Friendly Food Cook Book – RPAH Allergy Unit

The recipes in this book are very low in neuroinflammatory food chemicals: salicylates, amines and glutamates.  Reducing intake of these food chemicals can provide significant symptom relief for some people with chronic pain and fatigue syndromes.  

For people who are experiencing a lot of gut issues, there are dairy free, gluten free, and wheat free options for most recipes.  There are also allergen free alternatives.

These recipes have been designed for anyone doing a food intolerance elimination challenge. Sticking to low food chemical recipes long term may lead to nutritional deficiencies so is not recommended. However, eating some low food chemical recipes each day, can help susceptible people keep below their food intolerance triggered symptom threshold limits.  


Excerpt from the Introduction of the Friendly Food Cook Book

ffcoversmallFor most of us, food is more than a daily necessity. We get personal pleasure from it. We nurture our children with it. And sharing it around the table is at the heart of our family and social life. For some people, though, foods can cause distressing, even dangerous, reactions, or chronic ill health, and that’s why we’ve written this book.

Foods can upset people for many reasons. This book will help you understand more about the different kinds of reaction that can occur – food intolerance, food allergy and coeliac disease – and the various foods and food substances that can trigger them. Based on more than 20 years of experience and research at the Allergy Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney, we’ve developed a comprehensive dietary testing and management program now in use throughout Australia for people with food reactions.

Having a food problem may restrict your food choices somewhat, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating and sharing with family and friends. In this book we’ve provided a range of recipes for all occasions, helpful hints for food preparation, and lifestyle advice to help people living with a food problem stay well and enjoy a full and rich life.

Even if you don’t have a food problem yourself, you probably have a friend or relative who does. We hope this book will provide an opportunity for everyone to learn more about ‘friendly’ food.

Understanding food intolerance

Understanding the difference between intolerance and other types of food reaction is an important starting point because the approach to dealing with them is quite different. Unlike allergies and coeliac disease, which are immune reactions to food proteins, intolerances don’t involve the immune system at all. They are triggered by food chemicals which cause reactions by irritating nerve endings in different parts of the body, rather in the way that certain drugs can cause side-effects in sensitive people.

The chemicals involved in food intolerances are found in many different foods, so the approach involves identifying them and reducing your intake of groups of foods, all of which contain the same offending substances. By contrast, protein allergens are unique to each food (for example, egg, milk and peanut), and dealing with a food allergy involves identifying and avoiding all traces of that particular food. Similarly, gluten, the protein involved in coeliac disease, is only found in certain grains (wheat, barley, rye) and their elimination is the basis of a gluten-free diet.

Natural food chemicals

Chemicals are found everywhere in nature, including in foods. Some are beneficial; for example, the vitamins we need for good health, and the flavour and aroma substances that make foods so enjoyable. On the other hand, many plants contain substances which are poisonous to humans, and of course we avoid cultivating these as foods. The staple foods we eat today have been selected by trial and error over thousands of years, both for their nutritional value and because most people can tolerate them without getting sick.

Some people are born with a sensitive constitution and react more readily to food chemicals than others. The tendency is probably inherited, but environmental triggers — a sudden change of diet, a bad food or drug reaction, a nasty viral infection (for example, gastroenteritis, glandular fever) — can bring on symptoms at any age by altering the way the body reacts to food chemicals. Women often become more sensitive in their child-bearing years, perhaps due to hormonal changes, which might be nature’s way of preventing pregnant and breast-feeding women from eating foods that could harm the developing baby.

Babies are more vulnerable to food chemicals because their metabolism, gastrointestinal and nervous systems are immature, which is why they often prefer bland foods. As children mature, their bodies become accustomed to handling small amounts of rich, spicy and highly flavoured foods, which usually only cause ill effects if eaten in excess.

It’s important to realize that the natural chemicals in many ‘healthy’ foods can be just as much of a problem for sensitive people as the ‘artificial’ ones used as food additives. Foods vary tremendously in chemical composition. The natural substances most likely to upset sensitive individuals — salicylates, amines and glutamate — are the ones common to many different foods, and therefore consumed in greatest quantity in the daily diet. As a rule, the tastier a food is, the richer it’s likely to be in natural chemicals. A comprehensive list of foods and their natural chemical content is shown in the charts on pages 16-21 (not shown in this website extract).

Food additives

People who are sensitive to natural food chemicals are usually also sensitive to one or more of the common food additives such as preservatives, artificial colours and flavourings. Reactions to these can be easier to recognise than reactions to natural chemicals because of the higher doses present in processed foods. As with the natural chemicals, individuals vary in their sensitivity to particular additives, and it’s often worthwhile testing this out systematically rather than avoiding all additives. The ones most likely to be a problem in people with food intolerance are listed on page 244 along with their code numbers (not shown in this website extract).

Food intolerance reactions

Symptoms triggered by food chemical intolerances vary from person to person. The commonest ones are recurrent hives and swellings, headaches, sinus trouble, mouth ulcers, nausea, stomach pains and bowel irritation. Some people feel vaguely unwell, with flu-like aches and pains, or get unusually tired, run-down or moody, often for no apparent reason. Children can become irritable and restless, and behavioural problems can be aggravated in those with nervous system disorders such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Even breast-fed babies can have food intolerance reactions due to chemicals from the mother’s diet getting into the breast milk, causing colicky irritable behaviour, loose stools, eczema and nappy (diaper) rashes.

To read more go of the introduction to the RPAH Friendly Food Cook book go to the RPAH Allergy Unit Website

To find out what foods you can eat on the Friendly Food Elimination Diet and more! download this Handbook RPAH Handbook-p1-33

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