09 April 2014

The Social Hand UP


             7-9  PM        

The Social Hand Up is an event bringing 
entrepreneurs, creatives, nonprofits & community members together to build awareness of our city's issues. 

Work together to create change
 -- all while having a good time.  
Everyone has a chance, right now, to help save the world. Will you join me?  
Join the Event, get tickets here

Join Food Allergy Gal. We are giving our time to cook for anyone who wants to donate raw ingredients by making some delicious allerfriendly appetizers, so everyone can enjoy eating. 


Find Ways you can participate, click here.

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15 March 2014

What's in your Toolbox?

One of the most common problems people with multiple food allergies have is,  they are starving. We focus on what we cannot eat versus we can. There are over 170 foods that cause food allergic responses. So let us focus on what we CAN eat versus what we CANNOT eat.

Say that we have 12 to 24 food allergies. That means we need to focus on 156 Foods we can eat. We put together some snack safely ideas and then Food Allergy Gal really went overboard and created The Cucumber Series on top of this.

The biggest investment you will need to make in all of this is your TOOL "Lunch"  box & fancy tupperware. I highly recommend glass or metal over plastics, but that's just because it won't get yucky over time and food will keep better.

Read the articles and share some food love:

Snack Safely: http://www.examiner.com/article/snack-safely

The Cucumber Series:
One: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-one
Two: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-two
Four: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-part-iv
Six: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-six
Seven: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-seven
Nine: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-cucumber-series-nine

14 February 2014

Meals for Love

With multiple food allergies it is difficult to go out to eat already.  Then try to add prix fixe menus for special occasions,  forget about it. 

Food is a great way to show our love and when we create delicious, full flavored meal that are free of specific food allergens and looks beautiful too, love is bound to be expressed.

Add some beautiful flowers, candles and special plates and your getting even warmer. When the plated meal not only tastes great but looks great too (because you've carefully taken the time to decorate it with beautiful food), you are a rockstar lover/friend.

Read more about the "Food for Lovers," click here.

Find out why pineapple, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, steak, and red cabbage are considered "Lovers foods." When you share this information with those eating it, I bet the food tastes even better.
Read the full article: http://www.examiner.com/article/food-for-lovers

 Weather you make a meal for Valentine's Day or just on a random Wednesday night, love the food, prepare it with kindness and time and it will reflect.

For the 220 million of us out here with food allergies, we will really appreciate those who can safely make us a meal with making us sick.


Happy February.

With love,
Food Allergy Gal
Now Available Muff'n Stuff  Mix (Dairy, Nut, Soy, Peanut, Wheat, Shellfish, Fish, Gluten, Vanilla, Sesame, Corn FREE) they taste great too! Please place your order now. 

29 January 2014

Adults with Food Allergies Support Group

In the United States alone there are 15 million people diagnosed with one or more food allergies. In the world, there are over 220 million diagnosed cases of food allergies. 

Trending today, more and more Adults are being diagnosed with multiple food allergies. There is no cure for FOOD allergies. A true food allergy is an autoimmune disorder that can affect multiple parts of the body. 

Food Allergies can strike at any point in a person's life. Allergic reactions can be severe and sometimes are known to become more severe with age. 

While children are very supported are this subject and parents remain very active, there are few places adults can turn to for support. Food impacts every aspect of our lives. It's emotional, it's mental, it's physical and it's social.

Food Allergy Gal has been fortunate to hear 1000's of stories of adults dealing with multiple food allergies in her career and has searched high and low to find a group in the United States that is only devoted to creating solutions and focusing of managing food allergies as an adult. 

Starting this group is a foundation for other support groups to develop in local areas. The goal is to bring adults together not to complain (although it's totally normal to discuss the struggles and be emotional, because it is) but to help each other by talking about solutions, ways to promote and support change, share safe food products, recipes, experiences and much much more.

 The more we come together and unify in numbers, the more we can create a community that creates change. 

Food Allergy Gal will host an ONSITE and VIRTUAL support group for food allergic adults. You can see or hear from others managing the same disorder. Gain the strength and support from the numbers coming together and know you are not alone in a world that often times can feel isolating and misunderstood. 

Even if you don't feel you need support, someone else may need your support, so consider joining to help others. 

