Food of My Dreams

I stuff fistfuls  of potato chips into my mouth.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

“It’s four in the morning,” my husband says. “Are you eating chips?”

I swallow and look  down at the half-empty bag of Cape Cod Waffle Chips sitting between us in bed. Baffled, I set them on my nightstand, pull up the blanket, and go back to sleep.

When I enter the kitchen in the morning, my husband’s head is inside the refrigerator.

“I think you ate last night’s sausages,” he says.

My husband tends to be a bit OCD. He freaks out when a sock goes missing and the drink glasses aren’t ordered by size. I ignore him and make coffee.

“My sausages are gone,” he announces again.

Now I’m peeved that he’s making such a big deal about leftovers which are most likely behind the carton of eggs. I am not a morning  person.

I march over to the fridge and  pull out the drawer where I stored the baggy of sausages from last night’s meal. But only half  a sausage, the half that was somewhat burnt, remains. I’d put two and half links in there last night. I am sure of it.

“That’s weird . . . ”

Then I remember the predawn chip episode.

“Oh my God, I think I was sleep-walking and sleep-eating! Have I ever done that before?”

“Not that I know of.”  Content that he’s made his point, my  husband picks up the morning paper.

The sausages in question were grilled last evening for my husband. While they are gluten-free, the corn ingredients tend to make me ill.  I prefer Boulder brand sausages or chicken sausages from Al Fresco.

Evidently, I’m not that discriminating about brands or ingredients when I’m asleep, nor do I care whether the sausages are warm or cold.

Dream Food

At first, I’m embarrassed by my late-night munchies. Then it hits me.

I’ve deprived myself so much these last six or so years — passing on slices of birthday cake and Christmas cookies, avoiding crackers and cheese plates during cocktail parties, skipping on the movie popcorn but smelling it throughout the entire movie, sipping my water while the rest of the table chews on warm bread lathered in butter — why wouldn’t I raid the refrigerator or the pantry in a unconscious state?

In fact, why has it taken me so long?

I’ve woken in a sweat from dreams where I’ve eaten an entire chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream frosting — I’m not only allergic to dairy and eggs and gluten but also vanilla. Still, I’ve never eaten in my sleep. Or even walked in my sleep.

I saw a TV show once about overweight people who have to lock up their food to keep them from eating in the middle of the night. Has my celiac disease and multiple food allergies created some sort of sleep-related eating disorder? Will my husband have to start padlocking his full-of-gluten-and-allergens food before heading off to bed?

After a quick Internet search, I discover that some people who are on diets may unconsciously eat at night. Eliminating gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and so many other foods could certainly be called an extreme diet. That particular night I went to bed hungry because there’d been little for me to eat at a social event and once home I didn’t want to consume the extra calories before bed. With that in mind, it doesn’t seem all that odd that I  raided the kitchen at 4 a.m.

The funny thing is I could have grabbed some peanut M&Ms or some leftover pizza or even a brownie that was sitting on the kitchen counter. But I didn’t. I chose gluten-free sausages and gluten-free chips. I’m so accustomed to avoiding foods that will make me sick, I’ll even avoid them in my sleep.

The chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream will remain in my dreams.

Food of My Dreams” first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

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Don’t forget to sign up for the Food Allergy Wellness Summit! Read all about this free online event here.

An Allergic Foodie will share tips for the college celiac on Nov. 6, 2014 during Food Allergy Wellness Summit

FOOD ALLERGY WELLNESS SUMMIT: COLLEGE 101

My husband and I drove through Nashville this past weekend and stopped to have dinner with the college boy. You’ve heard me refer to our son often as the  “College Celiac.” Yes, he inherited his mom’s celiac genes, something we discovered after he left home and went far, far away. Actually, he believes the amount of wheat he ate during freshmen year–pizza, pasta, bagels, cookies–triggered his celiac. He’s probably right.

