In the wake of the recent revelations about horse meat finding its way into the food chain, it is not surprising to see that the supermarkets are releasing sales figures that show that our shopping behaviour has changed already. For those who live with food intolerance and allergy, scrutinising every ingredient in every product is a way of life but now it seems many others are starting to think like us and thinking hard about how to protect our families from ‘rogue’ ingredients that can damage health.

I have mentioned many times in my blog, my concern at the fact that so many of our children have allergies and intolerances, yet older generations did not. There are multiple theories surrounding this, we are too clean, some of us are too dirty, we didn’t eat nuts during pregnancy, we did eat nuts, our environment has changed and we eat the wrong foods. Obviously most of these articles were probably given front page prominence in the Daily Mail – just to terrify us mothers even more and remind us all that just living can kill you! But when you calm down and try and read some sensible articles the more confusing it gets. Just last week I read that eating too much fruit can aggravate eczema and too much soya can give you cancer. So what is a healthy food and solution for some people is ‘poison’ to others and life just continues to get more complicated.

We are pretty much in a plateau with my intolerant child at the moment. Keeping his diet ‘clean’ has eradicated the tummy troubles and the skin seems to have calmed down again, so I will just have to assume that it was part of his allergic march – and not my fault! We are seeing his consultant again in a few weeks, so can discuss that outbreak further then. But as it is under control we are happy.

Just recently I have started back at work and the children now go to after school club, so I have had to brief them about Zac and what he can and can’t eat at snack time. They are fabulous and caring and I have no concerns, as with so many other childcare environments they are thankfully trained to deal with allergy and have a lot of experience, which brings me back to my point – why? When we were little childcare workers did have first aid training, but were not required to become allergy experts able to give lifesaving medicine via an epipen  at a moments notice.

One of the ladies at the Care Club spoke to me about Zac the other day and it was a fascinating conversation that confirmed some  of my personal theories and ‘hunches’. This lady told me that she knows exactly what Zac has to deal with as she cannot tolerate dairy or wheat herself. She also said that a lot of fruits aggravate her skin and as a result she has a very restricted diet and is very careful how she handles and prepares food.

In fact, she always has been because she grew up in India and said that they always wash and soak fruit and vegetables for ages and always peel it. She says she does it in this country because she is anxious about what the fruit and vegetables are sprayed with to keep them fresher longer. She is also anxious, (and so am I) about the gasses in the packaging etc. She told me that in India food was ‘farm to table’ – and she was not intolerant to anything. She could drink milk straight from the cow, but here it makes her sick! It not something that has changed in her – because when she goes back, she can still drink the milk and eat the food – but when she returns here, she can’t.

So that really backs up my theory about eating like our grandparents. Many of them ate pretty much ‘farm to table’ and did very well on it. When you start this ‘free from’ life you start to read every ingredient on a food item and that is what made me so aware of why we are sick from our food. Rubbish ingredients e.g. dried skimmed milk powder, wheat flakes, are liberally sprinkled all over the foods they have no business being in and so we are overconsuming these ingredients massively, without even knowing it.

So no processed foods. Easy. But even the ‘free from’ replacements are by no means healthy and just have replacement junk ingredients in many cases. It is my opinion that the solution needs to be a return to the food preparation and buying habits of years gone by. It seems it has started thanks to the horse thing, as so many butchers are now enjoying a huge boost in trade as they are seen as far more trustworthy than the supermarkets and support local produce. Long may it continue. Perhaps if we start to shop and think more carefully, we might turn around this allergic march.

Oh and just in case you are wondering how milk straight from a cow in India can be easier on the tummy – it is quite simple. The cows produce a different kind of milk – the poor dairy cows we fill with hormones so they produce day in day out make A1 milk – and the free range non drugged cows in India produce A2.  Our cows used to produce A2 but they have been altered by ‘us’ and this is the result.

