Feb
27
2014

25 Great Gluten-Free Resources

Wheat? We don't eat no stinkin' wheat!

25 Great Gluten-Free Resources

gluten-free resources

My family doesn't have to follow a gluten-free diet, but I know plenty who do, and I know that finding reliable resources for recipes, products, and information isn't always something they've got time to do. So I asked around for everyone's fave celiac and gluten-free online resources and am happy to provide you with this round-up. And if you've got some to add, please let me know!

Adventures of a Gluten Free Kid
Being gluten-free, from a kid's perspective!

Being Gluten Free
Rossana's blog is such a fab resource for gluten-free product reviews, information about being gluten-free, and more. A must-read site for sure.

Book of Yum
Gluten-free vegetarian recipes that are delicious and kid-friendly? YES! Awesome. They haven't updated in a while, but the site still stands as a great resource.

Celiac Chicks
An ever-growing resource of links to restaurants and bakeries and recipes that cater to the gluten-free folks around the world. So helpful! 

Celiac Family
This blog is a truly awesome resource from a mom whose family follows a gluten-free lifestyle. It's jam-packed with fantastic recipes and resources.

Cook It Allergy Free
Kim's husband and son both have celiac, so she made it her mission to learn all about it, and share her knowledge with the world. There's even an app for that!

Could It Be Celiac
Kathleen writes this great blog about life with a celiac child. She shares helpful recipes, tips, and more. 

Elana's Pantry
With two books about gluten-free baking under her belt, Elana's a go-to source for great gluten-free recipes.

gfree mom
My fave part of this blog is the Easy Kids' Lunchboxes section.

Ginger Lemon Girl
Carrie is the force behind all those amazing Everything Gluten-Free cookbooks!

Gluten-Free Easily
Anything with "easily" in its name is a good thing, right? The recipes here look fantastic.

Gluten-Free Girl
Shauna's blog is such a wealth of information, full of helpful answers, recipes, and more.

Gluten-Free Goddess
Karina posts gorgeous photos along with her wonderful recipes. She's even categorized her recipes by seasons. How totally cool is that? I love that her site is so much more than baked goods.

Gluten Free for Good
Recipes, giveaways and more. 

Gluten Free Goodness
Fab resource full of recipes that are gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and egg-free!

Gluten Free Mommy
Check out the incredible list of recipes! Yum!

Gluten Free on a Shoestring
If you've ever had to buy a loaf of gluten-free bread, then the title of this blog already has you hooked. Eating gluten-free is so expensive! Nicole helps you make healthy, gluten-free meals for your family that are affordable and delicious.

Goodie Goodie Gluten-Free
Julie's creative recipes will make you realize that eating gluten-free doesn't have to be restrictive!

I'm a Celiac
Pam has celiac disease, and writes a blog to share information and great recipes with others who are gluten-free.

La Tartine Gourmand
Take one look at these photos and tell me you don't want to make every recipe there. WOW.

No Gluten, No Problem
You know what I love most about this site? Their balanced and sensible approach to the gluten-free lifestyle. I like that they point out that wheat's not the devil and not to blame for every health problem ever. 

Pocketfuls
This is just a wonderful blog in general, but Lisa also shares great gluten-free recipes!

Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
This blog aims to share the best recipes that cut out the refined sugars and gluten from your diet.

The Celiac Scene
This site guides you to celiac-endorsed restaurants across Canada and celiac-friendly fast food chains across North America. Handy!

The Whole Gang
Over 500 easy gluten-free recipes in one spot? Hooray!

Wondering if going gluten-free will help you? See what Dr. Kim Foster has to say about it.

Ready to get gluten-free baking? Check out our amazing gluten-free board on Pinterest, and then try Gwen's awesome vegan, gluten-free shortbread or one of these delish recipes!

Feb
26
2014

11 Food Allergy Myths Debunked

You're welcome

11 Food Allergy Myths Debunked

allergy myths debunked

Food allergies are tricky things. They vary from person to person, reactions can evolve and change, get more severe, or even disappear. They're just unbelievably difficult to manage, in general. What's making the whole thing even harder to manage is the fact that there are so many people out there spouting all kinds of garbage about food allergies that just aren't true.

Here are a few common myths that I'd like to dispel that'll maybe help clear up some confusion.