Over gluten-free appetizers, I asked my son if he ever cheated and ate a slice of pizza or a cookie. Okay, I was really wondering if he ever slipped up and had a beer at a party. Perhaps it was the dozen of red solo cups and the beer pong table in his rented house that made me wonder this.

“I’m never even tempted,” he said. “It’s not worth feeling stupid all week.”

Food Allergy Wellness Summit: College 101

My son’s worst celiac symptom is brainfog. Feeling lethargic and air-headed can obviously make learning and studying hard. Trying to adapt to college life is challenging enough without having to worry about eating the wrong foods and getting ill.

And oh how I hated those terrible middle-of-the-night phone calls when he was doubled over in pain. I wondered if it was truly a gluten reaction or if he had appendicitis or food poisoning. Should he go to the ER, or wait it out?

When  he ate in the school cafeterias, he got glutened often. We tried moving him to a suite with a kitchen and that proved to be even worse–the other boys left half-eaten pizza and breadcrumbs everywhere! Moving to a house last year helped, but he still keeps a toaster in his room and gluten-free foods under his bed.

We’ve both learned a lot in the last four years. So when I was asked to speak about our experience for the FOOD ALLERGY WELLNESS SUMMIT–a FREE ONLINE 4-day event with 12 food allergy experts–I jumped at the chance to help other parents and students about to embark on the college journey. There seems to be a wealth of information out there for younger kids with food allergies and celiac disease, but not so much for the high school and college student.

Surviving College with Food Allergies or Celiac

If you have a child with food allergies, or you are a high school student preparing for college, please join me on November 4 for “I Can’t Eat That: Living with Food Restrictions in College.” I’ll offer lots of advice on everything from choosing the right school to preparing to leave home to eating and socializing on campus.

After listening to my talk, you’ll  receive TWO FREE DOWNLOADS specific for college students from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and Food Allergy Research & Education. Plus you’ll have a chance to WIN THREE GREAT PRIZES  perfect for the college student: a $25 gift certificate to Well Amy; an assortment of treats free of the top ten allergens from Surf Sweets; and an autographed copy of The Everything Gluten-Free College Cookbook by Carrie S. Forbes.

An Allergic Foodie will share tips for the college celiac on Nov. 6, 2014 during Food Allergy Wellness Summit

SIGN UP FOR THE FOOD ALLERGY WELLNESS SUMMIT TODAY!

Food Allergy Wellness Summit: College 101 originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie

Musings and Morsels from An Allergic Foodie (8-1-14)

My family often shares what we read with one another. My husband emails links of articles and television news stories he’s come across while traveling for work. If you read the newspaper after me, you’ll likely get one full of holes.  As a nonfiction writer, I have boxes full of clippings (we’ve moved these four times). Even our boys share info they’ve discovered on Facebook and YouTube.

It makes me feel good when someone hands me an article they think I’ll be interested in. To me, this says,”I cared enough about you to take the time to clip this.” Well, unless it’s a story about dieting and losing weight–that’s just plain mean. I also don’t like articles about aging. Will you please stop sending me those, Mom?

I often come across something I know could benefit my food-allergic/celiac disease friends but just doesn’t fit into a post. Maybe it’s a peer-reviewed study you ought to know about, or a book I think you’d like, or I’ve just met someone at a conference I think you should meet. This blog is not a recipe blog or a product review blog, but I’ve often wanted to share a recipe or a product I’m particularly excited about. And, of course, I’ve often cut things out of the paper or seen something on TV I’ve wanted to discuss with you.

So this is the inaugural MUSINGS AND MORSELS.  Think of it as a smorgasbord of information–sink your teeth into whatever looks tasty.

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Have you seen the Maple Hill Creamery yogurts with the label “made from organic milk from 100% grass-fed cows?”

Grass-Fed Yogurt

An article this week in the Wall Street Journal says grass-fed dairy products are gaining in popularity by health-conscious consumers. Those allergic to soy, corn and gluten may benefit from milk that’s come from grass-fed-only cows. Though pricey–$6 for a gallon of grassmilk–the article reports that whole milk from grass-fed cows is Organic Valley’s best-selling item at Whole Foods. We’ll probably start seeing grassmilk cheeses and butter soon.

