Food – it’s the focal point of almost everything we do. We need it to keep our bodies functioning properly, it’s part of almost every meaningful social interaction, and sometimes it just makes us feel better. But for patients who are being treated for food allergies at Riviera Allergy Medical Center (RAMC), the relationship with food can take on a frightening new dimension.

These are the people who have been diagnosed with a food allergy to such common ingredients as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, gluten, fish, shellfish, and so many others that we take for granted as part of our daily existence. They have to read labels more carefully, scrutinize menu options more closely in restaurants, and risk being seen as rude when they ask their hostess about the ingredients in a dish she has prepared. In some cases these allergies may even be induced by exercise or pollen, further curtailing activities.

Our patients are not alone in their heightened state of vigilance. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is raising awareness that food allergies are a growing public health concern. Their compilation of statistics from many sources reveals that as many as 15 million people now live with food allergies. Of these, some 9 million sufferers are adults and nearly 6 million are children. Younger children seem to be particularly affected. Their research shows that these numbers are increasing, and taking a dramatic financial and physical toll.

Our founder and noted allergy doctorDr. Ulrike Ziegner, treats patients with all types all allergies. She notes that there have been vast improvements in allergy testing and treatment. Many sufferers today are able to experience high degrees of food allergy relief, and can minimize the stress they feel in eating-related situations. In this article, Dr. Z. offers some insights to help you understand how food allergies affect you and those you love.

Food Allergy Relief

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergies are related to an overshooting function of your body’s immune system. When working properly, the immune system will keep you healthy by destroying any bacteria or viruses that could make you sick. In some cases, though, your system can overreact by wrongly recognizing a harmless food protein as a threat and attack it.

There is a wide range of food allergy symptoms, from minor itching to life-threatening allergic reactions. These symptoms may show up immediately or may take as long as six to eight hours to appear. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Itching or tingling in the mouth after ingesting an allergenic food.
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, face, hands and/or feet.
  • Wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing.
  • Hives, skin rashes, eczema.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, fainting.

Fainting may be caused by decreased oxygen supply from breathing difficulty and/or decreased blood circulation. Worst scenario, a food allergy can be life-threatening or even fatal, a condition known as anaphylactic shock, caused by severe airway tightening and a significant drop in blood pressure from widening of blood vessels. People displaying these symptoms must receive immediate emergency medical care, including epinephrine injections and a prompt 911 call. Food allergic patients who also suffer from asthma stand a much higher chance of experiencing such a serious medical episode.

Food Allergy Tests

Cases of suspected food allergies should always be evaluated and treated by a qualified medical professional, such as Dr. Ziegner. If you or a loved one has experienced a reaction to any type of food, set an appointment at RAMC for allergy tests. Dr. Ziegner is dedicated to finding the cause of your problems rather than just treating the symptoms. She uses state-of-the-art diagnostics to determine the root cause of your condition.

When you come to RAMC for advice, the first thing we do is taking a detailed medical history. We will ask you questions about your symptoms and suspected food allergy triggers. We will perform a comprehensive physical examination to check your current state of health. Depending on your specific situation and medical condition, we may recommend an allergy test such as a skin test, blood test, food challenge test, or a trial elimination diet. One or some combination of these and other tests may provide an answer to the puzzle of what is bothering you.

Food Allergy Relief

Food Allergy Relief

Once we have pinpointed the exact triggers for your food allergies, Dr. Z. will design a strategy for symptom relief. Food allergy remedies may include over-the-counter or prescription medications to help reduce symptoms of minor food allergy reactions. If you are in danger of a severe allergic reaction, Dr. Z. recommends that you carry an EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™(epinephrine autoinjectors) with you at all times. This is a device that contains a syringe and concealed needle which injects a single dose of medication for instant symptom relief. Research is constantly being conducted in this area, and RAMC will continue to search for and find food allergy medications to provide relief for our patients.

We will also advise you on other precautions and lifestyle adjustments you can make to deal with your food allergies. Be sure to ask us how to talk to family, friends, babysitters and teachers about your food allergy, so that they can become part of your support and care team. It can be difficult living with food allergies, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Talk to us today and let us provide you with the best allergy treatment possible.

Food Allergy Relief

About RAMC – Riviera Allergy Medical Center, located at 1711 Via El Prado, Suite 101 in Redondo Beach, offers comprehensive testing for food allergiesOnce a specific trigger or triggers has been identified Dr. Ulrike Ziegner and the RAMC staff develop a comprehensive treatment plan to provide wheat allergy reliefgluten allergy reliefpeanut allergy reliefnut allergy reliefegg allergy relief, and soy allergy relief. Visit the website at to read our blog on seasonal allergies and allergy treatment. “Like” the Facebook page for allergy and asthma tips. Call 310-792-9050 or schedule an appointment online for allergy treatment.

