Food Allergy Dad Raises Funds for Childrens National Medical Center

 

I’m so excited to support Food Allergy Dad, Mike Monroe, in his 3k Burpee Challenge. Mike always does amazing athletic challenges to raise funds for food allergies.  On Jan 25th, he will complete 3000 “Burpees” in 12 hours or less to raise funds for food allergy research at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC)! His goal is to raise $50K.  

-Why I support CNMC: We all know the feeling of being in the hospital and there is nothing safe to eat for a person with celiac or food allergies. Well, CNMC actually feeds you safely in-patient and in the cafeteria with our meals! They truly “walk the walk and talk the talk” and they showed it via the action they took 6 years ago when they put One Dish Cuisine’s food in place to meet the needs of the Celiac & Food Allergy Community! I am all about people and organizations who take action…and don’t just give lip service. Words without action are just words and don’t change anything. Actions bring change.

What is a “burpee”? If you are not a fitness enthusiast; you might be wondering.  We have provided a link below so you can see them performed by Mike.  Doing 3,000 of them is quite a challenge!  I always say, stop complaining and do something positive to fight your food allergy, celiac disease or autism.  Mike is a shining example of that.  If you don’t have the time to do actually go out and do something yourself, please consider supporting someone who is able to make the time and effort and raise funds for an important cause.

The link below is a video of Mike talking about this fundraiser and showing you what a burpee is.  click here

He has raised $21k so far! I hope you will consider a donation; click here.

To follow on Mike’s Facebook Page; click here

Visit CNMC’s Donor Drive today!

 

 

Father of 3 Food Allergy Kids Created App to Find Allergy Friendly Restaurants

AllergyEats is the leading web based guide to finding allergy-friendly restaurants nationwide. I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Antico. He shares why he founded the site and how he handles dining out with three children with multiple different food allergies and how he feels mainstream restaurants respond to food allergic diners.

What inspired you to found the AllergyEats Website?

About 10 years ago, my wife and daughter were out of town, leaving me and my 2 food-allergic boys to enjoy a “guy’s weekend.”  I wasn’t as well-practiced in managing my kids’ food allergies as I am now, though I knew how to protect them (and, of course, how to use an epinephrine auto-injector).  On Saturday night, I took the boys out to eat around 7PM (first mistake – prime time).  We went to one of our “go-to” restaurants, but the wait was 75 minutes, so we moved on.  At our second “go-to,” the wait was about an hour.  Same as our third.  We didn’t want to wait that long anywhere.  Unfortunately, I had run out of “go-to” restaurants and realized that I wasn’t terribly comfortable determining on-the-fly if a restaurant could accommodate our boys or not.  We ended up driving for about 2 hours – the boys crying in the back of the car – until we ended up at a “greasy pizza joint” that had egg-free pasta and could serve both my kids.  But as I was driving, and reflecting on the many times my family has gone an hour or two trying to find a restaurant we’d be comfortable at – be it in a big city like New York or a smaller town like Lack Placid – I kept saying to myself “I wish there was a guide! I wish there was a guide!”  Being in the business world for 15 years, at that point, I realized there was an unmet need and a market of food-allergic diners and their families that really needed such a guide.  So 2 years later, when I left my job in the financial markets, I decided it was time to start AllergyEats and fill that void.

What allergies do your children have? 

I now have 5 children, 3 of whom have food allergies.  My 19-yo son has had a tree nut allergy his whole life, experiencing 2 anaphylactic events (not including the few we didn’t understand before he was diagnosed – we got lucky!).  My 16-yo daughter has no food allergies.  My 14-yo son currently has allergies to tree nuts and sesame.  He has outgrown eggs entirely – baked and raw – and even outgrew peanuts.  He also has EoE (eosinophilic esophagitis) that reacts to dairy.  My 9-yo son has no food allergies.  And my 7-yo daughter has had an egg allergy her whole life, with – so far – no sign of outgrowing it.

What is the main goal of the AllergyEats website and app?

There are two primary goals of AllergyEats.  The most important, of course, is to provide a valuable tool to the food allergy community that hopefully makes the dining out process easier and more comfortable by providing them with crowd-sourced information showing which restaurants have been better choices than others for food-allergic diners.  The secondary goal is to reward those restaurants that make the effort to properly accommodate our community and thus incent other restaurants to take the appropriate steps themselves.

