Posted by: kyledine | July 24, 2014

Song Stories – Gluten Free Blues

Gluten-Free-Blues

“I can’t eat bread, I can’t eat dough, I can’t eat the crust to make my chest hair grow.” And with that one line, a song was born!

The inspiration for Gluten-Free Blues came from my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) who has celiac disease. I had written a handful of songs about food allergies, and wanted to surprise her with a song about gluten. In a strange “food allergy music” kind of way, it was a dedication!

I remember picking up my guitar in my parent’s kitchen and started playing some bluesy chords really fast. I started throwing in a few “oooh oooh’s” and then the fun light-hearted lyrics literally flowed out from there. I think I finished the song within half an hour which is really rare for me. I called up my girlfriend right afterwards to unveil the new song – she loved it! It was such a fulfilling writing session being done so quickly, and having instant positive feedback. For a song with “Blues” in the title, the true intention is to leave listeners with a bit of optimism by having a song they can relate to and have fun with.

When I went to the studio to record the song, I realized that I needed some type of intro for the song, otherwise it’s a crazy fast kick-start to the tune! I wrote a funky little progression that plays on the chords and slowed it down a notch. The end result really packs a punch for when the fast tempo of the song begins.

Nowadays, I typically use this song during dance-a-thon shows or public gigs to get kids dancing fast! Sometimes I’ll incorporate a game of freeze dance or musical chairs and stop the music sporadically. Kids dig it!

I’ll admit that I am not as well-versed in celiac disease as I am not affected by this condition, but I did my best to create some well written verses.

Listen to Gluten Free Blues at:
http://grooveshark.com/s/Gluten+Free+Blues/2sye4a?src=5

Gluten Free Blues

I can’t eat bread, I can’t eat dough, I can’t eat crust to make my chest hair grow
I can’t eat spaghetti, or macaroni, If you ask me it’s all a load of bologna

I can always feel the sign, right in my lower intestine
It gives me pain and tummy aches, it must have been something that I ate

Could have been oats, wheat or rye, could have been the batter on the fish we buy
They call it gluten, and its absolutin’, the reason I get sick inside

(chorus)

They say it’s not an allergy, but an intolerance from my family tree
I can make buns, and I can make bread, I can make anything that you’re all fed

I make things that are sweet or sour, I make it all with special flour
There’s no difference between you and me, except the fact that I’m gluten-free

(chorus)

Posted by: kyledine | July 23, 2014

Food Allergies at Weddings

kyledine:

My recent blog post for Anaphylaxis Canada’s http://www.AllergyFreePress.com blog on Food Allergies and Weddings.

Originally posted on WhyRiskIt? Teen Allergy Blog:

a wedding pic

I get so excited when I receive a wedding invitation in the mail. I love hearing that my friends or families have found that special someone and I love joining in on the celebration!

However, there is usually one slip of paper that comes along with the invitation that brings my thoughts away from the ceremony, the speeches and the party. I’m talking about that slip that asks you to indicate your food selection for the reception.

I love seeing a few options on this slip, as there are usually a couple options I can cross off right away. I am allergic to seafood, and fish is usually one of those options. That typically leaves me analyzing the meat and vegetarian dishes. More information is always better, but sometimes it just says meat with a special sauce, or vegetables with certain fixings. What’s in that special sauce? What on earth…

View original 374 more words

Posted by: kyledine | July 8, 2014

Travelling to Rome with Food Allergies

 

No Italian? No Problem! My Allergy Translation Cards  were key during my trip to Rome.

No Italian? No Problem! My Allergy Translation Cards were key during my trip to Rome.

I love vacation. I always have such a hard time checking out of “work-mode”, but once I’m officially on vacation, I embrace it and never look back! Such was my one week “Roman Holiday” to kick-start my summer.

As I noted in my top ten travel tips blog, food is really not a big deal to me and I don’t travel for the sake of trying local cuisine. But…I was a bit curious on this trip as Italy is so well known for food.

Determined to eat more than McDonalds on this trip, I really planned ahead with my usual preparations including buying travel insurance and packing nearly a quarter of my suitcase with non-perishable snacks.

