Between the two of us, we have eleven different food allergies and intolerances. You would think this would cause some serious complications when sharing meals. As it turns out, it's all about finding suitable replacements for the food you're craving. Thankfully there is often a very basic substitute for everything. Who knew you could make brownies out of avocado, or pizza dough out of cauliflower?!
For me, the food intolerance comes from a recent autoimmune diagnosis. After researching my condition I found out that cutting gluten and soy from your diet is non-negotiable for a healthy thyroid. This was alarming at first, since my diet pretty much consisted of bread and pasta. After mourning the loss for a brief moment, I accepted the fact that feeling healthy and alert is far more important than consuming a deep dish pizza. Thanks to my allergy prone man, the transition to a gluten-free diet was quite easy.
For him however, the road to a healthy belly was far lengthier. Having grown up with various symptoms including asthma, rashes, heart palpitations, and a whole array of digestive problems, he was not a healthy kid. It wasn't until the college diet of beer, pizza, and ramen noodles that he started questioning his diet. After suffering from what could only be described as a four-year hangover he sought professional help. As it turns out, food allergies were the cause of most of his health issues. Drowsiness was thanks to gluten, asthma was because of dairy, heart palpitations were linked to corn, and so the list went on...
The list of restrictions appeared overwhelming at first. It seemed as though there was more he should be avoiding, rather than consuming. For a while he adopted the paleo diet and cut out everything aside from meat and vegetables, then began slowly reintroducing ingredients until finally figuring out his allergy master list.
It's one thing to conquer the art of allergy-friendly cooking at home where you are in complete control of what goes in the kitchen. There is no risk for cross-contamination, or hidden ingredients accidentally making their way into your meal. Eating out is an entirely different battle. Restaurants tend to have a varying degree of understanding and acceptance for food allergies. We have even, on the rare occasion, been turned away from places that are simply too afraid to take the risk. After a while, we realized that writing allergies down on restaurant napkins simply wasn't cutting it anymore. We needed something simple that could be handed to the server that in turn could be shared with the chef directly. Feast Freely allergy cards came to fruition!
It was important to us that the design was simple, making the list of allergens as clear as possible. We also wanted to provide some basic examples for which foods contain each specific allergen. After testing the cards out for ourselves, we got a great response from restaurants. Everyone was thankful for the card making their job more efficient. Being able to hand the list to the chef meant there was no longer any confusion or risk.
It is our hope that Feast Freely allergy cards will make it easier for other members of the food allergy community to share a meal. Everyone should be able to enjoy dining out without worrying about potential miscommunication or negligence. The Feast Freely blog is meant to serve as inspiration for others living with food allergies. Posts can be populated based on allergies making it easy to navigate directly to recipes that are safe for you to consume.