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)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pregnancy, Food Allergies

This comes from Jess, an allergic girl in Boston and new mom. Anyone have any resources for her? Thanks!

"There are tons of books out there about pregnancy, tons of books about being a parent to a child with allergies, but nothing that deals with an allergic person who is pregnant. I luckily gave birth to my first child on Christmas Day without any problems. But now I'm worried about him developing allergies and was wondering if you had covered that in the past. He was 5 weeks early on top of it all, but he is luckily doing just fine."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Divvies, Kettle Corn

I saw Lori Sandler, Mrs. Divvies at a food show a few months back and she gave me a sample of their Kettle Corn (salty and sweet and all allergen-free). I didn’t have a chance to try it until a few weekends ago when I went to see Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey , Jr. and Jude Law, super fun). I’d had it for several months in my cupboard and feared it was have gone stale. Nope. It was perfect, still fresh and I gobbled it down during the movie.

Divvies, I heart you, seriously

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chef David Hall, Thyme for a Chef

According to Chef David Hall in Arizona, owner of Thyme for a Chef changed his menu to gluten-free. “After meeting his wife, Debbie, his culinary expertise expanded to include specialized menus for gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free and other wellness diets. His knowledge and ability to create menus for special dietary needs has earned him national recognition. In July, the certified gluten-free chef will teach classes on meeting special needs of the celiac and autism communities at the 14th Annual United States Personal Chef Association national conference in Denver. The catalyst for his focus was Debbie, diagnosed at age 37 with celiac, a disease that disrupots [sic] the small intestine's absorbtion [sic] of nutrients.”

I bet we're going to read more and more stories like these as more peeps get diagnosed with celiac disease.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WSJ, Food Allergies

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Many kids whose allergies were diagnosed on the basis of blood or skin tests alone may not be truly allergic to those foods, experts say. Blood tests measure the level of antibodies, called immunogloblin E (IgE), a body makes to a particular food. But having IgE antibodies doesn't mean that a person will actually have an allergic symptom when they encounter it. Skin-prick tests are slightly more predictive, but there, too, a red wheal in response to a skin prick doesn't necessarily mean that a child will have an actual allergic reaction to that food. The only way to know for sure—short of encountering the food in real life—is with a food challenge test in a doctor's office or hospital...Experts agree that the most important part of a food-allergy diagnosis is a history: What did the child eat and what kind of reaction did he have? Even if it seems clear-cut, most doctors will also do a blood test or skin-prick test to confirm that the child has antibodies to the suspect food."

Read more from this important article from the Wall Street Journal, written by Melinda Beck.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Holy Cross, Dining Services

From College of the Holy Cross:

As national reports of food allergy prevalence increase, schools nationwide have begun to offer special services to accommodate students who suffer from allergies to foods such as milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, and corn. Although Holy Cross has always worked to serve the needs of these students, Dining Services recently expanded its allergy-free accommodations with the construction of a new “allergy-free kitchen” in Kimball Dining Hall, and introduced a gluten-free meal equivalency program.

Thank you for the link Allergic Girl reader!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Memorizing Your Order, The Washington Post

I’m incredibly wary of any server who doesn’t write down my food order, especially with multiple food allergies. So I was intrigued by this article in The Washington Post, which looks at the old school waitering style, one wherein the waiter rattles off the whole menu and takes your order without writing a thing down. The Wash Po and admits that because of the way diners eat now, memorizing a table’s order is not as practical, nor as elegant, as it may have been.

“The old-school way of memorizing diners' orders is fried” by Steve Hendrix:

But the days of the waiter who doesn't write things down appear to be numbered, according to restaurant owners and industry experts. As Washington's annual Restaurant Week brings waves of new diners into local eateries, the venerable waiter memory act is in serious decline, a result of increasingly complicated orders -- customers who customize because of nutrition concerns or allergies real or imagined -- people going out in larger groups, and a generation that seems less comfortable with memorization.

For those of us with dietary restrictions, it’s imperative that a waiter does not try to memorize them. It's your job to memorize your allergies, not a waiter’s. So if a waiter isn’t writing down your order, I suggest kindly requesting that they do so. Smile, say it nicely, not in a demanding way, but make sure they write down your needs. Or hand them a chef's card, where it's all nice and written out for them. I like

Now, about that "allergies real or imagined" line above. It’s a fact: many non-allergic diners say they are allergic to an ingredient when in fact they just don’t want it. For example, I've had kosher friends tell me that they tell waiters they're allergic to dairy to ensure they get a diary free meal. Another example: restaurants tell me that patrons say they can't have an ingredient because they are allergic and then when the waiter says the dish they ordered has that ingredient, they say: "Oh, a little is okay." That confuses everyone. For the truly allergic, a little is never OK, and many restaurants know that. No wonder some restaurants think some allergies are "imagined".