Stands selling nuts in open markets were around, but I stayed clear of "street food" altogether.

Stands selling nuts in open markets were around, but I stayed clear of “street food” altogether.

The Whole Language Bit

The most important thing that I purchased in advance was an Italian Allergy Translation Card that listed all of my allergies in Italian (peanut, tree nut, egg, fish, shellfish and mustard). This is a service that I created a few years ago, but recently relaunched the website with newly designed cards. I created it after my first trip to Europe and did not feel comfortable dining out with the language barriers.

Although I found the language barrier to be minimal (Rome is a pretty touristy city!), my very first meal was in a back alley spot off the beaten path. The translation card was really essential at this restaurant and gave my wife and I peace of mind when the waiter confirmed the risotto was safe for both of us (she has a celiac disease card).

Mmmmm Allergy Safe Risotto!

Mmmmm Allergy Safe Risotto!

A great first restaurant experience in Italy

A great first restaurant experience in Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Pizza Was My Main Meal

Restaurant after restaurant, we had very positive experiences. I generally stuck to pizza and was able to speak to the wait staff in English using my translation card to reinforce the severity.

My pizza of choice with tomatoes and arugula.

My pizza of choice with tomatoes and arugula.

Gluten-Free Options a-Plenty

My wife was in gluten-free heaven and managed to find a restaurant with a full gluten-free menu and indulged in gluten-free pizza. Another night we bumped into a restaurant serving gluten-free pasta. There were also gluten-free snacks widely available in vending machines which was pretty cool!

If you look closely, you'll see yellow bags of our fave gluten-free flour, plus the chef pressing the g/f pizza dough with waxed paper.

If you look closely, you’ll see yellow bags of our fave gluten-free flour, plus the chef pressing the g/f pizza dough with waxed paper.

Catered Buffet Meals…Thank Goodness for Fruit

The only times where I found it difficult to find safe food were at catered events that were part of my wife’s work obligations. I’m used to sticking to plain salad and didn’t mind not being to eat anything off the different platters. However, when the fresh fruit platter came out, I was a vulture! Score one point for the hungry guy who loves fruit!

Catered events were a bit more of a challenge, but still was happy with the amazing fruit platter for dessert.

Catered events were a bit more of a challenge, but still was happy with the amazing fruit platter for dessert.

Lunch Money went to Museums

I saved my money on lunch everyday (and spent in on museums instead) by making sandwiches and stuffing them in my backpack. I brought the bread from home, but bought fresh meat from the supermarket. Out of anything, finding a supermarket seemed to be the most difficult thing of all. I might consider looking up nearby shops close to my hotel/flat before I go again.

Always had my epinephrine with me. Kept checking to make sure it was staying cool on such hot days.

Always had my epinephrine with me. Kept checking to make sure they were staying cool on such hot days.

Accommodation

It’s funny that I accidentally left this until last, however I was so busy sight-seeing everyday that I didn’t spend too much time in my flat! We booked a private apartment through www.airbnb.com which came with its own kitchen. This is my preferred way to travel. I loved being in a non-touristy university area where I could get a taste of local life in Rome.

IMG_6832

Visiting the Vatican was a real highlight for me.

All in all, it was an amazing vacation that left me feeling refreshed and energized after many months of touring and work. I’m not sure if I’ll go back anytime soon, but am glad to cross another country off my list of places where I feel confident in managing my allergies while abroad.

Grazie!

In front of the Colosseum in Rome

In front of the Colosseum in Rome

Posted by: kyledine | June 24, 2014

Song Stories “Smellephant The Allergic Elephant”

Smellephant

Out of all of my “song stories”, this is one of the most needed as I get questioned about it the most…”where did the song Smellephant the Allergic Elephant come from?”. Easy – it started from a rotten paper maché elephant head….

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

Let me back track a little!

Back in 2005, I was working at a summer camp in northern Ontario and was selected for the ultimate and most prestigious job a camp staff member could have – “World Games Captain”. My friend Lisa and I were captains of Team India and we were in charge of not only leading 200 campers, but creating a full opening and closing ceremony presentation among other random things (including a coordinated Bollywood dance!)

