**August 2017 Update: Kindrdfood has closed its doors. Tara is still seeing patients through video conference, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
A company has emerged to offer help to families who have to manage changes in their diet due to a medical condition or dietary restriction. To our delight, they turn out to have the hard to find expertise in FPIES.
The company, Kindrdfood (www.kindrdfood.com), pronounced “Kindred Food,” offers 1-on-1 guidance from Registered Dietitian’s (RDs) who are individually matched with a family based on the expertise of the RD and the family’s specific dietary restriction or health challenge. Their system has an easy to use video conference system to connect RD to client. One of the best parts of their solution is that they appear to have high quality personalized recipes and meal plans developed with the support of an expert Chef...YUM!
We wanted to learn more, so we interviewed Co-Founder and Chief Dietitian, Tara McCarthy, MS RD LDN. Tara is also a Dietitian on The FPIES Foundation Medical Advisory Board.
How did Kindrdfood come about?
Well, I met my Co-Founders at an innovation “hackathon” (a weekend-long competition) focused on challenges in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston, where I have been a Dietitian for over a decade. We won the hackathon based on a dynamic personalized recipe website for people with dietary restrictions, but we didn’t think that had enough impact on what families really deal with. So, over a few months of strategy work, we felt that the gap in guidance would be the opportunity for us to have the biggest impact on these families. In particular, I have worked with patients who have FPIES and other rare conditions for a long time and it means a lot to me to make sure that our team covers even the most challenging conditions.
To you, what makes Kindrdfood’s solution more effective in general and specifically for clients with FPIES?
Well, certainly the technology helps a lot. It gives clients access to guidance from anywhere and us the ability to offer more convenient availability, including nights and weekends. What means the most for clients though, is that the Kindrd Nutritionist (one of our Registered Dietitians), that is matched with them really knows how to help them with their specific challenges. The way we do this is that our team is made up of experienced and additionally trained Registered Dietitians who have a broad base of knowledge and specialized areas of expertise. We meet weekly to discuss current topics and anonymously review challenging client cases, so we’re constantly evolving and improving. For families managing FPIES, it means having the confidence to trust in their guide, Kindrdfood, and we hope to take a little of the pressure and stress off of their shoulders.
It’s hard for a family managing FPIES to trust that anyone in the culinary world could understand how to handle these limitations, so tell us about this Chef or yours!
Lauren Deal! She is wonderful! It’s funny, because we are careful to only recruit Dietitians for our team who absolutely love food, so we all love working with Lauren. We’ve taken great care to make sure that Lauren has a very clear understanding of what matters for safety and health of people with FPIES and other conditions, and she helps us learn more about the nuances of flavor and texture when we have to substitute different ingredients to offer people better taste and more variety. Lauren is a mother and a chef, and brings her passion for both food and family to every discussion and every recipe. It’s really a pleasure to have her on out team (you can read more about their leadership team here: http://www.kindrdfood.com/leadership).
What are the most frequent challenges that your clients with FPIES start with?
There are several specific things, but honestly the number 1, is that they just don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming for most families. They think about what they don’t know, what they can’t do and emotionally that’s a lot to take in. These are legitimate reactions though. There are limited safe foods, and there are a lot of things to learn. What we try to do is slow things down and start from the top. Give families something to focus on and start with simple information. In my mind, I’m thinking about the main issues that will matter for the family. Limited safe foods, growth challenges and lack of variety are top factors for the family, but behind that I’m thinking about nutrient deficiencies and challenges advancing with textures. What really drives me personally though, is trying to maintain or reintroduce a pleasure in eating. Food is such an important part of life, and should be a joy. We work hard to make sure that is the case.
What can a client with a newly diagnosed FPIES expect for their future in your experience with help from your team?
Well, I think that it’s important for families to take it step by step as a slow progression when it comes to FPIES, but even if there are breaks in the process, I want clients to believe that they have happy kids in their future. We’ll increase the quantity and variety in their child’s diet, and variety might not mean more foods, but, for example, enjoying potatoes in several different ways. We’ll bring back enjoyment to meals. I try to make sure that they feel that they have a guided path and a partner to trust in their journey. They can trust that I’m going to paying attention to the details of the child’s growth and nutrients. I’ve been lucky enough to have clients who have taken this journey with me and I’ve seen them reach their goals. It’s such a pleasure to receive photos from a client of their child with a huge smile, enjoying a new food. That’s why we do this.
What is the one message that you would offer to families amidst a life change with FPIES?
Oh, without question, I would say, you will be OK and your child will thrive. While it may take time and you might see positive changes only in small increments, you’ll be OK.
This post is a written interview with KindrdFood and The FPIES Foundation Executive Directors. Tara McCarthy has been a valuable member of the Medical Advisory Board of the FPIES Foundation since 2013.