Being allergic to certain foods can be quite troublesome, especially when faced with dinner parties and social functions. Food allergies can range from being intolerant or allergic to wheat and gluten, milk and dairy products, nuts, and to certain sugars such as fructose.
Overcoming these difficult situations can be tricky, particularly if you are not responsible for the food being prepared. However, arming yourself with a few simple ideas and a mentally rehearsed list of simple swaps can have you enjoying a wide range of your favourite meals.
The most important thing to take away from this list is to keep your choices as simple as possible and think of the fresh, wholesome food that provides you with the nutrition that your body needs. As a rule of thumb, I like to have a variety of colourful food on my plate and I must say red and green come up often.
If you are allergic to wheat and gluten, or have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, then a diet free from wheat and gluten will be of utmost benefit to your health and wellbeing. Simple swaps here are rice, buckwheat, quinoa and sorghum.
Being allergic to milk and dairy can cause much discomfort and bloating. You can continue to enjoy meals that require dairy products by replacing dairy ingredients with almond/soy/rice milks, coconut yoghurt, soy or cashew cheese and vegetable or coconut spreads.
Tree nuts come in a wide variety and allergies can be developed for one or more different types of nuts. The best recommendation here is to completely avoid the nuts that cause an allergic reaction. Depending on the recipe, you can replace nuts with seeds such as pepitas, sunflowers and chia to provide the ‘crunch’ required in a dish. You can also use sunflower seed or pepita (pumpkin seed) butter as a substitution to peanut butter.
Although not considered an allergy, fructose malabsorption means that foods containing fructose can cause a similar reaction in those affected. Limit your intake of sugar and high-fructose foods, i.e. juices, apples, grapes, watermelon, asparagus, peas and zucchini. Some lower fructose foods such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, avocados, green beans and lettuce may be tolerated in limited quantities with meals.
Rita Varelas runs a business called Wholesome Foodstore, which is the result of many years aspiring to work closely with people who have dietary intolerances and to showcase her love for food and knowledge of health and nutrition. In fact, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2012 and is a member of the Coeliac Society, which she relies on for the latest news on medical breakthroughs. This has given her an extensive knowledge of gluten-free foods and coeliac disease.
Rita is a qualified nutritionist and a member of the ANTA (Australian Natural Therapists Association) and Nutrition Australia. She commenced teaching at the CAE in 2015. The range of classes Rita teaches include gluten-free cooking, vegan cooking, cooking with wholefoods, allergy-free cooking, sugar-free baking and more. Check out Rita’s upcoming Allergy-Free Cooking, Nutrition & Wellbeing for Everyday Life and Pickling & Preserving: Pickles, Jams & Chutney short courses.