Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

Review of My Food My Health Menu Plan Service

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Back when I thought that candida might be causing the eczema in my sons, I began looking into doing a candida diet. It seemed to overwhelming to me to try to revamp the menu on my own, so I decided to see if I could find and test drive a menu planning service that would deliver me menus, recipes, and shopping lists customized for the candida diet.

Enter My Food My Health. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled on them, but somehow I did find the service, and it appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. However, I didn’t want to commit to 3 months of the service, especially since money was tight at the time, so I requested a short trial to see if I liked it, and offered to review it in exchange for the chance to try it out. They set me up with a free trial, and now I’m fulfilling my end of the deal.

All in all, I found the service quite impressive. They have a lot of recipes, and are apparently adding new ones from time to time. You can customize your diet with specific issues, such as candida, celiac, eczema, etc, and you can also exclude specific foods (because they cause allergies or you just don’t like them). You can add other family members and specify exclusions for them as well.

Making a menu is as easy as clicking on  “Create New Meal Plan”. This generates a menu all ready for you. I found that I wanted to customize the menu, which was a little tedious but not really difficult. It puts one recipe per meal, but you can add more to create a 2 or 3 dish meal (such as adding a salad to a casserole, or an omelet to hashbrowns). I really like the fact that this menu plan allows you to plan all 3 meals instead of just dinner like some do. I was told that they are working on making the menu planner easier to use, which should make it less tedious and more user friendly in the future.

The list of recipes is quite extensive. Our family is vegetarian and mostly gluten-free, and there are still so many recipes we can use! (I ended up decided not to do the candida diet, by the way.) I didn’t expect to find many that Manny could use, but I did find a few. And they are really tasty, too.  Most don’t use exotic ingredients–a real plus for most people. A few do, but that’s okay; it’s fun to try new things once in a while.

I must emphasize how tasty the recipes are. I have only tried a handful, but I am very impressed. The Chickpea Chilli was a hit with my husband–and he doesn’t even like garbanzos! When I made the Seared Tofu with Green Coconut Curry (minus the jalapenos, for my daughter’s sake), along with a simple veggie stir fry, my husband said that it was better than eating out at a restaurant! The Quinoa-Millet Banana Muffins were very simple and easily adaptable to my son’s very restricted diet. The Puree of Chickpea and Tomato Soup earned me several complements at church, and I can’t wait to try out the Quick and Simple Ratatouille tomorrow, to serve with our traditional Monday pasta.

It is easy to print out recipes; you can either print out the whole week’s worth at once, or just print individual recipes. I found the latter worked better, though for some reason they always had 2 pages, and page 2 was usually blank (except for the website info and page x/x and time stamp on the bottom). That might be an issue with my printer, though. I like having printed them out; I can file them in my menu binder and use them again and again, even if I don’t continue with the service.

Once you have made your menu, you can click on shopping list and see a list of all the ingredients needed for the week’s menu. You can print it as is or hide certain things (say you have rice already in your pantry, you can hide that item). You can also edit the list manually, which is good if you need to add items to it. Personally, though, I wouldn’t print the list. I put my shopping list on my iPod with the ShopShop app, so it’s easier for me just to copy from the list. I do like how it the MFMH list is categorized, though. Ingredients are listed under headings like Produce, Eggs & Dairy, Flour, Pasta, Nuts & Seeds, etc. This makes it easy to see which items you are buying, as well as keeps you from running around the in a slap-dash fashion, or missing things when you are in a section. Currently it lists items from individual recipes separately–as in, 3 eggs, 6 eggs, 2 eggs, etc. I have been told they are working on the shopping list to consolidate the repeated items, so in the future it would show 11 eggs, not 3, 6, & 2.

One feature I wish it had was the ability to start the week’s menu on any day of the week. It starts on Sunday, and it is given in real time. Once a day has passed, you can’t change the menu. I shop on Tuesdays and like to make the menu Wednesday through Tuesday. This means that I would have to do Sunday’s recipe on Wednesday and plan my menu before Sunday, then change the days on the print out. This is awkward for me, but not impossible. Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue for someone who wanted to make the whole month’s menus at once. They could view the shopping list for each week and purchase the non-perishables for the whole month at once, and then just get the fresh produce as needed. This would mean less time in the store, which would definitely save money. You can plan your menu many weeks in advance with this service, so that would be very feasible. And from what I’ve been told, I’m the only one who has ever had an issue with this in the 4 years they have been operating, so I guess it’s not a big deal.

