I meet more and more people who know that they are eating foods that do not agree with them. They have a fear of giving up their favourite foods and a fear of living with a diet that is “boring”, “difficult” or “not tasty”. Some food intolerance symptoms can be bearable, perhaps a skin rash, a headache or just putting up with little “pains”. However, others are not so much fun and these include; bloating, flatulence, stomach cramps, foggy head, blurred vision, lightheadedness, constipation, diarrhoea, low immune system, slow digestion, severe joint pains, migraines, recurrent illness… the list goes on and I am sure you can add your own.
Finding out whether you have a food intolerance can be an expensive task and there are many tests out there to choose from. For example, The Asyra Test passes an electric current through your body; you do not feel it but your body’s response to the signals it sends are recorded. Offers on this product range from £50- £195. The York Test offers a blood test to determine intolerances and although it looks reasonably priced at first, you soon get drawn into purchasing a number of the different blood tests. Blood tests can range from £50-£300, dependent on how many foods you decide to get tested for. If you choose to go for a blood test, be aware that these are not always accurate – and I know this from first hand experience. I am yeast intolerant (both brewer’s and baker’s) and dairy, wheat and sugar affect my stomach and concentration levels.
In my experience, one of the most effective ways of testing is with an elimination diet; a procedure where all suspected foods are excluded from the diet and then reintroduced one at a time. It is always best to seek advice before starting one, to ensure that your lifestyle can support any change in diet and eating habits. During an elimination diet and with the assistance of a trained nutritionist, you will discover foods that are suitable for you as well as benefit from the experience of the nutritionist. A nutritionist will be able to identify intolerances and assist your understanding of a number of symptoms. They will look at you as a whole, seeking to understand your lifestyle and make appropriate suggestions to enable you to move forward. Once you have this basis you can start your new journey, perhaps one that is more geared up for a food intolerance lifestyle – far from ‘boring’. I am a qualified holistic nutritionist with a great interest in finding naturally healthy alternatives that are tasty; thus why my business was born! I hope to inspire those with and without food intolerances to make naturally healthy choices that are non restrictive and super tasty!
With time, I have grown to appreciate my food intolerances (wheat, yeast, dairy, sugar, corn, maize, potato, alcohol, vinegar, citric acid plus a few others); because of them, I have tried so many new foods. I have even surprised myself by trying foods that I wouldn’t have previously considered as ‘healthy’, for example, turkish food. When I thought of Turkish food, images of doner kebabs, with pita, chips and salad were conjured up. However, a shish kebab cooked over a grill can be super healthy and ordered from your local takeaway. Sling out the pitta for the wheat and yeast intolerances, add in hummus for a sauce, hold the salad dressing for the yeast and vinegar intolerances and hold the chips as well if potatoes cause you trouble. At the beginning of my food intolerance investigation, I consumed so many potatoes that I caused myself to be intolerant to those too! Something I have learnt quickly is that it is all about variety. When you have food intolerances or discomfort caused by food, I think you get to this conclusion a little quicker … it really is: ‘everything in moderation’.
Take a look at your diet – make a rough diary if you like making lists, or just make a mental note to consciously become aware of how often you are eating certain foods. Try to only eat that food once a day, particularly: bread, sugar, yeast, potatoes, as well as eating a wider variety of foods. Some days, I give myself the challenge of eating as many vegetables as I can – I do this with dishes as well as smoothies and juices. I find a good practice is to ensure a healthy start at breakfast; then if you incur any road bumps throughout the day, at least you started it the right way, with plenty of goodness. Often, I will eat between 9-15 different types of vegetables and plants per day – plants that include many nutritional herbs such as mint, chives parsley and more. Eating in this way is far easier in the summer months, with the sunshine and crops a plenty. With this lifestyle you become very interested in what you are eating; I have learnt so much about food, one has to really!
Don’t be tempted to fall for ready meals, they are packed full of hidden ingredients that are no good for you – cooking from scratch is the way forward and it doesn’t have to be hard. Eating out can be tricky, the waitress will not always understand food intolerances and so it might be necessary to ask a lot of questions such as, ‘does the marinade/sauce/dressing have vinegar/alcohol/sugar in it?’ Be aware, if you’re intolerant to vinegar, poached eggs are often cooked in vinegar! For someone who has not studied food or trained to be a chef you can to either learn as you go or read blogs like these for tips. Sometimes reading recipes can help us gain a better understanding of what our favourite dishes might include, we know that even a little of something bad for us can create havoc – knowledge is key.
My food intolerances have been a real eye opener and life changer – I have found myself actively wanting to make naturally healthy food and find alternatives to what is already on offer. For example, chocolate mousse – refined sugar, eggs, cream, milk chocolate (dairy and refined sugar). A naturally healthy alternative would be chocolate avocado mousse or perhaps, a mousse without dairy and refined sugar. My preference is to eat food that I can trace directly back to it’s source: picked from a tree, laid by a hen, blossom from the coconut tree or naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables. I feel at my best when I eat food that is closest to its most natural form.
I am on a mission to find foods that are naturally healthy and discover a variety of ways to use them. I like to take traditional recipes and hack them, fine tuning them until I arrive at the naturally healthy alternative. A good example would be a custard tart; first, I remove the ingredients that are overly processed or that I am intolerant to such as milk, wheat and refined sugar. Next, I get creative in the kitchen, finding naturally healthy alternatives that I can experiment with. Making dishes such as custard tarts tend to take a little more time, so I choose to make them occasionally or for special occasions.
Throughout my journey with food intolerances, the most important part for me is the taste. My food intolerance lifestyle has certainly intensified my tastebuds – I can pick out ingredients that are only there by trace and often by smell too. I know what tastes naturally great and I want this to be the focus of my recipes and cooking – what cook doesn’t want their food to taste great? Be your own chef every evening; create great tasting food with simple ingredients that will surprise you and make you look forward to creating them again and again.