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)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NYT, "My Waiter Joked About My Food Allergies"

From The New York Times.

Dear FloFab: My Waiter Joked About My Food Allergies: Q: For people like myself with food allergies, going out for dinner requires a bit more research, such as viewing the menu online and calling ahead. I also attempt to choose dishes that would be easy for the kitchen to accommodate — for example, by leaving off the sauce. But how do I handle a wait person’s rudeness when he or she tries to belittle my request in a loud enough voice to catch the attention of the rest of my dinner companions? (“Oh, it only has a little butter — what’s the worst that can happen?”) I’m dying for a witty retort, without having to lay out a medical explanation, to keep the attention from being on me.
Flo says talk to the manager. Read Flo’s full reply here.


My reply: you never had to put up with rude behavior, ever.

My best suggestion: before you sit down to diner, talk with the manager. Let the manager inform your waiter of your dietary needs (off stage, as it were). By the time you get to the table, there's no table-side discussion or chance for rude remarks.

However, if the manager gives you the same rude questioning treatment (because guess who trains the staff) then do not patronize that restaurant. Don't get angry, just take your business elsehere.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Atavistic Thrummings

A few weeks back, I was with safe friends (remember those?) Vivi and F. at the MOMA Free Fridays to see the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit. (It’s overcrowded and there’s too much to look at and it’s pretty overwhelmingly glorious--go, go.) As we sat in the courtyard, the subject of my recent Hebrew lessons came up.

F., author of said, “Do you feel any atavistic thrummings when you’re learning Hebrew?”

I’ve been taking Hebrew lessons this spring. I didn’t complete my Hebrew education as a child (I dropped out when I was ten, I hated it) and I never looked back as a teen. But as an adult, I did feel like I was missing out, the tiniest bit, especially during the High Holy days.

Learning the Hebrew language has been on my list of things to do for a few years. But who has time for another language? With non-Latin-based characters? That reads from right to left? That has vowels under the consonants? But not when you read the Israeli newspapers, which have no vowels at all?

Yup, that would be me raising my hand.

And what does any of this have to do with food allergies?

It’s about expansion. Or said another way, by Martha Stewart, according to Twitter: "When you're through changing, you're through."

Yes, I have some restrictions of a dietary nature because of food allergies and food intolerances. You do, too. But that doesn’t *have* to bleed into every area of life.

How I keep that restricted feeling at bay is by expanding in other areas. Learning a really difficult language as an adult? Boy, oh boy - am I expanding. And yes, I do feel some ancient tribal stirrings (or "atavistic thrummings") which are an added inspiring: “Wow”.

I wonder in what non-foodie ways you feel you’re expanding or would like to expand?

Please, share.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gluten-Free, Survey, Chefs

A NYWCA colleague (and ICE graduate) sent me this survey (which I confirmed with the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University).

Could be very helpful - please pass it along.


The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University is conducting a research study about celiac disease and the gluten free diet. If you are a trained chef or cook that works in foodservice and are willing to consider taking a few minutes to complete a short survey please click on the link. They hope to have 300 chefs and/or cooks complete the survey online by September, 2010. The results will be published in a medical journal and will benefit people with celiac disease.

Did You Know Food Can Be Fancy?

It’s kind of like knowing Quarks can be strange.

The annual Summer Fancy Food show is here, now.

I hope to see a lot of the food allergic and gluten-free community fave manufacturers there and will report back!

(If anyone else is going, let me know!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Great Gluten Free Recipe Contest

Amy's Kitchen told me about this contest to cook up some yummy allergen-free dinners on them! NB: Allergen policy from the Amy's Kitchen website . Reach out to them if you have further questions:

Amy's Kitchen recognizes the needs of our customers who have allergies or sensitivities to nuts, gluten, certain spices, etc. Amy's always fully discloses all ingredients (except for specific spices used in the product) on the ingredient statement and will answer any questions that will help consumers decide what products they can safely consume. At Amy's we take every precaution to ensure that cross contamination of ingredients does not occur in our production facility but we want you to know that this product was produced in a plant that processes foods containing wheat, milk, soy, tree nuts and seeds. Amy's Kitchen does not use any peanuts, fish, shellfish or eggs.


The Great Gluten Free Recipe Contest, Sponsored by Amy's Kitchen and Lundberg Family Farms [AG: I asked and they still have plenty of coupons, so email them today!]

