Easter is a time of tempting treats. From golden toasted hot cross buns, oozing with melting butter, to endless foil wrapped chocolate eggs, plenty of seasonal snacks have become traditional staples this time of year.
But if you, like around 45% of the UK population, have a food intolerance, some of these festive favourites can feel forbidden, thanks to the host of unwanted symptoms they can cause.
So, what should you look out for? What are some of the common Easter foods likely to trigger an intolerance and is it possible to still enjoy your most loved Easter treats?
What would Easter be without the chocolate egg? There have never been so many varieties competing for our attention, from cheap and cheerful favourites to decadent and artistically crafted luxury versions.
But if you have a dairy intolerance, Easter eggs tent to be one treat you usually have to pass up. Thankfully, the rise of Free From alternatives, alongside the popularity of plant-based diets mean that there are plenty of dairy-free Easter egg options available to tempt you.
We love this list from The Independent, rating some of this year’s favourite vegan Easter eggs, all 100% free of cows’ milk.
Hot cross buns
Step into a supermarket around Easter and you’re bound to come across a display of fresh hot cross buns.
These spiced sweet treats are usually made with fruit, flour, milk, butter, and yeast, marked with a cross on the top and generally served toasted with butter.
For those of us who find that gluten triggers unwanted symptoms, thankfully there are plenty of free from alternatives available. Or, you might like to try making your own, using gluten-free flour. And, if cows’ milk causes you problems, this is also easy to substitute with dairy-free spreads and plant-based milks.
Simnel cake is a fruitcake associated with Lent and Easter. It’s decorated with layers of almond paste or marzipan, and eleven balls made of the same paste, to symbolise apostles.
The usual ingredients include white flour, sugar, butter, eggs, spices, dried fruits and zest. As with the hot cross buns, the flour can be swapped out for a gluten-free version if you’re baking your own. Likewise the dairy which can be replaced with plant-based alternatives.
Although gluten and dairy are two fairly common trigger foods, it’s important to note that any food can present a problem, depending on your own particular dietary DNA. You might find that dried fruits, or the yeast that lives on them causes you to feel unwell. It could be the eggs, nuts, or any number of other ingredients in your favourite Easter treats which could be causing you problems.
What does a food intolerance feel like?
Unlike allergies, which usually involves a severe and instant reaction, intolerances can be fairly mild and take a little while to present themselves after eating a trigger food. Because of this, a lot of people living with food intolerance spend years trying to get to the bottom of their symptoms.
Commonly, people living with food intolerances can experience a range of complaints, from digestive issues including IBS, bloating, cramps, constipation, and diarrhoea to skin problems such as eczema or acne. Asthma, migraine, brain food and low mood are also commonly linked with food intolerances.
Take control of your diet
If you’ve noticed that you regularly seem to experience these types of symptoms, but you aren’t sure why, it may be worth taking a closer look at the foods you’re eating to understand if something in your diet could be the cause.
A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company. At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our food intolerance tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet.