Not All in the Mind

Paddy J was a subscriber to the original Foods Matter magazine and followed  a ‘freefrom’ gluten-free diet long before the term was invented. She does not have much patience with those food sensitive people who complain that there are not enough freefrom wheat/dairy/nut/soya products. She thinks they would do a lot better if they were to follow a Stone Age diet and stop worrying about was, or was not, in the shops! As she says,  thanks to Richard Mackarness (Not all in the Mind) and Leon Chaitow (Here’s Healthmagazine) she recognised gluten sensitivity long before the NHS did!

She quotes a friend at her local Methodist church who is being driven neurotic by her fixation on buying ‘free from’ foods and liaising all the time with her doctor and the hospital.  ‘I try and help but she can’t understand that it can be quite simple.  I appreciate that she has awful digestion problems but a more basic diet would help her’.

To illustrate how simple it can be she often lists some of the tastier meals that she and her family have enjoyed:

My Natco cornmeal (mix with milk of any sort, make cookies and fry in butter or oil, add jam –yum!); or fry soft herring roes after coating them in cornmeal – serve on rice cakes or with brown basmati rice. I also have Biona rice cakes with quinoa in the cupboard and yesterday the family and I enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in the sun in the garden and all happily chomped through a packet of ‘Patak’s 8 garlic and coriander pappadums’.  The Indian section of supermarkets is cheap and useful. 

We had earlier visited Anglesey Abbey (N.T.) near us and my gluten-free son had enjoyed a slice of g.f. lemon drizzle cake – but I prefer my Eat Natural date, walnut and pumpkin seed bar, which I had in my pocket.  We had all enjoyed a salad lunch at home with dolmades, olives and mixed beans (local village shop deli.) in addition to the usual salad items and ham and cheese.  We started the meal with Heinz Farmers Market Butternut Squash, sweet potato, apple and spice soup.  Waitrose and Tesco no longer stock these soups – mostly yeast and gluten free – but my local shop can still get some.  We had an Indian take-away from our local restaurant for supper.’

Then she adds:


I now have a grandson of 5 yrs. who is a very picky eater and that is quite another matter!!  I have to be a bit tactful!  I got him to eat a kiwi fruit by telling him it was a green egg and serving it in an eggcup with a little spoon.  He thought that was a huge joke!

I am not sure that he would have appreciated my rather sophisticated version of Paddy’s egg – but I fear I had nothing more child friendly in the crockery line…



Way back in 1987, just as I was starting work on a major history of English food, my eighteen-month-old son, Jonathan, and his father were diagnosed with dairy intolerances. Back then the alternatives for those on dairy-free diets were few and far between and pretty unappealing so, after some months of experimentation, I launched Berrydales Special Ices, soya based ices which were dairy and additive free – and tasted delicious! While manufacturing the ices I started a newsletter, The Inside Story, about food allergy and food intolerance and, by 1995, it was a quarterly magazine circulating to over 35,000 health professionals. In 2000 The Inside Story, re-named Foods Matter, became a subscription magazine and now all of that information, and much, much more, is accessible on the Foods Matter, Coeliacs Matter and Skins Matter sites and on our two freefrom food sites, FreeFromFoodsMatter and FreeFromRecipesMatter. You can follow me on twitter @FoodsMatter or email me at And, of course, you can also follow the exciting growth of freefrom food by checking out our annual FreeFrom Food Awards celebrating the best and the newest in freefrom foods!

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