We invite you to participate in a unique recipe contest, sponsored by Amy's Kitchen and Lundberg Family Farms . We are dedicated to serving the gluten free community and invite you to share how you use our products. The winner will receive a fabulous basket of goodies from Amy's Kitchen and Lundberg Family Farms valued at $200! This contest is open to the first 50 folks to respond, so get creative and get cooking!

Here's the scoop:

•Contest is open to the first 50 people to request coupons from at

•We'll supply you with Free Product Coupons so you can go to your local store and select the products you like best. Just email us back with your address between now and June 30th!

•Create a gluten free, vegetarian recipe using any Lundberg Family Farms Brown Rice Pasta and any Amy's Kitchen Pasta Sauce.

•Whip up a yummy recipe using a Lundberg Family Farms Brown Rice Pasta and an Amy's Kitchen Pasta Sauce that is both gluten free and vegetarian (dairy ok, but no eggs please), submit it to us at by July 31st.

•We'll select our five favorite recipes and post them on both the Lundberg Family Farms and Amy's Kitchen Facebook pages on August 15th so fans can vote for their favorite. (Please post your recipe on your blog or Facebookpage so folks can read about it and try it out!)

•Voting will last two weeks: August 15 - 29, 2010 and the winner will be announced on September 1st 2010.

The grand prize: A generous basket full of goodies from both Lundberg Family Farms Rice and Amy's Kitchen , total value = $200!

Any questions: Email


Good luck!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Online Reservation Systems,

You probably know by now how I feel about, to wit: any dining out tool that can convey your needs to the kitchen ahead of your visit, clearly and succinctly I’m all for. Finally, has some competition which is only good for all of us. (The WSJ reports)., I’ve heard from industry sources, has only 10,000 restaurants participating nationwide and only in large metro areas. Compare that to 25,000 restaurant in New York City alone. So what is everyone else doing when they dine out? Winging it, I should imagine. (Here are my best tips, whether you utilize or not). With some dining out reservation/online system competition we can all only benefit.


Do you have a favorite reservation/online system where you are? Please share!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Food Allergy, Travel, NYC

Coming to NYC this summer? Need help navigating the food allergy dining out waters? Allergic Girl can help. (Cue superhero theme, I know...)

But seriously, I've been getting tons of emails of late as families start to travel and I'm happy to help - here is a story from a WFD member.

Email me at for more info.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Edible Garden, NYBG

We are stardust, we are golden and we got to get ourselves back to the garden.” - John Mitchell


Martha Stewart’s herb garden:

The big tent next to the Conservatory:

Whole Foods chef demonstrating Zucchini Bruschetta:

Me and Nick, Associate Director of 
Public Relations and Electronic Media under the big tent (© Ivo M. Vermeulen, NYBG):


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to a press preview of the Edible Garden at The New York Botanical Garden. Just twenty minutes from Grand Central and you're in a manicured paradise. Seriously, birds tweeting, flowers blooming, green lawns and that glass Victorian structure.

From the The New York Botanical Garden press release:
Set across the Botanical Garden’s 250-acre historic landscape from June 19 through October 17, 2010, the exhibition celebrates locally grown, seasonal food through cooking demonstrations each day, appearances by celebrity chefs during four festival weekends, a Greenmarket every Wednesday, a celebrity-narrated audio tour, and a rich schedule of programming that demonstrates the bounty, economy, and nutritional value of edible plants. Featuring four spectacular kitchen gardens, The Edible Garden teaches visitors how to grow the best food at home. Proceeds benefit the Children’s Gardening program.

Edible Garden is not an inexpensive event, here’s the pricing. However, there are free days for the general grounds. “Grounds admission is free to everyone all day on Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.”


Growing up, my family had a house on Long Island. The soil out there is rich and fertile, perfect for growing just about anything. My green-thumb mother had an herb and flower garden in front and big veggie garden in back. She grew sunflowers and pumpkins, zucchini and broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, string beans and did I mention zucchini? Even though I was a city kid, still am, I was digging in dirt before I could walk. It gave me a great respect for food (and worms and bugs and bunnies), even knowing that some foods (fruits/veggies too) could hurt me. It gave me a sense of balance, too: some food comes from the store, some from the ground but the world of food is large and worth exploring.

So, why should a food allergic family or a food allergic adult go to an event like Edible Garden at The New York Botanical Garden? Simply stated, there are no nuts in a carrot (the alt title for this blog). For those of us with restricted diets it can feel like there are food “enemies” everywhere. But truly, the garden is a connection to food, a different connection and an important one, especially for children. (Yes, even if you’re allergic to fruits and veggies, which I am).

Go, get back to the Garden, Joni Mitchell says so.

