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Allergy members - how do you shop for food?

Can you talk me through how you go about food shopping for yourself or a member of your family that has a food allergy. Do you go to the local supermarket or specialist store? If a supermarket, do you buy from the health food aisle or regular aisles? Do you have to check every ingredient label or do products advertise themselves well enough? Do you have to buy specific foods? Is your food bill more expensive as a result? And finally does your household all eat the same meals, or does the person with the food allergy eat separate food?

Last reply: 10th Jun 2017 / 83 replies / Post by looklively

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Ziah

Posted by: Ziah
Posted on: 28th Apr 2015

Ziah says: Background info: I am celiac. I also have a soy allergy, multiple chemical sensitivity (including things like fluoride, MSG, aspartame, acesulfame-k amongst others), diabetes, mild lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption and several other conditions. Hubby is lactose intolerant, is allergic to oranges and alliums (garlic, onion etc).

I am the main shopper. I shop at a lot of different stores, including supermarkets, health food stores, organic produce stores, online and specialist retailers. If I buy anything in a packet (rare) I not only read the packaging thoroughly every single time I buy it (because manufacturers repeatedly change their ingredients without telling anyone, and what was safe last time you bought it might not be this time. I'm looking at you, SPC Baked Beans!) but I often go online and look up whether a certain ingredient could be masking or masquerading as one of our allergens (eg "flavouring" can be a seemingly innocent term for MSG), and I also check for companies using environmental nightmares such as palm oil (among others). This can turn a shopping trip into an all-day thing, so it is incredibly rare I buy anything in a package, and stick to whole foods and chemical-free cleaning where possible. I spend the bulk of our food budget in an organic produce store, some at an organic butchers who stocks chicken (we only eat red meat about once or twice a month) and organic eggs, I cook everything from scratch, and I have allergy-free recipes for almost every packet food we've ever bought or liked (and I'm actively working on recipes for the rest).

Because of our dietary constraints, our food bill is equivalent to or higher than that of a family of four (or more), when there's just two adults. Plus, on top of all that, we have three cats - one of which has hyperthyroid and chronic kidney disease and often refuses to eat - so she ends up being syringed with organic baby rice cereal in lactose-free milk (which is upwards of $2.75/L), and she will not eat regular cat food (and we cannot allow her to starve herself. She's gone more than three days without eating anything, and she is at severely increased risk of a liver condition called hepatic lipidosis which can kill a cat inside four days without solid food).

Shopping or this family is often a full time job unless I stick to boring things like grilled chicken and vegetables every night and nothing but fruit for breakfast and lunch - and even then, it can still require visits to several stores and an hour's drive to the organic veggie store on a Friday to get everything we need for the next three days or so (organic veg don't last very long in the fridge)...I wouldn't wish allergy shopping on my worst enemy!

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