What is the biggest challenge that you see facing people with food allergies who want to dine out?

The biggest problem is accepting that there is ALWAYS risk – no restaurant is perfect (though One Dish Cuisine may cause me to re-think that) – and making the decision about whether you can accept that or not.  It’s not easy – anaphylaxis can be terrifying, even when you know you have your epinephrine with you.  Of course, you want to minimize your risk by choosing an appropriate allergy-friendly restaurant, which is where the AllergyEats app and website come in.  And, most importantly, YOU have to do your part by: a) never dining out without epinephrine, b) ALWAYS disclosing all your allergies to your server (and possibly the manager or chef), and c) visually inspecting your food as best as possible before eating it.  I’ve found that the “bad events” that happen at restaurants usually involve a breakdown of responsibility by BOTH the restaurant and the diner.  We need to take care of our end of the bargain, so those 3 points above are critical.

Are mainstream restaurants taking food allergies more seriously than they have in the past?

Absolutely.  It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore with so many restaurant diners disclosing food allergies, and even the stingiest of restaurants/chains will eventually understand the spending power of the food allergy community and those they dine with.  I find that smaller, nimble chains seem to be on the front-end of the wave.  Many independents are there too.  The laggards tend to be larger chains, though that is by no means universal.  AllergyEats publishes a list of the Top 10 Allergy-Friendly Restaurants in America each year (coming at the end of February this year), and you can see that there are large chains that do “get it”, though the average score – from AllergyEats users themselves – is generally much higher for the smaller chains.

What are the biggest obstacles a restaurant has to overcome if they want to provide allergen safe meals?

The biggest obstacle is also the simplest – commitment.  It truly is that easy.  Whether the owner of an independent restaurant or the CEO of a chain, that individual’s attitude toward accommodating food-allergic diners will set the tone for all employees.  The training is easy.  The financial burden is minimal.  The disruption to operations in making appropriate changes is almost nil.  So it all comes down to commitment.  Find me an owner who cares about food allergies and I’ll show you an allergy-friendly restaurant.  The reverse is also true.  Find me a CEO who pooh-poohs food allergies and I’ll show you a chain that isn’t safe for our community.

Is there a way for mainstream restaurants to be trained in handling food allergies?

Absolutely.  There are very basic programs online that, while they won’t make a restaurant very allergy-friendly, they will incrementally increase the knowledge of a restaurant’s staff.  But there are also bigger, all-encompassing programs as well for those restaurants that are ready to make the all-in commitment.  The one that is making the most headway is AllerTrain.  AllerTrain does on-site training and well as train-the-trainer programs for larger chains.  They are training restaurants, colleges, entertainment venues, and more.  They do have online modules as well, but the most comprehensive training is provided face-to-face, generally onsite.  Outside of AllerTrain, there are independent trainers as well.  And many restaurants develop their own programs from the knowledge or experience of key employees.

How many times a week do you dine out with your allergic children?

We don’t shy away from dining out.  When we’re home, we usually go out about once every two weeks, though about once each week in the summer.  However, we travel a lot.  We have family in 4 different cities, we like to vacation, and our kids – like so many others – are involved in a ton of activities, some of which have us doing overnight travel.  We also now have to visit our oldest son in college!  When we travel, we eat out most nights.  So I guess my best estimation is that we eat at restaurants probably 50 times a year.  We probably order in another once per week.  And while we certainly have our “go-to” restaurants at home and in some of our destinations, we do like to explore and gain some variety where possible.  So, using AllergyEats of course, we find new favorites as we go.

How do you handle vacations with three of your five children having food allergies?

We’re old pros at this!  After 19 years, we’ve developed a routine.  Really, though, we generally do not have problems dining out.  Using AllergyEats, we do our homework in advance.  Sometimes we have to take a flyer on a restaurant that’s not yet rated on AllergyEats.  Either way, we periodically come across a restaurant that we just don’t feel comfortable can keep our kids safe and we politely leave before ordering.  But that’s rare and we no longer have to search for an hour or two to find a restaurant like we used to.  We find most restaurants want to accommodate our food-allergic kids, so we just have to work with them regarding what they have, what is safe, and how to prepare it safely in the kitchen.  I’m happy to say that in all our years of travel and dining out, “the system” (the dual responsibility of the restaurant and ourselves) has only broken down once, exposing my middle son to dairy.  And the mistake was 100% on our end.  Certainly, other restaurants have made mistakes, but not without either us or them catching the errors in time.  So think about it – our family has had hundreds of meals from restaurants without a single mistake on their part that hasn’t been caught!  Of course, our epinephrine auto-injectors are with us wherever we go and we usually have some basic food like soy nut butter and crackers in our room for a quick, safe snack.

