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)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Allergic Girl, News

I have news that I’m privileged to share.

I’ve written a book.

Those are some beautiful words so I’m going to say them again.

I’ve written a book.

It’s called Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well With Food Allergies.

Here's the cover, courtesy of John Wiley & Sons , picture copyright Kenneth Chen:

I wrote Allergic Girl in response to the one question I hear again and again: “How do you do it?”

I use teachable skills that make my food allergic life a little safer, a little easier and a lot more fun. These are skills that I live with and teach every day. Now, you can have them at your fingertips, too!

Allergic Girl has the best strategies, guidance, support, encouragement and facts about your food allergic life that will propel you to that next place of confidence and joy.

It’s a book for food allergic adults (newly diagnosed or old hands like me); the family and friends who love us; and parents who are guiding their children to be responsible and joyful food allergic adults.

Allergic Girl will be published by John Wiley & Sons and will be in stores March 7, 2011 (available for pre-order sooner than that).

Until then, I’ll be blogging some updates, maybe some contests and definitely some stories about writing a book.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flu Vaccine, Egg Allergies, Update

There's an important press release from the medical boards of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) & Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) about egg allergies and flu vaccine:

"The yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children over age 6 months. These vaccines contain a very small amount of egg protein, and this raises concerns about giving them to children with egg allergy. For many years, physicians and various medical societies and expert panels recommended avoidance of these vaccines in children with severe egg allergy. This thinking has been changing."

Read more at Food Allergy Initiative's (FAI) site.

As an asthmatic, who's non-egg allergic, I get the flu vaccine every year, without issue or allergic reaction. Talk to your medical provider about what is best for you and your family.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Domino’s Pizza, Transparency

Apparently, "transparency" is the new black in restaurant practices, which is great news for the food allergic and food intolerant community.

Last week, in the Orlando Sentinel article about Darden group’s Red Lobster and their new allergen menu roll out (disclosure: I am also quoted in this article), they mentioned the T-word: "After recently disclosing nutritional information for every item on all of our menus, the allergen menu is a natural next step in our commitment to transparency and our belief that guests benefit from access to information about what's on our menu," spokesman Mark Jaronski said in an e-mail."

And now, Domino’s Pizza kinda cool new media campaign as reported by Nation's Restaurant News:

"How many times have you wondered why the products you buy don't look as good in person as they do in TV ads?" said Russell Weiner, Domino's Pizza chief marketing officer. "That's because most of the time companies use artificial techniques to make their products look better than they do when served to you in person." Domino's said the real food photos are part of its "transparency" campaign with customers, which kicked off last year with the introduction of an overhauled pizza in response to negative comments from its guests. "It's a natural progression for us now to take this step," Weiner added. "If we're going to be real and honest about the taste of the product, we want to be as authentic as possible about how it looks."

Keep an eye out for it ("transparency") and let me know where else you see or read it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Olive Oil Fraud, Update

Update August 9, 2010: "Chefs seek payment for virgin oils' phony purity"

Remember this story? Basically, as NPR said: "Italian extra-virgin olive oil has become so lucrative that adulterated olive oil has become the biggest source of agricultural fraud problems in the European Union."

The big issue for the food allergic community: cheaper nut oils were often being blended in – without being labeled as such.

B.I.G. issue.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that three years later there is a “crack down” on the olive oil trade to ensure that when you buy olive oil that’s what you’re getting:

"Propelled by complaints about slippery food purveyors selling low-end product as high-end goods, or olive oils being doctored with cheaper canola, safflower or peanut oils, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this fall will roll out new standards to help ensure that consumers buying "100% extra virgin" olive oil get what they pay for."

However, it’s still buyer beware: “The new rules are voluntary — not mandatory — so the prospect of more slick shenanigans continues.”

Read more from the LATimes here.