There is a way that you can add your own recipes, but it is a little hard to find. And the trouble is, it does not seem to add the ingredients to the shopping list. The box to add your own recipe is more just a box to add the name of a recipe you have, rather than being where you would write in the recipe. You can write in the ingredients, but you can’t add them to the shopping list automatically; you have to do it manually. At least it’s an option. I’ve been told this will also change in the future. Fortunately, your personal recipes have a special icon, so when making your shopping list you can simply collect the list of ingredients for those specific recipes and add it however you want–to their customizable shopping list, or to your paper or electronic one.

One neat feature I almost forgot to mention is that it tells you how many calories the recipes have, and gives you a total for the day on the menu. This is really handy if you are counting calories. I don’t count calories–never have and never will–but I know some people do.

The shortest subscription time is 3 months for $34.99. Other options are 6 months for $49.99 and 12 months for $89.99. This price is quite reasonable. I know a place that charges $5 a week for plans, which is reasonable, But My Food My Health’s plans are $11 a month for the 3-month plan, and the cost would go down if you subscribed for longer.

So do I like the service? Yes, to a point. It gets hard if you have too many diet restrictions (because it excludes recipes that could be easily modified, because the computer doesn’t know that, for instance, you could use a different milk or leave out the nuts), and recipes are not customizable by serving size, so if you are not doing this just for yourself, you would need to multiply certain recipes that are designed for 1 person and adjust the shopping list accordingly (omelet recipes are pretty much all one-serving recipes). I do love the variety of recipes and how tasty they are.

But will I subscribe? Probably not. I realize that what I need is just more recipes, not something that plans my menu for me. $35.99 is not bad for as many recipes as I can print out in 3 months–that would be a couple cookbooks worth of recipes, and as you know, most cookbooks are full of recipes you don’t use. This allows me to print the ones I like and put them in a binder, so it is definitely worth it in terms of just recipes. Some people will find it more useful than I would for the actual menu planning. And they add more recipes all the time, so an ongoing subscription will suit many people quite well.

Would I recommend it? Sure. I would say it’s definitely worth what they charge. You will not waste your money if you purchase a subscription. You can keep the printouts if you decide not to renew, and you’ve come out ahead. And you may like it better than I did and decide to keep the service.

What if you aren’t interested in a menu plan? They have a kid-friendly cookbook available that is gluten and dairy free  called Kids Delicious. The book would be especially suited for families whose children have autism, celiac, gluten intolerance, IBS or lactose intolerance. If my son were not so restricted in his diet, I think I would buy one myself! And who knows? Maybe I will get one sometime when Ralfie is older.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free 3-months subscription to this service in exchange for my review. However, the opinions expressed in this review are all mine.

Discussion of Indoor Air Quality and Air Purifier Review

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

When a loved one has allergies, and especially eczema, taking care of their skin and eliminating the triggers is very important. However, there are factors other than diet and skin care to consider. For instance, many children with eczema eventually develop asthma. My son never has, and I don’t think he ever will (I’m keeping my fingers crossed), but still, I have taken many precautions to take care of the air he breathes.

There are many things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. One of the most basic is to open the windows. Of course, this is not always as easy as it seems. Sometimes pollution or pollen levels are so high that it is better to keep them shut. If you have a forced air system like we have, you might want to keep the windows closed in winter to keep the house warm–or if you live in a humid climate like we did in south Texas, you might want to keep them closed in the summer to keep the humidity out while you run the air conditioner! The problem is that indoor air quality can get worse than outdoor air quality.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the decline of indoor air quality. One is definitely the cleaners and other chemicals many use in your home. Air fresheners, toxic chemical cleaners, and even the foam in your sofa, can fill the air with toxins that reduce air quality. Oxygen become depleted, making one more drowsy. Positive ions build up in the air, causing free radical damage in the body.

Used with permission.

