Living with food intolerances and allergies can defiantly be a challenge; the same goes for anyone who has food restrictions.
Now food allergies and food intolerances are 2 very different things. Food Allergies often result in much harsher side effects and often you need to carry around an eppi pen. Allergies are also often present from birth or a very young age, that is not to say you can’t develop them in later life it is just less common. Food Intolerances on the other hand can appear at any stage in your life and can disappear as well.
Today we are going to focus on food intolerances and some tips on how to deal with the common issues you face. These tips can also be applied to anyone who has food restriction due to dieting, vegetarian living, vegan living etc. as well.
From experience I know the first few weeks and even months are the hardest as you navigate your way through what you can and cant eat and find new favorite foods.
Before we jump in a little bit on me and my intolerances.
I got officially diagnosed almost 2 years ago through allergy testing, after I had come out of 5 years in competition prep and my body just wasn’t feeling correct. I would bloat, get rashes, have the runs etc almost every time I ate.
After all the testing was complete I found out I have intolerances to the below, some more then others and I have notices the longer I stay away from the food the worse the side effects I get. From what you to be mind bloating is now turning into 3 days of looking like I have had a run in with poison ivy while being 6 months pregnant.
My Intolerances and allergies are:
– Wheat (all forms)
My initial reaction was Nooo…. This meant no more beer, burgers, cake etc. But learning the below tips helped me find new foods to love and live a more normal life.
I have found the easiest way to get around all of my intolerances is to meal prep. Whether physically cooking all your meals or planning your week before going shopping it helps to know what you are going to need. There are so many recipes out there these days that cover all forms of intolerances and often some of your favourite foods can be modified with a few ingredients.
Plan ahead and know what you are going to eat for each meal. See my blog on Meal Prepping HERE for more tips.
This was a hard one for me at first, what if I want to take my wife out to dinner what am I going to eat. Firstly allergies and intolerances are becoming a lot more mainstream these days and most menu’s will have indicators on them. There is even whole restaurants dedicated to allergies these days.
My top 5 tips for eating out are:
- Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter questions
- Ask for all sauces and dressings on the side, as they often have hidden things in them the waiter may not know and you can judge when it arrives if you will eat it or not
- Know that 99% of places even through they say an item is Gluten free it will not be prepared in a Gluten Free environment so if you are allergic or don’t want to risk it don’t order it.
- 99% of restaurants will have a salad or vegetarian option, simply ask if you can add a protein to this if you want more then a salad, most places will happily oblige.
- Do your research before you go, have a look at the menu online so that you know before you get there what your options are, and if there is truly nothing on the menu go somewhere else. I have a handful of go to places that I know I can eat at and that is fine. Having someone else book your meal while you enjoy good company is variety enough for me.
Be Prepared & Know Your Limits
Always be prepared, have anti-histamines, creams or an eppi pen handy should you need it. Take snacks with you when you go out so you don’t starve if there isn’t something you can eat when you get there.
Most intolerances have a limit so know these as well, know if you can eat 1 chicken nugget or 5 before breaking out in a rash. This will help you in more public situations where you aren’t the one who has prepared your meal.
Family and friends outings
Communication is key. Tell those around you what is going on and why, always offer to bring your own food and if they truly are your friends they will be fine with it and accommodating. It really can be as simple as prepping the same meal and not adding sauce or giving you the pasta topping without the actual pasta.
Travel and holidays
Plan, plan, plan. Know where you are going, if you can bring your own food, what food options are available. If you are planning the trip yourself choose a destination that is more accommodating to your needs like I wouldn’t be going to a cheese and beer festival if I can’t eat or drink anything. Do your research and you will be fine.
Have your go to list of foods
Have a list of foods that are easy and you know are safe to eat. Mine is always steak and veg. its simple, everyone can cook it and most places have it on the menu. Know what you like, what you don’t and be ok with those options. Living with intolerances means you miss out on some food yes but it also means you get to discover new foods as well.
And finally don’t apologies, you cant help that you break out in hives or spend a week in the bathroom after eating a burger bun so don’t feel sorry. People will understand and if they don’t they are idiots.