What would you like to know?
Share this Story

Don't let food allergies ruin your life

Break free from your restrictions

From SheKnows Canada
Whether you're allergic to nuts, gluten, milk or soy or dealing with any other dietary concerns and allergies, eating healthily and happily can seem impossible. But you don't have to give up on living just because you have food restrictions. It's time to break free from feeling deprived and to celebrate your body's unique needs.

Unhappy woman looking at menu

Learning you have a food allergy can be an upsetting discovery. But the enjoyment you get from living your life freely and loving the food you eat doesn't have to stop just because a dietary restriction has come your way. Holistic nutritionist and founder of Healthful Pursuit, Leanne Vogel knows firsthand just how tough food allergies can be. Between being diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts at the age of 2 and then later discovering other foods, such as gluten and sugar, were aggravating existing health conditions, Leanne quickly started to feel limited in her food options.

But instead of resigning herself to a lifetime of feeling deprived, she started to come up with new methods and exciting recipes to celebrate her allergies. She made doughnuts with flours she could eat, candy with sweeteners that didn't bother her and even ice creams out of puréed beans! Since then, she has been dedicated to sharing her discoveries and helping others embrace their dietary needs through her blog, Healthful Pursuit.

Stay positive

When you first learn of your allergy, you might get caught up in thoughts of all the things you can't have. But Leanne explains it is possible "to enjoy the things you love while also caring for your body immensely. You can have cookies; you can enjoy quick meals; you can drink milk and make candy… all the while respecting your sensitivities and healing your body." And you don't have to come up with all these new recipes and creations yourself. As more and more allergies emerge, so too do all kinds of resources to help you make the transition to allergen-free living a smooth one. Look online, visit your local library, take a peek at the cookbooks available at your favourite bookstore, and check out Leanne's long list of recipes to discover all the new possibilities awaiting you.

Discovered you have an issue with gluten? Try out these gluten-free staples >>

Changes at home

Once you've cleared your pantry and fridge of all the products you can't eat, you might feel concerned about what you're going to fill all that empty space with. Leanne's biggest tip for preparing your home for this new way of living is to start small. Every time you're at the store, buy something you aren't familiar with. It can be as simple as a new type of flour or a spice you've never tried. Then try out some recipes that incorporate that new ingredient. It's a great way to refocus your energies on all the cool new things you can eat rather than those you can't. Leanne has written a short book on how to restock your fridge and pantry to set yourself up for health. Head over to her blog, and subscribe to her email updates to get your free copy.

Changes when you're out

When dealing with a new food allergy, concerns that you won't be able to eat out at restaurants or your friends' homes can be troubling. But Leanne explains that many restaurants have become very good at creating customized, allergen-free dishes. If you're unfamiliar with a new restaurant you're visiting, she suggests calling ahead of time to ensure it understands your dietary concerns and can accommodate them. When it comes to picking out a new place, Leanne suggests taking a look at Urbanspoon to see which restaurants in your area are familiar with dealing with allergies.

As for visiting friends and family, don't be afraid to speak up about your allergies. You might not want to inconvenience them, but making yourself ill or worse simply isn't worth it. In her experience, Leanne has found the people in her life to be supportive and respectful of her allergies and sensitivities. If you have friends or family that you visit often, simply provide them with a list of foods you're unable to eat so it's easy for them to create a meal that works for everyone.

Learn how to manage your child's food allergies at school >>

You aren't alone

What's most important to remember, says Leanne, is that "you know what your body needs to be healthy and balanced. Paying attention and listening to these cues is the greatest gift you can give yourself. You're not alone. Thousands upon thousands of people have allergies and thrive with them... and you can too. You deserve to be happy, healthy and unrestricted. There is a period where you will feel discouraged and scared, but it will pass — if you let it. And on the other side? There's a bunch of allergen-free goodies waiting for you!"

If you're struggling with a food allergy, check out Leanne's blog, Healthful Pursuit, for loads of great recipes and tips that cater to an array of dietary concerns. If you need some personalized advice, don't hesitate to contact Leanne directly. She is dedicated to helping people all over the world sort through their dietary needs to find all the exciting and delicious foods and methods that will make eating a healthy and joyful process.

Tell us

Do you have a food allergy? What are some of the strategies that have worked for you? Share in the comments below!

More on allergies

The best pets for kids with allergies
Recognizing and minimizing seasonal allergies
Flowers for allergy sufferers

New in Health & Wellness

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!