Tears, tantrums and a lack of tiaras

When you’re first diagnosed with food allergies it usually comes as a shock. There’s an initial ‘Ah yay, that’s what’s wrong with me’ moment, but this is swiftly followed by ‘holy crap, what am I going to eat?!!’

You can see your life stretching before you with endless servings of sawdust and parboiled eggplant as your only source of nourishment.

Like a beauty pageant there will be tears and tantrums, but sadly there will be no tiaras or pretty sashes for having a great smile or looking good in a bikini.

Eventually though, you’ll just have to pull yourself together and find a way to eat that nourishes you and doesn’t depress you with it extreme blandness.

Diagnosis means you have to change your life in some very significant ways – what you eat and where you eat – but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying food.

And here’s something you’ve got to learn really fast: How to cook.

<Sigh>

I hate cooking.

But I LOVE eating.

Learning to cook means you can eat safely, save heaps of money on over-processed and pricey allergy-free food, and ensure you get maximum nutrition in your diet.

So how do you learn to cook in an allergy-safe way?

  • Look to your community. There are people everywhere with food allergies, and a lot of them are online so even if you don’t know any other allergy-free people personally, you can easily connect to others with similar dietary issues. Get in touch and ask for advice – it’ll save you time and tears.
  • Use the tools - Google, Pinterest and YouTube – there are free recipes and how-to videos all over internet land.
  • Join a cooking class – there are several specialist chefs who run classes in allergy-free cooking – I’ve listed a few local ones at the bottom of this post.
  • Buy an allergy-free cookbook. You’ll need it – often you can’t just simply substitute one ingredient for another allergy-free one, you’ll have to tinker with the amounts and even add in extra bits and pieces to make the recipes work. Cookbooks help!

Most importantly, don’t give up. It’s normal to make mistakes and produce some terrible food when you’re starting out, but it gets easier honestly.

As for me? I still hate cooking, and I’m not very good at it, but I’m getting better.

Resources:

Gluten and dairy-free Hamilton Facebook group

Waikato Food Allergies Facebook group

Nadia Lim – chef who often posts allergy-free recipes

Jimmy Boswell  – the Gluten Free Chef – he runs cooking classes for gluten-free and other allergy-free foods

My Darling Lemon Thyme – chef who posts a lot of allergy-free recipes

Sue Shepherd – writer of fantastic allergy-free cookbooks (including fodmaps)

Gluten Free Made Easy – cooking school for gluten-free people