Have any of you been buying olive oil and finding that it was a wonky, substandard or lethal (to you) blend instead?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WebMD, Food Allergy Myths

There’s a really well done article on WebMD about food allergy myths right now. Here's a quote:

“Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public or health care providers to describe any unpleasant experience patients have with eating food, including ‘feeling bad,’” says Marc Riedl, MD, MS. He worked on the study in The Journal of the American Medical Association and is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. Linking ‘food allergy’ with ‘feeling bad’ causes confusion, and can lead to people cutting out certain foods thinking they're allergic to them, when instead they may be missing out on delicious foods or risking nutritional deficiencies. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the study, is working on guidelines to correct of the confusion over the diagnosis and management of food allergies. The new guidelines are expected to be released later this year.

With the food allergy guidelines from the NIH coming out this fall (more info about the NIH and these guidelines can be found here), hopefully many myths like these will be dispelled for our community and for the health professionals that support us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nook or Book

Last holiday weekend, this is what I set out to do:

And then I was Nooked.

I received this ereader as a gift; however, I don’t know that I’ve made peace with it yet. I’m a book reader. I come from a family of book readers. (Also crossword puzzle doers but that’s another story). Recently, when I refreshed my apartment I had a small Ikea library built to showcase my favorite books, ones I turn to daily for words of advice, wisdom, humor or insight. Seems I’m not alone in book reading nor library building nor thinking about electronic media versus “old fashioned” media.

David Brooks in the New York Times writes:

The Internet-versus-books debate is conducted on the supposition that the medium is the message. But sometimes the medium is just the medium. What matters is the way people think about themselves while engaged in the two activities. A person who becomes a citizen of the literary world enters a hierarchical universe. There are classic works of literature at the top and beach reading at the bottom. A person enters this world as a novice, and slowly studies the works of great writers and scholars. Readers immerse themselves in deep, alternative worlds and hope to gain some lasting wisdom. Respect is paid to the writers who transmit that wisdom.

This is kind of a lovely way to describe what happens a young reader or new reader; worlds open up in new and exciting ways.

I have books (aka: worlds) stacked up next to my couch that grows bigger by the day and I can’t wait to dive into all of them. This month’s reading list (in no particular order): Tony Bourdain's Medium Raw. The new Divvies cookbook. The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook. Mr. Peanut. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. Robert Parker's Walking Shadow. And the Dos Caminos cookbook.

What does this have to do with food allergies? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s back to that expansion thing: when life feels restricted (by diet, circumstance, finances, infirmity, etc..) books are a wonderful tool. An escape, perhaps yes; however, the best books always bring you back to you, to the core of the collective human experience and through that experience you can connect with others.

From Brooks:

...the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher. Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

I’m a student of life, of the body, of the mind: always learning and growing and expanding. If you’re reading this blog, you are too – looking for knowledge, entertainment or a connection to a shared experience. Maybe how you do it doesn’t really matter, through book or through Nook.

Or maybe it does.

What do you think?

Who are your teachers right now?

Who’s helping you to expand?

Does the medium really matter?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Red Lobster, Allergies

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Red Lobster (part of the Darden group) is rolling out an allergen-menu of sorts (and they quote me.) Some WFD members have told me within the last year that they have had great success with Red Lobster. Are you one of them? Share, please.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Food Fete, 2010

After my day at the Fancy Food show last week, I hopped on over to an exclusive soiree known as Food Fete. Swarming with press and colleagues, it was table after table of luscious goodies, many of them appropriate for our community. Grapes, figs, gluten-free and lactose-free cheeses, gluten-free vanilla and gluten-free Boar’s Head were all in attendance.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to test drive some of these products soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures.


A view of the Food Fete before the madness began:

The California Fig Advisory Board (ignore the glittering pecans):

The California Table Grape Commission (see smiley grape guy):

GF Blue Cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese (so artisnal):

Vodka made from milk from Vermont Spirits (also maple, interesting and GF):

Craig Nielsen of Nielsen-Massey, the best vanilla and naturally GF:

Friday, July 02, 2010

Just Don’t Fling It On Me

This is my common refrain when a conscientious dining partner asks what they should not eat with me nearby. (Seriously, is that not the sweetest thing ever? To ask? I’m always touched by such niceness from business associates, old and new friends, dates, and mere acquaintances.) I tell them, “Eat whatever you want just don’t fling it on me.”