QSR, Food Allergies

I was alerted to this well-done Quick-Service Fast Casual Restaurant News’s food allergy article by a National Foundation for Celiac Awareness tweet and then it exploded over Twitter. (Seriously, are you not on Twitter yet? A lot of your food allergy faves are on there as well as breaking news and connections to community.)

Quote from Quick-Service Fast Casual Restaurant News :

The question goes to the heart of a debate over how far restaurants should have to go to accommodate anyone who comes through its front doors. As the dispute over the master ingredient list suggests, there is disagreement on this issue between food-allergy advocates and the restaurant industry. Both, however, tend to agree that restaurants need to be more aware, even if that means being aware of their own ignorance. “I think restaurants have a responsibility to be 100 percent honest with their customers,” Harrod says. If they aren’t confident they can serve people with food allergies, “they should divulge that to their customers, because that’s in everyone’s best interest.”

Definitely go check it out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FAAN Fundraiser, Long Branch, NJ, July 2010

Allergic Girl is on the move...all the way to New Jersey! I’m going to be in NJ to join Cheri and her fabulous pre-walk FAAN cocktail fundraiser on the Jersey Shore. if you're NJ reader or WFD member, come, join me for a great cause.


More info below direct from Cheri:

Join us for our 1st cocktail & networking party to help raise funds for the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy.

When: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 7-9 p.m.

Where: The new and exciting, Trinity & the Pope in Asbury Park, NJ (649 Mattison Avenue)

Tickets are $60 each and include Hors d'œuvre & wine. Cash bar is also available.

Brie tartlets w/ red grape salsa
Bruschetta skewers - tomato, artichoke, olives, & mozzarella
Sausage & herb stuffed mushrooms
Vegetable gyozas w/ raspberry ponzu

We asked for everything to be peanut, tree nut, sesame seed and shellfish free. The restaurant is assisting us in making the event allergy-friendly. They will supply us with lists of all food ingredients as well.

Melissa Chill and Rob Dye will be performing.

We also have some amazing raffle items:
-One night stay at the Plaza in NYC which includes breakfast for two
-A pearl necklace and earring set valued at $700
-Mets tickets and MLB merchandise
-Yankee memorabilia and other sport memorabilia
-Gift basket by the Lakewood BlueClaws
-Broadway tickets

***The raffle items list gets longer and longer every day. We hope to soon announce the possibility of a GRAND PRIZE raffle which may be a free vacation (which may include airfare).***

On street parking available near the Trinity and the Pope, OR try the Bangs Avenue lot for $1 per hour (one block northeast of Trinity)

RSVP and final payment are due by July 7th.

For more information, contact Cheri Golub, Walk chairperson
Cell: 732.239.8374

More info about the Walk in Long Branch can be found at:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


NPR hosted a well-done mini-roundtable discussion about now oft-misquoted and misunderstood Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA] literature review. with two of the doctors on the study and leading allergist, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, co-author of books including Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies and The Complete Peanut Allergy Handbook; professor of pediatrics, clinician and clinical researcher in the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.

Here’s an example of the discussion:

FLATOW: Well, how do you know if you’ve been misdiagnosed with food allergy? How do you know whether its you have lactose intolerance, you have some other kind of gastrointestinal problem but its not a food allergy and that you’ve been told that it is?

Dr. SICHERER: Well, it sounds - its going to sound like I’m just pushing my specialty - but a board-certified allergist would be the person to speak with about symptoms of - in medicine, these days, I think you would - should start out talking to your primary care doctor about the symptoms.
Again, the history is the main thing. But if it sounds like the symptoms are more classical for true allergy as opposed to intolerance or some other adverse effect I mentioned at the top of the program, then referral to board-certified allergists for the appropriate testing and ultimately the, you know, potentially definitive feeding test.

Suspect you have a food allergy? Get to a board certified allergist. AAAAI, ACAAI and AAFA have lists of allergists near you.

Thank you NPR for a balanced discussion.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dishwasher, Food Allergies

Grade school friend (and safe friend) Yael Sonia hosted an allergy-free brunch this past weekend. (She loaned me the jewels for the TV Globo shoot).

As she was packing up some leftovers, she popped her head out of the kitchen as said, “Is it safe to pack food in these plastic containers? They probably have had nuts in them but they’ve been through the dishwasher.”

Yael Sonia asked this for my benefit, sure, but also for little Kate. Also grade school friend and uber-safe friend Aimee’s daughter Kate developed peanut allergies this past year. (If you were at the FAAN conference at Tarrytown this year, you may have met me and Aimee.) So now added to our daily catch up session is the steep learning curve about having a child with food allergies and asthma and environmental allergies, none of which Aimee has. Questions like this come up all the time; I’m sure for you, too and for me too, too.

