Foods that are ‘free from’ have become a nutrition minefield. I see many clients who have eliminated lots of healthy foods in favour of what they think might be better for them, on the basis of a biased article or seductive marketing.
It’s easy to mistake a gluten-free loaf or dairy-free chocolate bar for a healthier option.
But consider what’s being put in to replace what’s being taken out – often extra sugar and syrups, processed flour, emulsifiers and refined vegetable fats. Essentially, you need to ask yourself why you’re cutting out food from your diet in the first place. If you have a gluten or milk allergy your GP can diagnose this (see below.)
This is different to what is defined as a food intolerance or sensitivity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t address a potential intolerance, particularly if it’s causing bloating, nausea and skin allergies, but do ensure you work with someone who knows their stuff before you cut out any foods completely.
Often, those who think they can’t eat gluten are fine with other grains, such as spelt, millet, oats and rye – and just need to avoid wheat. Most often, an intolerance or sensitivity is not a life-long aversion, but simply brought on by overdoing a single food-group. Eating too much of anything can cause reactions and once you slowly re-introduce it after a period of time, you may be able to tolerate it without any discomfort. Everything in moderation is key.
How to go free from
- For allergies, see your GP for a blood test. For a sensitivity or an intolerance, visit a nutritional therapist – see bant.org.uk
- If you cut out certain foods, do one group at a time and eliminate for at least six weeks before slowly re-introducing and keeping a food diary. Allergyuk.org has some great information on how to do this
- When choosing any bread, look at the ingredients – it takes just four ingredients to make a basic loaf, so when there are eight or more, you need to question the quality
- Switching to gluten-free brands? I recommend Artisan Bread Organic and Biona Organic. Raw crackers, such as those from Inspiral or Rawmazing, are also nice alternatives. Don’t be fooled by ‘healthy-looking’ cakes, cookies and biscuits – they are usually high in refined flours, margarine and sugar
- To go dairy-free, make your own nut milks – anything from cashew and almond to Brazil nut (pictured) and hemp. For shop-bought versions, try Ecomil, Rude Health and So Delicious. For dairy-free yogurt, try Coyo coconut yogurt, and for a cheesy taste on savoury dishes, try Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes
For more information, see evekalinik.com