I need to ingest an allergen to illicit a reaction. (Or for my kissing partner to have recently ingested my allergens and not tell me.) Nuts or salmon being at my dining table won’t get me. I’m not even nervous about it. *Talk to your allergist about what you need to stay safe.*

However, I saw my eye doctor recently and when chatting during the eye exam about what I do -- my coaching practice, my blog and food allergies generally -- he told me a story. Oy. Doctors. What they find funny and what we civilians find funny is not necessarily the same thing. But this story illustrated why these nice consciousness people “might” have a point when asking if they should not eat my allergens during that meal.

When Dr. G. was an intern--he’s an eye surgeon--a woman came into the ER with one eye swollen shut. Since he was the eye guy, they called him for a consult. This woman explained she was severely allergic to shellfish and had been dining at a shellfish restaurant; however, she ordered something without her allergen. When he examined her eye, he found that she had a tiny piece of shellfish lodged in her eye socket.

Someone’s shellfish at the table had been flung on her!

Upshot: it is possible that your allergen can be flung on you at the dining table; however, I imagine the actual risk is very rare. Shellfish is a special circumstance: exoskeletons are cracked and parts do go everywhere. But, For me, unless someone is shelling nuts at the table, I believe I’m safe.

I tell you this not to give you one more thing to worry about, but it's something to consider. Talk to your medical provider and figure out what it safe for you. For reals.

As for me, I’ll still say you can eat whatever you want when dining with me, please, enjoy – but really, keep flinging to a minimum.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer Fancy Food, 2010

Like every year, I had a blast fun at the Summer Fancy Food. (So did Diner's Journal who commented on the GFree-ness of it all.)

Here are some juicy updates with some of my favorite gluten-free, nut-free food companies and manufacturers:


Udi’s Gluten-Free

NUT NEWS: A few months back I bought some Udi’s Gluten-Free (here’s Udi’s Gluten-Free GF statement) at Whole Foods here in NYC and it had a new sticker on it that said made in a nutty plant. That was new, so I updated my review.

At this year’s Summer’s Fancy Food, I had a chance to confer directly with the owner (Son of Udi’s Gluten-Free), the excellent Etai.

In an effort to be completely transparent, Udi’s Gluten-Free put a new label on their gluten-free products as there are stored nuts (for the granola only) in the same facility that produces the gluten-free breads. (The nuts I am told are way across the manufacturing floor and behind a wall). Here’s the update from the Udi’s Gluten-Free site about their nut-free status and those new labels.

Etai further explained that Udi’s Gluten-Free regularly tests for allergens on both their finished products and the source materials to ensure that the products remain gluten free and nut free.

However, they're changing facilities soon, putting granola (and nuts) is a different place all together. The date on that is TBD but it is happening. Contact Udi’s Gluten-Free if you have further questions.

PRODUCT NEWS: Two newest additions to Udi’s Gluten-Free GF line: double chocolate muffins and bagels. I hope to sample those soon. Will let you know.



NUT NEWS: All packaging (minus soft breads) now says tree nut and peanut free! (Consistent with the fact that they have been nut-free for over a year.)

PRODUCT NEWS: New roll-outs last fall: chocolate crème filled sandwich cookies and graham-style animal crackers. (Samples of which I have and will report in soon.) I hear from CEO Jerry, lemon sandwich creme and dry mixes are on deck by the fall. Oh boy can’t wait for those, I’m doing sit-ups now in preparation.



(From The Divvies Bakery Cookbook by Lori Sandler. Copyright (c) 2010 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.)

NEWS: Divvies cookbook is here! It goes on sale officially July 20 but you can pre-order here. I saw the book at the show, published by St. Martin’s Press, it has that same clean design that the Divvies products carry and it’s filled with allergen-free recipes. I can’t wait to dive in and start cooking.