When did you expose your child to peanuts? The changing advice of doctors…

Posted on August 19th, 2016 by Alison | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

peanuts2My first-born child is almost 12. When I was pregnant with her, the advice from the medical community was to stay away from peanuts during pregnancy and not to feed them to your child until the age of 2 or 3. Adhering to this, I did not eat any peanuts nor give them to my infant daughter. Fast-forward to when she was 18 months old, was having some symptoms that prompted food allergy testing — the results showed allergies to eggs, avocado and cashews (all of which I ate a lot of while pregnant), but not peanuts. Phew, I thought, at least not peanuts.

And then I still didn’t give her peanuts. We were avoiding all nuts due to her cashew and some other nut allergies, so giving peanuts seemed uncomfortable I guess. But two years after that first skin-prick test, at age 3 1/2, she tested positive for peanuts, after never having eaten one in her life.

Now, the medical community believes that was the problem — not being exposed to peanuts early in life. In fact, the current recommendation is to give your child peanuts (please consult your own doctor before giving your child peanuts). Our pediatrician told me that it is indeed strange to be giving the opposite advice to her patients than she had been giving for so many years.

The conclusions of a February 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine were that “The early introduction of peanuts significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy among children at high risk for this allergy and modulated immune responses to peanuts.” Studies of Israeli children had prompted the focus on the rates of peanut allergy here in the United States. It was hypothesized that that the very low rates of peanut allergy in Israeli children were a result of high levels of peanut consumption beginning in infancy because Israeli children begin consuming peanut-containing snacks (a product called Bamba) early in life. I was fascinated to learn that there is now a new peanut-based food product for babies called Hello, Peanut!, designed by a U.S. doctor to reduce the occurrence of peanut allergies in infants.

I would love to know — when did you give your child peanuts for the first time and does he/she have a peanut allergy?

None of the above content is meant to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your physician before giving any peanut product to your child.


Gluten-Related Disorders — A Visual

Posted on March 8th, 2016 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

There has been an increase in adverse reactions to wheat and gluten. I find this chart to be a very helpful visual to explain the spectrum of wheat and gluten-related disorders in general, along with the corresponding definitions (which I have abbreviated) below. There are many, many symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance that are not included here — for a more detailed list, go to the Symptoms page.
Wheat Gluten Chart

Coeliac (or Celiac) disease
Coeliac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition, which affects the small intestine, resulting in malabsorption, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Consequently, patients with CD suffer from nutrient deficiencies including iron anaemia and folate deficiency. However, individuals may also be asymptomatic or present only mild symptoms.

Gluten Ataxia
Celiac disease may be associated with neurological conditions, with peripheral neuropathy and gluten ataxia (GA), in which the cerebellum is damaged, being the most common. Their prevalence has not been established but Hadjivassiliou et al. (2002) have estimated that neurological dysfunction may occur in about 6–10% of patients presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a form of Celiac Disease, which presents as a chronic skin disease.

Wheat allergy
Allergies are hypersensitive responses to foreign components, most commonly proteins, and are usually associated with the production of a specific class of antibody called IgE (in contrast to the IgG antibodies which are produced in response to most invading pathogens). Symptoms of allergy to ingested wheat products include atopic dermatitis, urticaria (also called hives or nettle rash), and respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Wheat‐dependent exercise‐induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA)
The best characterised form of wheat allergy is wheat‐dependent exercise‐induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA). This is a type of allergic response, which is triggered by the ingestion of food followed by physical exercise, with wheat and crustaceans being the commonest causes

Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity
In recent years, an increasing number of patients have reported symptoms related to wheat consumption, which are not classical allergic or autoimmune responses. This has led to the definition of a new condition called ‘non‐coeliac gluten sensitivity’ (NCGS) (Sapone et al. 2012). The range of symptoms varies widely, including gastrointestinal symptoms, tiredness, headache, dermatitis, pains in muscles and joints, depression, anxiety and anemia, and it is not clear whether NCGS represents a single syndrome or a range of conditions (Sapone et al. 2012). It is therefore best defined in negative terms: as a reaction to gluten (or wheat) when both CD and allergy have been excluded (Aziz et al. 2012; Sapone et al. 2012).

