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, December 30, 2010

NYSE, Allergic Girl

UPDATE: Here's the footage of the closing bell of the NYSE with FAAN on the podium. And here are pictures from FAAN. Fun!

FAAN (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) has asked me to join them for the closing bell ceremony of the New York Stock Exchange. What an honor!


From the press release: FAAN to Ring The Closing Bell(r) at the NYSE on December 30

WHAT: FAAN's (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) CEO, Julia Bradsher , will ring the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Closing Bell, joined by FAAN's Board Chair Andrew Gilman and his son Sam, as well as FAAN Ambassador Who Cares Chef Ming Tsai and his son David.

Members of the food allergy community (like ME) will also join FAAN for the closing bell ceremony.

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. ET

WHERE: New York Stock Exchange, 11 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005

A live webcast of the Closing Bell will also be available on

WHY: To raise awareness of potentially life-threatening food allergies, celebrate the release of the Food Allergy Guidelines, prepare to commemorate FAAN's 20th anniversary in 2011, and wish people a happy and healthy holiday season.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Easy Gluten-Free by Thompson and Brown

The American Dietetic Association ( in conjunction with John Wiley & Sons has put out a very easy, clear and concise guide to eating gluten-free. [Full disclosure: Marlisa Brown is a colleague and Wiley is also my publisher.]

If you're newly diagnosed or looking for a book for a loved one who is newly diagnosed, Easy Gluten-Free will give you a very clear guide to celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or dermatitis herpetiformis and then walk you through nutritionally sound recipes for a full meal.

I made two recipes from the book, baked pears with Redwood Hill Farm goat’s milk kefir (my own variation) and their rice pudding (again I played with it, did it with less sugar, non-fat milk and all quinoa). So good and super easy. In addition, I loved that recipes came with nutritional information.

Easy Gluten-Free is not a replacement for a visit to a board certified gastroenterologist nor a knowledgeable registered dietician, no book is, but will make a great companion once you do have a diagnosis.

Well done laides, thank you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best American Poetry Hosts Allergic Girl

Around the holidays, food allergies, food intolerances and Celiac disease (any dietary restriction, really) can feel like an extra burden. To wit: parties, parties everywhere but not a drop to eat.

My friend and colleague Stacey Harwood of the Best American Poetry Blog had the same question: I want to host an allergic girl (namely, me) but how do I host an Allergic Girl? So we made a fun and I hope informative YouTube video, recipe from included, with some strategies for both guest and host.

Thanks again, Stacey, and Best American Poetry Blog for all of your support!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jennie’s Pound Cake Minis

When I was in grade school for dessert there was always the option of pound cake, either plain or marbled. It was one slice, individually wrapped and as I recall, we all looked forward to the pound cake slices days at lunch. It was a moist yellow cake, fragrant with vanilla and memories. Also very commercial tasting - as I know now - like TastyKake or Sara Lee. Not knocking that – I loved the stuff - just saying.

If you, like me, had those pound cake slices in your youth and remember them fondly, I think you will really like the new product Jennies has introduced, especially if also like me you are some version of wheat-free (intolerant, allergic, celiac or gluten-free by choice.)

Jennies makers of those delicious coconut macaroons that I adore are now making, “… Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Peanut-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Casein-Free, Trans Fat-Free and Kosher Pareve” little pound cakes. These mini-cakes come in three varieties: plain, marbled and raisin. Arnold, owner of Jennies sent me the plain and marbled to try and of those two I thought the plain was the most successful one. It has that same soft crumb, vanilla fragrance and light yellow cake, the texture and taste are generally lighter than its forbearer, not a true pound in that buttery, sugary, wheat flour way but an excellent and very edible cousin. And even better, these goodies are shelf-stable as in no refrigeration needed. They can hang out in the pantry or your purse. I could see cubing these up to make individual trifles or dunking the cubes in molten chocolate for fondue. They are that yum.