How to sign up for Adults with Food Allergies Support Group: 

  1. Go to http://adultfoodallergysupport.wiggio.com and sign up with this information: Group name: Adult Food Allergy Support Group password: foodal
  2. Email: info@ilaraholland.com to be added to the group meeting list or get the meeting location for in person support group. 
  3. Meetings are now Wednesday night @7:30 PM 1,2,3 weeks of the month. (Subject to change- so please connect directly to confirm)
      • Meeting ID: 270-856-126

Still not ready to join but want to stay connected to people with food allergies here are some suggestions. Like these pages or request to join these groups:

5. SF Bay Food Allergy Support- they are the only ones who won't kick you out if you don't have a kid in their area. (The least snobby and most meaningful group ever on FB to me)

Not a fan of Facebook and want other suggestions, e-mail us. 

15 January 2014

Cross Reactivity in Food Allergies

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I recently interviewed a few board certified allergist about my specific food allergies. 
The doctor who diagnosed me is a board certified allergist and he talked in depth about cross reactivity of food allergies and recently I saw another allergist who backs up the same story on cross reactive or intolerance. 
I have an orange allergy as one of my 10 diagnosed food allergens. Doctors told me citric acid, lemon, lime and grapefruit might also be cross reactive to my orange allergy- so I followed this strict policy for over a year of avoiding all these foods and products made with citric acid.

Based on my interviews with a recent specialist who said it was "impossible to be allergic to citric acid," I went ahead and tried a product that was sent to me which contained citric acid.

Standing in the library 10 minutes after eating it, my chest was sore and my face felt like it was on fire- I forgot I had just eaten and kept thinking-"what the heck is wrong with me..." 

While I didn't go into anaphylaxis- the effects of eating citric acid lingered for over 3 hours. My kids love the product but this mommy now realizes these doctors who say citric acid is a cross reactive with a citrus allergy, may have been right.

Here is the original article I wrote: http://www.examiner.com/article/food-allergen-myths-dispelled

Read More about cross reactivity with food allergies

While the allergy specialist I interviewed say there is not enough information available to make 100% conclusions about anything in food allergies- every person reacts differently and no one is really uploading information to one medical database to help others who may experience the same things so other specialist and patients can learn and understand more to connect the dots.

Those suffering with the reactions are the experts on how their bodies respond, but doctors will still say, "the mind is a very powerful thing," meaning what we think or believe to be true may not always be real. It's still hard to say. I don't wish to have any food allergies or wish it upon those who are true food lovers, but it is difficult to argue with your body when it is reacting.  

12 January 2014

What's Your Story with Food Allergies

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Stories like this (below from Iris Brown) come across my desk every day and while I try to keep up and publish special articles and share with the world, especially the food and medical world, it doesn't always happen in a timely fashion. 

These stories are what keep me running Food Allergy Gal and iLaraHolland, Special Dietary Needs Consultancy for restaurants, bakeries, cafeterias, etc. 

I don't know of a single food consultant in the world who does what I do exactly and is active in helping bridge the gap between medical and food industry by bringing real solutions to business, that actually work through education, technology and hands on solutions.  

I surround myself  with more than just other food allergics or food allergy support groups. I am in the face of the restaurants and businesses across the world. I am with the people, for the people on the ground floor of life and business, every single day. 

I don't sit in a fancy office making executive decisions. I am usually making executive decisions when I am on the road or in a restaurant kitchen and public dining rooms- not just my own kitchen. 

While food allergies are first world problems and the last thing someone can think about when they can't even put food on the table because they can't afford it (which I really understand, as I've been there many times) It's an issue that if not addressed can kill or make someone very sick and unable to function for weeks at a time. 

I share these stories to help others, help others and create a world where living life isn't just about food allergies, it goes back to being able to LIVE and ENJOY life again. 

Iris Brown writes and shares this story from an online Food Allergy Support Group. 
"I could use some support.
My allergies are: dairy, eggs, yeast, corn, pineapple, melons, all peppers, avocado, cranberry, clam, oysters, radish, scallops.
A couple of those produce severe reactions, some are delayed, most are minor, but uncomfortable. 
Needless to say I feel my best when I avoid them all. Yet, my menu is extremely limited and I'm finding it more and more depressing to eat dry plain salad every time I'm away from home. Not to mention some people just don't understand and I get so so so tired of explaining that I'm not picky, a food snob and yada yada.
So I've been eating some items more regularly and my health is getting poor and I've put on 10 pounds.
Due to the depression of feeling left out, misunderstood, and severe inconvenience I'm having trouble sticking with my desire to choose to better my health by saying no.
Does anyone else deal with this everyday?  Does anyone else deal with depression about food allergies?
If so do you have any suggestions?

E-mail me your story!
If you feel compelled to help Food Allergy Gal stay alive and active, please donate as every $1.25 goes a long way to making a BIG difference in 220 million peoples' lives, like Iris Brown. 


