Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ming Tsai, Cookie Magazine

More yay from Ming in Cookie magazine:

"And if a restaurant says, 'We'd rather not serve you,' get out and find one that will."


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dining with Allergies in NYC

I get a lot of emails about "Dining with allergies in NYC". So here are some of my short cuts all in one place.

A breakdown of how I go to restaurants safely and often: The Cheers Experience.

Some tips on becoming a regular from New York Magazine that go nicely with the Cheers Experience:

My website of restaurants where I have had safe experiences in the past: Allergic Girl Recommends.

Always communicate, communicate, communicate before you go! is great resource to list your your dietary requests in the "Special Requests for the Maitre D' section.

Want to buy some laminated allergy chef cards? Jim at (Jim at or will you give you a %10 discount if you use the WFD code: "sw45821"

Make sure those around you know what to do in case of an emergency: allergy action forms from (The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & immunology).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, Thought Leader’s Program, June

The following video link is from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. It was an informative afternoon and now you can see for yourself:

The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University hosted a Thought Leader’s Program in June which included the following presentations:

Peter Green, MD: Introduction to the Center and recent new information on celiac disease

Suzanne Lewis, MD: Evaluation of poorly responsive patients

Suzanne Simpson, RD: Why see an expert nutritionist for evaluation of celiac disease

Christina Tennyson, MD: Nutrient and vitamin replacement

These presentations are available on You Tube and can be accessed at

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ming Tsai, Atlantic Monthly

A link to this Atlantic Monthly article by Ming Tsai (and about his restaurant Blue Ginger outside of Boston) came from a loyal Allergic Girl reader.

Ming Tsai:"I've always believed if you're in the restaurant business, which is in the hospitality and service industry, after all, it is your duty to serve everyone safe food."

Read more at on the Atlantic Monthly site.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kissing and Cashews

Last week, I had a date with LT: take-out dinner at my house. We dined, we talked, we kissed and then I was itchy. I went into my bathroom to look in the mirror and was surprised to see hives: big welts, small pinpoints and swaths of red angry itchiness around my mouth, on both cheeks, both sides of my neck, my clavicle and right shoulder. Everywhere LT had kissed me.

I was stunned. And very itchy. And a little wheezy.

It’s been three years since something like this has happened: hives from kissing a guy. Three years ago the saliva trail of hives went away on their own within an hour and there was no wheezing. This felt very different; I was a little scared.

What to do first and why was this happening was running through my mind while LT was putting cold compresses on the hives. It was the first thing I thought to do. Here are some contact urticaria treatment guidelines on WebMD. Seems they agree. We also took away the irritant, so that meant all kissing ceased. Earlier that evening, I had talked with LT about what to do in case of an emergency and one thing I said was to remind me to take Benedryl, which he did and I did.

While waiting for that to kick in, we reconstructed what happened. We ran through what he had put on his face that day: only Dove soap and Neutrogena products. No problems there. We ate dinner together with food from a restaurant that I know and trust. His dish had no nuts or fish; the server specifically told me his dish was safe for me (Thanks Jed Peele). And then we ran through what he ate earlier that day.


Only a few, he said, and hours earlier. He didn’t know he was seeing me that night. So that seemed an unlikely culprit but the reaction was so extreme. Hmm.

Thirty minutes after the Benedryl, a cool shower and some topical cortisone to stop the major itch factor, the bumps started to smooth out. Within an hour, the redness lessened and the wheezing subsided. LT felt awful since I was clearly reacting to his beard but he hung in there and was an excellent nurse.

The next day, I woke up still allergic (stuffed nose, some slight itching and some wheezing) so, I thought it best to check in with my GP. At my doctor’s office, I went over my personal allergy and asthma action plan and the possible cause for this hivey reaction. Cashews he said, in the beard most likely. I also spoke with an allergist colleague and described the scenario. He also said he thought the culprit wasn’t LT’s beard generally but cashew residue in his beard. Given my extreme response, cashew residue in the beard seems the most plausible cause.