Image128

Our secret weapon…a homemade Indian elephant that we created out of paper maché called Smellephant. It was a life-size elephant head  that we put onto a wooden frame including a canoe yolk so people could hoist Smellephant up on their shoulders. Our big closing involved ME riding Smellephant! In other words – Kyle hanging on for his life on a wooden frame while a bunch of canoe trippers tried to portage him around a slippery hill! It was hilarious and epic at the same time. It all ended smoothly and India ended up winning World Games that summer.

At the end of camp that summer, the offseason staff got in touch with me regarding Smellephant’s head. They found the poor guy in a corner of the theatre and he was now completely rotten and filled with mould.  They could smell him throughout the theatre and asked if it was okay to toss him. I thought it was a poetic that his short life would come to such a smelly end. Poor smelly smelly Smellephant.

In order to make him a bit more immortal, I decided to feature his character in a song! The messaging was simple – elephants eat nuts, Smellephant cannot, and he must find other things to eat. The song itself is very fun and does not go very deep into what allergies are all about. With all of my songs, I like to have some really silly ones that kids can just enjoy without thinking too deeply into it, and wave their “arm trunk” around freely!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

It’s a random story, it’s a random song, but it’s one of my faves and I hope your family enjoys it that much more knowing that Smellephant was born out of creativity and always lived up to his smelly name! ;)
Smellephant the Allergic Elephant

There once was an elephant
Whose name was Smellephant
Whose trunk was always stuffed up
He ate so many peanuts that he figured that one got stuck

Kyle playing the sitar!

Kyle playing the sitar!

He hoped it’s not an allergy
So asked a good old pal to see
If anything was stuck in that trunk
But everybody knows that ol’ Smellephant is allergic to nuts

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time
But until then…. Oh Smellephant, oh Smellephant You gotta blow your nose!

The elephants they all agreed
That Smellephant should take the lead
And try something else like worms
Because everybody knows that when you sneeze you’re spreading germs

They wanted to get rid of ya’ And kick you out of India
But Smellephant said “hey wait!”
I’ll trade you all my nuts If you trade me all your grapes

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time

Now there’s not an issue Because there’s lots of tissue And Smellephant has never felt better
But it’s hard to stick to gum when peanuts taste so yum!
When you’re dancing in the moonlight, you don’t want to say gesundheit!
When you’re trying on your clothes, you don’t want to blow your nose!
Because everybody knows that all you have to say is no thanks, I have allergies

Posted by: kyledine | June 20, 2014

Life Off the Road

IMG_5880

I’ve now been “off” the road for a few weeks now and still trying to digest everything that’s happened to me over the past 3 months. I always look forward to getting home so much, that I completely switch gears once I’m off the road. I always have good intentions of doing some big tour recap afterwards, but I really have a hard time revisiting the tour once it’s done. I look forward so much to having a summer with family and friends, and look forward to the next tour in the fall. I guess I’m a pretty forward looking guy!

I have stories and memories to last a life time, and have been jotting them down as I go. As for now, I’m happy to chill with my pets, catch up on work, and spend much needed time with the people I’ve been apart from for too long. And yes…I am avoiding driving as much as possible!

Who wouldn't want to live in a car this packed for 2.5 months?? ;)

Who wouldn’t want to live in a car this packed for 2.5 months?? ;)

Posted by: kyledine | June 18, 2014

My Top 10 International Food Allergy Travel Tips

Food Allergy Passport

I never really set out to get bit by the travel bug. After all, I applied to only English speaking countries when I applied for exchange in university. As a last option, I put down Sweden as my Dad went there a few times and spoke really highly of it. Guess where I ended up….Sweden! After spending six months there in an international residence with students from around the world, I was hooked.

I ended up meeting my future wife while on exchange and we continued to travel around the world together ever since. We’ve travelled on every mode of transportation with both multiple allergies and celiac disease, and have now been to 4 continents.

I get asked quite frequently “how do you manage travelling with food allergies”, so I thought I would write one comprehensive article that I can link to in the future versus short FB messages etc.