A quick word about Jennies macaroons and gluten-free mini-pound cakes tree nut free status. Two years ago when I reviewed Jennies coconut macaroons, this is what the then VP Lisa said in an email that she gave me permission to reprint:

" How does a company that makes almond macaroons have a almond-free facility? This is what Lisa, VP of Sales at Jennies Macaroons told me: “Jennies is a peanut-free and almond-free facility. The almond macaroons do not have almonds in them; rather they are flavored with an almond extract. The almond flavoring does not contain any actual almond or any other nut. It is a taste which comes from apricot pits.”

Recently, I circled back with owner Arnold and asked him via email about the new facility and their tree nut free status. Here was his reply:
"We are still nut free, peanut free, soy free, as well as lactose and casein free."

Any more questions or concerns, contact Jennies and ask them about your needs. Meanwhile, it’s tea and pound cake time for me. Thank you, Jennies!

Jennies Gluten Free Bakery
twitter: @macaroonking

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anaphylaxis Canada, Teen Video Series

My colleague Kyle Dine, Program Coordinator for Anaphylaxis Canada amongst other talents, let me know about this new series of YouTube videos about food allergies just for teens. I’ve watched them and they are super. Check them out or send them to your favorite food allergy teen. [Disclosure: Kyle is also in my forthcoming book.]

From the press release:

Anaphylaxis Canada has officially launched our new Teen Video Series on YouTube. We have worked hard with our youth advisory panel (YAP) in creating five engaging short videos which highlight key messages within five important themes (dating, travelling, dining out, high school, and eating safely).

The videos can be viewed here:

Anaphylaxis Canada’s Teen Video Series is the latest initiative in its Why Risk It? allergy awareness program targeted at pre-teens, teenagers and young adults. More information about the program can be found at:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tse Yang, NYC


Tse Yang: The Chinese-American-French restaurant that time forgot. Huge fish tanks, Chinese murals on the wall, dimmed lighting and cozy corners where deals are still brokered and broken. Welcome to Tse Yang, the New York outpost of a French classic.

A focused menu, Tse Yang is a midtown Teflon, a resto I had never been to until this past spring and then a few times on business. I avoid Asian restaurants these days: as I'm seafood allergic and soy intolerant, it seems unfair to everyone to go to dine with a menu that is mainly no-nos. But with a business lunch, sometimes you don’t have that option. So you go and you do all of the steps necessary to make it as pleasant and allergy-free as possible. (Have a look here for my tips and the Allergic Girl book will have many, many more.)

The host and owner Larry greets everyone (not me, yet) by name, in either French or English. This is an old boy’s network resto of the highest order, with UN clients as well as midtown bankers (above the age of 60). Family owned and run, there isn’t much on the menu for me. But Larry, host and owner, has made sure that every time I have dined with them, they prepared a dish to my specifications: steamed chicken, steamed veg, steamed rice. Boringa? Yes. Safe? Yes. I’m definitely missing out on their best menu items, but safe will trump exciting for me every time.

NB: My first visit there, Larry made a point of thanking me for telling him about my allergies before I sat at our table. He then regaled me with several stories of diners (all men) who didn’t reveal their allergies until after they had started their meal. For example, the shellfish allergic customer who only after he took a spoonful of his shellfish soup mentioned the allergy. He had to be escorted out of the restaurant and to the hospital. Food allergy peeps, give yourself and restaurant a fighting chance: tell a restaurant about your food allergy needs ahead of time. Feel shy about broadcasting your needs to your table? Excuse yourself and have a tete a tete with the manager: they want to hear from you.

I look forward to trying something new at the Tse, but until then I'm happy for chicken and veg all steamed, all allergen-free.

Tse Yang Restaurant
34 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022-6801
(212) 688-5447

Monday, December 13, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, Dr. Michael Pistiner

I had a chance to ask my colleague Dr. Mike Pistiner what he thinks about the new food allergy guidelines.


Allergic Girl: Can you clarify the difference between sensitization and tolerance as it relates to food allergies?