 You can't get food allergies as an adult

Food allergies can appear at any time, with severe reactions happening out of the blue, or milder reactions at first. If you start having symptoms and suspect a food allergy, seek medical opinions ASAP. Things can get out of hand pretty fast with food allergies, and it's always a good idea to go for testing.

 A positive blood allergy test absolutely indicates an allergy

Sometimesand sometimes nottests, such as the RAST or Immunocap RAST, don't truly give an indication of an allergy. They offer an antibody level, but there are plenty of cases where those with low antibody levels are not allergic to those foods. My son has never eaten peanuts, but skin and blood tests indicate he's allergic, so we err on the side of caution, but there's a chance he isn't even allergic. Tricky! As our allergist also says, there is no test for severity, either, so you can never know exactly how bad a reaction could be. The problem with these tests is that, quite often, they're misinterpreted and people are told they've got allergies they simply don't have. We went through this with my son at first, and were told he was literally allergic to everything. Ridiculous.

 Kids will outgrow allergies

While this isn't unheard of, there are no guarantees. It has been reported that after doing complete elimination diets (for upwards of three years), approximately 85% of kids will outgrow dairy allergies, but it's far less common to outgrow seafood and nut allergies. My son was allergic to all white fish as a toddler, and we were told it would absolutely be a lifelong allergy . . . it is not! He is only four years old, but has already outgrown the allergy and has no more symptoms at all. Again, allergies follow no set path and are tricky to predict.

 Peanut allergies are the most common

Untrue, actually. Though they're definitely the one we talk most often about these days (probably because they are the most likely to cause anaphylactic reactions), the most common food allergies in Canada are:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Sulphites
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat

 Feeding your child small amounts of a food will cure them of the allergy

NO. No no no no no. Okay, so yes, there are currently studies under way that indicate a strict desensitization process may possibly lead to the elimination of food allergies, but this is absolutely not something you can undertake yourself. Never, ever, ever feed your child a food they're allergic to without a medical doctor's supervision.

 You can have an anaphylactic reaction by smelling a food

It's incredibly rare for a serious reaction to occur simply because an allergen is nearby and, no, anaphylaxis cannot occur because an allergen is being consumed in the same vicinity as an allergic person. The reason food bans often happen in schools is out of fear of an allergic child managing to eat some of the allergen. But no, simply smelling peanuts will not cause my son to have a reaction. Even cross-contamination on surfaces and toys is minimal and not really a concern. A food allergy involves reaction to the food's protein (which happens from ingesting it or, less often, by getting it in one's eyes), so even just touching an allergen would not cause anaphylaxis. As noted HERE, it would be a real concern if a large amount of peanut dust was released all at once into the air (like, peanuts all over a bar floor or a place cooking with peanut oil). But in general? Not a concern, no. 

 You can have an anaphylactic reaction by getting some of the food on your skin

I'm told a rash or other minor reaction is possible, but no, evidence shows that nothing life-threatening occurs from skin contact with an allergen.

 You're allergic to any food that disagrees with you

Many people confuse intolerances with allergies. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy, nor is having gas after eating certain foods an indication of allergy. Similarly, perception of "hyperactivity" after eating certain foods or substances is not an indication of allergy. Only 6-8% of kids have allergies, but far more parents report their kids as having them, because of this confusion. It is estimated that anywhere from 50-90% of reported food allergies are false. This doesn't help those of us dealing with real allergies, people. Please stop.

 A naturopath can diagnose food allergies

My family has a naturopathic doctor whom we absolutely adore and trust. She's amazingly helpful, and was one of the first professionals to help us deal with my son's allergies and severe eczema. She has a great way of balancing western and traditional medicines that makes me feel very comfortable. But even she knows that there are many quacks out there selling services that are simply not science-based. As we all know, when we're desperate to find a solution to our kids' problems, we'll listen to almost any advice that seems remotely feasible. Please read THIS from Science-Based Medicine for further details. From their site:

"Naturopaths and other alternative medicine providers do not diagnose allergies in evidence-based ways. Yet many offer purported different diagnostic tests as part of their practice. Treatments have either been shown to be unreliable or have been demonstrated to be useless. Unproven or disproven tests for food allergy that alternative practitioners may offer include:

IgG blood tests
IgG blood tests (e.g., Hemocode and Yorktest) cannot identify food sensitivities or allergies, only recent exposure to different food ingredients. It has no established value as a diagnostic test for food allergies.