The solution: all patrons, allergic and non-allergic, be honest about what you want and need; restaurants listen to your patrons and give them what they want and ask for. It’s that simple. Once there’s a better line of communication and an increased trust between restaurants and the patrons they hope to serve, we will all be better off.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kinnikinnick Foods Inc.

I’ve been hearing about Kinnikinnick for years and finally had a chance to met the Kinnikinnick team at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston last year. Consequently, Kinnikinnick sent me a box full of samples.

I loved almost everything.

Out of the doughnut selection, the Kinnikinnick cinnamon were my favorites, they reminded me of apple cider doughnuts I used to get as a child. Not exactly but that cakey texture and taste. A pretty close approximation. The chocolate dipped weren’t as successful in flavor for me; the chocolate coating tasted off and the texture of the doughnut wasn’t as cakey.

KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies and the KinniToos Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies were OMG. I shared the samples with a non GF, non-allergic eater who kept saying, “These aren’t Oreos?”

S'moreables Graham Style Crackers were a delight. Lighter, less crumbly than traditional graham but the right flavor. At the show I tried both the chocolate and the Graham Style KinniKritter Animal Cookies and gobbled those up too.

Perhaps I’m severely commercial cookie deprived but these treats are too good.

Why didn’t I try Kinnikinnick before? Because they still had nuts in their facility. As of last summer they have gone completely nut-free. I spoke to their owner directly, a lovely man, who was so pleased and proud to be able to make this change for our community. He said they had only one or two products with nuts so it wasn’t such a major shift. Yay!

For more nut-free info go to the Kinnikinnick website.

Now I did notice that they use a lot of pea protein so I asked them about this. From the manufacturer directly: "There is no connection with our pea protein and peanut allergies that I am aware of. We have many customers with nut and peanut allergies that use our products without any issues. The pea protein, pea fibre and pea starch we use are from yellow peas and the facilities do not process any nuts whatsoever." They also addressed pea protein tangentially on their blog.

Of course check with your allergist about your particular needs. I for one need to order some more goodies and then do a lot of sit-ups.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Coaching, Boston Globe

Here's an interesting article about coaching that I was alerted to through colleague Laurie Edwards on Twitter.

Excerpt: “Therapy helps you overcome the challenges of the past and coaching helps you very clearly identify your vision of the future...Coaching is a process of change that revolves around strengths and potential, rather than feelings of pathology and pain." More here.

If after reading this article, you’re interested in food allergy coaching by a licensed psychotherapeutic social worker -- that would be this Allergic Girl -- here’s my professional site or email me for more information and a free consultation.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Food Challenges, Allergic Girl

So I didn’t get very far on the below list from last year. But I am determined to do more this year. Remember: regardless of food allergy testing, a food challenge is THE gold standard to tell your reaction to a food. So I need to simply get my groove on, and try these, either at home with a safe friend and medications on hand or in the doctor’s waiting room. Wish me luck!

Here’s last year’s list with what I tried and what I have left to try:
FA stands for known food allergy.
FI stands for known food intolerance.
NF stands for a new food, something I haven’t eaten.
If nothing it means it’s a food I used to eat without issue, stopped eating for some reason and want to reintroduce in order to expand my diet.


Flax seed – NF- I have a bag of seeds on my kitchen counter. I need to set up a time when someone can sit with me.

Hemp milk – NF – I have samples from the Hemp Milk people, I just need to do it already. I haven’t heard of anyone having adverse reactions.

Coconut water – I have a container in my fridge waiting for me.

Coconut oil – haven’t ingested but have used Tropical Traditions samples of virgin organic oil as moisturizer without issue.

Coconut milk - am OK.

Mango – will wait until they are back in season.

Papaya – NF- will wait until they are back in season.

Melons – FA- will wait until they are back in season.

Winter squashes – have some butternut in my fridge now, mocking me. I haven’t tried it yet.

Eggplant – FA- too afraid.

Lemongrass – FI/FA – I have some teas that were sent to me with lemongrass. Shall I try? Afraid.

Goat’s milk – FI - burpalicious. What they say about it being less-lactose-filled wasn’t true for me.

Sheep’s milk - FI - Also burpalicious. What they say about it being less-lactose-filled wasn’t true for me.

Yogurt- FI - frozen and regular - burpalicious but it’s doable in a pinch. Thankfully!

