Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Heirloom Eggs, Pete & Gerry’s



My morning, at least five mornings of the week, start out with a whole egg plus and egg white and some gluten-free bread or corn tortilla. (And my cholesterol is under 150!) 
My typical morning breakfast of a whole egg, egg white and some GF bread

Recently, Pete and Gerry’s sent me some samples of their gorgeous and delicious heirloom eggs to add to my morning routine. Look at these green-shelled beauties! Produced by the Ameraucana hens, they are a super fun change from your everyday white or brown shells. And for picky eaters, green shelled eggs might just tickle the funny-bone enough to try!

Pete & Gerry's Heirloom Eggs

Pete and Gerry’s has a long standing commitment to humane treatment of their chickies. From their website: “Our Ameraucana and Marans hens are Certified Humane Raised and Handled. Our farms meet all standards of the Humane Farm Animal Care Program. In fact, we were the first Certified Humane egg farm in the country. The Certified Humane Raised and Handled label guarantees that we believe in the welfare of our hens. To learn more about the Certified Humane Program, check out their website at http://www.certifiedhumane.com

Pete and Gerry’s packaging is conscious as well: “But the most important reason is that when our plastic carton is recycled again, it's less harmful to the environment than a recycled pulp carton. Our cartons are made from PETE1, the most commonly recycled plastic.” 

I will be running a contest soon for a chance to win half a dozen of these special Ameraucana eggs. Sign up to my newsletter now or stay tune to this space for more information!

Thanks to Pete and Gerry’s for the egg-celent treats!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Traveling to Canada with Food Allergies, Finding a Restuarant

I’m headed to Toronto for the Toronto Jazz Fest. Now...where exactly am I going to eat well and safely? Certainly, I will bring some back-up food with me and my hotel rooms will have mini-fridges. I’ve contacted both of the chefs of my hotels and they're ready for me – I may have many meals there. I know where the local markets are to stock up on safe goodies whilst there as well. But I will also want to dine out as I’ve heard Toronto is a great restaurant town. So, several weeks before my trip, I started dining out research.

What I recommend as an advocate, food allergy coach and someone who has traveled the world with active atopic disease is to break down the traveling tasks into bite-sized manageable tasks and start way ahead of your departure.
 

My steps for finding a potentially safe dining out spot in Toronto:
 
I asked friends and family where they’ve been that they like.
I asked colleagues in Toronto where they dine.
I asked my Canadian food allergy coaching clients where they dine.
I asked my followers on Facebook and Twitter.
I looked at the local Toronto Life magazine.
I looked at the Allergic Living Magazine forum.
I looked at the Allerdine listings.
I went back to the article I wrote for Allergic Living magazine about dining out back in 2011.

Then, I complied a master list of names. 
Once I had that list, I used my Allergic Girl process of vetting restaurants, looking at online menus, "about us" sections of restaurant websites and emailing and calling various places. 
Then, I refined my list to two choices. 
And waited to see the response I received from each.

***
The Keg – they had great reviews on the Allergic Living Magazine forum, had great and clear food allergen information on their website. I emailed them first and was told to call the location where I was planning on dining. So, then I called the York Street location and spoke with a manager which went very well. After that, I followed up with an email detailing our conversation and reiterating my needs and requests. See the sample below:



It was a pleasure speaking just now, Shannon and Hello Eric!

As we discussed, I'm headed up to Toronto next week for Jazz Fest.  I have made a reservation for 6pm, Wednesday June 27 and am very excited to join you as I have so many great things about how The Keg handles food allergy needs.

As for my needs and requests: I have severe tree nut, fish, shellfish allergies (and am intolerant to wheat, dairy and soy) and I carry emergency medication with me at all times. Please see the attached full list.

If it would be easier to jump on the phone to discuss, I'm available at your convenience via cell/text: XXX

Best and thanks again!
Sloane


***

The other restaurant I contacted was Bar Italia. On Allerdine, there was a short video by the owner Joe about his daughter with food allergies. I emailed them but haven’t heard back yet.  


***

Next up I will let you know how it goes at The Keg via Twitter and Facebook!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Traveling to Canada with Food Allergies, Hotel Chefs

What I recommend as an advocate, food allergy coach and someone who has traveled the world with active atopic disease: break down the traveling tasks into bite-sized manageable tasks and start ahead of when you leave. So, I’m headed to Toronto next week for the Toronto Jazz Fest. Very often, I find that hotel chefs are the most accommodating about food allergies. But like all chefs, they need some advance notice. So at least one week ahead of my trip, I contacted the chefs in both hotels where I’m staying to talk about food allergies and how they handle those needs.