From this incident, I realized my allergy and asthma action plans were internal, as in my head, and not written down. I had that moment of deer-in-the-headlights and if I had a written down plan I might have moved quicker.

So that changed this weekend; I wrote down what to do when on a chart. Here are some suggested emergency plans from

Don’t wait for an incident to sneak up on you to have a clear detailed emergency action plan that anyone can access. Make sure your meds are always near by and up to date. When appropriate, make sure those around you know how to assist you, if necessary.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Food Allergy Knowledge Found Lacking in General Public

From a ACAAI press release:

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., July 24, 2009 – Food allergy knowledge in the general public is poor concerning the difference between food allergy and food intolerance, the absence of a cure, and current treatments according to a report published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

“The public’s food allergy knowledge and awareness is critical to the safety of children with food allergy, especially since 76 percent of food allergy-related deaths follow consumption of foods outside of the home. Food allergy is a growing health concern, affecting an estimated 6 percent to 8 percent of children in the United States,” said Ruchi S. Gupta, M.D., of the Mary Ann & J. Wilburn Smith Children Health Research Program at Children’s Memorial Research Center in Chicago.

In a national sample of 2,148 adults who completed the validated Web-based Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for the General Public, Dr. Gupta and colleagues found “the public’s knowledge was strongest regarding symptoms and severity of food allergy, with nearly 95 percent of participants recognizing food allergy as a potentially fatal condition.”

Among the misconceptions, investigators reported that “almost half of participants erroneously believed that a cure exists for food allergy, and more than two thirds stated that a daily medicine could be taken to prevent a food allergy reaction. They also tended to overlook the necessity of strict allergen avoidance: more than 40 percent of participants indicated that other means exist to prevent life-threatening reactions.”

Authors noted that nearly 85 percent of respondents agreed that schools should have plans to keep food-allergic children safe.

“Although there was agreement that schools need better policies to manage food allergies, most parents were not in favor of implementation of specific school policies, such as banning peanut products and having special tables for food-allergic children,” Dr. Gupta said.

Investigators conclude that “increased food allergy knowledge among the general public is needed, especially regarding the distinction between food allergy and food intolerance, current treatments available for food allergy, the absence of a cure, and the lack of preventative medications.”

“Although food allergy is a commonplace term, this study confirms the prevailing misconceptions among the public regarding manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment,” said Sami L. Bahna, M.D., Dr.P.H., professor of pediatrics & medicine, chief of Allergy & Immunology Section at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La., and president-elect of ACAAI. “Appropriate diagnosis is the cornerstone for appropriate management. Also, exclusion of food allergy would direct the search to other causes of the patient’s illness. At present the treatment is basically strict avoidance of the causative foods. Research is underway for effective and safe immunotherapy.”

To the author’s knowledge, “this study is the first to provide detailed information about the general public’s food allergy knowledge and to characterize the general public’s attitudes and beliefs toward food allergy and food allergy policy.”


Patient information on allergic diseases including food allergy is available by calling the ACAAI toll free number at (800) 842-7777 or visiting its Web site at

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI.) is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cautionary Tale for Both Patron & Restaurant

The other night, the bartender of a restaurant I frequent, told me the resto had just had an allergic experience that would interest me.

A couple came in with about five other people and they all sat and ordered. The woman identified herself as anaphylactic to nuts. The kitchen, the bartender said, went out of their way to create a safe dish for this patron. They used clean pans and clean utensils and the head chef made her dish himself. The table was served and the allergic patron proceeded to taste her boyfriend’s pasta, which had walnut pesto. (The BF's pasta dish was identified as walnut pesto on the menu - I just checked). According to the bartender, the allergic patron started yelling at the waiter, “Why didn’t you tell me HIS dish had nuts?” And then: “Does anyone have an Epi-pen?” The restaurant directed her to the nearest ER where she proceeded to go with her boyfriend.