Disclaimer - These tips are coming from an allergic adult male. I don’t have children and my strategies work for me. If you are looking for more tips on how to travel with children with food allergies, I highly recommend looking at FARE’s resources as travelling with kids is an area I am not remotely familiar with. Thanks for understanding!

Tip # 1 – Plan Ahead

My trips literally just “pop up” and it’s rare that I am ever aware of a trip more than 6 months in advance. I don’t go overboard with advanced planning, but it is very important for me to get a sense of comfort for where I’m going.

What does this involve? Google. I Google allergy-friendly restaurants, places that serve gluten-free pizza for instance. I Google the local emergency number (911 is not worldwide). I Google what the local traditional recipes and dishes are so I’m already prepared when I encounter a menu with confusing items. Buy a travel book, ask on an online forum – just get a good overall feeling for the food and allergy scene in that country.

Tip # 2 – Purchase Insurance

This is a given, but still important on anyone’s list who is travelling with food allergies. I have heard horror stories about the costs incurred after seeking medical attention for a reaction. Personally, I would never want the thought to cross my mind that I simply can’t afford to get a serious anaphylactic reaction treated properly. Get insured! I use American Express travel insurance for every trip.

Tip # 3 – Accommodations – Home on the Road

I am flexible with this as I believe most places should be okay. I do prefer however having my own kitchen that I can cook my own food in. Not only does this help with budget (restaurants get pricey on vacation!), but I’m also a really hard person to feed for breakfast because of my serious egg allergy. I love breakfast at home. I really enjoy using www.airbnb.com to find accommodation in a more house/apartment style.

Tip # 4 – Allergy Translation Cards

If travelling to a foreign country with a foreign language, I strongly recommend getting an Allergy Translation Card made in advance. Do NOT get your translations through some free app or online tool. They are riddled with errors and I want to be taken seriously when I try to communicate my life-threatening allergies in a restaurant halfway across the world. I print a couple copies for my wallet as well as save the image on my smartphone. I then study these new words and become familiar with them and check for them on ingredient lists.

Tip # 5 – Bring Your Own Food

Does that mean bring a whole suitcase full of food? Well…sometimes yes! I travelled to China last summer and did exactly that. I had little confidence that I would find much to eat through my initial research (see tip 1!) so played it safe and brought a full suitcase full of food for a 3-week trip. When I arrived I was so glad that I did. The first day I bough a hot plate and cooked nearly all of my meals on the floor of my hotel room (a lot of rice and pasta). Doesn’t seem glamorous does it? That’s fine by me – travelling is not about food for me – it’s about culture, museums, landscapes, people and the local wines and beers :) I also always have a lot of small portable snacks like granola bars that keep me going on day trips.

Tip # 6 – Be Adventurous, but Not with Food

I stick with what I know when travelling and usually take a step back to get back to basics. I visit the local supermarkets and purchase meats, fruits, veggies – things that you find on the outer ring of the grocery store. I speak with the people who make the bread on site and cut the meat. It’s comforting. For fast food, I’m a sucker for McDonald’s. I’ll admit it. It’s consistent and safe. I know there are healthier options, however I love their salads and treat myself now and then with some fries or a burger.

Tip # 7 – Airlines – Do What Your Comfortable With

This is different for everyone so it’s hard to give too much advice here. I will focus on the absolute musts – ALWAYS bring extra epinephrine and NEVER eat the airline food. I pack an amazing lunch/dinner for myself and don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. Don’t take the risk! There are many other things you can do in terms of requesting a buffer zone with some airlines, wiping down your tray table, sitting on a sheet and more. Check with your airline in advance to see if they have a specific policy. As an adult male who has flown dozens and dozens of times, I am okay with a more minimal approach. I have had passengers beside me bring out bags of peanuts, and I simply asked them to refrain and offered to buy them a drink. This happened on a couple occasions and they were more than happy to help, and didn’t even take me up on the drink offer! We ended up having great conversations about allergies afterwards during the flight.

Tip # 8 – Wear MedicAlert I.D.