Applied Kinesiology
AK is a well-known scam that is purported to diagnose allergies by holding a suspected allergen and then pressing down on that limb. Muscle weakness is said to signify an allergy. Careful evaluations show that AK tests can be completely manipulated by the tester, and they have no relationship to actual allergic responses.

Electrodermal test or “Vega Testing”
The Vega test is claimed to measure body electric currents (to acupuncture points) with an allergen in the electrical circuit. There is no correlation between Vega test results and reality, in that it cannot identify allergies at all.

Cytotoxic testing (Bryan’s test)
These fake allergy tests were last generation’s IgG blood tests, sold in storefronts, and involves mixing a patient’s white blood cells with suspected allergens. There is no correlation between the results, and allergic responses. The FDA and other regulators have taken action to clamp down on cytotoxic assay sales, but providers can still be found.

Hair analysis
While useful for testing for exposure to drugs and some chemicals, there’s no basis for examining the hair to determine allergies

Pulse test
Used more for diagnosing food “intolerance,” this involves measuring the pulse before and after eating a suspected allergen. It should be self-evident why this sort of testing isn’t advisable for suspected allergies.

Source

 A naturopath can eliminate allergies

There is no current cure for food allergies. None. Not through any western or alternative medicine avenues. One of the more common "allergy elimination" techniques is called NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques" and folks, it doesn't work. These "techniques" can kill. I beg of youplease don't risk a life because someone with confidence convinces you that a technique works. If there truly were therapies that worked, we'd all be allergy-free. 

 Labels that read "may contain" are totally safe
Nope, they're not. Just because there are no nuts IN a product, it doesn't mean the food hasn't come in contact (we call it "cross-contamination") with nuts in the process of it being made. So, no, if a label says it "may contain" shellfish, it's not safe for a shellfish-allergic person. A 2009 study found that detectable levels of peanut were found in almost 9% of products labelled "may contain." In case I haven't drilled this into you enough already0% is the only amount that's tolerable to allergic people. Zero. So, no, absolutely not safe.

Want to know the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance? Read here!
Do you have a newly diagnosed food allergy? Here are 25 Questions to Ask Your Allergist.

Sources:

Allergic Living
FARE
Science-Based Medicine
MedicineNet
About.Com

Feb
25
2014

OMG WTF Is Wrong With Your Skin!?

Dermatographism Is Alarming But Not Serious

OMG WTF Is Wrong With Your Skin!?

dermatographism

In the most literal sense of the word, I am over-sensitive. I have a condition called dermatographism (or dermographism), which is a chronic urticaria condition not unlike my son's cold urticaria. With very little pressure, I can literally write on my skin, which means even the lightest scratches lead to welts, hives, or raised rashes. It's a little unnerving for massage therapists, I'm told, to see my skin react so strongly to their touch. Oh, and there's really no hiding a passionate makeout sesh over here...I'm left red-faced both literally and figuratively. 



The above image is my arm, about thirty seconds after lightly using my nail to trace the shape of a heart on my skin. If I gently scratch, it leaves welts on the skin which last about twenty minutes to a half an hour.

Apparently it's a mast cell response, releasing histamines into the system, but it's not at all life-threatening, just generally unsightly. The resulting hives when the skin reacts aren't bothersome or itchy generally, but if I'm given a back scratch, the end result is pretty gruesome criss-cross welting like I've been whipped across my back.

And interestingly, although it's kind of like an allergic response, it's not an allergic response. It can definitely be exacerbated by an allergy, though. If I'm exposed to too much dust (oh, woe is me, dusting is legitimately harmful to my health!), the itching I do can causes major rashing and welting of my skin. And when nervous, the response is definitely heightened, too. A dose of antihistamines helps to clear it up, thankfully.

Only 4-5% of the population suffers from this condition, so I guess I kinda won the lottery, didn't I? And though my kids haven't shown signs of it yet, because it's often genetic, there's a good chance it's somehow linked to my daughter's eczema and my son's various allergies. Genetic sharesies, if you will. I'm such a giving parent, aren't I?

 

Want to read more? Here's what not to say to someone who has allergies.