As a Consultant Nutritionist, I realised that there was something missing for Free From patients, and people who were diagnosed under the IBS umbrella:
Support: This vital ingredient to being able to manage and alleviate symptoms was missing. Often people were given a diagnosis, but very little information. They were left stranded, feeling worried, fearful of food and very concerned about what choices too make.
Time: It takes time and patience to work through the changes and adaptations when a food group is excluded. As questions arise I feel it is important that answers are found quickly, so patients don't flounder and potentially make their symptoms worse. Also, there is the cost element, as by making the right choices early on, food and therefore money, isnt wasted through the wrong choices.
As there is the potential for creating serious health problems with excluding food groups, such as anemia, osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic fatigue, it is vital that individuals are steered and guided in a positive way.
The Concept: Formed by Chef and Coeliac Lorraine King, who runs The Gallery Kitchen, and Victoria Shorland (Consultant Nutritionist (MBANT) who runs clinics at Eat To Live, Standard Quay, between them they can offer attendees advice and support with their symptoms and dietary needs. They will be holding the groups every month now, with occasional cooking demonstrations, speakers and of course the members themselves sharing advice and information.
Sharing and Learning: Exclusion diets can bring with them problems, such as difficulty balancing your nutrition. This can lead too other health issues, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis and heart disease. For example, May's topic is bone health, particularly for dairy free foodies and coeliacs. Osteoporosis can be a very debilitating disease if undiscovered, so education is important for prevention. Victoria will be on hand to answer any questions and chat to anyone who wants individual advice about their digestive issues, and of course Lorraine is there to offer her guidance as a coeliac herself and also with her expertise as a chef.
At a previous meeting, Victoria said 'Everyone was very positive and willing to share their ideas. I do believe that being positive about changes to our diet through health needs is absolutely the right approach. If we look for the negatives; what we miss and go without, it is likely to be a very negative experience and difficult challenge. However, with support and a positive mind set, the process becomes much easier. Lorraine and myself will be able to give time and expertise to our group, and we are pleased to be able to help.'
'There is a wealth of information available and Lorraine and I hope that this lovely group will help spread the word, knowledge and guidance, so we've got your back.'
Format: The group is free and informal, and there are plenty of Free From foods to buy and try. The pictures are some of the delicious dishes that Lorraine produces, and they are gluten free, dairy free and cooked in a safe kitchen environment.