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)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: Kids with Food Allergies & Dr Dave Stukus: Food Allergy Testing - What You Need to Know (Video & Resources)

“I’ve been having headaches. I’m going to go to the allergist. They’ll tell me what I’m allergic to.”

“My doctor told me that my child’s tests for peanuts came out at 1.25.  What does that mean?”

“My doctor told me I’m allergic to 50 foods. But I eat them all the time without any reactions.”

“The allergist told me I’m allergic but didn’t give me an EpiPen or tell what to do if I have a reaction.”

In my food allergy counseling practice, I hear questions like these almost every week. Food allergy diagnosis can be confusing, scary, even frustrating. Two allergists can give you two different explanations of the same phenomena. Or no explanation at all. 

Recently, Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America hosted a free educational webinar featuring David Stukus, MD (Here's my interview with Dr Stukus). David Stukus, MD broke down the ins and outs of food allergy testing, including the myths and misconceptions. 

This free educational webinar is a must watch!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: How to Save your Marriage from Food Allergy Stress: Allergic Living Magazine

Mom doesn’t want to let her child with anaphylactic food allergies out of the house; dad takes the same child out to eat at a fast food restaurant where the child's allergens are in practically every dish without an epinephrine autoinjector (or any emergency medications), explaining: “We were five minutes away from the house.”

This is a common challenge that I see in my food allergy counseling practice: parents of children with severe food allergies who have very different parenting styles when it comes to managing risk and food allergies. 

Allergic Living magazine recently highlighted these differences in an excellent article called How to Save your Marriage from Food Allergy Stress. For example, fellow social worker Kristen Kauke says this when it comes to married partners:

"I caution anyone not to mistake a conflict about celiac, food or other allergies with a more fundamental relationship issue. Think about when respect, honesty, trust, shared power and commitment occur in your relationship and when they do not. Sometimes our current struggle highlights a deeper, underlying issue and discontent is an invitation to evaluate the patterns of our own behavior and how they help or hinder the quality of our life."

I talked about these same stressors on dating relationships in my book, Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011):

"Not understanding food allergies is not a good enough reason to break up with someone. However, not understanding, having compassion for or trying to accommodate a medical need may indicate that they are larger issues going on within the relationship. These issues should be looked at, examined and discussed. Often when those underlying issues are resolved, suddenly food allergies becomes what it should be: fully accepted and a non-issue."

How to Save your Marriage from Food Allergy Stress by Allergic Living magazine  is an excellent article that really lays out the issues and even gives some action steps.

But it can be tough going, alone. That's where I can help. If you would like guidance as you move through these issues, contact me about an individualized short-term food allergy counseling program today!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Food Allergy Consulting: Fox 5, Dining Out with Food Allergies

Me with Dan Bowens of Fox 5 News at Blue Smoke

I will thrilled to be contacted by Fox 5 news this week about filming a segment on restaurants in New York City that handle food allergies well.

Here is the segment from the 10 o’clock news April 17, 2014.

Here are some photographic outtakes while Fox 5 was talking with the Chef Eddie.

With Mark Maynard-Parisi, Senior Managing Partner of Blue Smoke.

And then with my favorite dish on the menu: Texas Salt and Pepper ribs.

Did you know: all of the Blue Smoke’s ribs, all of them, are top 8 allergen-free. That wasn’t always the case but recently they realized they could make a few adjustments to make them top 8 allergen-free for everyone. Great job, Blue Smoke!

Thinking of visiting Blue Smoke, I know they’d be happy to have you. Make sure to call ahead, let them know your dietary needs, bring any emergency medications with you and have you anaphylaxis plan with you as well. Here’s my step by step guide to dining out in Allergic Living magazine. Want more? My book, Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011), has a while chapter on dining out with food allergies and you can buy it here online through your favorite bookseller.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: Review of Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar

Copyright 2014 Clarkson Potter

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson is not a food allergy related book nor focused on any kind of food allergy issue. 

