Let me introduce you all to a lovely couple (one that I am yet to meet in person but hey social media makes it so easy to make new friends with similar interests) and their baby; Christine Bernard, her husband Warren and Flat White. She is a lover of coffee, design and photography and he is a photographer and together they have managed to consummate their passions and combined creative energy into a free online magazine with a simple yet effective design. Articles are sub-divided into the themes of “Design-Create-Discover” and as an added bonus there are some great competitions to enter. My lucky stars aligned and I am now the proud owner of a Nomu recipe card box which I have wanted for a while as well as some gorgeous jewellery from Skrif. Maybe yours will too so pop on over to the website here and follow the links to read the magazines.
In Issue 3 you will find an article entitled “Don’t be flanked by forbidden food” which I was so excited to write when Christine asked me to contribute to her project after perusing my blog. I have been meaning to write a post on this topic for a while for femmegypsy – there is nothing like a deadline!
“I lived with the exhausting physical side-effects of eczema, sinusitis, asthma, headaches and IBS as well as the debilitating emotional impacts of these diseases for many years. So, finding out that the solution was simply to cut out some food came as a relief not a burden.
Firstly, it is very important to distinguish between a food allergy and a food intolerance. I mention this as most people confine themselves to continuous suffering when an allergy test comes back as negative, believing that it cannot be food leading to their suffering – effectively giving up when in reality they are most probably still intolerant.
A food allergy is an adverse response to a food protein; the body effectively thinks it is under attack and the immune system responds by sending out white blood cells to fight, causing the allergic reaction, with symptoms presenting themselves almost immediately. Diagnostic tests, which include a skin prick or blood tests, can be done to detect whether a person is allergic after which the disease can be treated but there is no cure. Symptoms affect the skin (rashes, hives, dermatitis and eczema), respiratory tract (nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma and coughing) and gastrointestinal tract (mouth ulcers, cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and IBS).
An intolerance results from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a food substance and is chronic rather than acute. An intolerance is more difficult to diagnose and symptoms, although similar to those of an allergy, only present themselves over a prolonged period of time. An elimination diet is the only way to determine what may be the cause.
The severity of the symptoms and amount of food needed to trigger the reaction varies from person to person for both.
Although an allergy can be treated with certain medications such as epinephrine (adrenaline), antihistamines and steroids I believe the simplest solution to either an allergy or an intolerance is to completely eliminate contact with the problematic protein. I am lucky as I am only intolerant to wheat. Many people suffer from multiple food allergies which can include anything and everything from wheat, gluten, nuts, dairy, shellfish, soy and beans to chicken. The list is endless and random.
Many people become overwhelmed when they are diagnosed with an allergy or an intolerance. My advice here is to concentrate on what you can eat rather on what you cannot. When your slew of health issues become a thing of the past this lifestyle change is so obviously worth it. What I have also found is that in restricting my diet I have found more food and ingredients than I ever could have imagined with which to experiment. It has only been a year since I decided to cut wheat from my diet so most of these discoveries have been online on the many adventurous and exploratory blogs I now frequently read and I have yet to translate all the recipes into actual meals at home. What I have done though is collate restaurants that are “gluten-free” friendly that I have visited and I have one or two recipes, although this might be too strong a word for my attempts, on my own blog under the category “Free Food”. I love the idea of calling it free food; the essence of accepting this lifestyle change is realising that it should not be restricting.
Eating gluten-free is a life-style, not a diet. This is becoming easier as the prevalence of this choice of diet is increasing every day and as a result the availability of gluten-free products and places catering for this life-style is on the rise. Some eat gluten-free to treat celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. Some experience non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (we have come full circle to the point made about the differences between allergies and intolerances here). Fad dieters who think eating gluten-free will help them to lose weight must remember that gluten-free eating isn’t inherently healthy as gluten-free processed foods are often low in fibre and nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D. Like any diet, it should be varied and whole-foods must always be considered first. I eat gluten-free as all gluten-free food is wheat-free although not all wheat-free food is gluten-fee.
Even though there is an abundance of gluten-free products available today, it can still be challenging to eat this way due to the higher cost of these products and because of the ubiquitous nature of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat and other grains.The obvious products that contain gluten include bread, pasta, cake and biscuits but this protein is a lurker. It is found in spices, thickening agents, soya sauce, prepared soups, salad dressing, some alcoholic drinks, gum, sweets, ice-cream and even some prescription medications. It is important to always question what you are eating and where and how it has been prepared as cross-contamination can be a serious issue for people who experience severe side-effects from ingesting this protein.
If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy or suspect that you might be intolerant I definitely recommend that you find some blogs which specialise in allergy-free cooking. It was through reading other people’s journeys that my attitude changed to carefully consider what I eat every day and it is thanks to these blogs serving as major inspiration that I realised there were so many new, tasty and different foods out there. As I have mentioned, this was the major ancillary benefit of discovering I would have to control my health through diet.
So do not become flanked by “forbidden food”, rather create and discover with something that is of the utmost importance to living a great life; whole-food.”
Christine is also busy designing the logo for an exciting new project that Wes and I have been thinking about/working on for a while and which is almost ready to be shared with all mountain-biking enthusiasts out there (that is the only hint I am giving…) Another #watchthisspace moment. She also designs business cards, letterheads, email signatures, magazine adverts, posters, flyers, invitations, menus and albums – the photos of which you should let her husband take 😉