Riviera Allergy Center


Top 3 Reasons Why Dental Hygienists Love Life-Like Teeth Whitener

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Is having the opportunity to recommend a great teeth whitener one of the reasons many dental hygienists enjoy their jobs? Maybe. There are many reasons why dental hygienists enjoy their work, but having the ability to help patients feel better about themselves has got to be high on the list.

Most hygienists say they like their jobs because of the flexible schedules, competitive salaries, relative job stability, and people-oriented atmosphere. Patients may come in with a great number of questions about oral hygiene, preventive care, and teeth whitening. Often the dental hygienist is the dental office employee who is most likely to spend time with patients answering those questions.

Dental hygienists even rank highly on the U.S. News & World Report’s summary of the best jobs, precisely because of the confidence placed in them by patients. Many patients may even be able to avoid the more intensive dental procedures if they carefully follow their hygienist’s advice. The magazine goes on to cite the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s estimate that employment for all types of dental hygienists will swell 33.3 percent by 2022. This is much faster than the average growth rate for most professions, and bodes well for the increased reliance on dental hygienists as trusted oral hygiene coaches.

At Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions, we understand and appreciate the vital role dental hygienists play in educating patients about our teeth bleaching kits. We’ve been helping dental practices implement safe and effective dental whitening techniques since 1990, but it is often the dental hygienist who assures the ultimate success of this procedure by demonstrating proper whitening techniques to the patient. We value this relationship and do everything we can to make the dental hygienist’s job easier. Here are the top three reasons dental hygienists give us about why they love Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions:

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  1. Twist’n’Seal® Syringe: The Life-Like line of dental whitening products includes professional whitening kits for in-office use as well as teeth bleaching kits for at-home use. This gives dental professionals greater flexibility to work with patients who have a range of tooth whitening needs. One of the factors which makes our gels so safe and easy to use is our Twist’n’Seal® Syringe. Life-Like offers syringe-delivered at-home carbamide peroxide concentrations of 10%, 15%, 20% and 30%. The higher percentages of carbamide peroxide will reduce the bleaching process time required for normal staining, and provide a more satisfying result for those patients with particularly heavy staining. The dentist will recommend the appropriate concentration and amount of bleaching material to use. The dental hygienist can demonstrate the calibrations of the syringe to patients in the office, instructing them to place no more than 1/4 cc of bleach material in the custom-fitted tray. The tray should be kept in the mouth for 20 to 30 minutes with the 30% carbamide peroxide solution. Lower concentrations may require longer application times. Suggested applications are twice per day, bleaching upper and lower arches simultaneously. Nationwide surveys show a less than 5% occurrence of sensitivity with at-home peroxide-based bleaching agents, but hygienists can instruct patients that they should discontinue treatment for 24 to 48 hours if they do experience any sensitivity. They can then resume treatment with one-half the original treatment application time. 
  1. Quick Whitening Results: With Life-Like’s tooth whitening products, patients are able to see results the very first day, which helps keep them motivated to continue using the product for the entire recommended timeframe. If they continue to follow the suggested protocol, more dramatic results will be seen by day three of the whitening process. The complete process normally takes between one and two weeks, but treatment times will vary depending on the source, type, and depth of the discoloration. You can see for yourself the amazing results of Life-Like tooth whitening in the before and after photos on our website. In the example below, note the difference between the left picture before whitening with Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions’ bleaching material and the right picture, after whitening. Cathy of Dr. Robert Giuliani’s office, commented, “On a scale from 1 to 10, I rate Life-Like a 10. I even say that to our patients. I like your product better. There is less time between touch-ups.”

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  1. Safety: Life-Like teeth bleaching products are proudly made in the U.S.A. Because of our production controls and shortened shipping times, our refrigerated gel products are the freshest you can buy. This method of tooth bleaching involves placing bleaching material into a custom made teeth whitening tray. With higher concentration gels, trays are trimmed at the gingival margins. This allows holding high concentration gels on the tooth structure, rather than the gingiva, which can cause gingival sensitivity (burning). We have proven less than 5% pulpal sensitivity. We guarantee that all of our materials are free of manufacturing or shipping defects, or you get your money back. The dental hygienist can advise patients that the bleaching material for the at-home kits should be kept refrigerated. When properly stored, the shelf life is one year.

Help Your Practice Grow With Life-Like’s Teeth Whitener Kits

Life-Like is the original teeth whitening system, and we work hard to keep the trust of the cosmetic dentists and dental hygienists who use and recommend our dental products. We know that satisfied patients recommend teeth whitening to their friends, and keep coming back for more dental services. Contact us today and find out why so many dental hygienists love Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions!

Logo Top 3 Reasons Why Dental Hygienists Love Life Like Teeth Whitener

About Life-Like: Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions provides teeth bleaching kits for at-home use and teeth bleaching products for dentists. Dental hygienists rely on Life-Like for dental products and dental supplies to help patients achieve their teeth whitening goals. Cosmetic dentists can purchase professional whitening kits from a wholesaler or an exclusive source, such as the Life-Like website. Visit the website at for complete instructions on using Life-Like’s tooth whitening kits. “Like” the Facebook page to receive regular tips and insider information on Life-Like’s line of dental whitening products. Call 800-543-3545 for more information about boosting patient confidence with teeth whitener kits.