I wear my allergies on my sleeve, literally. My MedicAlert bracelet is a staple on me when I travel. I like that it lets others know that I have a medical condition, but I especially love that paramedics are trained to look for this, and it has an international toll-free number where they can access my medical records. Isn’t that cool? And I love the different styles offered – I personally rotate through a dog tag necklace and a leather cuff. Check out www.medicalert.org or www.medicalert.ca.

Tip # 9 – Know the Food Labelling Laws/Guidelines

I would recommend this if you are planning on staying somewhere for an extended stay. Here is a really handy study that compares labelling guidelines around the world. I find it handy to know which countries call out all of my allergens on labels such as mustard (Canada & EU) and which ones aren’t mandated to (U.S., Asia). It’s also important to know the regulations (if any) regarding precautionary labelling (i.e. “may contain” statements). It can get very tricky, which is why I prefer fresh food when travelling compared to local pre-packaged food (see tip #6)

Tip # 10 – Have an Amazing Time!

The best part about really planning ahead and having all of your details figured out before you leave, is that you can really enjoy your trip once you’re there versus worrying all the time! Don’t let allergies slow you down! Don’t let food rule your trip. Eat unhealthy for a week if that’s what it takes – just don’t let allergies ruin your trip of a lifetime. Enjoy all of the amazing things that other countries and cultures have to offer – and remember to share how you did it to the food allergy community afterwards. The more we share, the smaller and more allergy-friendly this world becomes.

Do you have any additional allergy travel tips? Please feel free to leave as a comment below. I would love to hear from you!

Kyle in Shanghai not letting allergies limit his adventure

Kyle in Shanghai, China

 

Posted by: kyledine | May 21, 2014

NC Faces Kyle Dine Public Concert Review

Thank you Tricia Gavankar for this wonderful write-up of a recent concert I had in North Carolina. Enjoy.

***

It was a cloudy, rainy day but Kyle Dine had over 30 NC FACES smiling and feet dancing; as he rocked the house with his food allergy educational music. North Carolina is no stranger to Kyle’s comedic puppet show, anaphylaxis education and engaging personality. This is his second appearance for the local support group, NC FACES (North Carolina Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely), and the children were buzzing with excitement as they answered questions on Kyle’s Suzie Symptom game. Parents sat back and enjoyed a rare moment as they watched their kids connect with someone seemingly intangible (almost mythological); an adult with multiple food allergies, living an extraordinary life!

As a Co-Founder of NC FACES, I coordinate many events but nothing compares to a Kyle Dine event. When my daughter (now 12) was first thrust into the land of “food can make you go to the hospital,” I was overwhelmed and would picture her life as a narrow existence filled with strict label reading, self-packed meals, stacks of declined invitations to social functions and completely devoid of travel. Then…..I heard about Kyle. Like my daughter, Kyle’s list of allergens extended well past the top 8. Only, he was an adult, the first adult I became aware of who battled an extensive list of allergens. Kyle unwittingly became my personal cheerleader as I watched his exciting life unfold; filled with extensive label reading, semi-packed meals, endless social engagements and a very well stamped passport. Frequently, I wondered if Kyle “really had food allergies” or if he was “as severe as MY child?” Sound familiar? Especially in the first stages of managing a diagnosis of food allergies, it feels incredible to think anyone could relate to the deep, painful gouge food allergies take out of our lives. Yet, Kyle seemed to understand something most of us parents could not; how it felt to “live” food allergies. So, when my fellow NC FACES Group Coordinators and I heard that Kyle was touring the US, we knew he would make a tremendous impression with our 300 members (now 500).

Teaching, educating and entertaining food allergic children and their communities, seems to be a family affair with the Dines. On his initial trip to NC FACES (2011), Kyle introduced us to his smart and beautiful fiancé (now wife), Masa who has Celiac Disease. Masa easily engaged the children in the same encouraging, reassuring manner as Kyle. This 2014 FAACT sponsored event, brought us the pleasure of meeting Kyle’s father, Steve. More than one FACES parent asked Steve how raising a confident leader in the world of food allergies (like Kyle) was possible? A non-assuming chuckle and smile preceded his humble response, “We learned so much along the way and now it is nice to see Kyle teaching others.” The origin of Kyle’s sense of humor surfaced when my daughter, Marysa, found an oddly placed, large rock in the middle of the room. Kyle’s father, not missing a beat, replied “Well this IS a rock concert!” This humor was not lost on the children, who burst into laughter.