Source: Nutr Bull. 2016 Mar; 41(1): 6–13.
Published online 2016 Feb 16. doi:  10.1111/nbu.12186

Blaze Pizza for Gluten-Free and Food Allergies

Posted on January 17th, 2016 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

Most pizza places have gluten-free options these days — how things have changed from 2002 when I was diagnosed with celiac disease! I recently tried a new concept in pizza at Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, based in southern California. The name says it: this is pizza that bakes in a very hot oven for 180 seconds. The way you order your pizza is like Chipotle, an assembly line where you get to pick your ingredients as your pizza travels down the line. All pizzas are one size, a personal size, and The Build-Your-Own pizza is around $8.50 (depending on location). For that, you get to pick unlimited toppings, like applewood bacon, grilled chicken, pepperoni, artichokes, arugula, cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, fresh basil, pineapple, sautéed onion, spinach, goat cheese, gorgonzola, ricotta, and pesto drizzle just to name some. You don’t get charged per ingredient like most pizza places, but of course the gluten-free crust is $3 extra.
Blaze-PizzaBlaze-Pizza-OvenWhat is the gluten-free status of Blaze Pizza? On their website, they say “We work with wheat-based flour, and do not use a separate oven or press for our gluten-free dough. If you are highly sensitive to gluten, please consider your dining choices carefully.” However, according to 2 different locations I spoke to, they do have separate dough presses for the gluten-free dough. In addition, each pizza is pressed onto its own baking disc, and when you order, they ask the severity and they will do a glove change and get sauce from a different area if requested.

To be honest, it was not the best gluten-free pizza crust I have tasted, but it was so nice to be able to go with mixed company (gluten-free and non-gluten-free) to a place where everyone could get what they wanted and it was safe — even for my daughter with multiple food allergies (the crust is also dairy-free and egg-free and they offer Daiya vegan cheese, and the only nuts in the restaurant are on one salad).

Blaze-Pizza-Cutting

For more information, see:
Blaze locations
Blaze allergen info


Natural & Organic Candy List 2015

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Yum EarthThis is a list of natural and organic candies. Each candy shows if the ingredients contain wheat/gluten, milk (represents all dairy), soy, egg, tree nuts, or peanuts (6 of the top 8 allergens — fish and shellfish are not included since I have not found this to be a concern with candy). I included coconut where I saw it on a label.

Note for consumers of candy: Please, as always, double check ingredients and also check with the child’s parents before giving them any candy or allowing them to eat anything! I will not be held liable for any accident occurring due to the use of this list. It is meant as a guide only.

Note for bloggers/organizations/media: Please do not reprint this list without my permission. Linking to it, however, is just fine and dandy! Printing is encouraged for personal use or for schools, etc. I appreciate your consideration of my work.

Need a list of mainstream candies? Check out these:
Halloween Candy Ingredient Guide 2015
Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2015
Allergen-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2015

To print this list, click on the Print icon above the title. (If you don’t see the print icon, click on the title of the article first.)

List is organized by company, with candy names below. If you can’t find them in your stores, you can order them from NaturalCandyStore.com.

NATURAL AND ORGANIC CANDY
If you can’t find them in your stores, you can order them from NaturalCandyStore.com.

AMANDA’S OWN CONFECTIONS (located in Westlake, OH 440-570-6359)(www.amandasown.com)

  • Chocolate shapes, chocolate lollipops, chocolate bars
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, soy, sesame
    • Ingredients contain: none of the top 8 allergens.
  • Sunbutter Cups
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, sesame
    • Ingredients contain: may contain soy

Note: Order by October 22nd to ensure delivery before Halloween.

Allergen Info (via web Oct 2015): All of our products (except our Sunflower Cups) are free from the top 8 food allergens and processed in our facility on dedicated equipment that is free from the top 8 food allergens.

ANNIE’S (located in Berkeley, CA 800-288-1089)

  • Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: none of the top 8 allergens.

CANDY TREE (available for purchase online)

  • Twists, Lariats, Laces, Bites, Lollipops
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: none of the top 8 allergens

DIVVIES (located in South Salem, NY 914-533-0333) (www.divvies.com)

  • Bag O Bats, Boo!! x2 Chocolate Ghosts, BinGo! Divvine Chocolate Bar, Benjamint Crunch Bar
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk
    • Ingredients contain: soy (lecithin)

Allergen Info (via web Oct 2015): Divvies candies, frosting, and sprinkles are certified by their manufacturers to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free and are packaged in Divvies Bakery. Divvies conducts routine testing to minimize the risk of any cross-contamination in their certified allergen-free ingredients. CONTINUE READING ARTICLE »