Even though this story is now told to you third hand and certainly details are missing, generally speaking: how many issues can you see here and how would you fix them?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grubstreet, Tips for Becoming a Regular

These tips from Ben Leventhal of New York Magazine’s Grubstreet work well with my Cheers Experience protocol.

As conventional wisdom goes, there are three golden rules that are fundamental to being a Regular.

1. Go to the restaurant a lot.
2. Don't be a pain in the ass: Show up on time, say please and thank-you, respect the house and its rules (such as dress code).
3. Always tip 20 percent on the total bill, and tip in cash.

Okay, so the rules are a bit obvious — nevertheless, they are indeed essential behaviors of a good Regular.

But, if you're really serious about your bid for the house's undying love and affection, there's more you can do to make it happen. Herewith, five other very important things you can do to become a very important person.

Read them all here: New York Magazine’s Grubstreet.

My last "regular experience" was two weeks ago when I went to Bonjoo for some late night Bimimbop, the owner took care of us personally, made sure everything was AG safe and yummy, comp’ed us some GF dessert and even and hugged me on the way out!

Go get that hug from your favorite resto (real or implied!).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frank Bruni, Bulimia

Such a brave and personal account of the life of a professional eater before he went pro. Thank you for sharing, Bruni.

Here’s the New York Times audio presentation and here’s an excerpt from his forthcoming book: Born Round:The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooking Class, LA

Bloggy buddy, Food Allergy Queen is teaching a cooking class in Los Angeles this weekend. Wish I could go. More details below, rock on Kishari!


Los Angeles, CA July 19, 2009 -- On Saturday, July 25, 2009 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m a new cooking class for Multiple Food Allergies at the New School of Cooking in Culver City.

Kishari Sing, the Food Allergy Queen, is food blogger and former caterer who discovered six years ago that her lifelong health issues were due to a long list of multiple food allergies including wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, rice, tomatoes, lemons, oranges, lettuce, walnuts and garlic among many others. She started her blog, Food Allergy Queen because when she explained that she had multiple food allergies to people, inevitably the next question would be “So, what in the world DO you eat?” Based on her experiences in adapting existing recipes as well as creating new ones, Kishari will be teaching a class at the highly-regarded New School of Cooking in Culver City to share her tips and techniques on how to cook for multiple food allergies. It’s a hands-on class where students do the cooking themselves.

The class is $85, and those interested can sign up for the class by calling The New School of Cooking to register with a credit card by calling 310-842-9702. The schedule is available online at

Cooking for food allergies is a challenge, and in the class resources and techniques in addition to recipes will be shared to make it a little easier to cook for food allergies, intolerances or medical diets.

Kishari Sing



Anne Smith, New School of Cooking

Phone: 310 842 9702


Monday, July 20, 2009

It’s So Easy

Sometimes, it’s just so easy.

Saturday was an afternoon lunch with my grade school girlfriends and their babies. It was hosted by the lovely Yael (her jewelry is gorge, check it out: YaelSonia). She knows I have allergies natch but I texted her in the morning asking if I should bring my lunch just to make it easier? She texted me back the menu: bagels, cheese, turkey, salad and that if I wanted to bring my own carb or even my own lunch that was fine with her.

So easy, no drama, no hurt feelings; just a very easy drama-free exchange.

I stopped at Candle CafĂ© for a veggie plate (it’s really what I wanted for lunch) and I’m glad I did because salmon was on the menu (one of my Kryptonites) and cantaloupe in the fruit salad for dessert (I had freshly washed cherries instead).

Bringing my own lunch in it’s own container meant I could eat my lunch with everyone else without the stress of where has the fork been, who touched the salmon and then touched my salad? All those worries were eliminated.

Isn’t that easy? Uh, hell yes!

These are some of my safest girls .

Do you have safe friends in your life? Ones that get it? Support your needs without question? Without drama?