With pink, sparkling cow-girl boots, 5 year old Zoe Smith danced along to Kyle’s music.
Despite suffering multiple unexplained episodes of anaphylaxis in the preceding weeks, Food Allergy Warrior Princess Zoe tapped her boots in a wistful, carefree rhythm. Zoey’s mother, Stephanie Smith, says that Zoey’s stress filled world melted away during the hour long concert. While Kyle views his performances as educational and fun, we (parents) see Kyle and all he does as inspiration and hope. Our kids, see Kyle as an amazing role model, someone who not only walks in their shoes-but chooses to dance those shoes through his food allergy filled life. I had to great honor of getting to put these words on paper, but kids say it all so much better…

NC FACES kids unanimously say: “ Kyle Dine Rocks!”
NC FACES parents: “We couldn’t agree more!”

Trish Gavankar, RN, BS
NC FACES, Co-Founder,
Disney Chefs Rock Food Allergies, Founder,
Mom to: Food Allergy Warrior Princess Marysa

PS: Princess Zoey has moved on to animal prints (good choice!), so Kyle, we have an extra pair of sparkly boots-if you need to dress up your wardrobe!

www.kyledine.com

www.ncfaces.org

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 8.31.18 AM

Ever heard of an “allergy duet” before? I’m not sure I have either until this past week when I took the train down to Manhattan and met with Sloane Miller.

Sloane, who also is known as “Allergic Girl” is a good friend of mine who is a food allergy coach and a talented author (read her Allergic Girl book!). What I didn’t know is that she can also carry a tune and has a great voice! I’m also happy to have her support as a sponsor on my “Let’s Go Nuts!” tour.

We started working on a song together this winter from opposite sides of the earth via email with the ultimate goal of recording it in an amazing location someday like Central Park in Manhattan. Well…sometimes wishes come true!

After a big hug at the corner of the park, we ventured in and caught up and talked about life and…you guessed it – allergies! We found a great location and then rehearsed the song together for the very first time. I was amazed how quickly things started to gel and the song came to life! I love the final product!

We hope you enjoy!

 

Allergies Don’t Need To Stop You

© Kyle Dine and Sloane Miller

I’m an allergy girl
And I’m an allergy guy
I can do almost anything
And I’m willing to try

I can jog in Central Park
I can play sports and the guitar
So we have a couple allergies
Doesn’t mean we can’t go far.

I can eat safely at a restaurant
I’ll make the reservation, what food do you want?
I can climb a mountain, be on top of the world!
I can make new friends, you’ve got one in this girl!

I’m an allergy girl
And I’m an allergy guy
I can cook nearly anything
And I’m still… willing to try!

I can live in the big city
I can live in the countryside
Wherever we’ll be, allergy free
Is possible for you and I

I can read a label like I’m reading a book
But you gotta double check, here I’ll give it a look
I can draw, paint, build, camp, dance and sing
It’s cool to know we can do anything

I’m an allergy girl
And I’m an allergy guy
And whether you’re young or old
Whether you have many or few
Allergies, don’t need to stop you!

Or me, or you, or him or her, or any of you!

Posted by: kyledine | May 14, 2014

Camp Blue Spruce Documentary

I am really looking forward to performing at Camp Blue Spruce this summer – a camp for children with food allergies. They are creating a documentary about the challenges of living with food allergies and the amazing benefits that camp has to offer these kids. They need your help! Learn how you can support this cool project at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tastes-like-freedom
 
More about Camp Blue Spruce at http://www.campbluespruce.org/
Posted by: kyledine | May 6, 2014

Public Allergy Concert in Connecticut! May 16th, 2014

2014-dance-a-thon-flyer-for-public

 

More details at http://foodallergyednetwork.org.

Hope to see you there!

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