Food for Thought

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The television ad was intriguing, even inviting. “All can eat here,” said the announcer. As the happy family dug into a yummy-looking pizza, his congenial voice explained that this restaurant chain catered to the whole family, including safe choices for restrictarians—gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan. Come, have fun, leave behind your worries about your special diet, was the message. Indeed, the kids on the television screen were pulling gooey slices from a gorgeous pizza and eating them with unbridled gusto. It was clear this was a restaurant where everyone could enjoy a meal.

Dear Skin

Sandra Beasley is the author of three collections of poetry and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life (Crown). She lives in Washington, DC. Below is one of her poems, "Dear Skin"

A Whole New World: “Yes” Is the Answer for Our Food-Allergic Columnist

My dining patterns are defined by diligence—check ingredients, take care at restaurants and when in doubt, steer clear of anything potentially dangerous. For those with severe food allergies, avoidance is the cornerstone of safety. In my lifetime, there has simply been no other way.

The Chef Within: The Road to Gluten-Free Cooking

Not everyone loves to cook, yet I do, although my refrigerator lacks ingredients—butter, milk, beef, shrimp, mustard—that others take for granted. I’m a better cook for becoming one when I did, outgrown of grease and salt’s easy pleasures, in an era that champions olive oil over Crisco. Is it easy to raise a child with special dietary needs? No. Will dietary restrictions limit your child’s relationship to food? No. You just have to trust the one ingredient common to every recipe: Time.

Watching Your Weight: 10 Gluten-Free Diet Tips

Maybe you’ve seen the latest headlines of another celebrity proclaiming the gluten-free diet as their get-thin-quick cure-all. “There are a lot of people who firmly believe that going gluten-free will make them lose weight because Oprah or Miley Cyrus said so,” says Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, nutritionist, dietitian and writer. “But the numbers show, at least for people with celiac disease, many gain weight on a gluten-free diet,” especially if they suffered from malabsorption issues before going gluten-free.Despite the word “diet,” the gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss program. “Certainly, if weight loss is the goal, just going gluten-free isn’t the answer,” Harris says.

Home for the Holidays

As a child, I often felt left out during special times of the year. With food-centric occasions littering the calendar, my allergies to milk, eggs and nuts made life challenging, even dangerous, at times. Birthday cupcakes, ice cream and treats were everywhere. From class parties to school trips, from outings with friends to town fairs, I was constantly confronted with foods that were forbidden.

Sure-Fire Gift Ideas

Are there people on your gift list with special dietary needs? This page is for you. These gift ideas will help make special-diet living merry and bright. From hickory chips to bread makers, our jolly essentials will keep your loved ones feeling well fed, safe and even inspired. Not to mention, definitely impressed that you got them just what they wanted. So deck the halls and stuff those stockings!

Here Comes the Bride: Inside an Allergy-Friendly, Gluten-Free Wedding Reception

There comes a time in every couple’s life when you ask that important question: “Chocolate Mocha or Red Velvet?” Mulling what to serve 130 guests at my wedding, I’d picked up cupcakes from the local vegan bakery. Although egg- and dairy-free batter was a given at Sticky Fingers Bakery, their sugar artist was still working on a recipe for soy-free frosting that wouldn’t upset my stomach. I beheaded another cupcake, before taking a bite from the bottom.

Revolution Afoot: The Drive to Avoid Gluten, Dairy, Casein and Other Allergens

Now we enter August with its dog days and gently ruffled seas, last gasp of vacation before school and farmers’ markets bursting with the ripeness of summer produce. As I load up on these local organic and unpreserved pleasures, dew still glistening on the greens, I sense a groundswell rising around me. More and more of us are reaching a dietary tipping point about the quality of our food. It isn’t just those of us who must avoid gluten, dairy, casein and other allergens. But many more, some for the first time in their lives, are passing up processed, excessive sugar, sodium, bad fat, chemicals, preservatives and genetically modified products. Every day, I meet someone who is newly gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, even vegan or paleo, who is consciously choosing not to eat out of a box, bag, pouch, clamshell and microwave tray.

My Gluten Radar

I have a sixth sense about gluten. I call it my gluten radar. It warns me when I’m getting too close to this dangerous protein and keeps me on the road to good health.I’ve lost track of the number of times it has rescued me from a near collision with gluten. The time I spied a hostess unearthing an open box of rice crackers that shared a zip-top baggie with wheat crackers. The sandwiches prepared where my deli meat was being sliced. The wayward strand of spaghetti in my string beans. The errant crouton in my salad.

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