Michael Pistiner, MD: The concepts of sensitization and tolerance can be tricky. As per the guidelines, sensitization is the presence of IgE that is made to a specific allergen. IgE is the class of immunoglobulin (antibody) that plays a role in immediate allergic reactions. Sensitization to a food is not the same thing as a food allergy. People can make specific IgE to a food without having any symptoms. Although specific IgE plays a role in the majority of allergic reactions, especially immediate ones, some food allergy is driven by the immune system but without involvement of IgE (non-IgE mediated allergy). To clarify, a person can be sensitized to a food but not allergic to it. Also, a person can have a non-IgE mediated food allergy without any detectable IgE.

The guidelines use the word tolerate to describe a situation where a person has either outgrown a food allergy or has received therapy and no longer experiences symptoms with that food. They define the specific term tolerance, as a being able to consume a food without any symptoms weeks to years after treatment is stopped.

AG: Where do you see the biggest leaps forward in the food allergy guidelines?

MP: Prior to the food allergy guidelines there had been little consistency in the approach to food allergies. Healthcare providers with different training and different geographic locations could approach food allergies in vastly different ways. These food allergy guidelines help provide a more uniform and coordinated approach. It will not only aid the individual health care provider during direct patient care, but also will assist in communication between providers, and aid in the accumulation of information used in research that will further guide future approaches.

AG: Where, if any, are there still gaps in knowledge?

MP: Available diagnostic testing is far from perfect. Although the food allergy guidelines recommend the use of skin prick testing and testing for specific serum IgE to assist in the diagnosis of IgE mediated allergy, relying on testing alone is not appropriate in the diagnosis of food allergy. Relying solely on these tests can result in missed cases of food allergy or over diagnosis of food allergy. Furthermore, the guidelines recommend NOT using non-standardized tests for the diagnosis of IgE mediated allergy (including, but not limited to: applied kinesiology, IgG testing, provocation neutralization, cytotoxic assays, electrodermal testing, mediator release assay, hair analysis, facial thermography, lymphocyte stimulation, basophil histamine realease/activation, gastric juice analysis, and endoscopic allergen provocation).

AG: Were you surprised by any of the food allergy guidelines findings?

MP: No I wasn’t. The lack of consistent terminologies and approaches to food allergy, limitations in diagnostic testing, and the fact that there is no current treatment, makes caring for those with food allergy a real challenge. The food allergy guidelines support the critical importance of taking the whole picture in the approach to a food allergy (for example: using history and physical exam, available standardized testing (skin prick and/or specific serum IgE), physician directed food challenges and elimination diets) and the importance of effective communication and education.

AG: What important point will you underscore to your food allergy patients as it relates to definitions, diagnosis or treatment of food allergy?

MP: I will encourage them to hang in there. There are still many unanswered questions when it comes to food allergy. We all need to get comfortable with this. Now, with more uniform definitions and approaches we will have a solid base to build upon. With time, more and more evidence will accumulate. Until then we need to get comfortable with what we do know and keep coping, always.

Thanks Mike!

Dr. Pistiner practices at Northeast Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and volunteers as a clinical instructor at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School. He is a food allergy educator and advocate and the author of Everyday Cool with Food Allergies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, Dr. Clifford Bassett

I had a chance to ask my colleague NYC allergist Dr. Clifford W. Bassett what he thinks about the new food allergy guidelines. [Disclosure: Dr. Bassett is a colleague and in my forthcoming book.]


Allergic Girl: What was your biggest takeaway from the food allergy guidelines?

Clifford Bassett, MD: We need to encourage individuals who may have a food allergy to have appropriate testing including skin tests, blood tests and oral food challenges in order to properly diagnose and manage this condition, as education and avoidance measures are essential for reducing risk of having an allergic reaction.

AG: Can you clarify the difference between sensitization and tolerance as it relates to food allergies?

CB: In some cases testing may indicate possible sensitization to a food, but this does NOT necessarily imply a food allergy exists. If an individual can safely tolerate a food without any symptoms, it is unlikely there is a clinically relevant allergy.

AG: Where do you see the biggest leaps forward?

CB: Food allergy researchers are in the process of studying the benefits of a food allergy vaccine in several academic centers throughout the US. For now, the only real treatment is avoidance and intensive consumer and patient education, and of course to be "prepared" to treat a reaction should it occur.

