In case you missed any of them, here are all the allergy free life hacks I shared in the May and June Newsletters. This includes:

  • Managing multiple diets in the house
  • Ideas for creating a stress-free eating environment at home
  • How to not let those cravings be the boss of you
  • Strategies to curb cravings
  • How to use a food journal
  • Exploring dairy sensitivities: how to determine if any form of dairy works for you
  • FDA changes to labeling law (during COVID) may affect food allergies


Managing Multiple Diets In The House

So what do you do if you are living with other people in the house who do not share your diet? It can be quite challenging if you are brand new to staying away from a certain ingredient and there are still foods in the house that contain it, like bread and pizza. I try not to eat dairy, and honestly, even after this many years, I still have a REALLY hard time when there is cheese in the house. So, I don’t buy it and my husband just keeps his cheese consumption to when he is eating out.

If this isn’t possible for you, then here are two strategies to cope with the temptations:

#1 Ask your family/housemates to do a 30-day challenge where all the allergy foods leave the house. This time will give you a chance to be away from any temptations and for new habits to really set in. Basically, everyone gets a 30 day (make it fun!) challenge to change up the way they eat. Get their buy in to support your new healthy diet.

#2 Organize your kitchen so that any foods you are staying away from are in a separate cabinet. Have all the gluten-containing (or whatever) snacks in a cabinet YOU don’t have to open. This way, you aren’t getting a constant reminder of what you can’t eat. Taking the time to rearrange the pantry and fridge will be worth it. Like I mentioned with the cheese, if I see it, I want it. I find that if I put any dairy in the fridge in a drawer out of my sight, I do much better.

What other ideas or strategies do you use to handle having allergy foods in your house?

More ideas for creating a stress-free eating environment at home

– Are there snacks the family likes to eat that you can transition to an allergy-free version?

– Is there an allergy-free version of a food or snack that YOU like that you can have in the house, while everyone else has the regular version? For example, when everyone is having pizza, is there a cauliflower crust version you can have? Or a dairy-free cheese, whatever the food is that you are staying away from, is there a version you can have so you aren’t tempted to eat the regular one?

– Go to the professionals for help!! If everything I have mentioned doesn’t work, what about hiring a Chef to create some allergy-free meals that everyone will like? I have helped many families where 2 out of the 4 people in the house needed to be dairy and gluten-free. I created snacks, breakfasts, and full dinners that EVERYONE enjoyed. Don’t throw in the towel, all of this takes getting used to, for you and your family.


How To Not Let Those Cravings Be The Boss Of You

Dealing with Cravings?

One of the biggest challenges when we are trying to change our diet are the cravings. Why do we crave the foods we are so desperate to get out of our lives? If you experience cravings for certain foods, it’s NOT because you are weak or lack discipline. Cravings are actually programmed into our bodies to help us get the nutrients we are lacking. It is a very intelligent communication system inside our bodies. The challenge is that we can ALSO experience negative cravings that we created by the way we eat. Let’s dive into the different types of cravings.

Cravings can stem from a few different sources:

  • They can be emotional – we’ve had a rough day and we need a “treat”
  • Physical – can be caused by a nutritional deficiency, like craving chocolate during menstruation usually because of the magnesium in cacao
  • Lack of energy – you might crave more food because you have run out of calories or glucose in your blood
  • Rituals – a routine your body is used to, like drinking coffee every morning

The next time you have a craving, pause and question where it might be coming from first, before you do anything about it.

Is the craving emotional? Has it been a while since you had a good hug? Did you just have a fight with someone and now you want ice cream?

Or, is the craving physical? Foods that are high in salt or sugar, prompt us to want the opposite if we eat too much.

So, the first step I suggest for you is to consider is …… what kind of craving is it, and what does it stem from?

Some Strategies to Curb Cravings

1) Slowly reduce the amount of the food or “treat” you are eating: Is it soda, chocolate, coffee, baked goods….. try to have a smaller amount than the day before.

2) Improve the quality: Have some, but change up the source. Is there a higher quality version you can try?

3) Don’t bring it into the house: Finish what you have and don’t buy more.

4) Pay attention to when you have a craving and what triggers the craving. Many times it’s when you eat something of the opposite flavor, such as when you have salty dinner, like Chinese food, that you really want something sweet after…. so how can you balance out that meal so it doesn’t send you into a craving afterwards.


What A Food Journal Can Reveal

How to Use a Food Journal

Keeping a food journal is one of the most valuable tools you can use when you are trying to heal your gut and improve your health. Writing down everything you eat may seem daunting, but there is an incredible amount of information to be revealed here. If you write it down consistently, you will be able to see patterns that you wouldn’t be aware of if you are just going by memory. A lot happens in a day. And three days later if you get a stomach ache or a rash pops up, you might not remember why.

I just woke up really congested and my nose keeps running. Now I am thinking back to what I ate yesterday. What caused such a major change in my sinuses overnight??

Food journaling can help you understand what’s pissing off your digestion, disrupting your sleep, creating congestion, or causing those afternoon energy crashes. The practice also helps you to be more mindful of what you are eating instead of it being something that is just done on auto-pilot.

THE most important piece to record in your journal is how you FEEL every day. Your mood after you eat is a critical piece to uncovering which foods are not working for you. So make sure your journal has a spot for moods and emotions as well as your energy level when you wake up.

