Simple swaps for Food Intolerance’s
For many patients, being told they have a food intolerance is a double-edged sword. On one side, they have a huge sense of relief of finally knowing what’s been making them feel so unwell and hope that they can and will feel better. That relief however can be tainted by a sense of grief about missing out on foods and also not knowing what they will eat instead.
But here’s the good news: there are plenty of easy food swaps you can make so that you will never even miss the food you react to.
With a growing awareness of food intolerances among the community, mainstream supermarkets are now awash with alternative options. Whether it’s in the “health food” aisle, the main shelves or the chiller cabinets, there is a growing number of free-from foods. This is especially the case if you have discovered that you have a gluten intolerance, as a wider range of alternative grains and products made from different flours become more popular.
Yes, if you are gluten intolerant you will need to say goodbye to wheat, barley, spelt and rye (and possibly also oats, as these are often contaminated during the milling process). But instead you can say hello to quinoa, amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, millet, polenta, rice, sorghum and other grains. Flours made from some of these alternatives are increasingly available, as are a number of ready-made all-purpose gluten free flour mixes. The quality of gluten-free breads and pastas has improved dramatically in recent years also, so missing out on your comfort food favourites is no longer the price you need to pay.
Similarly, for those with dairy problems there’s more options than ever before. There are lactose-free milks, milk with only A2 protein for those who have trouble digesting A1 protein, and an array of non-dairy milk alternatives. This last category in particular has exploded recently, with a recent trip to the supermarket revealing options such as quinoa, macadamia and almond milks, in addition to the soy, rice and oat milks that have been around for longer.
In addition to the commercial products listed above, many people are treating their food intolerance as motivation to become more creative with their food choices. Zucchini noodles, or zoodles, are a popular gluten-free, grain-free option to have instead of pasta; cauliflower “rice” is another example of a creative re-interpretation of a vegetable.
The internet, and the explosion of food blogs it has enabled, is a fantastic resource for people who are living with dietary restrictions. Paleo blogs provide brilliant inspiration for those who are gluten-free, whereas vegan blogs can inspire new ways of approaching dairy-free and egg-free cooking. These online communities can also be an invaluable source of support when coming to terms with your food intolerance and discovering how other people are enjoying a wide range of foods despite their restrictions.
Being told you have a food intolerance doesn’t have to be a reason to feel sad. Take the opportunity to shift your mindset to one of discovery rather than deprivation and enjoy the world of food that awaits you – without worrying about suffering nasty consequences.