I answered Yael by saying, “Yes, the plastic containers that have gone through a dishwasher are most likely safe.”

Where did I get my information?

I flipped through my mental food allergy study Rolodex and recalled this one by leading allergist Dr. Robert Wood and the crack team at Johns Hopkins:

“In the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers applied a teaspoon of peanut butter to the hands of 19 peanut allergy-free adult volunteers. Participants then washed their hands with various cleaning agents, plain water and an antibacterial hand sanitizer. Hand wipes, liquid soap and bar soap all removed the peanut allergen. Water left residual Ara h 1 on 3 of 12 hands, and hand sanitizer left residual allergen on 6 of 12 hands.”

[Read the full press release here. Or look it up yourself: Perry, Tamara T. et al, "Distribution of Peanut Allergen in the Environment," Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2004, Vol. 113, No. 5.]

Also, think about it. If you, or your family, eat out at any restaurant that serves any one of your allergens regularly, you’re eating on plates, drinking from glasses and using flatware or silverware that have had your allergen on them. The dishes, glasses and flatware have simply gone through the dishwasher – and you’ve been fine.

Now, if that statement just made your heart skip a beat, and not in I-just-saw-Mr.-Darcy—come-out-of-the-water kind of way, please check with your allergist for more in depth information about what’s right for you. (AAAAI, ACAAI and AAFA have lists of board certified allergists near you.)

Meanwhile, last night I had leftovers from Yael Sonia’s brunch, from that dishwasher cleaned plastic ware and it was delish.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

NYC Food Film Festival, 2010

Jarlsberg sponsored the NYC Food Film Festival press event last week at the Beard House. Here's some glorious cheese:

Bulldog gin (made with a lychee nut-type derivative):

Chef shucking oysters in the dappled sun:


Last year I went to an outdoor showing of Big Night, a great small film directed by Stanley Tucci (I just saw his directed revival of Lend Me A Tenor on Broadway, pairing again with Tony Shalhoub, big fun)
courtesy of the NYC Food Film Festival. They made a timpano. (I didn’t eat it, natch, but I bet I could make a gluten-free version, easily).

This will be the NYC Food Film Festival’s fourth year wherein they show a film and make the food in the film. How fun is that! And a lot of them are in cool outdoor spaces around the city. I’m looking forward to hitting up some of the NYC Food Film Festival events this year.

From the NYC Food Film Festivalwebsite:

The NYC Food Film Festival sprang from the imagination of Festival Director George Motz, the documentary filmmaker behind the award-winning Hamburger America film and book, along with co-creator and Festival Executive Chef Harry Hawk, formerly of Schnack and Water Taxi Beach. Through documentaries, features and short films, the Festival showcases the best, and the most memorable, of the world's favorite foods.
Along with a heaping helping of mouth-watering films, Motz, Hawk and company serve up the food that guests are watching on the screen for a multi-sensory, full-bodied experience.

And here’s the schedule.


Are you secretly wondering how/why anyone who’s allergic to most of the stuff they’re making would go to a film/food festival and not eat?

Here's the most direct answer I have for you: Life is about showing up.

Woody Allen supposedly said, eighty percent of success if showing up.

So make that: success in life is about showing up.

You don’t have to eat when you go. Or you can bring your own safe food. Or you can have a tipple if that's safe for you. Or you can just mingle - that's safe for everyone. Don’t not go because you can’t have the shucked oysters or the crab salad. It’s only part of the experience. Go and have your experience. My experience at the press event (surrounded by shellfish, wheat, cheese, booze and fish) was to have a glass champagne at noon – it felt indulgent. And sexy. And fun.

**If you’re concerned about being in an area with aerosolized allergen proteins, consult with your board certified allergist (you can find them here: AAAAI or ACAAI) about the real risks to you.**

Monday, June 07, 2010

DOT, Peanut Allergies





Last week, FAAN reported on this through Twitter: @JuliaBradsher RT @FoodAllergy: DOT seeks comments on how airlines can address the needs of passengers with peanut allergies [FAAN's public letter here.]

(Are you not on Twitter yet? There's a supportive food allergy community on there, including many of your favorite bloggers, authors and national food allergy non-profits: come join!)

Then I received an email from Cheri, leader of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Coalition of NJ (Thanks Cheri!) kindly outlining the proposed regulations.

(The Kansas City Star also reported on this but no New York Times?)

