Hello, from me…

Hi. I’m Naomi – founder of The Digestive Workshop.

As a nutritional therapist, I often try things out on myself before I ask my clients to do the same thing, this includes clinical tests. I like to see how various company’s products work in the real world. It is good to understand how a client may react or handle the task of taking their samples at home. So that said I did an intolerance test on myself from a company I had just registered with and did the IgG test – for those that aren’t equipped with the science knowledge that is an intolerance not and allergy test. Wow, did I get a surprise! We always think, oh we are fine, it will just be one thing I probably have to cut out and it will be easy. But what happens when its’ multiple things and many of them are pretty integral to many allergy friendly products on the market.

So, you ask what came up for me, well it starts with -almonds, hazelnuts, cashews (not peanuts!) then moved onto maize, all corn products, peas and any pea protein derivative (but not legumes like soy!), plums, mustard – OH! And I’m coeliac and diary intolerant – yes, that’s all dairy.

OK, so where do I go from here, all I can say is thank goodness I’m not vegetarian! However, if I was it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But it does mean that my love for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen is going to be my saving grace right now. I have made it my mission for the last few years to learn about alternatives in cooking which many take for granted in ‘normal’ food. But what’s normal, is junk food or ready meals your normal, if so then you are in trouble! But maybe not, you might just have to eat fresh food and learn to eat something healthy along the way.

Finding out that you have multiple allergies or intolerances, or both can be challenging for the most well informed of us, so it must be terrifying for those who don’t have the same amount of knowledge in that area. But I am here to tell you when it comes to cooking at home it is all good and when eating out it just takes the right amount of knowledge about behind the scenes and asking the right questions of your waiter.

So, what do we want from food? Are you someone who loves or hates cooking? Are you a foodie and photograph every plate you touch or are you someone who just eats for sustenance? No matter who you are there are ways of incorporating food into your kitchen at home that won’t upset your body or give you a reaction that means your quality of life is compromised in some way. Start with avoiding ready made products including baking flours that contain those ingredients.

If you are allergic or intolerant to main allergens like rice, soy, maize (corn) etc. then it can be challenging to change ingredients if you are coeliac, but not impossible. Most gluten free products contain a mixture of rice, soy, maize, potato, tapioca and quite often pea protein. These are often the main irritants people are unable to eat. Whichever element you can’t eat you omit and can sometimes substitute. In my case I am removing the maize and upping the brown rice flour component and a little to the tapioca or potato. Now just a pointer here, quite often in gluten free flour is measured very carefully when it comes to baking. So be prepared for some experiments to go wrong but don’t give up and try different combinations.

The other thing you can do is steer away from the traditional stores and the main supermarkets. You can find a lot of small businesses providing very good alternative options to people who have a complicated shopping list! I found a great bakery at the FreeFrom show a few years ago and quite often recommend my clients to them. You don’t have to make everything from scratch a little time on the internet might yield some gems. Don’t be afraid to send questions and check their ingredients lists. Companies want to build their loyal customer base, and I think supporting small business is just good karma.

Over the coming months I will write a few posts on how to build your confidence in the kitchen when you have multiple food allergies or just need some guidance on what the next steps might be for you. If you have any questions about any of the subject matter I’ve raised or just want to discuss some recipe alternatives please email me on – naomi@thedigestiveworkshop.com.

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