Our year of eating out 8

We moved house in April 2015. Our new but old house is a big project and the kitchen is not fully functional. So since the move we’ve eaten out a lot more often than normal. As with many allergy families, we have our favourites and Zizzi, Pizza Express and a few other chains got a good bit of business from us.

We’ve always enjoyed eating out as a family, even in the days when there was very little choice and we had to take food for Zac. But in just a few years things have really changed. The introduction of the new EU Food Regs in December 2014 must have been the catalyst for the marked improvement in choice. But I guess the gluten free trend is also a factor.

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Know your food families 10

Food allergy sufferers rarely have just one key trigger. Many allergies seem to go hand in hand and make day to day living and eating out, particularly difficult. It is not uncommon for a milk allergy sufferer also to be allergic to eggs and often nut allergy sufferers are allergic to several other items from the ‘top 14’.

I recently wrote a piece for Allergy Aware Kitchen on this subject. It was aimed at those in the food service industry – to remind them of the importance of knowing your food families when catering for allergy customers, but I also think it is worth sharing with a wider audience as some of the information here can help you puzzle out why you’ve had a reaction when you’ve eaten what you thought was a ‘safe’ meal or ingredient.

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Can I Eat There? 7

I just recently made a new and exciting discovery that I have to share. A new website called Can I Eat There? is in development and due to launch in a matter of weeks.

Naturally the name caught my eye, because as an allergy parent, I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that will cater well and safely for us.

So I decided to contact the people behind this genius idea to find out more. The idea was developed by an ‘allergy parent’ – Nicky Granger – to help the 7 million plus UK adults and children with food allergies and intolerances. Nicky’s four year old son has NINE severe food allergies and they do not go anywhere without 2 EpiPens, a bottle of Piriton and plenty of anxiety – particularly when eating out.

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‘Free from’ foods can make you fat – think before you eat 8

I recently read, in a not very friendly Daily Telegraph article –  that the ‘free from’ food sales in the UK hit £0.5 billion last year and ‘gluten free’ alone is ‘worth’ £238 million a year. No wonder we are seeing more and more foods hitting the shelves. With a growth of more than 15% in just one year, you can see why the supermarkets have embraced this. Just this month Lidl launched their gluten free range and are no doubt currently analysing a positive impact on their overall sales figures.

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Back to Zizzi… 7

Over two years ago, we visited Zizzi in Winchester when we heard that they did gluten free pasta. We had a good experience and although the only dairy free pasta sauce was tomato we were impressed. The staff were helpful and ‘got’ gluten free. Zac had never ‘eaten’ in a restaurant before and it was so lovely to see his little face. Much has changed since then and more and more restaurants have been embracing gluten free but still the dairy free offering has always been poor.

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The outcome of our latest appointment. 3

Last week, we had our second private consultation with Dr Adam Fox. We first met him almost a year ago, when after years of poor treatment from local GPs and hospitals, I decided we would have to pay for it ourselves, if we were to get Zac in front of a specialist. The first appointment was a success and gave us a greater understanding of what was causing Zac’s various symptoms, but because tests were need Dr Fox wrote to our local hospital and GP and suggested they are managed through the NHS – to save us money, and because they should have accepted him as a patient and run these tests in the first place.
After several NHS appointments and several rounds of blood tests we were pleased that all of Zac tested negative to all of the allergens we had identified as troublesome and this looked like it was confirming Dr Fox’s hunch that Zac has non-IgE mediated allergies, but nonetheless should keep to his restricted diet and take anti-histamine twice daily, with a view to looking at some challenges in the months and years ahead.