***
Some tips about contacting hotel chefs:

-Call the concierge desk and as them to connect you to the chef – it’s way quicker than using the front desk.
 
-Have your needs and questions all ready.  Need a script of what to say – my book, Allergic Girl has plenty!
 
-I have a one page sheet of my allergies, intolerances and what I CAN eat on letterhead ready to go 
so they have it all clearly written out.
 
-Use your pleases and thank yous.

***
 
If you spoke to the chef on the phone, follow up via email spelling out your needs once again. Here’s an example of how the Chef at the Sheraton Toronto followed up with me after our phone call.

Hi there,

As discussed, if you could put as much information as possible on your allergies and preferences that would help us out a lot! We take allergies very seriously here at The Sheraton Center and look forward to looking after you!

I have also cc’d Chef Leanne on this email as well as chances are, she will be looking into your meals on the evening’s of the 27th and 28th

If you have any other questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell: XX

Thank you
Chef Sean

Sean Ellis

Executive Chef, 

***

If you are contacting a hotel by email here’s an example:

Good afternoon Melanie,

I'm coming to Toronto for the Jazz fest and staying with your hotel June 29-30 and would love to dine with you!

I'm severely allergic to tree nuts and seafood and wonder if your chef feels comfortable accommodating food allergies?

Let me know.

Best wishes,

Sloane Miller
 

***
 
Both of these hotels so far have done great jobs of communicating to me that they are able and happy to handle my requests. I will check in once onsite.

And as always, I will triple check my needs, bring a chef card, have my emergency action plan and medications on me and bring my smile to the dinner table (never hurts to smile).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Traveling to Canada with Food Allergies, Health Nearby


I’m headed to Toronto next week for the Toronto Jazz Fest and I’m staying in two different hotels (one I had points and one I could get a friend and family rate and I thought: why not try two different spots?). I always check my destination's surroundings before I leave home – where’s the nearest hospital, where’s the nearest pharmacy and where can I find yummy food on the go i.e. grocery stores?

Near my hotels I found all three very nearby. Google maps is an invaluable resource for these kinds of online searches and Google maps can send links to your phone or email address in one simple step. Which means I have the below information in my phone as a back up and printed out – easy peasy! 

Here are some examples of what I found for hospitals, pharmacies and nearby markets. The search took less than five minutes and gave me great results:

Hospital search near my hotel. 

Pharmacies near my hotel. 

Food shopping near my hotel: a renowned green market, the St. Lawrence Market and a chain of local groceries called Longo's. There's even a Whole Foods in Yorkville

Remember: What I recommend as an advocate, food allergy coach and someone who has traveled the world: break it down into bite-sized manageable tasks and start weeks ahead of when you leave. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Traveling to Canada with Food Allergies, Health

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I’m headed to Toronto next week for the Toronto Jazz Fest. I’ve been to Canada many times but not in years and not to Toronto. So there’s lots to do ahead of my trip for someone like me (and maybe you) who has food allergies, allergies and asthma. It can seem overwhelming to do it all or if you try to do it all the day before. So, what I recommend as an advocate, food allergy coach and someone who has traveled the world: break it down into bite-sized manageable tasks and start weeks ahead of when you leave. 

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of my initial and general health checklist. These are quick and easy tasks that can be accomplished weeks in advance of any trip:

My emergency medications – they are up to date and I have multiples for dop kit, purse and travel case.

My American medications that I like are in my dop kit Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, etc.

Have emergency allergy and asthma action plans – I have a printed copy and a copy in my smart phone. (Don’t have one? Here are links for several plans. Go to your board certified medical provider and get one filled out.)

Call the TSA – I’m bringing special food, what do I need to do? They said, the restrictions don't apply for food allergies, just present myself to security to be checked.

Doctor’s Note – Although the TSA said a note wasn't needed, when I recently flew to Chicago to give the key note at FAAN, the TSA asked me if I had a note. As back up, I asked my board certified medical provider to write a note about my needs regarding carrying special foods and allergies/asthma to pets. I have a hard copy and copy emailed to myself as backup.

Download TSA notification card that they recommend download here.

Call Health insurance overseas/international Am I covered? Do I need extra coverage?