AG: Where, if any, are there still gaps in knowledge according to the food allergy guidelines?

CB: We need in invest more dollars and cents in understanding the rising prevalence of food allergies, in children, adolescents and adults and work to provide better options for those at risk.

AG: Were you surprised by any of the food allergy guidelines findings?

CB: No not really. An experienced food allergy savvy allergist will provide guidance in the appropriate "interpretation" of the food allergy test results. It is essential to not over interpret test results and the food allergy guidelines suggest that we need to consider more in-office oral food challenges, whenever the need arises, whenever they can be performed safely.

AG: What important point of the food allergy guidelines will you underscore to your food allergy patients as it relates to definitions, diagnosis or treatment of food allergy?

CB: It is necessary to start with some basics when it comes to defining a food allergy, and of course in contrasting it from an even more common food condition, food and/or alcohol intolerance syndromes: (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, gastro-esophageal reflux, sulfite sensitivity, MSG reactions, etc). The prevalence of food allergy is increasing throughout the world and the number of those with peanut allergy has doubled over the past several decades. We are also seeing an increase in allergic sensitivities to a variety of newer and international ingredients. The most common food allergens that affect adults and children are: milk, egg, shellfish, peanut, tree nuts, fish, soy and wheat. Learn to "decode" food labels and become a true "label detective" to properly identify food allergens. Be pro-active, keep a food allergen card with you when traveling or eating outside of the home. Have a written food allergy action plan in place, and be prepared to treat an allergic reaction, if it should occur.

Thanks Dr. B!

Clifford W. Bassett, MD FAAAAI, FACAAI
Diplomate, American Board of Allergy and Immunology
Medical Director, Allergy and Asthma Care of NY
Faculty, NYU School of Medicine
Asst. Clinical Professor of Medicine & Otolaryngology - LICH-SUNY
Fellow, American College and Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NIH, News

There’s been quite a bit of traction about the new food allergies guidelines. Here are some of the media outlets that have covered the story.

The Washington Post

USA Today


LA Times

Baltimore Sun


US News

Time Magazine


And here’s two links from NIH:

You can order free copies of the summary of the guidelines here. And here’s some information about food allergies written just for patients. The link includes a pdf of the Food Allergy booklet which will also be available for free in very early January.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, NIAID

Today, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, released: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel.

The guidelines are a standardized set of definitions about diagnosis, treatment and management of food allergy including both immunoglobulin mediated reactions and some non-IgE mediated reactions (but not celiac disease). They are based on a comprehensive review of current scientific and clinical literature, expert clinical opinions as well as public comment.

For the past several months, I’ve been working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to ensure that the food allergy guidelines reaches as many of us in the food allergic community as possible.

In the next few weeks, you can read more on this blog: information, news and interview related to the guidelines and how they affect us.

Meanwhile, here are some important links and downloads for right now:

On Friday December 3rd there was a press conference with Dr. Fenton and Dr. Sampson. (I tweeted about it and I know several of you had questions about my tweets.) An audio link of the press conference outlining some of the major points of the guidelines will be available for the next 30 days here.

From a NIAID press release:

Published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the guidelines and summary recommendations will be freely accessible on the NIAID food allergy guidelines portal.

More information on the guidelines may be found at the NIAID food allergy guidelines portal.

The available information includes a document titled Frequently Asked Questions about the guidelines.

Information for patients and their families will be available at What’s in It for Patients (TBA).

NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Allergic Girl, Holiday Cookies, Book Giveaway


The wonderful Silvana Nardone

+ an allergen-free holiday cookie recipe

+ the excellent Heidi Bayer, Bklynallergymom

+ Jazz by James Carney (and you can win a free copy of his CD)

+ the possibility to win a FREE copy of my forthcoming book, ALLERGIC GIRL

+ watching us bake and giggle on YouTube!

= major fun

Silvana’s contest will be running starting December 1 through December 31, with a different reipce and prize every day. Here’s who's baking and here are the contest rules.

Good luck and happy holidays!