Do tell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Udi’s Gluten Free

** UPDATE APRIL 2010**

Udi's gluten-free line in now produced in a facility that processes tree nuts. From the VP of GF: "When we moved into our new shared facility, we began to share space with our granola production. They use various tree nuts in their production. Although we don't share any equipment between either production, we are adding this label until we get new bags designed with the declaration included."


I did a quick three hour zoom through the Fancy Food 2009 show, which was pretty impressive (read: exhuastering) as there were over 5000 stalls of food glorious food.

While at the show I met Eric of Udi’s Foods based in Denver. After the show he sent me some gluten-free samples to try: white bread, two pizza shells and two types of muffins, blueberry and lemon crumb.

Here’s a money shot of the GF treats:

(photo credit ©Mark Manger)

All of the GF products are, according to Eric, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and nut free. I asked him for more info.

Eric says that, “...because Udi's Gluten Free line is produced in a facility and on equipment that is just used for gluten free production, there would be no contamination from nuts or dairy or soy.” (Note: they have nuts in a different production line in a different facility).

I twittered about Udi's Gluten Free white bread from the show, because it was actually squishy. I know, GF soft bread, crazy man. Once I got my hands on the samples I must admit I finished one load in about two days. Sampling is hard work and the simple joy of bread and butter cannot be underestimated.

(And yes I know so many fabulous bakers out there make your own GF bread so you have it all the time. Yay you! With nut allergies, it’s just that bit more difficult to find completely uncontaminated GF flour.)

As for the muffins they tasted commercial - I mean that in the best sense as in almost indistinguishable from the glutened kind. To wit: I shared two muffins of each kind with a friend who is gluten intolerant but her man is not. She took them to her home to try them. He ate them first and insisted they were filled with regular flour and that I must have made a mistake and to call me right away to check. (BTW: My home is gluten-free. I don’t regularly keep foodstuffs that have wheat or nuts. Even samples). My friend called and I read the ingredients to them both and they were both tickled, gluten-free.

Udi's Gluten Free GF muffins passed the non-GF eater test with flying colors and their white bread was squishy. And they're all manufactured in a dedicated GF facility that is also soy, diary and nut free. Thanks Udi's Gluten Free and Eric for such a yummy product.

Please contact Udi's Gluten Free directly for more info.

Udi's Gluten-Free
Udi's Gluten Free

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nut-Free Baseball Game, Lakewood, N.J

We were discussing this the other night at the adult Worry-Free Dinner: going to baseball games (or really not) with severe peanut allergies. Well, here's your chance a "Nut-Free Baseball Game". Sounds like alot of fun! From my food allergy friends in New Jersey.


Walk for Food Allergy to Kickoff Fundraising with the Lakewood BlueClaws

Public Invited to Join Long Branch Walkers at a Nut-Free Baseball Game

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (June 22, 2009) -- The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network will host an inaugural fundraising event at the Lakewood BlueClaws’ Game on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood. In an effort to help protect allergic fans and in honor of all individuals with food allergies, the BlueClaws will have an ingredient list available of every food item sold. That evening, all items sold at the concession stands will be nut-free. All children ages 12 and under will get a free hot dog, chips, and soda! This is the first time the BlueClaws has sponsored a nut-free game.

Tickets are $10.00 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Food Allergy Walk; Moving Toward a Cure in Long Branch, on Saturday, September 12, 2009.

The game against the Lake County (Ohio) Captains will begin at 7:05 PM. Fans are advised to arrive early as this will also be “Aviators Night,” which will showcase a pregame jet flyover, a military honor guard with the flag and other aviation exhibits outside the stadium.

For Food Allergy Awareness, BlueClaws has reserved 350 seats in the same section so fans with Walk team shirts or banners will have an opportunity to be on the stadium’s live monitor. Seats will be washed down prior to the game to ensure that there will be no nut residue. Tickets must be purchased at least 48 hours in advance; For more information on purchasing tickets, contact Jo Ann Molnar, Walk co-chair, at 732-241-5444 or Tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Prickly Pear and Celery Granita, Dos Caminos

“The Dos Caminos Pastry Chef has prepared some interesting feature flavors for National Ice Cream month. One of the sorbets is a Celery and Prickly Pear- it is delicious and really refreshing.”