***

Lingering questions about atopic disease management when away from home? See your board certified medical provider and get your questions answered. If you feel like you don’t even know what to ask, my free downloadable FAQ about food allergies is a great start.
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flying, Allergic Living Magazine


Traveling, and flying to your destination? Allergic Living magazine has updated their airline chart allergy policies of 11 major air carriers. You can find it here. Thank you, Allergic Living magazine!

Monday, June 18, 2012

E-chapters, Allergic Girl

My publisher John Wiley and Sons  has launched downloadable e-chapters of my book. For only $1.50! 

The chapters compromise two of the hottest topics in the food allergy community: 
-Family and food allergies (especially extended members that don't "get it") 
-Dating with food allergies.

You can buy the e-chapters separately or buy one of each. You can even buy them and send an e-chapter to friends, family or romantic partners to help them get to know you better and how to support you! 

The e-chapters will give strategies to use in the here and now with those around you about your or your family's food allergy needs. 

Also, these e-chapters will give you a taste of who I am, what this Allergic Girl book is about and if you might find the rest of the book helpful and informative, which I, of course, hope is yes!

You can get download the e-chapters through Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com

There are even copies of these e-chapters for the AARP community -  a great read for grandparents who want to be the best food allergy caregivers possible!




Friday, June 08, 2012

Food Allergy Workshops for the College Bound, July 2012

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Are you a parent with a freshman heading going off to college and want to ensure a safer and easier transition?

Are you the freshman (or college student) and want to talk to other students like you? (And with someone who’s gone through three higher degrees with food allergies, asthma and allergies?)

I’m thrilled to announce this pilot program with an introductory fee!

*Food Allergy Workshops for the College Bound*
For parents and teens in two [2] separate sessions

The sessions are:
    •    Run by experienced social worker, coach and consultant
    •    Solutions focused
    •    Include a clear plan of action


THE DETAILS

WHERE:
ONLINE VIA SKYPE

DATE:
Thursday, July 12, 2012 Parent workshop
Thursday, July 19, 2012 Student workshop

TIMES FOR WORKSHOPS:
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Eastern Time

WHY:
Prepare before you go
Consult and connect on site
Plan for various social situations outcomes


Workshop is limited to 10 participants, so register early to reserve your spot!

Email me for more information and to sign up today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Self-Myths, Food Allergies


For the last few weeks at Pilates, I’ve been doing hanging pull ups. While holding onto a metal frame over a table, and over six feet off the ground, I place my feet in a supported sling, I hold my body in a kind of reverse plank position and pull myself up by my arms several times. And then hold that position for thirty seconds or so. (Here’s what it looks like when someone else is doing it.) I feel strong and powerful; frequently, I’ll tweet a “Roar” after class, because that's how I feel: "Roar!"

So reading this, you might not think that I harbor a myth about myself, namely that I’m not sporty. I was an early talker, speller, writer and reader. Reading and writing were (and still are) my go-to activities. I didn’t grow up playing sports as recreation with my immediate family. Then, my body developed early. I looked like a woman, way before anyone else, and it was difficult to dress that body. School gym uniforms (shorts!) were unkind and pushed me further away from sports. Then top that off with chronic moderate asthma; most activity, indoors and outdoors equaled illness.

Not much changed about my lack of sport-i-tude until my senior year of college, at Oxford University. To get to classes every day, it was either walking or biking, several miles per day. My asthma and allergies abated, both a function of age and location is my guess. And I lost the baby weight as my body settled into its adult form – a weight I’ve stayed since college, give or take five pounds. Once I returned home to New York in the mid-1990s, I continued to walk everywhere, many miles a day and I started yoga classes, which I continued for over ten years. But still being “sporty” never entered my personal definition. Just the opposite. While doing a one-handed handstand, I didn’t think, I'm powerful or physically strong or sporty.  So pernicious are these myths we have about ourselves, we can overlook the most obvious. One-handed handstand! Even when I had a sports injury, knee surgery and months of physical therapy next to major sporty-dudes, the myth persisted.

Even in Pilates, it wasn’t until I started doing hanging pull-ups that it occurred to me, wait, I am sporty – way sportier than I give myself credit for and that I’ve been active for my entire adult life.

Growing up an asthmatic, allergic person I had certain beliefs or myths (or habits if you ask author Charles Duhigg of The Power of Habit) about myself that were either wrong, then and now, or I had simply outgrown. These hanging pull-ups forced me to examine the I’m not physically strong, agile, fit or sporty myth that I had about myself. 

