How to survive special occasions with food intolerances

Food chemical intolerances can complicate your life, but none more so than when you need to eat out. It is hard enough to restructure your whole diet and relearn everything you know about healthy eating, but trying to convey the message to wait staff, friends or family can be a mission! So, how do you survive special occasions with food intolerances?


My husband and I have made the lifestyle choice to eat out on most weekends. The variety on most menu’s is limited for me and it can sometimes be like playing Russian Roulette, however it is a time out we both enjoy. An added bonus is that my son also learns how to behave in this environment,  practice his table manners and if he’s lucky there will be a play area for him to run around in.


As I said previously, the options open to me are generally slim pickings. Some restaurants can be difficult if they do not have knowledgeable staff or a psychotic chef who thinks you will steal their recipe (yes seriously!!).


On some magical occasions I can find something sensational. We have found many gems where the restaurants have created dishes for me, tweaked the menu or the poor waitstaff have grilled the chef (pardon the pun) on all ingredients till their feet have worn out going back and forth to the kitchen.


Weddings are another minefield. Recently, I had to call a reception hall so I could work out an appropriate menu. I loath to do this which is weird because it shouldn’t be something to worry about, but of course you do. Why? Because for some reason you don’t want to be a ‘pain’. Considering the alternative though, you go ahead and you get through it.


I love a great wedding organiser. Not only did I want to be one when I was younger but they really do work for their money. This particular wedding organiser spent 1.5 hours on the phone with me to find something, ANYTHING, that would be suitable for me. We finally managed it though and that girl received a glowing reference from me.


The hardest part of a wedding though for me personally is the free flowing wine. I have overcome the hurdle of the preservatives (why exactly do they put them in there – for the pleasure of the hangover maybe?). There are some great drops out there that reduce the preservatives in the wine which are in convenient purse size bottles, however I still have that little issue with the actual grapes they put in there 🙁


With intolerances it is the build up that is the enemy and also the reason why they are so hard to diagnose. I can have a glass or two of red wine without a problem, however if I pair it with another intolerance item such as tomatoes I will be as sick as a dog for days. So the problem with wine specifically is that the more glasses you have the more build up you have that pushes your defences down. Now anyone that enjoys a glass of wine or two would know that the alcohol also comes into play and takes your best intentions and throws them out of the window. So, the fabulous idea you had of stopping after the first glass or two seems to get overridden with the new idea to let your hair down and party!!! Oh, and don’t forget that obligatory glass of champagne for toasting – I’m in heaven and hell at the same time.


The absolute worst though is friends and family. The main reason is that you just don’t want to put them out or be a burden. At least at a restaurant or wedding you are paying for the service and quality of food, however friends and family are usually casual or spur of the moment affairs. If they are more formal and planned you still feel ill at ease because you have a list as long as your body that you are unable to eat! It also took you FOREVER to find some decent tasting recipes yourself so how are they going to deal with it?


Although there are many hurdles in dealing with your food chemical intolerances, there are also ways to survive and I have put together a list that has helped me in the hope it may help you:


  • Get over it! Ask, ask, ask about all the ingredients.
  • Seriously, for a moment of embarrassment or awkwardness is it really worth a week in bed?
  • There really are some pluses such as actually liking what your served when you have had a dish specifically prepared for you.
  • There are some places where you are completely stuffed! In these cases the key is to plan – the problem is to remember! Make a note in your
  • diary, pack some snacks or even a main meal if required.
  • Know your boundaries and make a decision. There are times where my willpower and reasoning just won’t hold up and I have made the decision to
  • indulge “just a bit”. Obviously I won’t bend on things that turn me into Linda Blair from the exorcist (you know head spinning and projectile
  • green….well you get the picture) but I will reschedule the next day and accept that I will be less than par – kinda like a hangover but one
  • helluva lot worse.
  • When your family and friends know that eating and drinking the wrong things can make you sick for a day or several weeks, they want to ensure
  • they provide for you. Don’t think of yourself as a burden. All they want is for you to enjoy yourself with them and fretting about food all day
  • is a much bigger burden on them than asking for some alternatives to be available.
  • Remember, there may be some slip ups, but you have come so far. A sick day here and there rather than almost every day is a big accomplishment.


Have you ever had to deal with dietary requirements (personal, friend or acquaintance)? Tell us about your experience.



How do I start my food chemical intolerance awareness campaign?

I had a huge response to my blog on starting an awareness campaign for lesser known food chemical intolerance’s. I was so grateful for the support and this generated a burst of enthusiastic energy but I still had a big question….how the hell do I do it?


Firstly, I decided to submit my story to ACA. Great start, but they must get thousands of story submissions, so I am guessing there will be a fair wait until it’s looked at and even then it may not make the cut. This will require some patience and maybe a bit of persistence, so where to from here?


Secondly, I approached the allergy and intolerance unit I attended to give me information about any groups or associations out there that I can join forces with etc.