This was in a missive from Chef Meghan at Dos Caminos Soho about about first Worry-Free Dinners event last night. She wanted to know if our WFD party would like to try this featured dessert.

I’ve never tried prickly pear. I knew it was a cactus and I have no agave, tequila issues; I haven’t heard of many FA peeps having cactus allergies (I’m certain you’re out there I just haven’t met you yet).

The ingredients of the sorbet couldn’t be simpler:

Prickly Pear puree



Lime Juice

Simple Syrup (sugar and water reduce)

So I said yes and with our dessert empanadas came out this gorgeous bowl of bright pink sorbet scoops. The above is picture of me, my mouth and nose actually, as I go in for my third helpings on this truly delish and refreshing dessert. And it’s something I’ve never had before. Love that!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Potluck Tonight

I was invited to a gluten free potluck this evening and I’m bringing dessert. At least I’ll know there’s one thing I can eat. Behold, Namaste Blondies with Enjoy Life chocolate chips cooling near my window sill right now.

TIP: I’m bringing the empty Namaste/EL packaging with me for anyone who wants to know ingredients.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Beet Salad With Hazelnut Oil

Summer travel and food allergies will be the topic of my next Worry-Free Dinners events THIS SUNDAY. There’s still room to join us, check out the WFD website.


Happy 4th of July everyone. I hope you had deliciously safe holiday BBQs, picnics, a super fun family trip or like me, an unplugged weekend away.

It was a friend’s husband’s birthday (a big one) this past weekend and she put together a lavish surprise weekend getaway for their nearest and dearest friends and family at their country home. The event was catered by a chef on Friday night and my friend gave the caterers a heads up about this Allergic Girl.

As you may have noticed, I am not shy. Sure, I’ll have moments when I feel intimidated but overall I can rise above them. (Sometime really not with hilarious results i.e. put me in a room with straight male models, because that happens all the time, and I’ll be staring at the floor). However, having food allergies is really not compatible with shyness. If I had any shy bones, talking with caterers and food service professionals would be tortuous. Or like Friday, walking into a room and having my food allergic reputation precede me might just crush an extremely private or shy person. For you shy food allergic people out there, I acknowledge you and how difficult it can be. But please remember, your safety is in your hands; it is vital you that you speak up, communicate your needs so they can be met and you can stay safe.

Back to this un-shy, Allergic Girl, when I walked into the house on Friday afternoon, the chef Paul and his assistant Sulan were prepping the dinner. I was able to talk with them straight away about what they were making for dinner (fish for apps and main) and what I would need. I was very clear about my needs, allergens and cross contamination concerns. I smiled lots and thanked them for their assistance profusely.

They told me they were using hazelnut oil with goat cheese on the beet salad app. I could see the beets already roasted sliced and prepped on the kitchen counter. They said, “We’ll make a separate one for you”. But in my mind that salad was already tagged as a no go. Too scary; too easy to mix up. And indeed the salad arrived and I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I even asked another house guest sitting next to me to taste it for the offending and frightening oil. He said it was just olive oil and I still couldn’t eat it.

I was officially spooked.

Even if it was fine, and it probably was, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. So, I skipped it; left it untouched on my plate. Yes, I felt badly, and a little embarrassed, actually a little more than embarrassed, but I knew I just couldn’t eat it. The second course came around and it was fine: plain grilled chicken, steamed veggies and asparagus risotto. Both guests on either side of me taste-tested it for me with clean forks, and then I dug in.

So, what’s the lesson here? Maybe it was that even though I knew I was being a little irrational, I had to go with my feelings about the beet salad. However, I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying the rest of the meal. And try not to be shy. And this food allergy stuff is always a work in progress.