How do you educate schools to keep your children safe?

Fortunately, I haven’t had to be a pro at this.  The primary/middle school my kids have attended from age 3 through 8th grade, Inly School in Scituate, MA, is extremely allergy-friendly.  They won an award from FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network), one of the precursors to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), in 2011 for food allergy excellence.  All staff members are diligently trained and the processes and procedures in place are great.  The school has become known for this and actually brings in some students BECAUSE they are so allergy-friendly.  As the kids have moved onto High School and now College, we’ve found that these schools generally have a program and set of rules in place.  They aren’t as safe as Inly School, by any means, so our kids have to be smart about keeping their epinephrine with them, asking the right questions, taking proper precautions – basically, they have to do what they’ve learned and seen my wife and I do for all these years.  And so far, so good.

How do you handle it if there is an accident and one of your children needs to use their Epi-Pen?

Fortunately, in all these years, we have only had 2 incidents that needed an epinephrine injection.  The first was a tricky delayed onset reaction.  I say tricky because our kids react to many of their allergies without anaphylaxis, needing only Benadryl to ultimately feel better.  In this case, my oldest (with a tree nut allergy only) ate a chocolate ball at a nut-free event.  His throat started to itch, as it does when he has non-dangerous oral allergy syndrome from exposure to some fruits, but this one was a little worse.  Regardless, with us thinking the food was nut-free and the signs pointing to OAS, we went with Benadryl.  Unfortunately, the symptoms weren’t improving.  One could definitely say we should’ve used the auto-injector then (if not earlier), but we actually tried another dose of Benadryl.  Same result.  I prepared my son until he eventually made the decision for us.  “Hit me.”  Boom.  Immediately, he felt better.  (Turns out he had a biphasic reaction – a second anaphylactic event in the hospital – so we were very lucky we finally took the appropriate action.)  We believe, by the way, that the chocolate ball was cross-contamination with tree nuts.  A year later, while teaching at a farm camp, this same son thought he might have accidentally ingested something with tree nut residue in it.  He wasn’t sure, but was feeling symptoms.  Realizing how easily and quickly the epinephrine auto-injector worked the last time, he didn’t hesitate to use it himself.  In hindsight, and while we can’t be sure, I don’t think he was having an allergic reaction – I think anxiety symptoms made it hard to tell.  Yet, either way, he did the right thing.  When in doubt, use the epinephrine.  It is generally considered a very benign treatment that can rarely do any harm to you.  And do not wait as long as we did in that first event.  Anaphylaxis can spiral out of control quickly, even if delayed, and getting epinephrine in the body early is critical.

Do you blame yourself when an accident happens? What emotions do you go through?

Of course I do.  Isn’t that true when anything goes wrong with one’s kids?  In fact, forgetting food allergies for a second, I’m constantly wondering how ALL my past and current actions are affecting the lives of my kids.  (I hope that just makes me a good father and not a lunatic!)  However, I understand that I’m human and mistakes happen, so while I feel terrible and guilty, I apologize to my son or daughter and move on.  They understand that these things happen too.  It stinks, but it’s life – and we all need to accept it.

What would be the ideal dining out situation for you and your family and do you ever think you will feel totally comfortable dining anywhere.

Fortunately, we’ve had many, many very comfortable restaurant meals, but that is also a product of our long experience.  We’ve been doing this long enough to know the best questions to ask and to “read” the staff’s responses well (verbal and physical).  In the optimal case, we would find a restaurant known for their ability to accommodate food-allergic diners (yes, you know where we find them), have a conversation with the staff that shows a real proactive zeal for wanting to satisfy us, and have them proactively reaffirm all the steps they took when the bring the meal (separately or clearly marked) to our table.  That all said, we do still have some “on edge” experiences where we believe the restaurant can accommodate us, but we’re not entirely secure with their food allergy knowledge.  In those cases, we usually have to walk through their menu and their process in the kitchen step by step to ensure that – even if they don’t have broad food allergy knowledge – they will be able to make safe meals for our kids.  Our epinephrine is always with us!

Do you think the general public will ever have a thorough understanding and respect for the serious nature of food allergies?

I hope they never have to – because that would mean a cure is found before broad public acceptance has a chance to take place!  But realistically – because unfortunately we have to accept the fact that a cure is nowhere in sight – yes, I do think the general public will eventually have a healthy respect for the seriousness of food allergies, if not a broad understanding.  Let’s face it, most people in their 40’s and younger today probably know someone with food allergies.  And for the younger cohort in particular, once they actually get to know someone with food allergies, they tend to be compassionate and accept the seriousness of food allergies.  Further, recognize the surge in food allergies that has taken place in our kids over the past 20 years.  Logic would suggest that almost all people 20 years old or younger have grown up with or gotten to know friends with food allergies.  Our kids are more accepting than our older generations; thus, I think the trend is our friend and broader acceptance is taking place every day.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to widespread respect and understanding of food allergies?

Time.  The younger generation gets it, and each day they become a larger part of the population.  The older generations are also coming into contact with food-allergic individuals more and more each day, with many of them accepting it as well.  I’ve seen the acceptance improve dramatically over my family’s 19 year journey.  It will continue.

What advice can you give to parents of a child with newly diagnosed food allergies?

Do your best not to panic by recognizing that millions and millions of parents have been in your shoes.  Yes, this can be terrifying – we all love our kids more than ourselves – and it can feel overwhelming, but as you start this journey you’ll soon learn that it’s manageable, even if not always (or ever!) comfortable.  Each step has it’s challenges – shopping for safe food, eating food made by a family member or friend, dining out, starting your child in school, going on vacation, having your kids eat out with friends, eventually going to college, etc. – but you take each of these steps one at a time.  Support groups like Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (www.kidswithfoodallergies.org) can be a big help in the beginning, as can local support groups, and online forums.  Of course, finding friends and acquaintances who have been down this path can be extremely helpful as well.  Realize too that, as you proceed down this path, you need to teach your kids all along the way, preparing them for their ultimate independence.  Of course, rule #1?  Never find yourself without epinephrine nearby.

What do you see in the future for AllergyEats?

For now, our focus continues to be on attracting new visitors to our app and website, and building our database of ratings.  A lot of people in this world aren’t online raters in general (I’m one of them), but we have to impress upon these individuals that our food allergy community is all in this together and that each new rating someone adds on AllergyEats makes the app and website even more valuable for future food-allergic diners.  (And yes, I AM a rater on AllergyEats, of course.)  Like many other small businesses in the food allergy space, we’re also trying to execute a business model that can generate a profit (or at least breakeven) since we’re not a non-profit and can’t attract grants and funds in the same way.  If we’re successful in doing so, the opportunity for AllergyEats to expand both vertically and horizontally is awesome.  Our platform lends itself to many, many other options.

I am so grateful that Paul has developed this site to help us find allergy friendly dining spots. Please check out the site!  Click Here for AllergyEats website

paul-antico

Galactosemia

This condition is considered very rare, but we have seen several customers with this over the years; so I thought I would share some information with you about it. Galactosemia is a rare genetic metabolic disorder that affects a person’s ability to metabolize the sugar galactose properly.  Basically it means the person lacks an enzyme (lactase) needed to break down galactose.

Lactose is primarily found in dairy products and is broken down by lactase into glucose and galactose.  In this case the person lacks the enzymes to further break down or metabolize galactose because they are missing the enzyme or it is severely hampered.  This causes toxic levels of Galactose 1-phosphate in tissues. This can cause:

enlarged liver. cirrhosis, renal failure, cataracts, vomiting, seizure, hypoglycemia, lethargy, brain damage, ovarian failure, speech deficits, ataxia, diminished bone density

Without diagnosis and treatment infant mortality rate is 75%. Infants are routinely screened for this in the US.  Testing is done via a blood test from the heel or urine tests. The only treatment is completely eliminating Galactose and Lactose from the diet.

