New to food allergies/intolerances? We’ve got the top tips for how to move forward with your new tummy friendly lifestyle! The following is a post by Joelle Hodson, who proves you can have a happy healthy dairy-free, gluten-free life without letting your food allergies and intolerances get in the way of a tasty meal!
1. Feel All The Feels.
It’s ok to feel sad and overwhelmed. Grieving changes in your life is normal and healthy. But chin up and move forward.
2. Do Your Research.
3. Start A Food Journal.
Think about starting a food journal with what you eat and your symptoms. It can be a very helpful tool or it can feel like an overwhelming burden. It doesn’t have to be a complex color-coded manifesto (unless that makes you happy). It can be a note on your phone with the date and a simple list of items throughout the day and any physical or emotional health symptoms that you notice. BUT if this is a stress that breaks the camels back don’t worry about it. If you continue to have random symptoms after several weeks allergy free come back to this idea.
4. Get Organized.
Make a couple of lists. Think of your go-to meals and your favorite foods. Check the pantry for these items and read the ingredient labels carefully. Put them on the safe list or the “make it work” list. It feels very overwhelming, but it gets easier quickly.
Source: Picture Quotes
5. Start With Favorites.
Focus on delicious foods you can have that are already tummy-safe such as corn chips and salsa.
Think about simple substitutions that can be made to get food from “make it work” to “safe.”
Pro- tip: There are a couple of dairy-free/gluten-free butter such as Smart Balance that can make mashed potatoes delicious and tummy safe.
This French Toast casserole recipe is very close to a recipe that my family loved before switching to gluten-free and dairy-free. I modify this recipe with a little brown sugar/cinnamon mix sprinkled on top to make it just like our old family favorite brunch recipe.
Another way to substitute the gluten ingredient is to use a naturally gluten-free ingredient to replace it. For instance, instead of chili over macaroni noodles, try it over rice or baked potatoes to go gluten-free.
Editor’s Note: Aldi stores have a wonderful array of gluten-free items at affordable prices. Check out our review of Aldi’s gluten-free pizza crust here.
7. This Thing Called Google.
Pro- tip: You can add lemon juice to almond or coconut milk to make a dairy-free buttermilk substitute.
8. Remember, You Are Not Alone!
Facebook, Blogs, and Pinterest have lots of support groups and recipe ideas. Use the search feature on Facebook to check for your questions before asking in large groups. It will save you time because it has probably already been asked and answered.
One of my favorite gluten-free blogs is simplygluten-free.com. Find your favorites and bookmark them! There are tons of resources out there if you really look.
9. Get Spicy!
10. Go Out!
You will be able to eat out! Again Google (and yelp, etc) can be your friend. Search for Gluten-Free restaurants in your area. The first time you visit a restaurant with your allergy/intolerance, try to go during a slower time and when you are not already starving. You will need to be prepared to play 20 questions with the waiter and kitchen staff to find a safe food option.
Pro- tip: you can bring your own salad dressing, butter etc to make meals easier or safer to eat.
There are a few major chain restaurants that have gone to the effort to list their ingredients and will actually share the information. Chic-Fil-A and McAllister’s are two examples. Chilies and Outback Steakhouse are both pretty good allergy-friendly restaurants as well. Local restaurants can be outstanding about discussing what they have in their food and their willingness to help you have a safe meal.
*Editors Note: You can also try the app “Find Me Gluten Free” to find gluten-free food in your area. Look for it in your smartphone app store.
11. Don’t Take It Personally.
Don’t take it personally when coworkers, friends, family members or restaurant staff dismiss your health concerns. Sometimes it helps to be blunt, especially with restaurant staff. You can say, “No, I don’t have Celiac disease but if I eat these things then I feel like I have the stomach flu and I don’t want to sit on the toilet all day tomorrow.” Understand as you learn more about how your food is made that most people have no idea what they are putting in their mouths. Try to gently educate- eggs are not a dairy product because they do not come from cow milk, but thank you for checking with me before putting it in my food!
Joelle Hodson is a happily married mom of two boys (with a bun in the oven!) dedicated to providing amazing meals for her family despite food intolerance challenges. She is passionate about empowering and educating women and regularly volunteers with MOPS International. When Joelle isn’t busy cooking and being a mom, she spends her free time sewing matching family pajamas for her husband and sons (who are still young enough to agree its cool). You can follow Joelle’s future posts here.
Photo sources here unless otherwise noted.