In case you’re wondering what the difference between “organic” and “grass-fed” milk is: the USDA requires cows to graze on a pasture for a minimum of 120 days during the year and get 30 percent or more of their diet from the pasture to be labeled “organic.” The rest of their food can come from a feed of grain, corn, soy, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients.  “Grass-fed” should mean the cow has eaten only on the pasture–no corn, soy or other grains.  But according to the WSJ article, “Some dairy brands labeled ‘grass-fed’ do allow their cows to eat grain if other food is scarce.”  There is no federal regulation of the term “grass-fed” for dairy products.

Here we go again with that deceiving labeling. If you missed my blog post about grass-fed beef and bison, here it is.

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Also in the news: Did you know Monsanto has recently created the Global Corporate Engagement Team to “debunk myths” surrounding the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicide? This was reported in the St. Louis Business Journal. They’ve actually hired a “director of millennial engagement” to help the public understand “the story behind Monsanto.” An online comment asks if Monsanto is debunking myths or covering up facts. What do you think?

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A blog you’ll like: Mary Kate and Denise at Surviving the Food Allergy Apocalypse  cook up some  awesome allergy-friendly recipes–not only for food but for soap and toothpaste too!

Also, if you haven’t discovered Freedible  yet, you are in for a treat. Freedible is a valuable tool for the “custom eater”–anyone who has a food restriction for any reason. You’ll find online support groups, recipes, blogs, and much more on Freedible.

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Kudos to  Tracy Grabowski of WheatFreely.com and certified by GREAT Kitchens and DineAware for writing an excellent article, Why Many Restaurants Should Not Offer Gluten-Free Menu Options . . . Yet, published in the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, Spring 2014. She writes that restaurants must be trained before offering gluten-free items: “The truth is that genuinely gluten-free dishes should be more than just replacing a bun, or using a corn or rice versions of pasta.”  She stresses restaurants need be educated and trained in cross-contamination issues and how to read labels for hidden ingredients.

And with that said, I leave you with a photo of a menu from Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub in Williston, Vermont.

Gluten Sensitive Menu

 

This menu does not say “gluten free” but “gluten sensitive.” If you have celiac disease as I do, would you feel safe ordering off this menu?

Musings and Morsels #1 originally appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Researchers Discover Cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

FROM FARE: Researchers discover cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). This means that new treatments may be just around the corner. Findings also help researchers understand other eosinophilic disorders and allergies in general. Very exciting news.

Researchers report that they have discovered the cause of eosinophilic eophagitis (EoE), a hard-to-treat food allergy. In EoE, large numbers of white blood cells, known as eosinophils, accumulate in the lining of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), causing chronic inflammation. Led by a team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, investigators have found a new genetic and molecular pathway in the esophagus. This discovery, reported online today in Nature Genetics, opens the door to new therapies for EoE, which has been diagnosed in a growing number of children and adults over the past decade.

The study found that EoE is triggered by the interplay between epithelial cells, which help form the lining of the esophagus, and a gene called CAPN14. When the epithelial cells are exposed to an immune hormone called interleukin 13 (IL-13), which is known to play a role in EoE, they cause…

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Eat Without Me! Please!

Our book club alternates meetings between restaurants and our homes. As the “one with food issues,” I am given the final say on the restaurants where we’ll meet and eat. No problem there. It’s when we gather at one another’s homes that problems arise.

What can Amy eat? I bought these gluten-free crackers especially for her. Oh, I forgot she can’t have milk. When did Amy become allergic to soy, I thought she just had celiac disease? Why isn’t she eating the carrots? What do you mean the veggies can’t be served on the same platter as the crackers?

Just this morning one of my book club friends asked if I could eat Chicken Curry (our current book takes place in India). I figured she had found a safe recipe for me; after all, isn’t curry often made with coconut milk? When she emailed the recipe, I was surprised to see sour cream and mayo. Now this is a person I have traveled with and eaten out with many times, so I was a little surprised she didn’t remember I was allergic to dairy and eggs.