Your stories make all the difference in the world to me. I want to know because I care and sharing your story helps others too. 
 I want to make a difference in your life and for those who come after you. I am interested in building a world where you can enjoy eating, shopping and cooking again so you can function doing the things you love. E-mail me your story: info@ilaraholland.com

11 January 2014

A baby's cry for help

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Breast milk and Infant Allergies
By Debra Guckenheimer

Last August, my spouse and I got the call. There was a baby who needed a home. The next day, we drove to the hospital and picked up the newest addition to our family.  As a person with food allergies, I paid attention to his digestive troubles and the rash he got when I gave him a massage with coconut oil. His pediatrician diagnosed him as possibly having an allergy to cow’s milk and/or coconut, both ingredients in most infant formulas. While the doctor had previously said my baby just had colic and there was nothing to do to help him, I saw everything change for my baby when he started receiving breast milk from the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose.

The Mother’s Milk Bank of San Jose is the only nonprofit milk bank providing tested, pasteurized milk in California and much of the Western United States. Their supply is running dangerously low, and we often are delayed in receiving our shipment. Their milk is donated by generous moms who produce extra milk.  Their milk is available to babies like mine by prescription.  Many of the recipients are preemies in the hospital.

Breast milk helps babies like mine with food allergies. Formulas tend to contain common allergens including cow’s milk, soy, wheat, and GMO corn. By avoiding these, babies with sensitivities or even allergies have time to heal and potentially grow out of these food issues. Breast milk is thought to help protect babies from developing allergies as well. Breast milk is easier to digest and fights disease.

Since my baby started receiving breast milk, he sleeps better; has less gas; when he has gas, it is no longer painful; and he cries less. This change happened like magic, immediate and long lasting. We have tried so many formulas that did not work for him. 

It is so heartbreaking when the bank does not have enough milk for him. So many of my friends who previously breastfed their children told me they were not aware of milk banks. 

Please help me spread the word so that babies like mine can overcome their food allergies or food sensitivities. 

Contact Debra: 
Twitter: @dguckenheimer

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04 January 2014

Tips for food allergics and those catering to them

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Eating out

Some people with severe food allergies feel it is too risky to eat out, but some food facilities have good allergy controls in place and can offer accurate ingredient information.  

By taking care and asking direct questions, you won’t have to be denied the pleasure of going out for a meal.
Some helpful tips for eating out:
  • Call the restaurant in advance to ask whether they will help you choose a suitable meal.
  • If a group is dining out, bring a snack from home for the food allergic to start eating while their meal is being prepared because it could take longer than normal.  This will give the staff time to be extra careful without having to watch everyone else eat.  
  • Be clear in explaining the risks and how serious the allergy is.  
  • Question staff very directly.  It may be necessary to speak to a Manager or Chef when possible.
  • If something looks suspicious, or if the information you have been given seems inadequate, don’t be embarrassed to mention it and find out more.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk out if you are doubtful about the allergy controls in place.
  • People who are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts often choose to avoid Thai, Chinese and Indian restaurants altogether.
  • If you have multiple food allergies, have them written down in your phone or on a chef card. Having chef cards in multiple languages can be very helpful. (Include latex if you have a latex allergy, to ensure latex gloves and instruments are not being used in the kitchen) (https://www.brokerfish.com/food-allergy-translation-cards)
These are examples of "Chef Cards"


Preparing food for someone with a severe food allergy can be challenging, but managing the risk is a matter of common sense.
In the kitchen you may decide to give up the offending food, banning it from entering the kitchen. Doing so, will guard against mistakes being made and avoid cross-contamination or cross contact. 
Sometimes it is impossible to ban certain foods from public food facilities therefore, be scrupulous about keeping risky foods apart from the safe ones by practicing these techniques. 
  • Wash your hands before preparing a food allergics meal. We don't recommend latex gloves be used due to high number of people diagnosed with latex allergy.  
  • Use separate cutlery, chopping boards and utensils to prevent cross-contact.  
  • Use plenty of hot, soapy water to clean the area around where food is being prepped.
  • Avoid splatters and spillages by covering food up.
  • Label foods that are safe by using a cover and a sharpie marker when possible.
  • If you are a food facility that caters to the public it is a good idea to have all ingredients and sub-ingredients listed. If you don't use an electronic system such as AllerSmartMenu then keep updating an ingredient book. You never know when someone is going to come in who has a food allergy or food intolerance. If you are unsure what ingredients are in a product and need a quick reference, you may also use Fooducate.com


  • Food labeling laws state that food companies must always declare the presence of 8 major allergens when they appear in pre-packed food (Milk, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Shellfish, Fish, Soy, Wheat (not gluten) and Egg).   The place where they must appear is the ingredient list.  
  • People with food allergies must read the ingredient list every time they buy a product, even if they have bought it before.  Recipes sometimes change and no notice is given. 
  • Warning labels stating that a product “may contain” a particular allergen, such as nuts, are infuriating because they limit choice and make shopping complicated, but often these warnings are there for a reason because of the risks of cross-contamination during the production chain.  Don’t ignore these warnings.  You may eat a product numerous times without having a reaction but the next time you may not be so lucky.  Cross-contamination can be intermittent.

