Living more freely with food allergies
by FoodMaestro | 15 June 2015
If you are reading this post, the chances are that you, or a family member, suffer from an allergy. FoodMaestro is not here to explain the complications this brings – I’m sure you are already fully aware of this – we are here to help you live your life more freely.
What that means is helping you to find ways of doing things that stop your allergy from limiting your way of life. Thankfully, today there are many resources available, and we have put together some tips on how you can live more freely.
Here’s our five-point guide…
1. Immerse yourself in online communities
It’s easy to feel alone when tackling any kind of health issue and sorry if it sounds like a cliché but you are not alone. The truth is that you are among millions of others dealing with food allergies and they face the same day-to-day issues as you.
Online communities, such as Twitter, present an ideal opportunity for sufferers to share their experiences and help each other with coping strategies. By digesting in-depth information about food allergies, it will help you manage your concerns with greater confidence.
A useful group that runs on Twitter every week is 'Allergy Hour'. Discussions take place every Thursday 8.30pm – 9.30pm and can be found using the hashtag #allergyhour. You can join in with conversations relating to a range of allergy matters, and lots of people have found it helps them to feel part of a community where they can speak candidly and gain valuable advice. Who better to offer support than people experiencing what you’re going through?
We are hoping that in time the FoodMaestro blog will become a platform for discussions to take place where allergy sufferers can receive and offer guidance.
2. Plan ahead
Initially, it may seem like it could add time to your schedule but the day-to-day management of your food allergies will be considerably less stressful if you plan in advance. It will also give you greater confidence knowing that if something does go wrong you are prepared.
Here are some things that you can do to plan ahead.
- Have an emergency snack to hand
- Eat before making a long trip
- Carry your Epi-Pen at all times
It can't be emphasised enough that taking the time to do this will save you a lot of worry and hassle in the long run.
3. Locate allergy-friendly restaurants
Just because you, or a family member, suffer with an allergy, it doesn’t mean that you should have to avoid eating out. Visiting allergy-friendly restaurants can make it safer, and give you more peace of mind.
Most major towns and cities - and many smaller ones - have dedicated websites or blogs, which offer information about the best eating establishments catering for special dietary needs.
Type a relevant search term into Google and you should be able to access the information you need. For example, 'Allergy friendly restaurants [location]'.
Alternatively, if you have an allergy query you would like answered from a particular restaurant or pub, you might consider asking via social media (assuming they have pages set up). Any decent food business will make it a priority to reply on a public social forum.
For those who want to keep it private, a simple email or telephone call in advance should suffice.
4. Create your own recipes
Help is on hand to recreate popular meals and snacks no matter what your food intolerance or allergy might be. Recipe books, specialist food websites, and mobile apps are available to demonstrate how to find the tastiest substitute ingredients and alternative recipe ideas.
Netmums offers a useful, dedicated, free-from food section where mums can find recipes for the family.
Cooking food from scratch might take longer but it's also a rewarding experience. Additionally, it is also usually tastier, and healthier, than consuming processed pre-packed foods!
5. Increase your food product options
The minefield of food labelling is not fun to tackle and I’m sure you understand the frustration of having to sift through each and every label. This often results in allergy sufferers limiting their options, or it becomes a tiresome, lengthy process.
We have received hugely positive feedback since launching the FoodMaestro app; with many people commenting on the way it has enhanced their food product options. It cuts time by letting you simply scan a product with your smartphone and it will indicate whether or not it contains the ingredient(s) you are allergic to.
The platform was put together by some of the UK’s top allergy specialists, who felt that there needed to be a tool that made it easier for allergy sufferers to shop.
In addition to the app, you can compile your shopping list in the comfort of your own home by accessing our database of products and filtering the results according to your dietary needs.
We hope these tips help you to live more freely. Please let us know if you have any advice to add!