As someone with lifelong food allergies, asthma and allergies who took medication daily for over 30 years, another self-myth was I’m sick or sickly versus I’m healthy or, gasp, sporty. But the more I recognized those myths over time, and their lack of any connection to reality, I’ve been able to challenge them (see my post about “Yes, and…”), discover my true abilities and create new truths about who this Allergic Girl is now.

***

Is there a hidden myth about yourself that you’d like to change, alter or redefine?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Chai Dao, Wusthof Knife

As my diet is vegetarian whilst I’m at home or in my home office, I chop, dice, slice, mince and otherwise cut veggies and fruits for almost every meal and snack multiple times a day.  I need and love a good knife. So when Wüsthof sent me a sample of their latest creation, a Classic 7-inch Chai Dao, I couldn't wait to give it a spin.

I love this knife for two main reasons. First, the handle is slightly wider which seems perfect for a feminine hand. Now, my hands aren’t tiny (I’m a size 6.5 ring finger), but often I need to grip the handle higher up, closer to the blade. Which after a time, can be uncomfortable. This handle side and shape seems made for me, the width is somehow more comfortable. And speaking of wide, the wider blade is perfect for smashing garlic with the heel of your palm without a worry about accidentally hitting the sharp end on a narrower blade as well transporting that smashed garlic en mass to the saute pan.

Here’s what Wüsthof has to say about their knife: "Inspired by the traditional design of a Chinese Cleaver, which is called a Cai Dao, Wüsthof's distinctively shaped Classic 7-inch Chai Dao features a wide blade with a razor-sharp fine edge that curves dramatically upwards as it nears the knife's squared-off tip. The blade's curvy profile - which is in sharp contrast to the perfectly straight blade style of the popular, Asian-style Nakiri knife - allows chefs and home cooks to quickly mince, chop, dice, and slice a myriad of ingredients by employing an effortless "rocking" motion on cutting boards. The Classic 7-inch Chai Dao's wide blade surface also makes it easier to scrape and carry prepped ingredients from the chopping block to pans, bowls and other vessels. The wider blade also makes the knife an ideal tool for smashing and crushing aromatics, such as garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. While primarily designed for prepping vegetables and fruits, the agile and versatile Classic 7-inch Chai Dao has the power and heft to be able to easily transition from slicing paper-thin shallots to cubing tough cuts of beef."

I use this Wüsthof knife every day and it makes my veggie and fruit processing that much quicker and easier. Love! Thank you, Wüsthof.

***
THE CONTEST IS CLOSED - JUNE 5, 2012

Now, here's possibly the best part: Wüsthof is giving away one knife - valued at $135.00 - through a Facebook contest on my Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller page. 

How to enter and rules: Go to the Facebook Wüsthof page, “Like” their page *and* make a comment about your favorite kitchen knife and/or what your dream kitchen knife would be like. And let me know that you did on my Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller page.

The contest is open for 24 hours from when posted on my Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller Facebook page, winners are picked using a random sequencer on random.org and entries are limited to residents in the 50 United States.


Good luck!

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Motherhood, Managing the Anxieties Around Food Allergies., June 5, 2012 at 1pm EST


**UPDATE: A transcript and run-down can be found on The Motherhood blog. **

This is your exclusive invitation to join me and several of your favorite bloggers to talk about Managing the Anxieties Around Food Allergies.

What: A live, all-text Talk on The Motherhood, called Managing the Anxieties Around Food Allergies.  We're continuing the Navigating Food Allergies series with a solutions-oriented class on handling the anxiety and feelings of isolation that can come with managing food allergies.  Dr. Jules Spotts will join Lori Sandler and a fantastic group of bloggers to talk about how it's going for you and to learn and share ways to make sure allergies don't define your kids or your family.

When: Tuesday, June 5, at 1 p.m. ET.  We will chat for 30 minutes!

Where: On The Motherhood, right here.


Who: The all-text chat will be hosted by Lori Sandler, founder of Divvies Bakery and author of The Divvies Bakery Cookbook, and psychologist Dr. Jules Spotts.  Co-hosting are these amazing people:

Barbara, Food Allergy Initiative

Carmen, Mom to the Screaming Masses

Christina, A Mommy Story

Clarissa, The Posh Parent

Eleanor, The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Emily, West of the Loop

Jenny, The Nut-Free Mom

Kelly, Food Allergy Mama

Sarah, The Allergist Mom

Sloane, Allergic Girl

Hope to see you there!