jane akiba/Jane Akiba

Deb Elbaum says that when she went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, she selected psychiatry as her specialty because she “wanted to help people become happier, emotionally stronger, and more successful in life.”

The Newton resident remains committed to that goal in her current career as a life coach, for which she received certification from the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, Calif., last May. She offers private coaching and workshops for clients exploring a job transition, launching their own venture, seeking greater work-life balance, and navigating an issue that has personal meaning to her: food allergies.


Elbaum, a mother of three, said there were few resources available when her middle child, Nathan, began developing hives and rashes after eating certain foods as a 1-year-old in 2000.

“It was isolating and really scary for me,” she said of the testing process that revealed allergies to dairy products, eggs, sesame and mustard seeds, and nuts. “I remember leaving the doctor’s office and feeling overwhelmed. There was no real support, until I met other parents going through the same thing.”

Elbaum became active in advocating for policy changes in public schools, and assisting local families as a volunteer leader of the Metro-Boston Allergy and Asthma Educational Support Group at Newton-Wellesley Hospital from 2001 to 2008.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Elbaum will return to the hospital to facilitate the group’s monthly meeting on the topic “Food Allergies: What Would YOU Do?” The free, public session will cover scenarios involving parties, restaurants, and emergency situations.

Elbaum said her goal is to help families feel empowered in approaching real-life challenges while protecting children’s safety.

“It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed, but parents have more control and choices than they think,” she said. “The key is building on your natural strengths and abilities to develop concrete strategies for doing things differently.”


For more information about Elbaum, visit www.debelbaum.com. To learn more about the hospital’s support group, call the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s New England chapter at 781-444-7778, or visit www.asthmaandallergies.org.

Cindy Cantrell may be reached at cindy-cantrell20@gmail.com.