17 September 2015

allergies intolerance bad advice gluten free dairy free
This week I read an article on Femme Intemporelle which caused me great concern. I was deeply saddened by the post titled "Living with Food Allergies: How to make it easier on yourself." When I was told over twitter that the article would not be changed and it was written and edited by people with intolerances/allergies, I was left scratching my head. 

9 January 2014

Eating Out with Allergies and Intolerances
You all know that I follow the Free From Food and Free From Skincare Awards. I am certainly very interested in the recent addition of The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards. Back in September I wrote about changes being made to how food allergens are labelled on products. The new requirements come into force this year, in December. Along with how packets are labelled it also effects the information given to us when dining out. The new regulations allow allergen information to be provided orally by wait staff. This concerns me a great deal.
I enjoy eating out but it can be a little daunting when you have allergies/intolerances. There are many restaurants who do a good job at providing information and others that fall short. I stick to the same restaurants where I have gained knowledge of the food on offer or they provide separate detailed allergy menus. For me, Wagamamas is a shining example of how it should be done. Yes, they are not 100% perfect and I've encountered some hiccups but wait staff always seem attentive and assist with difficulties or mistakes. However, I have come to noticed that it does depend on what allergy/intolerances you have or maybe the branch you visit. I remember my Twitter timeline singing the praises of Nandos, Zizzi and Pizza Express but they were Coeliacs. I've had terrible experiences in all of these restaurants and will not go back. I know Italian food traditionally contains egg and dairy but I manage to not starve when I visited Rome. I ate my own body weight in dairy free gelato and no one questioned me when I ordered cheese free pizza. I can order from Papa Johns without a fuss but how come when I'm in Zizzi and Pizza Express wait staff look at me like I just asked them to poop in my shoes.

A recent email grabbed my attention and I wanted to share the findings of a survey conducted by the Freefrom Eating Out Awards team at the Allergy and Free From show in Liverpool in October. According to the survey, only 17% felt that asking their wait-person or the front of house staff about allergens would be a safe and reliable way to go. 54% thought that talking to the chef was the safest option although many of those (45%) also wanted to see a written list of ingredients for each dish, or to be provided with an ‘allergen-free’ menu. I have to agree. Whilst I don't feel the need to speak to a Chef, I do want to see an allergen menu as I would like to take responsibility for ordering and not be reliant on second hand information. Also, if you are in a noisy and busy restaurant, it allows me time to select my meal without a fuss, especially if a number of items on the menu take my fancy.

Other findings from the survey were -

Asked how often they ate out:
19% ate out twice a week and 18% only ate out once a week
25% ate out twice a month and 19% only ate out once a month
(A Survey of eating habits in London conducted for the Zagat Restaurant Guides in September 2013 showed that, in the London area at least, people now eat out, on average, four times a week)

Asked why don’t they eat out more?
67% said there was not enough choice to make it worth their while eating out.
53% said that they did not trust most restaurants to understand their allergies or special dietary needs
44% said it ‘was too much hassle’
16% said that they did not like ‘to feel different’

Asked which were the best and the worst places to eat if you have an allergy or coeliac disease: 
Best were fine dining restaurants and family run restaurants, scoring 3-5/5
Worst were sandwich bars and Indonesian and Indian restaurants, scoring 1-2/5.

Asked what precautions they took to ensure that they get safe food:
53% phoned in advance to discuss their needs
50% asked to speak to the chef on arrival
(32% both phoned in advance and asked to speak to the chef when they arrived.). However, the largest number, 75%, whether or not they had phoned in advance and/or spoken to the chef, just chose to stick to simplest menus anyhow.

Of those who filled in the survey: 46% had coeliac disease, 20% suffered from wheat allergy/intolerance, 14% suffered from dairy/cow's milk allergy/intolerance, 20% suffered from a range of other allergies/intolerances

I would be very interested to hear if you agree or disagree with the findings of this survey. What would your answers have been to the questions? Do you have good or bad experiences when dining out with your allergies/ intolerances? Do you have a favourite restaurant/cafe that caters to your needs?

Sarah x

1 September 2013

A very exciting email has landed in my inbox turns out my blog has been shortlisted in awards run by Foods You Can. The Free From People's Choice Awards enable people with allergies/intolerance to vote for brands they enjoy and this year a blog category has been added.

Here's where I kindly ask for your help. If you think my blog is worth voting for then you can cast your vote HERE. Voting opens on the 1st of September 2013 and will run until the 30th of September 2013.

Also its not all about my blog make sure you vote for your favourite Free From products. Each person that votes can be entered into a free prize draw to win a £100 food shopping gift voucher.

Thanks in advance for your support, I'm up against some amazing blogs but I have my fingers crossed. 

25 May 2012

What is the difference between Lactose Intolerant and Milk Allergy
One of life's little headaches with having an allergy to milk is getting fed up with being told I need to buy lactose free products. Most people will recognised that those with milk allergy have to avoid consuming Cows milk but it can also include other animals such as goat or sheep. Let me explain the differences between lactose intolerance and milk allergy.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk. There is an enzyme in the digestive tract called lactase, this helps breakdown the lactose. As we age the levels of lactase decrease so people have trouble digesting lactose. This often results in bloating, diarrhea and gas. It is very uncomfortable but not life threatening. On the other hand a milk allergy is when the immune system reacts to the proteins in milk. This means you are allergic to the whey or casein (you can be allergic to both). Allergies can be life threatening (anaphylactic shock) or you may experience hives or difficulty breathing. My milk allergy has been confirmed by Doctors through skin prick tests. I have yet to experience anaphylactic shock but I will get hives, eczema, sinus problems, glue ear, asthma, joint pain and gastric distress. FYI gastric distress is the polite term for saying you get the shits. Think of the worse case of diarrhea you have ever experienced, now times that by a million, add on top of that a pain similar to being kick in the stomach by a donkey, then you'll be pretty close to this symptom. 

I have had some weird questions over the years about my milk allergy. The strangest was at a reception where hotel staff asked "Can you have cheese? We were not sure". Milk allergy also means no butter, buttermilk, cream, chocolate, ice cream and yoghurts. You also get the odd curve ball product where you wouldn't expect to find milk for example bread and tomato ketchup. Just recently I was moaning about ice lollies as some contain milk (Del Monte is one I can name off top of my head). Many people make the mistake of thinking dark chocolate is free from milk but that isn't always the case.

So there you go folks you have learnt something new this afternoon. FYI Lactofree is not suitable for milk allergy, they have removed the lactose but it still is cows milk.

Sarah x


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