All of these factors are things everyone should consider, whether they have allergies or not. Those who have allergies, however, would do well to be especially diligent about the quality of the air in their home. The reason is that the body is busy dealing with the allergens it is exposed to, and reducing exposure to as many as possible can help the body deal better with the ones it can’t avoid. For instance, my son has both food and environmental allergies. We once visited a home with a dog and spent several hours there. When we left, he was experiencing a flair-up of eczema, especially on his face. A year later we spent several days in this home, and hardly had any problems at all–in fact, it was during this time that we quit using prescription steroid cream. In the first case, he was still being exposed to many allergens through my breastmilk, whereas we had eliminated all of the major and many of the minor allergens later, and so his body was able to deal with the exposure to the dog dander better. My mother finds that she can deal with her environmental allergies better if she avoids wheat during the pollen season.

Used with permission.

So what can you do to improve your air quality? Besides eliminating as many toxins as possible from your home and opening the windows as often as possible, you can invest in a good quality air purifier. Jarden Consumer Services offered to allow me to try one of their air filters, and I was very pleased to get the Holmes® HAP9424B-TUS Medium Room Air Purifier, along with 4 extra allergy-removal aer1 ™ filters (this purifier uses two filters at a time).

I really like the purifier’s sleek design. It doesn’t look out of place, and is much nicer than many older air purifiers. Being tall and narrow like it is, it is easy to fit into just about any room. The fan has 3 speeds to choose from. It tends to blow a bit, especially on the higher settings, but it’s not heavy and easy to turn it in a different direction if one doesn’t want to be in the draft. The noise is a little more than some purifiers, perhaps, about like a low fan, but it is not annoying, nor does it make other sounds difficult to hear. One feature I like is the ion button, which makes the machine emit negative ions. These counteract the bad positive ions and make the air much more like outdoor air. This can be turned on and off, because, as the manual said, leaving it on all the time can cause excess dust to collect on surfaces. It also has a light that will flash when it is time to replace the filter. The fan is designed to run 24/7, all year long, unlike the fan in the bathroom, for instance, which could catch fire if left on too long.

I did not notice any improvement in my son’s condition with this air purifier; however, as I mentioned already, he does not have asthma or any lung problems, so I was not surprised at this. I have no doubt that it has improved our quality of life in ways that we are not necessarily sensitive to. Sometimes we have it out in the living room, so that the whole family can benefit. Other times we will put it in my son’s room–especially at night–so that he can get the full benefit of better air.

If you are interested in getting this or another purifier like it, as well as replacement filters, you can visit the Aer1 Systems site, or check with major retailers like Wal-Mart or Target.

Helping My Eczema Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

My baby Was Born With Eczema

Like a lot of babies with eczema, my baby was born with it, and right from the outset his skin was dry and flaky. We bought almost every type of skin care product on the market, trying one after another unsuccessfully to control the scratching and discomfort it was causing him.

He was also a terrible bottle drinker throughout this time, literally throwing bottles across the room, arching and fighting every single one. What should have been a nice bonding experience was a battle of wills to just feed him even tiny amounts of milk. It wasn’t unusual for a bottle to last most of the day by the time we could get him to finish it.

 

Working Out the Cause of Eczema for My Baby

It wasn’t until he was around six months of age that a doctor referred us to a specialist eczema/allergy clinic, where we were finally given the official diagnosis of eczema, possible milk protein intolerance, and given some particularly useful suggestions about layering of creams from lighter ones to thicker ones to keep the moisture in. We were told to wrap him tightly for sleeps, to help encourage a better sleep pattern and stop the damage from night time scratching.
I can’t recommend highly enough getting a referral from your usual doctor to an allergy clinic or specialist. Most major hospitals have regular clinics where they can test for allergies or intolerances. Eczema associations and support groups can point you towards these clinics in your area. It helps to rule out possible triggers in the ongoing management of eczema or similar conditions.

 

Wrapping or Swaddling a Baby With Eczema

aka the ‘Wrestle Wrap’

Wrapping or swaddling our baby was fine while he was small, but once he started to grow and become more active, it caused him more and more discomfort. He began sleeping even less, spending the entire time attempting to work his way out of the swaddles!