Click Here for more Info

My Favorite Charity; Giving Tuesday

As many of you know, my favorite charities have to do with Celiac Disease, Autism and Food Allergies.  Each year, many of us choose to give to a charity and it is great that we do. I have to make a decision each year about where to put my donation.  This decision is easy to make when I look at where the donation will go and who it will help.

The criteria I use is simple. Where is the strongest need and will it help people locally in the Celiac, Autism and Food Allergy communities?  I choose SAFE Food Pantry because they are local and their mission is to bring safe gluten free/allergen friendly food to those in need. That is precisely what SAFE means: Supplying Allergy Friendly Emergency Food to those in need!

Well meaning family, friends and neighbors usually cannot safely feed those with Celiac Disease or food allergies when their is financial hardship.  The knowledge needed to safely prepare food is not mainstream and this leaves a big hole in the well meaning efforts to feed a family in need. The need is often left unfilled due to the lack of knowledge needed to prepare safe food.

I know first hand the hardship faced when there is an illness of a parent, a death of a parent, a loss of a job and the family is faced with trying to purchase safe food that costs 242% more than regular food. Over the years, I have tried to meet the needs of so many on my own. Unfortunately, One Dish Cuisine cannot financially support every family in need of safe food.  Our customer, Tiffany, saw this need as well and that is precisely why SAFE Food Pantry was started. To avoid any conflict of interest,  I am happy to say that I am on their advisory board only.  This incredible group of volunteers have been working hard on this for several year and are also One Dish Cuisine customers. I am so proud of their hard work.

SAFE Food Pantry is a 501 (c) (3) non profit and is local, here in Howard County, MD. You can donate safe shelf stable food or you can donate money to help them with the expenses incurred in running this food bank.  They are working with the Howard County Food Bank and hope to have them stocked soon!  When you are thinking of giving, please think of giving local, the need is so great!

Those with Celiac, Food Allergies or on a Gluten Free Diet for Autism are often left out in good times and they should not be forgotten in hard times. Thank you for your consideration. You can drop off a non-perishable donation anytime at One Dish Cuisine Cafe Deli and Bakery.

Click here to donate or learn more

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Food Allergy Support Groups

I am shocked at the number of customers who come into our cafe, deli and bakery who are going it alone when it comes to their or their child’s food allergies.  FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) has a wealth of information available to you as well as a link to local support groups.  All you have to do is look.  If there is not one in your area, you can start your own. I urge everyone to find the support they need and forge new friendships with people who have the same problems!

Click Here to Find the Support You Need!

fare

Arthritis, Gout & Gluten; The Connection

Genetic and metabolic processes found in arthritis and gout are common in both Celiac Disease (CD) and Gluten Sensitivity (GS). I am a sufferer and was thrilled to see a recent article in Simply Gluten Free Magazine written by Dr Alexander Shikhman; it was all about arthritis, gout and gluten. These conditions definitely run in my family and I am lucky to have been cursed with this for most of my life.  I wanted to share this information with all of you because I meet so many customers with the same issues and I get so many questions about this. If you are like me and suffer from Celiac Disease, arthritis and/or gout; this is for you.  If you don’t, you will become aware of the symptoms and understand why arthritis/gout can be a problem for those with CD or GS. Below; I will not only tell you about each; but also the causes, prevention methods and treatments.

The most common forms of arthritis that are seen in people with CD/GS are Calcium Pyrophosphate Depositon Disease (CPPD also known as pseudogout), Gout, Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I also will share with you how the above conditions have affected me.

I have had severe issues with most of the above for most of my life; suffering from uric acid stones (jagged crystal stones) and calcium stones (they look very different when you pass them). Often, I had jagged crystals which would get stuck in my ureter when I was trying to pass them.  Sometimes a calcium stone would follow and get stuck on the jagged crystal stone lodged in my ureter.  A few times the urologist or nephrologist would have to go in and remove all of them for me (blessed relief).  I also had arthritis so bad in my shoulder that it took a 5 hour plus surgery to clean/free up my shoulder joint! I had constant gall stones and “gravel” (sand like crystals) until they finally took my gall bladder out back in the early 90’s. While reading the article, it reminded me of the explanation of why I have kidney stones (see post on this). Thankfully, I am now on a combination of diuretics to help flush calcium and uric acid from my system; which reduces the amount of stones and crystals that I get.  If I miss a dose of my diuretics, I brace myself for the oncoming storm of stones and/or severe stabbing pain in my toe joints, knees and some finger joints!

