Zero Waste living is hard enough, and with the added complexities you get with being unable to eat even more food groups, it can be even tougher.
I can’t eat gluten and dairy, as I have intolerances to both. I also have a very mild reaction to certain seeds. My reactions can be anything from eczema to an upset tummy, being excessively tired and having to poop (a lot).
The worst things I find about allergies and intolerances when it comes to Zero Waste living are:
The medication waste
Blister packs from tablets and creams are hard to fully recycle, and in some cases, the medical waste has to go back to the pharmacy to be destroyed, rather than recycled, depending on what it is.
Anna and I always try and minimise waste associated with the medication, but know that it is a necessity if it makes us better. We’d separate and clean the waste to try and reuse or recycle as much as possible, sending things like plastic lids off to LUSH to be recycled into their pots. Non-recyclable waste may end up in our Eco Brick.
The food wrappers
I’m so used to managing my Zero Waste lifestyle and food requirements at home, that when I mix up my routine (stay at a friends house, go on a holiday) it can be hard to reduce my waste whilst making sure I’m avoiding things which will make me unwell.
It’s times like these that I seem to end up with more waste than normal, which is really crappy.
Having to remind people
Is it just me, or do you guys ever feel like a burden when you see your friends and family trying to accommodate your allergies, intolerance AND Zero Waste lifestyle? I feel it ALL THE TIME, and I feel really awkward having to remind people what I can and can’t eat, despite the fact that it is better for me and the environment.
If you think you might have an allergy or intolerance, go to your GP in the first instance. With my GP, we did the following:
Back in 2014 (OMG I didn’t realise it was that long ago until I started writing this) I was getting all of the above symptoms, and in pain all the time. I chatted to my GP about this, and she recommended removing one food group at a time from my diet to figure out what was making me sick. I started removing gluten, as one of my besties had started reducing her gluten intake about 6 months before and within a week I knew that it was gluten making me ill and I felt a million times better.
My mild allergy to certain seeds (and cat fur, dust, grass... the depressing list goes on) was diagnosed through having a small amount of each potential allergen put onto my skin, and then the skin being pricked to see if a reaction was caused. I did this test at the start of 2018.
This one isn’t through the NHS, but I was keen to try anyway. I provided 6 hair samples to World of Homeopathy last week, and they ran tests on the samples to find out I am allergic to:
Hard, soft and processed cheese. Things made from cow’s Milk: skimmed; semi-skimmed; whole milk; dried milk; UHT; ice cream and yoghurt.
So, basically, anything produced from a cow, but not the cow it’s self...
With this type of test, please do your own research to ensure you are 100% happy with using homoeopathy. I was fine with doing this test and removing dairy from my diet for only a few days has improved my skin and stomach cramps.
There are other tests you can do too, so check out the NHS website to see what works for you.
How I balance this alongside being Zero Waste:
Pack my own
It’s like standard rule numero uno for zero waste living, and it’s much easier in a lot of cases for me to bring my own food rather than having to pick out foods which I can’t eat (to then take home and feed to my boyfriend, the poor guy) or starving until I get to somewhere I can eat.
Sourcing good restaurants
I prefer visiting independent restaurants to chains, so I have my top favourites in Birmingham and other cities I visit often as they accommodate my needs really well.
I use apps
Special diet apps like Happy Cow for vegans/ dairy free humans are awesome when you need to navigate somewhere new. As are Refill, Olio and Too Good to Go, when you want to save on food or plastic bottle waste when you’re on the go.
Research widley to make sure I don’t lack certain things
I’m cutting back on calcium, so I now drink a cup of bone broth daily, as it is high in calcium and low in waste. My homoeopathy test gave me heaps of foods to ensure I eat so I don’t lack in essential vitamins and minerals.
Reintroducing certain things
Allergies work in cycles. Therefore, I am starting to reintroduce certain grains back into my diet. I will do the same with dairy once I have been off it a while. If it makes me ill, I’ll stay off eating it for a few months to a year longer.
PLEASE ensure you consult your doctor before changing your diet in anyway as they will be able to do blood tests and take other samples to diagnose any illnesses you may have, which might seem similar to intolerances.