Basically, the Department of Transportation is looking for comments about possibly changing the rules about peanuts on flights. This is your shot. Tell them what you need!


Click on the .pdf icon to the right of "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Original Copy)”. The proposed rule related to peanut allergy can be seen on pp. 51-54 of the document. Instructions for submitting your comment can be seen on page 3 of the document. It's easy to submit your comment by FAX, by regular mail, or via the website. Be sure to include the Docket # (DOT-OST-2010-0140) at the beginning of your comment.

The DOT is seeking comment on several “alternatives to provide greater
access to air travel for individuals with severe peanut allergies:
1. banning the serving of peanuts and all peanut products by both U.S.
and foreign carriers on flights covered by DOT’s disability rule;
2. banning the serving of peanuts and all peanut products on all such
flights where a passenger with a peanut allergy is on board and has
requested a peanut-free flight in advance; or
3. requiring a peanut-free buffer zone in the immediate area of a
passenger with a medically documented severe allergy to peanuts if
passenger has requested a peanut-free flight in advance.”

The DOT is also looking for input on specific questions:
1. … whether it would be preferable to maintain the current practice
of not prescribing carrier practices concerning the serving of
2. … how peanuts and peanut products brought on board aircraft by
passengers should be handled.
3. How likely is it that a passenger with allergies to peanuts will
have severe adverse health reactions by being exposed to the airborne
transmission of peanut particles in an aircraft cabin (as opposed to
ingesting peanuts orally)?
4. Will taking certain specific steps to prepare for a flight (e.g.,
carrying an epinephrine auto-injector in order to immediately and
aggressively treat an anaphylactic reaction) sufficiently protect
individuals with severe peanut allergies?
5. Who should be responsible for ensuring an epinephrine auto-
injector is available on a flight – the passenger with a severe peanut
allergy or the carrier?
6. Is there recent scientific or anecdotal evidence of serious in-
flight medical events related to the airborne transmission of peanut
7. Should any food item that contains peanuts be included within the
definition of peanut products (e.g., peanut butter crackers, products
containing peanut oil)? Is there a way of limiting this definition?

Let your voice be heard, this is vital. I'm going to go comment right now!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

TV Globo, Food Allergies

Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of being filmed for a Brazilian one-hour news program about the rise in allergies. You can see the TV GLOBO segment here with me talking about getting super allergic from a make-out session last summer.

I’m always thrilled when food allergies are handled well in the media and it was excellent to see a large international news organization tackle this issue sensitively. (My two girlfriends in Brazil told me the translation was great.)

Because it’s always a team effort:

A shout out to the TV Globo team, Daniel, Giuliana and Orlando for their excellent work and for a fun afternoon.

Worry-Free Dinners partners Chef Meghan Young of Dos Caminos and the Dos Caminos team for joining us.

Dear childhood friend who lives and makes her gorgeous kinetic jewels in Brazil for loaning me some baubles (enough to necessitate a security guard - thanks, Aldo), Yael Sonia.

And Paula Dorff at Bendel’s. If you watch the segment, the makeup looks natural (I think). As the make-up artist said: it’s takes a lot of work to look "natural" (about 20 minutes in my case). Paula Dorff is not an allergy-free brand but I don't have any issues with her stuff and I wear their blush, lip gloss and eye shadows all the time.

Thanks again TV Globo!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Food Allergies, Paris

The below is from an Allergic Girl blog reader and food allergy mom doing her due diligence before a trip to Paris with her food allergic child and not turning up a whole lot.

"We are on our way to Paris this summer. I have a 7 year old with severe tree nut, peanut, sesame, lentil and chickpea allergies. We will have cards printed from SelectWisely. In addition, I would love to connect with allergy groups in France (if that even exists) to help us with finding accommodating restaurants, bakeries and the like. I have already done an extensive internet search but turned up very, very little. Any other ideas?"


Here were my first thoughts:

-When I travel to Paris, I rent a small apartment with a kitchenette and do a lot of food shopping myself. It's really the best way if you can manage it as the grocery stores and open markets are wonderful! [NB: she wrote to say they are doing exactly that.]

-The tips in this Conde Nast Traveler interview will give you some more pointers [just substitute France for Thailand].

-David Lebovitz has some great general Frenchy tips.

-Also David has some gluten-free dining suggestions, which won't necessarily help with peanut and tree nut allergies but it may be a place to start.


Are you in Paris or have you been recently and ate somewhere wonderful? Do you have any other Frenchy dining suggestions? If yes, please post them here for all of us!