So, lets examine each:

CPPD; Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition Disease (pseudogout)– most common form associated with GS/CD; characterized by deposition of calcium pryrophosphate crystals in the joints that will trigger acute inflammation.  When untreated the crystals are like abrasive materials and can cause cartilage degeneration and joint and tendon ruptures as well as joint degeneration.

-Caused by: Malabsorption of Vit D and Magnesium, excessive use of proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux meds) and complications of bisphosphonate therapy (drugs to prevent loss of bone mass) in those with osteopenia/osteoporosis, excessive production of parathyroid hormone, advanced hypothyroidism and iron metabolism diseases.  Prevention: methods include Vit D and Magnesium supplementation, address and correct hormonal imbalances, avoidance of proton pump inhibitors & bisphosphonates, physical therapy, anti inflammatory probiotics, and bromelain consumption. Bromelain are enzymes found in pineapples that digest protein. *The trick here is to control flare ups by keeping blood levels of calcium, magnesium, viatmin D and parathyroid hormones consistently in normal limits.  Having a good internal medicine doc who helps manage all of your medical conditions is key..the internist looks at the big picture and how everything interacts! (I was able to get off my Proton Pump Inhibitor because I only get acid reflux if I consume gluten and that is not an issue for me any longer. My first symptom of ingesting gluten is acid reflux! I also went undiagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease (advanced hypothyroidism) for a long time as well.)

Gout- Gout often shows up in joints; red, tender, hot and swollen, accompanied by pain. The body is overproducing uric acid that form crystals at high concentrations which forms crystals that are then deposited in the joints causing inflammation. It can affect any joint and is most often found in joints of of toes, elbows, knees, ankles and index finger. Often the attacks occur at night when the body temperature is lower. Uric acid forms when purines (natural substances found in foods and our body) are broken down. Foods that are high in purines should be avoided: meat and meat products, seafood, alcoholic beverages, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas, lentils and beans.

-Causes of Gout: unbalanced diet with high purine foods, disturbances in gastro-intestinal tract such as the gut microflora resulting in decreased breakdown of uric acid in the gut. This causes re-absorption into the bloodstream. Another cause is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease because the liver enzyme, xantine oxidase is not adequate and it is the main regulator of uric acid. Lastly, imbalances in our sex hormones (low estrogen & testosterone and elevated progesterone) that are frequently seen in people with CD/GS. –Prevention of Gout: Treatment Options: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), bromelain, fish oil, alpha lipoic acid, folic acid, baking soda, probiotics, prebiotics, etc. (Vitamin C is not recommended because it increases intestinal permeability and can make leaky gut syndrome worse).  The goal is to keep the blood uric acid level below 5.0mg/dl and incorporate Allopurinol and Febuxostat. (I take probiotics daily, Hydrochlorothiazide and Allopurinol. When they finally added the Allopurinol into my regimine back in 2006; that combination finally worked for me… as long as I don’t miss any doses! I can’t take NSAIDS due to previous ulcer. PS: I got a lot better when I took spinach and red wine out of my diet too.)

Psoriatic Arthritis – This is just a type of arthritis that shows up in people who have a skin rash known as psoriasis. The symptoms vary and can affect any joint and the spine. If left untreated it can cause joint deformities and disability. Often those with psoriatic arthritis have increased prevalence of carrying gene HLA-DQ8 (gene associated with CD).      Prevention: GF Diet normalizes absorption of drugs and supplements used for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and normalizes our gut microflora that could halt the progression. Also, the GF diet reduces intestinal inflammation which can delay the systemic inflammation. (I don’t have this! My rash was Dermatitis Herpetiformis or DH which is the skin manifestation of Celiac Disease. It flares up when I am exposed to gluten.  When I was younger, I was sent to a dermatologist who perscribed steroids and I also used steroid creams for years to try to clear this up. After my Celiac diagnosis and consistent GF Diet; the rash cleared on it’s own. DH is most often mis-diagnosed as eczema.)

Rheumatoid Arthritis- an autoimmune and systemic disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue (sinovium) that lines the inside of joints to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly. RA can also affect the other body systems like the heart and lungs and that is why it is an autoimmune disease and a systemic disease and it is hereditary.