Fish like tuna, cod, flounder, sardines, anchovies – haven’t even begun to contemplate. Tinned sardines or tuna might be my first foray if I get there.

Shellfish-shrimp – oy. Haven’t even considered this yet.

Wheat – FI – who has a few days to take off and try? But I will.

Soy, tofu, edamame, soy milk – FI – haven’t tried yet.

Cow’s milk – FI- whole milk Lactaid gave me some serious FI issues. Cow’s milk may be pushing it.

Pumpkin Seeds – need to get on this one.

Sunflower Seeds – have a pack in my cabinet. Will get there soon.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Gluten-Free Hassle Free, Brown

Colleague Marlisa Brown, RD, CDE has written a gluten-free guide from the perspective of a registered dietitian and a gluten-free girl and if you are a newly diagnosed gluten-free girl you may want to check this one out: Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health .

Marlisa and I met several years ago when she was doing a gluten-free presentation at the International restaurant and Foodservice Show at the Javitz center where I also speak about food allergies (and will be doing again this year with FAAN's, Julia Bradsher, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Executive Officer.) I was truly honored when she asked that I write a foreword to her book, Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health (Disclosure: I wrote the foreword to her book.)

Many of you who have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten-intolerance weren’t given much else, like what to do, how to eat, what nutrients are needed, what’s missed when you cut out the protein found in wheat barely and rye. Marlisa is here to fill those gaps in a quick but chunky read packed with a ton of dietary information that only a RD with 25 years experience can tell you. I especially found the vitamin section helpful. A few months back there had been a ton of tweets on about the loss of nutrients on a GF diet, started, I believe, by the Gluten-free Goddess herself, Miss Karina (a wonderful blog if you don’t already know her).

Looking to expand your GF world, especially if you are newly diagnosed? Consider Marlisa's Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest

Am thrilled to see these two great FA forces teaming up.

More about FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest - FAAN: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and Divvies are proud to announce and sponsor the annual FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest. The FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest celebrates those who work to make the lives of those with food allergies more delicious. This is an opportunity for all the bakers-from-the-heart to share their wonderful creations with the food allergy community and be recognized and rewarded for all they do. We are asking for cookie recipe submissions from across the U.S. for consideration and judging. The FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest entrants may send in as many cookie recipes (designed safely for those allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, or eggs) as they would like. More info here. And yay!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Self-Help Books, Food Allergies

Ten years ago, when I was a newly minted social worker working at an outpatient mental health clinic, we were taught to encourage our clients to seek out and utilize whatever resources available to them, including self-help books.

Now as a private clinician, I continue to encourage all of my clients whether Worry-Free Dinners members or individuals to use all resources available to them, including self-help books.

"Self-help" is not limited to a book seller's classification system and can come in many forms. One of my individual clients loved French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure She felt it helped her reconnect to the pleasure of food even after her diagnosis of food allergies and food intolerances. Brilliant idea! I just ordered it from my local library, am curious to check it out.

Have there been any books of late that have been helpful to you or your food allergic family? Do tell.

PS: I have a stack of self-help, diet and cookbooks on my desk, reviews are on the way.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kissing, Allergic Living Magazine

Allergic Living, a magazine just for the food allergic and food intolerant community out of Canada has done an article on kissing and food allergies/celiac disease. Here’s a teaser that readers of this blog may recognize as part of the story I relayed over the summer):

“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, [Sloane] could rattle off in her sleep safety measures for such a situation, but that evening she was rattled, period. “Here I am, in my 30s and pretty capable when it comes to my allergies. But covered in hives and wheezing, I definitely had a moment of: ‘What do I do first here?’”

For more, check out Allergic Living.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Canus Goat’s Milk Soap

I’m still working through all the new companies I met at this year’s Natural Products Expo East. One of which is Canus Goat’s Milk soap. Only a few ingredients, it produces a silky lather and I swear my hands are a mite softer each use.

I’m using the original brand and I’ve had no reactions (this coming from an Ivory-allergic girl and, yes, you can be sensitive, intolerant and/or allergic to soaps). I haven’t tried the whole line but from what I can see it’s fairly low-allergens, at least nut-wise.

NB: Canus Goat’s Milk soap is made from dairy and several products do contain soy. You can find more info here on the Canus Goat’s Milk soap FAQ.

I’m always looking for alternative body products which are good for sensitive atopic-prone skin like mine. Canus Goat’s Milk soap is on my list of a line to watch.

*With any product for the skin, it’s important to patch test for a few days first. With many skin products it can take hours or a few days before the body reacts. Talk to your allergist or dermatologist for more information about what is right for you.*