But I let it slide.

Of course, there are several perfectly acceptable things I could have done. I could have suggested she take a look at the recipes over at Freedible or on my Pinterest board and make some substitutions. I could have asked her to make me a plain piece of chicken. I could have offered to make a salad or a side dish.

But I simply told her I would eat before I came.

You see not eating at book club IS NOT A BIG DEAL. I am there for the book discussion and the comradery. And okay, maybe a little for the wine. But never for the food.

I have learned a long time ago that eating before I go to people’s houses is safer and easier–for me and for the host. Of course, when first diagnosed, I do remember feeling left out, especially during the holiday season when the food looked so festive and tasty. I do remember wishing I didn’t have to always pass on the birthday cake or the special tapa a chef brought to the table.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped caring–and when I stopped caring, I started enjoying life more.

While I consider myself a true foodie, I don’t feel like food always has to be the center of every social event. I can enjoy myself on just about any occasion without having to eat. In fact, by not having to think about what’s in that curry sauce, or if there are croutons in the salad, or if that fork touched the pasta, I am free to enjoy myself more. I think it’s harder for those without dietary restrictions to understand this.

So tonight at book club, I’ll probably be asked why I’m not eating along with a dozen other questions about what I can and cannot eat. But that’s okay. I figure if I keep declaring my independence from food and my food restrictions, someday my friends will stop trying to feed me.

Someday.

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This post originally appeared on Freedible in honor of  Declare Your Independence from Food Restrictions Month.  Anyone with any food restrictions should check out this website. It’s a place to connect with people who eat the way you do.

TSA Took My Lunch! Airports and Food Allergies

As I watched TSA swab my jar of peanutbutter, I thought back to the good old days–not the days before Sept 11 when airplane security was less rigorous, but back to the good old days when I didn’t have food allergies and celiac disease.  My biggest concern before becoming An Allergic Foodie was what shoes to pack. Now, I begin hyperventilating while making an airline reservation. What will I eat it? Where will I eat? What if I have a reaction? Should I just stay home with the dog?

I made many ignorant mistakes in my early days of traveling through airports with allergies.  Let me share a few.

Mistake #1. “Surely, I’ll find something in the airport to eat.”

Wrong. I’ve wandered through some of the largest airports in the U.S. and come up with zilch. Too many times I’ve drooled over my husband’s burger or pizza slice while eating a bag of potato chips and an overripe banana. On occasion I’ve hit the jackpot and found a restaurant with a menu I can eat off, but this is like finding a four-leaf clover in a field of dandelions.

Now I always carry a lunchbox with me and keep it by my side as if it’s full of diamonds. The plastic salad bowls with built-in ice packs are great for chicken salad and quinoa salad. I fill snack-sized bags with carrots, sliced peppers, and apple slices to replace the standard airplane pretzels.

Snacks for the airplane

Mistake #2:  “Peanutbutter is not a liquid.”

My husband travels every week for business and he even thought peanutbutter wouldn’t count as a liquid.  But it did.  Because it was the only protein I had with me, we allowed TSA to swab a spoonful. Now I know that if  I want to take peanutbutter, or applesauce, or yogurt, it must be under 3.4 ounces and placed in a plastic bag.

Mistake #3: “I’m starving! I’ll take a chance.”

It was midnight and there was only one restaurant open. Having to use sign language wasn’t making me feel too confident that the waiter understood “no dairy, no soy, no wheat.”  In retrospect, being hungry for another few hours would have been better than what happened next.

Mistake #4: “It’s a short trip; I’ll eat when I get there.”

Yeah, how many of your short trips have turned into 12-hour ordeals? And being irritable from low blood sugar and a grumbling stomach does not help one negotiate with the ticket agent. Don’t just bring one ham sandwich on gluten-free bread–bring two.  Statistically, you can pretty  much count on a flight being delayed.