If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage and the bones themselves. Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur and joint damage cannot be reversed sometimes surgery can help. RA can occur at a young age and doctors recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control RA. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical. That means if one knee or hand if affected, usually the other one is, too.  Diagnosis is through x rays and blood tests and symptoms. There is not one test for it..it is a combination of tests, symptoms and family history.

My father’s aunt was crippled by RA when she was very young.  Many years ago, a Rheumatologist told me that he thought I had RA and I would have to come back for blood work when I was having a flare up. So, I tried that; I called but had to wait several weeks to get back in. By the time I got back in, the flare up had passed.  I decided that I would rather be a hypochondriac and did not attempt to go back the next time I had a flare up. So,  I don’t know..but I can say that once I had the Celiac diagnosis and adhered to my GF diet, the disabling joint pain subsided and my fingers and toes stopped curving.

The key is to know the signs and symptoms of these conditions and know your family history. I can’t stress enough the importance of a primary care physician who is also an internist. He or she manages and understands all of your conditions and how they affect other body systems and will actively work with your other doctors/specialists to keep you healthy. Many customers have asked me about this very issue. I will do a blog post very soon about my internist and why I am so glad I finally made the switch to an internist who also has Celiac Disease!

For more information on arthritis visit the arthritis foundation by clicking here!

As always, talk with your doctor before starting any treatment.

 

 

 

Nima Sensor, Sunflower Cafe to Close, New Day GF Hopes to Re-open

This week I tell you all about the new Nima Sensor and how it works.  Three weeks in a row I am having to tell you about gluten-free places closing; The Sunflower Cafe/Bakery in Williampsport, PA will close on October 30, 2016. Lastly, I will share some news about New Day GF hoping to open in a new location!

The Sunflower Cafe/Bakery in Williamsport, PA will close it’s doors. I was informed by one of my facebook followers last week and I immediately went to Sunflower Cafe’s facebook page. I  went to her page and read back about one year; I started crying.  She was very open about her struggles; talking about selling furniture to pay her business loan and trying to do it all by herself because she could not afford to pay help. Wow; she had 5 star ratings.  Let’s look at this situation by looking at the numbers:

Population of Williamsport, PA: 29,349 x 1.3% = 381 Celiacs

-This means every Celiac and their friends/family would need to eat there at least once a week. I know from experience that this did not happen.  Looking at this population statistic, I know it could not work because there are no large cities nearby. I am thankful to Sunflower Cafe & Bakery for being a safe haven for those with Celiac Disease.

Everyone is talking about the new Nima Sensor: Dining out in restaurants full of gluten is a calculated risk that many take way too often and pay the price later. Now you can test your food before you eat it! This is great news if you have Celiac Disease or a Wheat Allergy. Nima Sensor is a portable sensor that tests liquid and solid foods for the presence of gluten (wheat, rye and barley) in about two minutes. Nima hopes to be able to test for top 8 allergens in the future! My thoughts are:

  1. If you eat out a lot, you can make sure your food is safe before you eat it.
  2. If people detect gluten in their meals it will drive them back to the completely GF places who are doing it right!
  3. Cost for the device is $279.00
  4. Refill test capsules cost $60.00 for 12 capsules or $5.00 per test.
  5. Pretty pricey; add $5.00 to the price of your meal.
  6. Your meal is probably cheaper at the dedicated GF place; you don’t need to test it.
  7. If you must eat at a regular restaurant; a  $5 test is cheaper than taking days off work.
  8. If it detects gluten, the restaurant probably won’t refund your meal; especially if they have a disclaimer on their menu!
  9. Level of detection is to 20 ppm (parts per million).
  10. I won’t be getting one right now because I am always at One Dish Cuisine!

Click Here to learn more

Go Fund Me Page for New Day GF:  As I told you two weeks ago; this 5 star rated Gluten Free and Peanut Free cafe  was in a small town, too far out from St Louis, MO and had several competitors that had opened up in St Louis.  Last Friday they posted that they identified a new location just outside of St Louis and were awaiting “capital” or financing. It looks like they were not able to obtain financing. A “Go Fund Me” page was posted to their facebook page. They need to raise $300,000 in order to re-open. I hope that they can raise the funds, re-0pen and prosper in the new location.