A few years ago I was diagnosed with an intolerance to gluten, dairy, and nuts. Yes, that does mean a lot of food is off the table for me and it is something that means I had to totally re-look at my lifestyle.
Studying at university meant I was surrounded by students wanting to party and living off the pizza and alcohol diet. However, this quickly became a distant memory for me – as some alcohol has gluten in it. So, while my friends were drinking their way from bottle to bottle I had to substitute the booze for soft drinks. People didn’t get it and that’s a very nice way of putting it. I was always put into the ‘fussy eater’ category. Gluten wasn’t as well known a few years ago as it is now, so trying to find some free-from bread was almost impossible. Dairy was just as problematic – everything seemed to have the hidden ingredient. I couldn’t go to a shop without picking something that held at least one of my allergens. Even a simple salad would have barley, rye or dairy within it (yes, there are multiple names for wheat, just to make a free-from diet that little bit harder). Just as I’d assumed I’d found something gluten-free I’d have a reaction and spend the next day or so googling each ingredient to find out where and what it had come from.
Over the past couple of years, the amount of people with a gluten intolerance has dramatically risen with so many people claiming they genuinely feel better after cutting it out. With this increase, the gluten-free market has quickly evolved meaning it’s become quite a lot easier for those on a free-from diet. As my career revolves around fitness I am very conscious about the foods I eat – always ensuring I get my three macronutrients into my diet (fats, carbohydrates, and protein). Following a free-from diet is a lot harder as I can’t just pick up a ready meal at my local supermarket like most people can at lunch time. It does require a bit more preparation but it doesn’t have to be impossible or even that expensive if you know how.
Here are my Top 5 Food Swaps for those on a free-from diet
1. Breakfast Cereal swap for Gluten Free Oats
Breakfast is probably the hardest change as a bowl of wheat-filled cereal or a couple of slices of toast are the typical go-to option. I now have 40 grams of gluten-free oats mixed with 40 grams of protein powder made from pea protein rather than whey (which contains dairy).
2. Peanut Butter swap for Sunflower Seed Butter
Who doesn't love peanut butter? I swear I hear people admitting they've eaten an entire jar in a day... Well, I have some great news for you - it's not totally off the table. Sunflower seed butter tastes just as good.
3.Greek Yoghurt swap for Soy Yoghurt
Yogurt is a typical daily purchase for me, especially with its live cultures and probiotics. Luckily there is an easy swap for those with a dairy allergy; soy yogurt tastes absolutely amazing and has just as many live cultures within it so you really aren't missing out.
4. Pasta swap for Seaweed Pasta
Another gluten favourite is pasta. Don't stress though as there are gluten-free options available including quinoa and chickpea pasta. One of my favourites is a pasta called, 'i-sea' which is made from seaweed! It's full of nutrients and fibre and has 80% fewer calories than traditional pasta so is a win-win.
5. Chocolate swap for Protein Bar
Chocolate bars are definitely a no-go with a dairy intolerance, plus they aren't good for your health due to the sugar content. A lot of protein bars come with whey or oats in them meaning again they are not suitable for gluten or dairy allergy sufferers. I love Trek Bars’ flapjack protein bars as they keep you fuller for longer and are totally free from all of my allergens.
About the author: Vicky Hadley is one-half of Bikini Girls Diary and is a professional fitness model.