As the kids head back to school, the task of putting together tasty, balanced packed lunches also returns.
The morning scramble to get everyone ready can make pack ups challenging enough, but what do you do when you need to account for food intolerances too? Read on for some of our top tips.
Getting away from gluten
Sandwiches are a staple of the packed lunch so, if you’re going gluten free, it can feel a little daunting knowing which quick and easy alternatives to replace them with. Fortunately, you can do a straight swap, thanks to the huge variety of Free From breads and wraps. You also switch to gluten free pasta for pasta salads that can be made in bulk, in advance.
Want to get rid of gluten completely? Try making wraps with cold cuts of ham or turkey or replace pasta with rice salads.
Doing without dairy
Dairy snacks are another lunchtime favourite. From yoghurts to mini cheeses, most lunchboxes will contain some kind of milk-based treat.
If you’re looking for good alternatives to replace cows’ milk, there are a range of dairy-free substitutes available on the market. Oat, nut and coconut milks and yoghurts are easy to get hold of and come in a variety of delicious flavours.
Snackable cheeses made from nuts are also available in most supermarkets and made a handy, grab and go alternative.
Hard boiled eggs are a quick and cheap source of protein but if eggs are a problem, there are other ways to pack a protein punch in your lunch.
Cooked meats and tuna provide a great source of protein, as does cottage cheese, hummus and edamame beans.
Is something else in their lunchbox causing problems?
While the foods listed above are some of the more common triggers, it’s actually the case that people with a food intolerance will react to between 4 and 6 foods, and often they are ingredients you would never suspect.
Anything from tuna to tomatoes can cause issues, it’s a case of understanding your own unique food intolerance profile.
What are the signs of a food intolerance?
Food intolerances can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it. This reaction can lead to a host of conditions related to inflammation.
Headaches, brain fog, IBS, bloating, low mood and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance, as well as skin complaints such as eczema or acne.
Allergy or intolerance?
It’s particularly important to understand the different between allergy and intolerance when it comes to packed lunches, with more caution being applied to foods such as nuts, which can trigger severe allergy for some.
The terms ‘food intolerance’ and ‘food allergy’ are often used interchangeably. While they are commonly mistaken and misunderstood, the two reactions involved are very different.
True food allergies are relatively rare, affecting only around 2% of adults and 6-8% of children. Intolerances are far more common, with around 45% of the UK population thought to be living with a food intolerance.
Getting a handle on your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. 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.