Going Gluten-Free

Empowering Our Kids

This terrific photo caught my eye this week - a little boy dressed up as a super-hero, standing tall and smiling like the sky's the limit. It captures what we all want for our youngsters with celiac disease and food allergies: strength and empowerment. (The image was originally posted by our friends at AllergyHome.org and we picked it up and put it on our Facebook page.) I recently interviewed three children (ages 8 to 11 years) with celiac disease who illustrate these qualities. The Q&A article was published in Living Without’s Oct/Nov issue. Their candor about what it's like to live on a special diet is impressive. They are optimistic and have can-do attitudes about their gluten-free lives. "I think it’s cool having celiac disease," says Maddie, age 8. How do you empower your child?  More...

Waiting ... for Patience

Nine years ago, my family and I embarked on life with special dietary needs when my son was diagnosed with allergies to peanut, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard. Plunging into the world of allergy-friendly cooking, I needed time and patience to figure out substitution ingredients, to make recipes work with replacements and to find products that were safe and tasted great. Looking back, it's clear it was worth the wait. We are eating so much better than we ever did before we started this journey.  More...

How Do You Foster Kind Behavior in Your Family?

My almost 4-year-old daughter Pamela doesn't have severe food allergies like her older brother Joseph, but she eats the same diet as he does at home and she does this without ever whining or complaining about food choices. I give her a lot of credit for this. Are your children thoughtful about accommodating a food-allergic or celiac sibling?   More...

What Do You Do If You Accidentally Ingest Gluten?

"Oops, I ate a wheat cracker," Andrew wrote to us in a recent e-mail. I sensed the urgency in his tone: "Hello, The other night I was at a dinner. They served cheese and crackers. They know I am gluten intolerant. They had gluten-free crackers and wheat crisps. I thought I was safe and did not think to ask until I consumed about four crackers. OH, OH. What do I do?" I know exactly how he feels. Don't you?  More...

Ready, Set - Stay Safe at School!

Just in time for back-to-school, two new programs are available to help keep children safe in the classroom. Both are free. The first is a special offer for free EpiPens to schools nationwide by Mylan Specialty, a pharmaceutical company. The second is an allergy-training module for school staff created by Boston-based allergists Dr. Michael Pistiner and Dr. John Lee, available at AllergyHome.org .   More...

Heroic Stories

The 2012 Olympics were truly memorable. Not only were multiple world records broken but there were dozens of heroic stories of individuals overcoming incredible challenges to accomplish incredible goals. Many winning athletes adopted special diets (in particular, the gluten-free diet) to help them achieve their goals. Considering the world population, the odds of winning a gold medal are about 1 in 22 million. The odds of a child having a food allergy are about 1 in 13. And many of these kids—and their families - overcome significant challenges to accomplish their goals.  More...

Salud to Sangria!

Raise a wine glass to Spanish ingenuity. Homemade sangria is easy and it’s allergy friendly. Try these two refreshing recipes, a great way to cool off. One of my most memorable experiences was the college semester I studied abroad in Spain. I fell in love with the country - its history, culture, people, wine and food. Yet despite my best intentions to recreate favorite Spanish recipes once I got back to the States, I never quite managed to find the time. The only Spanish recipe I mastered is one for sangria, the delectably flavored fruity cold wine drink that's an ideal beverage for these hot summer evenings.  More...

Allergy-Smart Summer Camp

Imagine this: You're a camp counselor. A child with a known food allergy has hives, is coughing and is throwing up. The nurse is 20 minutes away. Now what? Getting your special-diet child ready for summer camp is a serious task. But what about getting the camp ready? Now help is on the way, thanks to two Boston-based pediatric allergists, Michael Pistiner and John Lee. This dynamic duo (they're both Living Without contributors) have created a web-based education module to help camps teach their staff how to care for food-allergic campers. Endorsed by the Association of Camp Nurses and the American Camp Association, the training module is totally free.  More...

Remembering Living Without Contributor Marina Keegan

The world, particularly the celiac community, lost a rising star several weeks ago when Marina Keegan died in a car accident in Massachusetts. Marina, 22, had just graduated from Yale University days before. A talented journalist and playwright, Marina had planned to begin working at The New Yorker magazine this summer. As she described in an essay, published earlier this year in Living Without's December/January issue, Marina was a life-long celiac: "I had celiac disease before it was cool. Before 'gluten free' was stamped on muffin boxes sold at Whole Foods and local cafes. I'm a lifer. I'm a pro. I've been doing my damnedest to avoid the tiny protein since I was 18 months old."   More...

Does Your Kid Feel Different?

My son Mike feels like he is different. To me, he's like any other 10-year-old boy. He has friends, goes to school, plays soccer. But because he also has both celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes, he feels he isn't viewed the same way as his peers. When he was younger, Mike was always very open about himself. He thought it was cool when kids mistook his insulin pump for a pager or a mini computer device. As he gets older, however, he is becoming much more self-conscious. Does your child feel like this?  More...

Off to Camp

Has your food-allergic child attended summer camp? This past month, my 9-year-old son had his first-ever experience with camp. Joseph has asthma and is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard. Sending him off to camp was cause for concern for me but, fortunately, it turned out I couldn't have asked for a better inaugural experience. Here’s what happened.   More...

You Never Forget Anaphylaxis

Some things you never forget. Ask any American where they were when the Twin Towers fell. Then go back in time - when President Kennedy was shot. Further back - when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. These are times in our national history that are so upsetting, so overwhelming, so horrific that we remember them with extreme clarity. There are similar horrific times in our personal history—like anaphylaxis. If you’ve ever had an anaphylactic episode - or witnessed one in someone you love - it's certain the event is seared forever in your memory. Now a new study published online in the journal Pediatrics turns attention to the life-threatening allergic reaction and provides valuable insight.  More...

A Cool Excuse NOT to Skip Breakfast

When summer days swelter, a hearty breakfast sounds unappealing. And chances are, you're too busy rushing out the door in the morning to prepare anything healthy and satisfying on a regular basis. The trouble is, forgoing breakfast is the recipe for less-than-optimal performance later in the day. Here's my gluten-free, allergy-friendly fix. What's yours?   More...

Losing Your Hair?

The relationship between a certain type of hair loss and celiac disease isn't widely known by the general public. Recently, new research confirms that, indeed, there may be a link.   More...

Are You Gluten Free and Still Feeling Sick?

Are you a gluten-free celiac who still feels sick? A recently published study conducted by researchers at St. Thomas' Hospital in London looked into this very important question. Over an 18-month period, researchers investigated 112 patients diagnosed with non-responsive celiac disease. They wanted to determine why these patients continued to have persistent symptoms even though they were on the gluten-free diet. The conclusion? Researchers determined that there was a remedial cause for persistent symptoms in 90 percent of the individuals with non-responsive celiac disease. The leading cause was continued gluten ingestion.  More...