Of course there is the endless hours I will spend trawling the internet to see what I can find, but that is where my creative juices stop 🙁


Now, I’m a fairly intelligent and spirited person, so if a 9 year old girl by the name of Katie Stagliano from the US can get others inspired to help feed the hungry (and I know about it) then it shouldn’t be that hard right? Plus, it’s not like I want to start a ‘not for profit’ or charity, so there should be some pretty simple ways to go about this, I’m thinking.


So, where to next? That is the question…


That is where you come in!


Have you ever started an awareness campaign, crusade or mini revolution?


Have you promoted your business to groups, committees or associations – what worked for you?


Please share any advice, tips, tricks and tactics to help me on my way.

Chemical intolerances extend past food, you won’t believe where they turn up

I have decided to go on an awareness crusade!


This idea has been brewing for a while, but my recent illness reignited that flame.


As anyone who has been following me knows, I suffer from a number of chemical intolerances contained in natural foods and additives. I also suffer from allergies, however it is the intolerances that cause the most distress to my health. Intolerances are notoriously hard to diagnose and many people are living with “sickness” that they cannot get diagnosed and this is where my crusade starts. I not only want people to be aware and maybe find a solution to their ongoing illness, but also make it so much easier for those of us who know their intolerances to be able avoid them more effectively.


Recently, I caught the “plague” that has brought down almost everyone I know in Sydney. The problem for me was when I had to resort to antibiotics and just kept getting sicker and more incapacitated. As I always do, when all seems too bleak to cope, I went on a research rampage to figure out what was wrong with me, only to discover that the antibiotic that was supposed to make me well, actually contained Benzoate, which, as you guessed is one of my intolerances. So essentially, I was poisoning my body and getting ridiculously ill as time went on.


So, now that I am on my third course of antibiotics (Benzoate free!) and starting to come out of the fog, it occurred to me that most people are aware of Lactose and Gluten intolerances but the majority are unaware that others exist. Yes, MSG would be a well known one, but other than MSG (621) being added to Chinese food, did you also know Glutamates also occur naturally in tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms?


So how is it that only some of the intolerances are well known and have even created a whole line of products and marketers dreams? Look at preservatives – this has started to become a whole new buzz industry. If you are buying for your child it must be “all natural”, “colour free”, “preservative free” etc. There is a whole new niche market for preservative free wines (thank you God!!) and even bottles of stuff to take out the majority of preservatives in wine (again thank you for small mercies).


That is fantastic and the more awareness the better but what about the others? Have you heard of:


?? Benzoates – it took me 4 pages of information to find that Benzoates were contained in my antibiotic – small print at the very bottom, almost an after thought. It is contained in every cough medicine I can place my hands on and even lemonade, the old wives tale, cannot be tolerated. Another interesting note, when I called up my regular doctor to advise another doctor had placed me on the antibiotic containing Benzoate, she put it through her computer that has software that is supposed to warn them of the allergy/intolerance ingredient in the drug – but it did not appear!! You have to specifically check each and every one with the Chemist and even then read the pamphlet that comes with the medication thoroughly yourself.


?? Sulphites – yep appears in many “drugs” and even dried fruits.


?? Propionates, Sorbates, Nitrates, Amines, Salicicylates


You would know about colour intolerances, particularly in children’s diets (red cordial anyone?) but did you know that Antioxidants (wonder foods) can also be on your list of intolerances?


So my mission is:


  1. To educate people that you could be eating things that are making you sick (yes, even really healthy foods)
  2. To make the other lesser known intolerance chemicals as well known as Gluten and Lactose
  3. Chemical numbers or chemical names be on all medicinal packaging – not just food packaging or contained in the four page leaflet that is not always provided when receiving your prescription
  4. To give people with ongoing and undiagnosed illness some hope or at least another avenue to investigate in their search for a “cure”. These symptoms can present themselves in so many forms. The chemicals can attack your central nervous system so symptoms can show up as migraines, chronic sinus, muscle aches, lethargy, nausea, dizziness, night sweats – separately or all together – and the list goes on.


I may not have a huge following on my blogs at this moment, but I hope with a little help from everyone spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, plus some extra work on my behalf, that I may just get out there to at least one of the millions of people suffering as I have. Making it easier on those of us who know our intolerances but still get caught so often would be an added bonus too.

Choose 2 and get started!

celery and raw nut cheeseAll you need is a step (one recipe), then another (tip or suggestion). We allow ourselves to get overwhelmed trying to do too much and end up doing nothing.

Raw ‘n’ Tasty recipes, tips and suggestions for Everyday raw is full of easy to implement daily ideas. Choose one and give it a go, set yourself a target of one per week – feel the benefits and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Enjoy!

Road Trip Raw food tour

I just got back a week ago from a road trip I took for a Raw food workshop which was the business part of my trip and followed it up with a RAW Cafe’ tour holiday!

We don’t have a dedicated raw restaurant or cafe’ here in Sydney so I had to travel to Maleny and Burleigh Heads.

Raw Key lime pie

Delicious and Healthy!

I visited 3 raw food cafe’s and 2 Eco villages to see how people in a community manage to get along together.   Both places were in beautiful locations but both places had one thing in common…….  people!  No matter where we go, it comes down to how we get along in groups to make things work.

See you all at the next monthly IBN!