United Snackpack

Snackpack from United Airlines: The only food An Allergic Foodie could eat was the hummus

Mistake #5:  “I ordered a special meal.”

We were going to Italy and I ordered a gluten-free/lactose-free meal, thinking there’d be something I could eat. What I didn’t know is that airlines can only put one code in for a meal: GFML for gluten-free meal and NLML for non-lactose meal.  There may have been a vegan option too, but those always scare me because I’m allergic to tofu (soy).

Somehow I got neither meal–maybe the two codes cancelled each other out? The flight attendants felt horrible and kept bringing me apples and bananas.  Fortunately, I had frozen some allergy-free turkey and ham with me that I nibbled on throughout the long flight. Beware:  You’ll have to throw away any food you take with you when you enter another country so eat it before you get off the plane.

Mistake #6: “Sure, I’ll have a second glass of wine.”

Hey, I got upgraded and the wine was free. I just couldn’t eat any of the foods in the snack pack. Actually the hummus was allergen-free for me, but my seat mate gave me the evil eye when I tried squirting it into my mouth. Eating wine on an empty stomach is never a good idea.

I’ve been traveling for six years now with food restrictions and it has gotten easier. Airports are offering healthier options including gluten-free menus, though I’m not sure how confident I am about the service folks being aware of  cross-contamination issues. Allergy-friendly snacks have started appearing in the convenience stores, too.

At the recent Food Allergy Research and Education conference, I had the opportunity to hear Kim Koeller of  Allergy Free Passport, share some tips for airline travel, staying in hotels and dining out with dietary restrictions.  She says, “There are three keys to safe travel and dining out: education, communication, and preparation.”

To learn more about traveling safely with celiac disease and food allergies, visit Kim’s website: Allergy Free Passport and check out her popular series “Let’s Eat Out Around the World Gluten and Allergy Free.”

TSA Took My Lunch! Airports and Food Allergies first appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Sorry, Took a Few Sick Days

I came back from the 2014 Food Allergy and Research Conference armed with so many blog topics. I even started a post on the airplane ride home. I just couldn’t wait to share all the information from the presentations and the new products and resources from the vendors.

Then I got sick.

But not from food! Just a summer cold. But one that knocked me off my feet for three days. Have you noticed since food allergies/celiac disease that your autoimmune system doesn’t fight those germs off the way it used to?

It’s so hard to find cold medicine without gluten, dairy, egg, soy and corn, too.

Because I strive to be a helpful blogger and not just a whiner, here are two helpful websites for allergy-friendly medicine:

Gluten Free Drugs

Corn Free Drugs

The problem I have, like many of you reading this, is I have other allergies–soy, dairy, and egg–too. Couldn’t find lists for those; if you know of any, add them to the comments below.  I have to read the tiny labels on the back of the bottles–and when your head’s pounding like a Congo drum reading 4-pt type is impossible. The clerk at Natural Grocers was helpful at first, but then she kept backing away every time I sneezed. 

I came home with some weird sounding “meds” with even weirder sounding ingredients. I was so loopy from my cold that I drove into the garage door (don’t tell my husband). Guess I can get “brain fog” without ingesting gluten.

Anyway, the weird herbal stuff upset my stomach. So I sipped my Ginger tea with honey and that seemed to help.

And I slept and slept and slept. In between napping, I caught up on Orange Is the New Black, so my time wasn’t completely wasted. I can now admit I love Orange Is the New Black because Katie Couric says it’s one of her favorite shows, too.

My mom kept telling me to eat chicken soup–but our refrigerator was empty because I’d been at a conference all weekend! Where’s Mom when you need her? In Vermont, thousands of miles away.

I’m feeling much better today. So don’t give up on me–I’ll be sharing all that great info in the days to come.

I just needed a few sick days. Plus, as my husband likes to remind me, a few days off isn’t going to impact my paycheck. What a funny guy.

Sorry, Took a Few Sick Days first appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.