutions to the problem.
  • Tell your child how proud you are of her when she helps you with things. There’s never a bad time to give your child a boost of self-esteem.

Substances in your preschooler’s world can include: Tobacco, Alcohol, cleaning supplies.

Whether you’re a parent who wants to understand your children, connect with them, protect them or know what to do if you find out they’re using drugs or alcohol, The Partnership at Drugfree.org Parent Resource Center provides practical tips and advice for raising drug-free kids from parenting and health experts as well as real parents and other caring adults.

© The Partnership at Drugfree.org. Used with Permission. www.drugfree.org

Categories
Making a Difference

MomsGetReal™ and The Partnership at Drugfree.org

MomsGetReal is proud to announce their affiliation with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the only national health nonprofit that seeks to work as parents’ partner in helping them prevent, intervene and find treatment for substance abuse in their teens. They do this do this through our parent resource center at www.drugfree.org, which is full of research and parent based content, free tools and support resources, as well as through groundbreaking programs for moms like the first ever national toll-free helpline and our new online support community, Time To Get Help (www.drugfree.org/timetogethelp).

MomsGetReal™ will be sharing information and content from The Partnership at Drugfree.org as well as contributing our ideas about raising healthy kids on their prevention and intervention blogs. We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with this organization and support their efforts in helping parents raise healthy kids.

We encourage our readers to ask questions, share suggestions, and tell us about the experiences you have had navigating this world with your kids. What approach do you use with your kids to encourage them to live drug free? How early do you start talking about drugs with your kids? What kinds of challenges have you faced with your kids? How do you help your kids choose the kinds of friends that will make a difference?

If you need help or more information about how to keep or get your child off drugs, we encourage you to visit The Partnership at Drugfree.org for the valuable tools and resources they offer parents.

Categories
Making a Difference

Give A Child The Greatest Gift Of All: Clean Water For Life

The holidays are the season of giving, both to the ones we love and to those in need. This holiday, MomsGetReal™ would like to encourage our readers to bring hope, peace, and joy to children all over the world by giving them the gift of clean water for life.

The Water School is a nonprofit organization that is currently working in countries like Haiti, Kenya, and Uganda to provide clean water for families and children through the solar disinfection process. This involves purifying water in a BPA-free plastic or glass water bottle using the sun’s rays. Just six hours in the sun rids the water of all harmful bacteria.

In Kenya, solar disinfection by the Water School has reduced cholera cases among children under the age of 6 by 86%. Each year 4 billion cases of diarrhea alone cause 2.2 million deaths, mostly among children under the age of five. In Uganda alone, the Water School program reduced cases of diarrhea by 56%, while some communities not using the Water School program saw a 14% increase.

By making a small donation to the Water School this year  you can send your friends and family a Holiday eCard that will not only bring joy to the ones you love, but can also help a child in need.

Just $10 will give the gift of clean water to one child in need for life. Watch the Water School’s holiday video or the Water School’s website to find out how you can give this season. The greatest gift you can give to a child this year is the gift of clean water for life.

MomsGetReal™ receives no financial incentive, advertising dollars, or other considerations for making this request; we simply believe in sharing with our readers ways that they can help to make the world a better place. When you think of how many times you grab a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, or a lunch out, $10 just doesn’t seem like that much to save a life, does it?