When keeping a food journal, some basic rules to remember are:

  • Be honest. This is just for you (and maybe your nutritionist if you choose). No judgment here.
  • Write down everything you eat and drink, no matter how small it seems.
  • Do it now. Don’t rely on your memory at the end of the day. Record your meals as you go.
  • Be specific. Jot down exactly what you ate. If you have a burger, note if it was homemade or where you ate it. Make a note if it’s from a restaurant or the brand name if it’s from a package. This is important information to have when looking back at times you didn’t feel well.
  • Set a timer on your phone and go back to your journal an hour after you eat. How are your energy and mood?

I keep a food journal occasionally when I want to track my water or exercise or really get to the bottom of a symptom I don’t like. I always note the following:

  • Number of glasses of water I drank
  • What time I woke up and did I feel like hitting the snooze
  • Exercise for the day
  • Any symptoms I am experiencing like itchiness, tired, brain fog, stomach upset, congestion
  • Supplements I took
  • What I ate
  • If I have any cravings
  • Am I feeling any strong emotions, both positive or negative

All of this is important data to me. I can see how I feel today and then look at what I ate the day before to get at what might have caused gas or bloating, or why am I feeling super tired or irritable today?

Give this a try and see what patterns you notice.

I love to handwrite in a paper journal, but maybe you would rather have an app on your phone instead. Here are some suggestions for tracking apps. They might not have spaces to capture the details I suggest above, but use what works for you. It’s important to find a system you will actually use and be consistent with.

I hope this is helpful! The power of journaling is profound. I have a journal that I have been keeping on and off for over 3 years. I find it so useful to go back and look at my notes from a year ago. ESPECIALLY if I look back and see the SAME COMPLAINTS. Wow, is that a kick in the butt.

The power is in your hands (and on your paper).


Exploring dairy sensitivities: raw vs. pasteurized, cow vs. sheep  

The form makes a difference.

If you know you have a sensitivity to dairy, have you tested out how you feel with ALL the types of milk? Raw vs. pasteurized? Cow vs. Goat? How about milk vs. cheese?

The kind of dairy could make a difference in your symptoms. It’s very common for people to be “lactose intolerant,” we even have cheeses and milks on the market which are “lactose-free.”  Maybe these work for you, if you only have a problem with lactose in milk.

Or if you are like me, you could be reacting to the protein. Casein is one type of protein found in dairy which is responsible for giving milk its white color. Different types of dairy have different types of casein. They also have other proteins like whey, all in varying amounts. Each type of protein found in dairy affects our digestion differently (although some people are sensitive to all of it).

Before you give up on ALL dairy, it could be worth trying out each form of it to see if there are any that you don’t react to.

If you are going to test out any food to see how it affects you, always use these guidelines:

GIVE UP ALL dairy. That means eliminating every kind for two weeks.  ALL milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

Notice what changes in how you feel and note them down. Did your sinuses clear up, post-nasal drip stop, headaches go way, any changes in irritable bowel symptoms, energy, or weight?

Then start eating dairy again one item at a time. Eat it for one day, not changing anything else about your diet. Then stop eating it and wait 2 days. Notice any symptoms including the ones you wrote down.

Repeat until you have tried all the foods you want to test.

Here are some forms of dairy you can test out to see how you react:

  • Different sources like cow, sheep or goat
  • Raw milk from a local farm vs. the milk at the grocery store
  • Raw cheese from different animals like cow, sheep or goat
  • Yogurt
  • What about butter?
  • Ghee vs. regular butter

FDA changes to labeling law may affect food allergies

I recently attended a webinar presented by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) sharing what they know about the FDA’s temporary change to labeling rules. You can read the FDA statement here, and download the full regulation documentation on that page too.

I have gone through the statement and pulled out the key details about WHY the FDA has instituted this temporary relaxation of labeling rules and how companies should act if they make changes to an ingredient. Here are the main points:

  • The goal of the temporary rule “is to provide regulatory flexibility to help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions on product availability associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • This will provide “flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes” (because changing labels and re-printing boxes is a long and expensive process)
  • “Minor formulation changes should be consistent with the general factors listed below, as appropriate: Safety: the ingredient being substituted for the labeled ingredient does not cause any adverse health effect (including food allergens, gluten, sulfites, or other foods known to cause sensitivities in some people, for example, glutamates)”

The other “general factors” are Quantity, (the changed ingredient should be 2 percent or less by weight of the finished food), Prominence (the ingredient should not be the main ingredient of the food), and Nutrition/Function (an omission or substitution of the labeled ingredient does not have a significant impact on the finished product, including nutritional differences or functionality.)

The part of the above that concerns me is the word they are using….”SHOULD”. This statement from the FDA tells companies their ingredient changes “should” comply with these rules, but we will have no idea if they are.

I asked the representatives from the GIG if they knew which foods are being affected by supply chain shortages. They did not know of any specific ingredient that is having a shortage but suggested that any company which purchases ingredients that are shipped or flown from another state or country could be affected.

If you want to get involved or stay informed as this progresses then here are some groups you can follow. These are all gluten-related groups, but this affects ALL food allergies. If you have packaged products that you regularly eat, keep watch of this situation and if needed, give those companies a call to see if they have changed anything in the ingredients.

***GIG has co-signed a letter submitted to the FDA along with Gluten-Free Watch Dog, National Celiac Association, Beyond Celiac, Society for the Study of Celiac Disease, and the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California, expressing their concerns as a community. You can view this letter here.