I’ve been teaching a four-week nutrition and wellness class at Samadhi in Newton Centre, a wonderful integral health center from where I now operate my nutrition consulting business. This week’s class focus was “Allergy-Free Eating”, a hot topic to say the least. I feel as though, after eight years of living with a restricted diet due to food sensitivities and two years of studying holistic nutrition, I can finally offer some sort of guidance on this to the many out there with question marks. Several of the students in Monday’s class either avoided foods themselves for health reasons or had children with food allergies. It was interesting to talk to each of them about their personal experiences with this – one had children who were diagnosed with food allergies by blood testing at their doctor’s office. Another simply connected the dots between her son eating cashews and immediately noticing a reaction and has been monitoring his cashew (and other tree nut) intake ever since. He avoids eating them and that’s that!
But what about those of us with less obvious reactions – ones that take several hours, maybe even several days to appear?
It is important to note here that, generally speaking, a reaction to a food that occurs immediately (i.e. within the hour) is a true food allergy. One that occurs several hours later, up to 48 hours later, is considered a food intolerance or food sensitivity.
These sensitivities aren’t usually life-threatening, but they do come with their own uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms, many of which affect our daily lives.
For example, one of the most common symptoms of a gluten sensitivity is fatigue. People who can’t tolerate gluten find that they feel drained of energy within a few hours of ingesting a gluten-containing food. Sure, this isn’t the same as someone who is allergic to peanuts and runs the risk of their throat closing up when they breathe in peanut particles, but that’s no reason to ignore it.
I understand how difficult it can be, avoiding a food. Believe me! But the impact of reducing or eliminating a food you’re sensitive to far exceeds the difficulty it presents. It is difficult to measure over time, but the benefits will be there. I spent eight years avoiding eggs and soy after I was diagnosed with intolerances to both. Today, I happily consume both with no reaction at all! (I should note that I am careful and moderate with the soy I do eat, for reasons beyond my own health).
If you suspect that you are allergic or intolerant to a food, please don’t self-diagnose! Work with a professional caregiver, such as a nutrition consultant, who will be able to help you pinpoint your particular food sensitivities. I would love to work with you, whether you live here in the Boston area or abroad (Skype is a wonderful thing!) – please do get in touch.
To ease the challenges associated with a restricted diet, I do my best to provide plenty of “allergy-friendly” recipes here (meaning recipes that avoid the most common food allergens or are easily adaptable to avoid them). And here is another one! I created this recipe for a food demo at the Allergy-Free Eating class this week and the students loved it! It showcases quinoa and some delicious fresh fruits and veggies (organic of course, given their Dirty Dozen status), creating a Waldorf-esque salad that is perfect for this time of year. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the finished product, though I did use a beautiful local organic apple, just like the ones you see in the basket above!
Quinoa Waldorf Salad
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Keywords: simmer salad entree side gluten-free soy-free vegan vegetarian wheat free fall
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 2 stalks organic celery, diced
- 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup organic seedless red grapes, sliced in half
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
- handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- optional: 1 tbsp organic Greek yogurt
Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
Make the dressing by whisking the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small dish. For a creamier dressing, add the yogurt.
Combine the cooled quinoa with the celery, apple, walnuts, grapes, dressing, and parsley. Toss to coat.
Serve cool or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.