Lex caught our eye when we noticed her delicious, inspiring, allergy-aware recipes on her Instagram @allergyfreetummynz (anyone for vegan cheesy broccoli bites or gluten free dinosaur cookies?!). And we were even more delighted when we saw that she was a regular shopper at Commonsense!
So we went shopping with this inspiring mother of two to see what she buys to sustain her dairy, soy and gluten free diet for her and her young family.
Tell us a bit about your diet/allergies
I’m coeliac so eat a gluten free diet. My sons have both had food allergies/intolerances so as well as being gluten free I’m also dairy free to breastfeed them. Over time they’ve outgrown some allergies, I used to be soy free and egg free too.
Can you describe the journey you’ve been on with each of these dietary restrictions?
Pre-babies I ate healthily but I had no dietary restrictions at all. When my oldest son was little, he suffered with severe reflux that needed medicating. After much research I learned about the food allergies and intolerances and how for some children this can trigger the reflux. As I was breastfeeding my son, I went on an elimination diet where I cut out the top 8 allergens from my diet (eggs, dairy, soy, wheat/gluten, fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts) and kept a food diary.
Through trial and error, we worked out he was allergic to dairy, soy and gluten. After identifying his trigger foods and removing them from our diets his reflux reduced and we could stop his medication, he no longer had any reflux pain. To continue to breastfeed my son I kept the same dairy, soy, gluten free diet as him.
During this time, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition Coeliac Disease that meant I would need a strict gluten free diet for life.
So how do you manage these diets on a daily basis?
Mornings are busy with two little kids so often I’ll have a quick veggie packed protein smoothie, or if I’ve prepped ahead, I’ll have a veggie Buddha bowl with eggs, avocado and sauerkraut.
Meal prep takes planning but that extra bit of time spent on the weekend makes mealtimes run more smoothly and is much less stressful. Due to our allergies we have to make all our meals from scratch, but it’s been a blessing in disguise. I’ve learnt to cook wholesome family meals from real ingredients and found simple dinner recipes. It also helps my husband enjoys cooking and is actually pretty good at it!
My kids eat the same food we do; we generally make one main dinner for everybody so we have the same meal. There are obviously some meals that the kids prefer and some they are more reluctant to try but we always serve a food they love alongside something new to give them the chance to eat it but not go hungry. With constant exposure to different foods they start to try new things and like new foods. It can be challenging though, my three-year-old can definitely be a fussy eater!
What about treat times?
In regards to baking and party foods we eat all the same treats that a non-allergy family would eat. But instead of buying packaged foods from the shop we make these treats at home instead, finding recipes and subbing out ingredients to make the foods allergy friendly. It was difficult initially but we adapted through some trial and error and have found that we really loved baking and creating food together!
What does 'healthy eating' mean to you?
Since becoming a mother my understanding of what it really means to eat healthy has grown and evolved so much. I would’ve considered myself healthy before but through our food allergies and restricted diets I now see food through new eyes. I properly read food labels, we buy fresh produce locally, we avoid processed/packaged foods; instead eat wholefoods and prepare our meals from scratch.
I’ve learnt about the importance of eating organic, preservative free, fair trade foods, and avoiding E-numbers and preservatives. I’m also more aware of the products that are used in and around our home and am on a journey towards low-toxic living. We’ve become more eco-friendly for the sake of the environment but also to protect our family’s health by avoiding using toxic chemicals in our home.
Why shop at Commonsense?
We love shopping at Commonsense because of the wide range of food and products we can buy. We can find great wholesome allergy friendly foods that suit our allergies and are not full of fillers, preservatives and E-numbers. There’s a fantastic range of organic produce and the home and beauty products won’t contain nasty chemicals and parabens. It’s also a great place to find new products from good quality smaller NZ brands and support local.
I also know that during holidays like Easter and Christmas that there will be a good range of allergy friendly food and treats available to buy. It’s awesome to know we can easily buy safe hot cross buns, chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate Christmas advent calendars.
What are your favourite products?
We love lots of different products that Commonsense sells from the teas, nut butters, falafel, vegan cheeses, to the natural skincare and eco living products. Our pantry must haves are Trade Aid dark chocolate drops, NuZest protein powder and Ceres organics buckwheat porridge and flour.
Lex gave her time willingly and this was not a paid promotion however we did give her a gift voucher as koha to thank her for her time.