We bought other baby wrap style sleeping bags. They worked for a short period of time, but were soon unsafe to continue using as he learnt to roll over, requiring free arm movement to be able to roll back. I was so desperate to keep him from scratching that I even resorted to a Safe-T Sleep system which wraps around a mattress and has velcro straps that are placed between a baby’s legs and around their tummy to hold them in place on their backs. Using this kept him in a wrap style sleeping bag for a little bit longer, but he eventually worked out how to roll over again even with this on, and so we had to transition to a normal sleeping bag. The only way this would work to stop the scratching was if I dressed my baby in an all-in-one suit with the foldover handcovers attached and then put the sleeping bag over the top of this. I was beside myself the day I realised that he no longer fit into the size 00-0 one suits and that ALL the manufacturers of these stop making them with handcovers after these sizes!

Safe, Scratch-free Sleeping With the Bamboo Bubby Bag

I shopped high and low and could not find anything I could use safely with my baby, and we all NEEDED sleep badly. He also needed protection from the scratching to allow his skin to heal!

And so the idea for the Bamboo Bubby Bag was born. I still can’t believe that there was nothing like this out there on the market! It is a one size fits 000-2+ sleeping bag (saving parent’s money - they are already spending so much on eczema treatments). It is made of 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton fabric that is soft, breathable and thermoregulating. This is perfect for babies with eczema, since their condition already makes them hotter than others and sweat further contributes to the itch.

The Bamboo Bubby Bag has a unique, completely enclosed adjustable sleeve design® which works similarly to the handcover concept on all-in-one suits meaning that it can guarantee a goodnight’s sleep for babies with eczema throughout their entire first 2+ years.

Since designing the Bamboo Bubby Bag, I have been overwhelmed by positive feedback about the idea, and have recently launched Bamboo Bubby into an online business, sending out Bamboo Bubby Bags far and wide, helping many other babies with eczema sleep better and break the itch-scratch cycle. As a parent, there is nothing worse than watching your child suffer from a distressing condition like eczema, and I am glad that Bamboo Bubby has not only made a huge change to our lives, but also now those of so many others.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Northey is the mother of a baby with eczema and the designer of  the Bamboo Bubby Bag, a sleeping bag with unique, enclosed, adjustable  sleeves that will fit babies from sizes 000-2+, stopping them from  scratching during sleeptimes – perfect for babies with eczema or  dermatitis.
Bamboo Bubby Bags can be seen in action at: www.bamboobubby.com.au or www.facebook.com.au/bamboobubby. She is also happy to chat with other parents via email at: info [at] bamboobubby [dot] com.au

 

Product Review & Give-Away: Vidazorb Probiotics

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a representative of Vidazorb to try their probiotics and review them on my blog. They sent me a sample of the Vidazorb Belly Boost for children and the Vidazorb Daily probiotics for adults. They were especially interested to see how the probiotics helped my son’s eczema.

These probiotics have a lot of positive features. To start with, they have a CFU (colony forming units) count of approximately 10 billion per tablet, and they recommend 3 tablets per day. They are chewable, and for those too young to chew them, they are very easy to crush into powder to mix with food or liquid. They taste really good, too. My son always got excited whenever he got one, and often would beg me for “I-ah-kicks” whenever he thought of them. They also do not require refrigeration. They are also gluten, soy, lactose, and corn free and have zero calories..

On the other hand, they did not help my son’s eczema. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t help some children’s eczema, but it didn’t help my son. I stopped using the Infaskin that we had been using before to really try the Belly Boost, and during that time his eczema actually got a little bit worse, only to go back to what it had been after we added the Infaskin, which we did a few days before we ran out of Belly Boost. I don’t think that the Belly Boost had a negative effect, it just didn’t have a positive one. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t have as many variety of strains as Infaskin does. But Infaskin was specifically developed for skin conditions, while Belly Boost appears to be designed simply to maintain proper digestion, so this doesn’t surprise me too much.

They are to be taken 1 tablet 3 times a day, preferably with meals. I had a hard time remembering to give them to him at each meal, especially in the evening when I was so focused on getting the kids fed, dressed, read to, and in bed. The Infaskin was given once a day between meals, so it is easier to just give it whenever I remember–usually I do it before breakfast with his first liquid of the day. This isn’t really a negative, just for me it is.

They are a bit cheaper than the Infaskin is, at $43.60 if you buy it from Vidazorb. Infaskin costs me $50 for a month’s supply. They are probably a bit more expensive than some probiotics that you can get from another place, but they are very good quality, as far as I can tell, and if one were looking for probiotics to give their child during and after a round of antibiotics, I would definitely recommend Vidazorb as an option to consider. Very kid friendly.

If you want to try them, during the month of October, 2011, you can use the coupon code NEM50 to get 50% off any order. Now, that’s a pretty good deal!

But it gets even better! Vidazorb would like to offer one lucky reader a two-month supply of Belly Boost for their child. That’s an $87.20 value! Simply post a comment telling me which Vidazorb product you would like to try (click on the link to see them all). I will pick a name toward the end of the month of October using Random.com.

Product Reviews Coming Up – Probiotic & Air Purifier

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I am very excited about two product reviews that I will be doing within the next month or so, and I wanted to announce them. In a few days (as soon as I can get time to write it) I will be doing a review of a children’s probiotic and a give-away! Check back in a few days or subscribe to be sure to find out more details.

The second product review I will be doing is for an air purifer from Bionaire. I just selected this air purifier this morning, and was told I will receive my product “shortly.” I suppose that means next week. Once I have had a chance to try it out, I will do a review here.

My son has a lot of environmental allergies on top of his already extensive food allergies, so having an air purifier with an allergen filter will be a real blessing. You may have heard that indoor air quality can get pretty bad, especially in the winter when we tend to keep windows closed more, or in summer if where air conditioners are used a lot. At times I had wished I could have an air purifier of some kind, but I never thought about actually getting one, because we just don’t have the budget for it. But thanks to this blog, I am getting the chance to get one. I’m really excited!

And I’m also excited to offer you a coupon from Bionaire. You can get a free air filter that will fit any of their machines. You will need to have purchased one of their machines to use it in, but if you have an issue with air quality, having a good air purifier would probably be a good idea.

What do you think? I would appreciate your comments on air quality and its affect on things like eczema and asthma, and how an air purifier could be helpful.

 

Does Melaleuca’s Renew Really Help Eczema?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

If you can’t watch the video, the long and short of it is that yes, it did help my son. We use it twice a day, and his skin is softer, and I have been able to almost cut out the Triamcinalon and cut back significantly on the hydrocortisone (often using the 1% instead of the prescription-strength 2.5%). I had been using Eucerin cream before I started the Renew, and it never worked nearly as effectively.

Here is more information that I didn’t include in the video itself.

About two weeks before we started using Renew, we were also using the probiotic  InfaSkin. Since starting the InfaSkin, he had been showing improvement in how often and severely he broke out, but the Renew lotion took it a step further. Combined, they have been helping him tremendously.

In the clinical studies done on Renew, it was found to be 7 times more effective at helping the skin retain moisture than Eucerin! I can testify to that–my son’s skin is soft almost all the time now, with just two applications a day.

My son’s doctors are convinced that the cause of his eczema is internal, not external. That is, there appears to be irritation or something in the gut that is causing the reaction on the skin. We are waiting for test results to confirm this and identify the causative factors more specifically. So I never really expected the Renew to clear him up as much as it might do for some. For those who have external factors as the cause of eczema, it is possible that Renew alone could be all they need.

Renew is different from Eucerin in that it contains what is commonly known as tea tree oil. This oil has antiseptic qualities. I have heard of using bleach baths to kill germs on the skin. Renew would apparently do something similar, without the potentially harmful effects of bleach, which is a toxic chemical.

I wish I had mentioned this in the video, but the Renew actually seems to calm the itch to an extent. Once I noticed my son scratching his shin during a diaper change, so I rubbed a little dab of onto the spot. He pointed to his other shin and grunted, and was very pleased when I put a dab on there too! He never was that happy about Eucerin.

If you found this page because someone told you about Renew and you wanted to know if it really works, I recommend that you get back with them to find out how you can get some. On the other hand, if you don’t know of anyone who promotes Melaleuca’s products and would like to try some, please contact me at lisa [at] mybabyhaseczema [dot] com. I will be happy to explain how it works and get you set up to order some.

Disclaimer: I am now a Marketing Executive for Melaleuca. However, I made my analysis on the effectiveness of Renew by using samples sent to me before I signed up with Melaleuca; it was the fact that Renew worked that convinced me to sign up. Even if I had not signed up with them, I would have still highly recommended this lotion!