When you first discover that you have a food allergy, it can actually be exciting… I know that sounds crazy, so hear me out. I find it a reason to celebrate because you finally know what has been ailing you all this time. However, any food allergy diagnosis can elicit a certain degree of fear. If you’ve always loved carbs, but learned of a gluten allergy, the thought of rearranging your diet might be daunting.
The first thing I tell my clients is to be gentle with themselves and take your time. Eliminating too much at once can feel really stressful and like major deprivation, but doing nothing at all can also be very taxing on your body. The symptoms that led you to this diagnosis are not going to go away until you make some changes.
Instead of jumping in all at once, follow the steps that I’ve outlined below, and be willing to ask for help along the way. As you begin to educate yourself and reframe your diet, your new eating regime will start to become second nature.
Personal Note: It took me a good FOUR YEARS after being told to go gluten free to finally feel like I knew what I was doing (and to stop being tempted). So don’t beat yourself up if this takes you awhile to get the hang of. I hope that the tips below help you to slide into this new way of eating much quicker than I did.
As Soon as You’re Diagnosed
- Research: Learn all of the hidden forms of your allergy food. For example, if you’re allergic to dairy, you will probably need to avoid all forms of cow’s milk such as whey, casein and lactose. Get to know these names so you can spot them on packaged-food labels. There is a form of dairy in most packages of salami for example. Here is a really good list for other names of dairy.
- Remove: Go through everything in your pantry and fridge, and read the ingredients. Remove (or donate) any products that contain the ingredients you want to stay away from. If you live with other people, try to keep those foods in a separate cabinet so they’re out of your sight.
- Restock: Have fun finding replacements for all of your favorite foods. If you have an egg allergy, experiment with new breakfast recipes like chia seed pudding, veggie-sausage hash and green smoothies. Trying new foods is always a treat! Making these kinds of changes today is SO much easier than it used to be. Your local health food store WILL have options for you, plus try doing a google search for whatever food you looking for and the word “replacements” after it.
- Source: Find resources that teach you how to cook without the offending ingredient. There are so many great blogs out there with information, recipes and lifestyle tips for people on a restricted diet. Hint: For those avoiding gluten, soy and dairy, search for AIP and Paleo blogs.
- Plan: Cook meals at home and keep snacks in your bag in case you can’t grab something while you’re out. If you like to occasionally dine out, search for allergy-friendly restaurants or check menus in advance to determine what’s safe for you to eat.
Find a coach: If you’re not sure how to start or maintain a new allergy-free or medically necessary diet, I can be your guide. I’ll give you the tools and delicious food you need to heal your body. Schedule a Wellness Session with me and we can do a deep dive into your symptoms and current diet and create a path for you to eating better.