  • Be careful of the words "Natural flavoring" and "Spices" if you have a food allergy that is not one of the Big 8, as many people who have been diagnosed with multiple food allergies now have a list that goes far beyond the big 8. 
  • Shopping for food is going to take much longer than normal, always. Once you become familiar with a store and certain products it will become easier but it will also take a lot of creativity to adjust and modify meals. 
For a list of alternative cooking products or to customize recipes, please contact a Food Allergy Coach at 678.720.8845 
Food Allergy Gal to the Rescue

29 December 2013

An Exclusive Interview with 'Top Chef" fan favorite Chef Kevin Gillespie

In Part 3 of of our Food Perspectives series I shared Chef Kevin Gillespie's view on special diets in today's world. Read more. What are your thoughts? Contribute in comments below or send a message to Food Allergy Gal.

Each chef is really talented and they have a lot 'on their plates' literally and figuratively. If you asked a novice to prepare a meal for 20 people they would be terrified and probably not enjoy the experience of cooking very much. The point is, the reasons why the foodservice industry doesn't like to accommodate food allergies is because they generally don't have the education and tools they need to easily make adjustments. Once you start doing it and are equipped with the tools and knowledge, it's a wonderful and enriching experience.
I hope each chef will take the time to let down their perceptions and egos for a minute and come join Food Allergy Gal in the AllerSmartMenu program.

Follow or subscribe to Food Allergy Gal to get the complete series of Food Perspectives articles.

21 December 2013

Food Perspectives

I have been hard at work interviewing an array of people across the United States to get various perspectives on how we view food. Of course because I am, Food Allergy Gal, I will always have a certain story I go after and certain questions that I will likely ask. 

I had an idea when I first began the interviews and instead of me writing the story time and time again, I decided to let each person's voice just stand alone so I am featuring 10 articles from the "Inside Out" and "Outside In" over the next few weeks. 

Part 1 with Chef Mike. It really nicely pairs with the article that I accidently wrote about FARE, a non profit organization which claims to support and help 15 million Americans who have been diagnosed with food allergies.  Honestly it has done nothing for me in the last 11 years I've been struggling with food allergies. I'm hoping to turn that around though, with the new organization structure they have in place. 

CEO of FARE, John Lehr said that he felt the food industry as a whole was doing a great job to support and understand food allergies. He doesn't have food allergies himself and I wonder how many times he has been out to eat with someone who suffers with multiple food allergies. When I asked another person in the organization to provide a list of all possible 160 food allergens, she stressed, "We only focus on the Top 8." This is after John Lehr had said one of the largest trends in food allergies today is that they see people not just being diagnosed with ONE but MULTIPLES of food allergies. 

So for an organization that claims to be the "authority" and "go to people" on food allergies, this could be the very root of the problem. If they won't focus on what's beyond the top 8 and really explain the impact food allergies have on people, how can the food industry and government be supportive and really stand to make changes. 

All of this leads me to why I started LaraHolland, Food Allergy Gal consulting company 2 years ago. I am THAT person who is a connection between a non profit, the medical doctors, the restaurants, the commercial kitchens, the schools, and of course the food allergic. Additionally I write articles for various publications. It just so happens that in these interviews I found there was more of a need than ever to do exactly what I do... and here is the evidence to support that. 

The FARE articlehttp://www.examiner.com/article/charity-when-is-life-fare
The first Inside Out: Chef's Perspective Articlehttp://www.examiner.com/article/inside-out-the-chef-s-perspective
Up Next hear perspective from the Outside In: Part 2:  Special Foodie Perspective.

If you believe we need to make a change in the industry and believe in Food Allergy Gal could you please take a moment of time and donate to us

Donations help start up a much needed Allergy Friendly Commercial Test Kitchen called FoodUb8 and continue to educate but most importantly provide solutions the food industry can use TODAY to serve more of the 220 million diagnosed with this disease worldwide today. 

Making a small donation to Food Allergy Gal helps keep the vision and goal alive.
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Happy Holidays!