Why Is Food So Addictive?

What you need to know about Food Addiction

food addiction therapy in Santa Barbara

As a food addiction specialist, I often provide therapy to patients who are dealing with eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia, Orthorexia, Bigorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. These are serious conditions which wreak havoc for patients by affecting their health and relationships, their sense of self and well being, and they diminish their ability to participate fully in daily activities.

After a general medical condition has been ruled out, I work with patients in therapy to determine the underlying psychological and emotional causes for their condition.  I want patients to understand that they are not alone in dealing with their eating disorder.

In addition to the underlying factors contributing to one’s eating disorder, they also serve as powerful coping mechanisms. We associate food with memories, use it to make ourselves feel happy when we are sad, rely on it as a way of showing love for our families, and sometimes even punish ourselves with it. My goal is to help patients understand why they interact with food the way they do, so that we can work together to build a life that doesn’t revolve around food.

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Understanding Food Addiction

The first step is to understand why food is so addictive in the first place. According to WebMD experiments have shown that the same pleasure and reward centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine are also activated by food.

Highly palatable foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt trigger the release of brain chemicals, like dopamine, that just make you feel good. For some individuals, the neurochemical structure of their brains may predispose them to either being more sensitive to the chemicals released when eating highly palatable foods or less responsive, meaning it takes eating more of the food to elicit the same pleasure response.    Over time, this can override normal feelings of satisfaction, induce cravings, and compel you to eat, even if you’re not hungry. Tolerances can build up, where you find that eating more and more food becomes less and less fulfilling.

People of all backgrounds, races, body types, and ages may struggle with foodaddiction. Metabolism and levels of physical activity can figure into the equation as well. If an emotional condition such as depression or anxiety is present, simple enjoyment can quickly turn into an addiction. Once food addiction occurs, eating becomes the primary source of pleasure and reward.

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Signs of Food Addiction

It may be difficult to admit to yourself that you have a food addiction, and it can also be hard to spot in others because there is a significant amount of shame and secrecy around food addiction. Here are some questions that might help you or a loved one face the reality of a food addiction:

  • Does it often feel like you are eating more than you planned, especially when it comes to certain foods?
  • Do you feel the need to continue eating those foods, even though you are not hungry any longer?
  • How often do you eat so much that you become ill?
  • If a certain type of food is not available, what actions do you take?
  • Is eating interfering with your ability to work or interact with others?
  • Are you embarrassed by how much you eat around others?
  • Do you eat in secrecy?
  • If you try to cut down, do you experience anxiety, agitation, or any other physical symptoms?
  • Have your eating habits caused you to experience depression, self-hatred, or guilt?
  • Does it feel like to need to eat more and more just to feel any pleasure at all?

Food addictions are different in everyone. These questions don’t necessarily indicate that you have or don’t have an addiction, but they can be helpful guidelines. If you think there is cause for concern it is always best to check with a medical doctor and a mental health professional to confirm your suspicions.

Getting Help for a Food Addiction

Once a person becomes addicted to food, it is difficult to stop, despite any rational thinking or negative consequences that occur. It may require medical care, treatment for depression, nutritional counseling and physical training combined. Here are a few organizations which can provide further insights into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for food addictions:

  1. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD): This non-profit organization has been dedicated to the prevention and alleviation of eating disorders since 1976. ANAD advocates for the development of healthy attitudes, bodies, and behaviors. The organization also promotes eating disorder awareness, prevention and recovery through supporting, educating, and connecting individuals, families and professionals.
  2. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): NEDA was formed in 2001 through the merger of two groups – Eating Disorders Awareness & Prevention (EDAP) and the American Anorexia Bulimia Association (AABA). NEDA believes we can confront eating disorders with increased awareness, early intervention and improved access to treatment. The non-profit provides programs and services to give families the support they need to find answers for these life-threatening illnesses.
  3. The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders: This website has been raising awareness and providing support to people with eating disorders and their loved ones since 1995.  They are determined to remind every sufferer that they are not alone, and that complete recovery is possible.

If you or a loved one is affected by a food addiction or an eating disorder, contact my office immediately to set up a session, and let me help you find a path to a better life.

Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke
The Santa Barbara Therapist

About Known as The Santa Barbara TherapistDr. Adina McGarr-Knabke works with clients who have eating disorders, providestherapy for anxiety, and offers depression counseling as well as alcoholism and addiction treatment services. Her office is located at 1187 Coast Village Rd., Suite 10P in Santa Barbara. Visit the website at to download a complimentary PDF, the “Top 10 Ways to Cope With Depression and Anxiety.” “Like” the Facebook page to receive updates, tips, and information on sustaining good mental health. Appointments may be made online or by calling 818-518-6775.

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