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson is about cutting out hidden, and not so hidden, sugars from one’s diet. 

Sarah (who has both Graves & Hashimoto diseases, both autoimmune diseases), found that being low to no sugar helped her body and her overall wellness immensely and almost immediately. If that might be you, too, then read on.  


I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson lays out an 8-week process of eliminating fructose and added sugars from one's diet to recalibrate one body. Sarah gives recipes to help one along with a sugar-free lifestyle quest.

Overall, I really like her attitude of approaching any new diet regime: be gentle and kind to yourself. 

The format is done well with many pop-outs of tidbits of info and bottom line dos and don’ts – easier to follow that way especially as the first third of the book is how her plans works; the second two thirds are recipe driven.

The book is informative but not deep research driven; it’s more lifestyle choices and how these choices affected the author personally. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson is an easy read with some valid points about sugar consumption in America and sugar’s potential affects on the body.

I’m not a huge sugar consumer and not a major processed food consumer. Having said that there are plenty of places that I still cut corners, like buying and using pre-made organic tomato sauce (still filled with fructose) or a cookie every now and then or some food allergy free chocolate. It’s not a perfectly sugar-free diet however, my diet works perfectly for me. And the author also stresses that point (which I like and agree with wholeheartedly): there is no one size fits all diet for health. Do the best that you can with what’s available and what your body needs.

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson has 108 fun, easy recipe ideas, if you know how to cook. This is not a beginner’s guide to cooking cookbook. However, as an experienced cook, I appreciate her “I use the same few ingredients multiple ways so you don't have to go out and buy fancy ingredients” approach. It’s how I cook as well.

It's worth noting the following: 

The recipes are written in a "throw in and bit of this and that" format. If you need more precise instructions, this book may not be for you. 

This recipes are also heavy on the use of tree nuts (including coconuts), eggs and cheese. Proceed accordingly.

By week 4, Sarah's weekly dietary instructions become more focused on feelings around food and social engagements around food; so, it's not a strict "eat this, not that" 8-week diet book.

Excerpt here via her publisher, Clarkson Potter

Having said all of that, if you are looking to cut sugars out of your diet, and already know how to cook and throw together meals, this may be a good resource to start that de-sugaring process.

As in all things, any dietary change should be in conjunction with a board certified medical professional who can address any medical needs that may be driving that dietary change.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Recipe: Nut-free, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Frosting

Look at that glorious cupcake with chocolate chip frosting. It’s calling to you isn’t it?
It’s a birthday cupcake that I made for D. He loves, loves, like cannot let one day pass without chocolate. So, I made a dozen cupcakes and one nine inch round cake. All made from scratch with these capable hands!  


The cake is from a box. It’s a good box. King Arthur Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake mix. It’s certified gluten-free. It’s also nut-free and made without diary, too.  And it was my idea to add chocolate chips to it. And I made the frosting by hand. And added chocolate chips to that, too. 

So, that counts as homemade. Really, I promise you it does.

How did I do it?

Here is the King Arthur Gluten-free cake mix label.

The adds in are:

  • 4 eggs. I use Organic Valley
  • Vegetable oil. I use extra virgin olive oil by Lucini.
  • Water. I use tap.
  • Gluten-free Vanilla Extract. I use Bourbon Vanilla by Nielsen-Massey. (No liquor from Kentucky is involved. The “Bourbon" name comes from the beans that are used in that specific extract. They are harvested from Madagascar, which is one of the Bourbon islands.)
  • I added about two handfuls of mini-chocolate chips by Enjoy Life Foods. Top eight allergen free.

For the frosting I altered the recipe on the back of the Dominos Confectioner’s Sugar box recipe. So easy!
 Here’s my frosting recipeHere’s a funny video I made with performer and comedian Rebecca Vigil as we made the frosting.

Gluten-free baking can be tricky (read: major bake fails or buying expensive ingredients you never use again). King Arthur’s makes an excellent product that all my guests (GF and non-GF) love and I love to serve. So really, when are you getting your cake on?