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Canadians may be oblivious to wheat and dairy allergies for years


New book offers consumers a starting point when faced with tough new dietary restrictions

TORONTO (January 4, 2010) - According to Health Canada, wheat and dairy are among the top foods most frequently associated with allergies and allergic-type reactions. While nut allergies have received a lot of attention in the past from manufacturers, schools, parents and kids alike - many people don't even know where to start when faced with a new restriction to wheat or dairy, especially when they learn about such allergies in adulthood.

Author Victoria Yeh is launching a new book to help food allergy sufferers learn to adapt to sensitivities towards some of Canada's most prevalent foods - including wheat, dairy and refined sugar. Her first book, Where Do I Start? Your Essential Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free Food Allergy Cookbook, includes numerous tips, resources, substitution guides, a troubleshooting guide and recipes to help readers kick-start a new healthy lifestyle.

Food allergies and intolerances can go years undetected by patients and doctors alike because symptoms are not always obvious and often go ignored. People suffering from intolerances to wheat, for example, can experience a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms ranging from eczema to poor concentration to infertility. Sometimes, though, even obvious symptoms of indigestion can go ignored for years.

"Nearly 75% of the new patients that come into my clinic have digestive problems, and many of them don't even realize it because they don't know what healthy digestion is," says Dr. Meghan Walker, Naturopathic Doctor and Clinic Director for the Integrative Health Institute in Toronto. "Normal, healthy digestion means no abdominal discomfort after eating, no bloating or gas, and regular, comfortable bowel movements 1-3 times per day. If this doesn't sound like you, you may have digestive challenges that are impeding the optimal absorption of your food."

Since wheat, dairy and sugar are common culprits of such digestive issues, Dr. Walker, like many naturopathic doctors, often suggests patients limit their consumption of these foods. But with wheat, dairy and sugar appearing in so many North American dishes, from pastas to breads and soups to cereals, many people struggle with this change. "People think that gluten-free or dairy-free means that you can't enjoy another birthday cake, sandwich or chicken pot pie ever again. But the truth is you can. Adapting to multiple food allergies can be easy, satisfying and affordable. I wrote this book so that I could arm people with the knowledge to be successful with their new diets everyday."

Now in her eighth year on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, in addition to restricting her intake of sugar, corn, soy, yeast, caffeine and alcohol, Yeh now comfortably navigates her kitchen without ever feeling deprived. "The information in my book comes from years of experimenting, making mistakes, researching and living with multiple food intolerances. I've reached a point where I can take virtually any recipe and adapt it to my specific needs. And best of all, my health has improved immensely. I hope this book will help my readers be more self-sufficient, confident and more likely to stick to their diets in the long term.

To help adapt to new dietary restrictions, Ms. Yeh and Dr. Walker have provided the following simple tips:

1. Listen To Your Body Be aware of what your body is saying to you. Food intolerances can manifest in many ways and can even change over time. The more in tune you become with your body, the easier it will be for you to identify the foods you should avoid.

2. Be A Savy Shopper: Unfortunately, looking for sources of wheat and dairy is not always as simple as searching for the words "wheat" or "dairy" on a food label. That's because many ingredients can be derived from them and be called completely different names. And just as with nuts, food can be contaminated with allergens if they are not processed in a dedicated facility.

3. Eat Real Food: Packaged, processed and prepared foods are appealing for their convenience and intense taste, but often contain wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, soy and/or sulphites. Instead of spending hours scrutinizing labels and scouring store shelves for the perfect packaged meal - keep it simple and stick to safe natural whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and meat.

4. Learn To Adapt To Your New Diet Ridding your diet of such common foods as wheat, dairy and refined sugar can be challenging to say the least. "To be successful with a new diet, you first have to be absolutely committed to making the change in your lifestyle," says Yeh. "People think that it's hard to stick to these diets, but it's not. It's just a matter of learning a few rules of thumb so that you can adapt to your needs and still enjoy the foods you love."

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About Victoria Yeh, Author

Victoria Yeh is Toronto based author of Where Do I Start? Your Essential Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free Food Allergy Cookbook and owner of Gluten-Free Toronto. For over eight years, she has lived with multiple food intolerances to wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, corn and yeast. With the launch of her new book and seminars, Victoria is setting out to help educate others on how to adapt to their specific dietary needs and achieve greater health. Her book can be purchased directly from www.glutenfreeliving.ca or at select health food stores and holistic clinics.

About Dr. Meghan Walker, N.D.

A Naturopathic Doctor and co-owner of Toronto�s Integrative Health Institute, Dr. Walker treats patients suffering from chronic health conditions including celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, infertility and cancer. Dr. Walker works within a health care team led by naturopathic and medical doctors to provide collaborative and innovative approaches to health management.

For further information or interview requests with Ms. Yeh or Dr. Walker, please Contact Victoria Yeh