Last year I was invited by a marketing agency to get involved in the launch of A2 milk in this country. I was given some free samples and invited to join the focus group. I did not try it on Zac as it is not suitable for cows milk allergy sufferers, and at the time we didn’t know if he had it or not. But I tried it, as I regard myself as dairy intolerant, as milk makes me feel sick and gives me a ‘funny tummy’. I couldn’t drink it ‘neat’ – as I am a bit phobic about it still, but I did use it on breakfast cereal and in cooking and did notice that I felt normal and suffered no ill effects. Fascinating. There is a big grey area around milk allergy, lactose intolerance and dairy intolerance and for anyone like me who just feels a bit ‘icky’ from it, it could be a solution – but you need to check with health professionals first if you are concerned.

Here is an explanation taken from the website about what it is.

‘Cows’ milk contains different types of protein, one group of which are caseins – the main types of the beta-casein fraction are A2 and A1.

The A2 form of beta-casein has been identified by scientific research as the original form of beta-casein that would have been produced by cows thousands of years ago.

Over the years a natural genetic variance occurred in European dairy herds, resulting in a variation of the A2 gene called A1 beta-casein – today most dairy milk contains a mixture of A1 and A2 beta-casein protein.

However, some dairy cows still only produce the A2 type of beta-casein and these can be identified and milked to produce a2 Milk – dairy milk as perhaps nature intended.

If you look on their website it is explained further – and you will even see me in one of the ‘your stories’.

But that is not why I am highlighting this today. I am not on commission for these people. In fact, I had forgotten about it until the other day when I had a chat with my Indian friend and she told me that she is fine in India but sick here!  I had one of those eureka moments and went rushing back to the website to refresh my memory about the difference between the types of milk. I think it really could be one the of the answers to this surge in dairy intolerance.

I also believe that if horse got into our food chain, then it proves that there is not enough regulation or care in the food processing plants and they should be investigated. I am convinced that the spike in intolerance probably correlates with the spike in consumption of convenience and processed foods in the last twenty years.

In the mean time, we will just have to look after ourselves and find a way to keep our diets as clean as possible. Not easy when food prices are soaring but when you are faced with food intolerance it is a fact of life anyway and I have actually come to see it as a blessing in disguise now. Thanks to Zac’s allergies and anxieties he has no processed foods and we are so careful with meat(he won’t eat it) and fruits and vegetables that he is actually protected from much of the junk that is out there. Perhaps this is nature fighting back. Perhaps his body is being really clever and ensuring that he is protected from the junk that it is pedalled at extortionate prices by the villainous and greedy supermarkets and food processors.


Nicola Neal

I am a 38 year old married, mother of two children. My daughter is 5 and my son is 4. I used to work in marketing but have been on a career break since having the children. I have a bit more free time than I used to and when I am not doing chores and on the school run, I spend a lot of time thinking about food, shopping for food, cooking, eating and writing about all of these things. My specialist area of interest is catering for food allergy and intolerance, as my son has a very restricted diet and this means I have had to revisit most recipes to ensure he can eat a wide variety of foods safely. From birth it was clear that neither of the children could stomach too much dairy but over the last few years it has become clear that Zac is most definitely an 'intolerant' child, who suffers unpleasant reactions to many foods and ingredients. For the last three years I have been working out how to feed him without making him ill and I am happy to say I have now made enough progress for him to lead a normal life. He was one when he contracted swine flu and this is when he became extremely intolerant to dairy - thanks to the weeks of diarrhoea. I quickly worked out what was wrong and cut the dairy from his diet but as time went on he still had far too many abnormal bowel movements every day. So for the last three years we have seen several doctors, paediatricians and dieticians and he is now on a gluten free, wheat free, dairy free diet and is 'well'. I have been told he will grow out of it, but for now he actually still seems to be growing into it, and is still extremely sensitive to many foods and is now developing asthma and eczema. We still have many years of intolerance ahead of us I fear, and I feel I have to do all I can to try and make this easier for him, for me and for anyone else out there with similar issues. So this blog is my way of sharing our experiences and hints and tips on how to live with and 'feed an intolerant child'.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *