A's TO YOUR Q's
I've been asked a lot of questions since I started out on this adventure. Below I've attempted to answer some common ones, but if you have any other questions drop me a line!
Q. What does '8SAFE' mean?
A. The 8SAFE label identifies a recipe as being free of all eight major food allergens in the United States: wheat, milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish & shellfish (and gluten free too!). The label makes it easy to find a safe recipe for those avoiding any combination of the above foods. The 8SAFE label is a registered service mark and cannot be used without written consent. However, it's in the works to make it available for use on recipes, menus, & products sometime in the near future.
Q. So why not '8FREE'?
A. Because I feel that the '-free' labels contribute to feeling restricted.
Don't get me wrong. I am extremely grateful that these labels exist. They keep so many people safe every single day, and make eating with restrictions so much easier. I'm just hung up on the lingo. Gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free — it's like a constant reminder of what I can't eat. Who the heck needs that? Sometimes I just want to know if it's safe for me to eat.
Q. So are your recipes intended only for those with multiple allergies and restrictions?
A. Definitely not. That's the beauty of it. You can be anywhere on the spectrum from having one to all eight trigger foods and benefit from the recipes. It can also be a resource for someone who is looking to eat healthier and diversify their diet, as well as anyone entertaining who would like to offer safe options for their guests. It's all-inclusive. In fact, the 8SAFE label caters to over 40,000 different combinations of top 8 food allergens!
Q. Do you eat 8SAFE recipes exclusively?
A. I am constantly on the look out for recipes, ideas, and inspiration that fall under the 8SAFE 'umbrella' and a great deal of my meals are in fact 8SAFE. However, I myself can eat nuts and also enjoy fish and shellfish in my diet. That said, keep in mind that a lot of the 8SAFE recipes can be tweaked to suit your specific diet. For example, when I make myself a kale salad I more often than not include pecans (and I bet it would rock with some fresh shaved parmesan on top!). But I specifically make it a point not to mention these 'tweaks' for a couple of reasons: I want to ensure that the recipes remain 8SAFE and not confuse or complicate things for those of you unfamiliar with cooking and eating this way. Also, I also don't want to remind anyone (myself included) of what I can't eat. We get enough of that, don't we?
Q. Do you get paid to endorse products in your recipes?
A. When I use a processed product in a recipe, I will list the specific products that I've used as a courtesy to you (to make shopping a little easier) and also as a way to provide safe options for those of you unfamiliar with hidden allergy sources. I definitely have my favorite brands, but most of my choices are made according to what is local and available to me. I do not get paid to endorse or promote any products at this time, but if and when I do, I will be sure to disclose that information to you.
Q. Ok, so why 'My Happy Belly'?
A. Because everything in my life changed for the better once my belly was finally happy.
It was extremely challenging to stay upbeat and positive when day after day I was tired and not feeling well, and tired of not feeling well. It negatively affected every aspect of my life. Making the connection to the food I was eating and how I was feeling was such a profound realization for me. There was nothing wrong with me. I had simply never managed to learn how my body communicates its dietary needs. When I learned to listen to my own intuition, my healing abilities, my gut... my entire world changed for the better. My Happy Belly serves as a reminder for me to trust to my own 'gut' and for you to honor yours as well.
Q. How do you know so much about this stuff?
A. I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach and March of 2015 will mark 30 years that I have been living with dietary restrictions. I have lived through the confusion and frustration of making the changes necessary to be healthy. Truth be told, throughout that process there have been many times when I have longed to connect with someone who would understand and offer a sounding board, solutions, and/or support. My intention is to create that community here for all of us.
Q. What exactly is a health coach?
A. Much like a personal trainer at the gym can support you to reach your fitness goals, a health coach can do the same for your diet and health goals. A Holistic Health Coach looks at the influence and connection of all areas of your life; rather than view them as completely separate lifestyle factors. There is so much more that influences your health, not just simply the food that you eat.
Q. One last thing, what's the deal with coconut and why do you feel safe using it?
A. It is my understanding that coconut is safe for those with tree nut allergies and I defer to The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) which states: "Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet."
So while a specific allergy to coconut is possible, cross-contamination is rare. But please consult your doctor if you have any concerns.