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A world of Alternatives

We live in a world that is full of alternatives and for whatever reason, you might come across one of these alternatives somewhere along the line...

The good old days of following a recipe to the T is long gone for many of the clients I encounter coming into the health shop on a daily basis.

Does gluten-intollerant, lactose-intollerant, sugar-free, vegan, allergen-free, vegetarian, low carb, low GI, keto friendly, banting friendly, high fibre, anti-inflammatory diet or diabetic friendly ring a bell? Maybe you've even heard of something not on this list, and you probably will because when you really get into 'alternatives', the list can go on forever. People have decided to eat a specific way for various different reasons, most of them are however health related.

Whether the doctor told them to or their bodies just forced them to.. People now look for alternatives to swop out every day ingredients with. We get clients in the shop in all shapes and forms and we need to help each one customize their shopping basket to their specific needs.

One might be gluten intolerant.. which is easy.. just give a gluten free flour.. but wait.. they are allergic to nuts.. so that cuts out almond flour, macadamia flour, pecan nut flour and in some extreme cases, even coconut flour. Fine.. that leaves us with flours like buckwheat, flax, tapioca, potato, rice, maize and chickpea, to name a few. Now they might mention that the homeopath suggested they follow a Paleo diet. This diet doesn't allow for any grains or legumes. This cuts out options like rice, buckwheat, millet and quinoa, as well as chickpea flour and any other kind of bean flour. You see where I'm going with this. Sometimes it's quite a puzzle to figure out which pieces fit that person's needs. It's not always as simple as a one size fits all kind of solution.

I think our bodies are amazing but they can be fragile too. Like how weird is it that some people can eat anything and other have a list of allergies as long as the Eiffel Tower. I'm actually a good example of how fragile the body can be. One moment I'm perfect and then I eat an avocado, a mango, some grapes or a raw tomato or some green pepper or whatever other beautiful food my body feels in the mood to reject that day. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 aaaaand SNEEZE ATTACK! First I thought I might be allergic but come on.. there would be nothing for me left to eat.. or nothing healthy at least. I had this experience for as long as I can remember. In most cases I just ride it out but it got to a point that I thought enough is enough! I started experimenting with herbs and supplements and eventually landed on digestive enzymes. My blood group is A and A's have been known to have low stomach acid. This is what brought me to try Digestive Enzymes. I first used the Solgar brand.. horrible tasting tablets but they work like a bomb. I then switched to the Willoe brand and these are capsules which are a lot easier to swallow and work just as good. I would take one of these tablets, mid sneeze attack and before I'm able to count to 20, the sneezing stops. My husband says it's a placebo effect because nothing works that quick but in my case it does. I realized that I just have a lack of enzymes in my stomach to digest the food I'm eating. And just like that my 'allergy', is gone.

Now I'm lucky that I just thought I had an allergy and didn't actually have an allergy. Some people have or develop serious food allergies. Nuts and peanuts are two very well known allergens. Milk and Gluten have made some headlines in recent years, some symptoms may be mild like bloating and flatulence while others' chests might start to close up when they ingest them.

Diabetes is also a tricky one... you can almost see this as people being allergic to sugar. It's not that but they're not allowed to eat sugar so they could say they're allergic. In a health shop there are a lot of options for someone with diabetes. Many of the products are sugar free but they can't shop blind. Some products, although healthy, won't be good for a person with diabetes. Natural sweetneres like honey and dates can still spike their glucose levels so they need to shop for sugar free alternatives that don't give them that sugar high.

Luckily in modern times, people are constantly coming up with new food. There are really great alternatives for milk (or lactose) and gluten on the market. Some products you won't even know that it's gluten free! You even get dairy free chocolates which are sooo yummy! Visit your nearest health shop and I'm sure they will have a great selection to choose from.

A few tips:

Don't try to make a gluten free white sauce with coconut flour.. yeah.. that was my amateur introduction to gluten free didn't work. You get great blended gluten free flours which have a mix of different flours and xantham gum (already added). This means that you can take any normal recipe and swop our the flour directly with the gluten free flour. It works great. If you work with individual flours - make sure you get a recipe using that same flour. Some gluten free flours don't works for all recipes. Tapioca and flax flour absorb a lot more water than regular flour and coconut flour (like I had to learn the hard way) has zero elasticity or way to make a white sauce thicken. You get great recipes on Pinterest these days.

You can swop an ingredient if you can't find it or if you don't like the taste but make sure it's got a similar texture. Like you could swop almond flour for sunflower flour - same texture but a lot cheaper.

Earlier I wrote about different diets as well... banting, keto, blood group diet, atkins, paleo (to name a few)

People go on diets like this for different reasons. Some do it to lose weight, others to improve their health, others to lower their risk of heart disease or diabetes, some to lower their levels of acidity - for whatever reason, if you decide to follow a sticy diet, there's probably a few things wou won't be allowed to eat. That's where the alternatives come in. Make sure you do research about the diet before starting so you can know what to stock your pantry up with before starting. It's the worst to look at all the food in the house and think it's off limits.

Alternatives - it's a topic I could go on forever about but each person's needs are so specific. I can't just write a go to guide on alternative ingredients and everyone just copy and pastes it. The best is to see a health practitioner like a naturopath, homeopath or wellness coach so that they can do an extensive interview with you to get all the ins and outs of your body. Some even test on the spot for allergies and intollerances. Some might even go into what blood group you are and suggest some lifestyle changes according to that.

The other way to do it is to just listen to your body. If you're not feeling great. Cut a few suspects out and then after a few weeks. Bring them back slowly and if you experience unpleasant symptoms shortly after reintroducing something - you know that's the culprit. Wheat, gluten, eggs, nuts, alchohol, sugar, caffeine and dairy are a few big ones to start with.

And then lastly.. don't stress! If you find something that you realized was a trigger. Come to Namo and let one of us assist with finding the best alternative to replace it, so you can go back to living life to the fullest!

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