Food Allergies and Intolerances by foodyfaheema

Do you find yourself shying away from a yummy milk and egg desert or being tempted to eat those delicious chocolate brownies only to remember that it contains nuts??? You are not alone! I personally do not suffer from any food allergy or intolerance (as far as I know) but this week I decided to educate you on the basics of this topic which I’m sure many of you can relate to…though you might not have a known allergy or intolerance, we have all struggled to digest some kind of food at some point right? What I found interesting in some people was an allergy to CHOCOLATE…my deepest sympathy!

Food allergies and intolerance are often mistaken for being similar because of the symptoms given off but when triggered, the two are vastly different. They can affect any person at any age of their lives but are most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of 14, it can however be overcome but in most cases it stays with the person throughout their life. A food allergy can be defined as an abnormal immune system reaction to a specific food and is triggered by the consumption of this ingredient. In other words your immune system mistakenly treats the protein in a certain food as dangerous to you that may not be harmful to the next person, this can be ANY food ingredient and even products that contain traces thereof can trigger the allergy. The most common ingredients that causes allergies are nuts, egg, milk, wheat, soy and seafood. NO sushi for you!

Allergic reactions from food can sometimes cause serious illness and even death but in most cases symptoms such as nausea, rash or hives, chest pain, itchy skin and shortness of breath occur. Other symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach pain and swelling of the airways. An allergy is only “activated” when the sufferer consumes the ingredient for the second time and your body is exposed to the harmful protein once again. There are two categories of allergies, one tends to cause rapid/ immediate symptoms which occur within seconds or minutes after exposure while the other only causes symptoms hours or even days after exposure and is often difficult to diagnose. There is no treatment to cure a food allergy and the best way of preventing a reaction is to identify the type of food that causes the allergy and then completely avoiding it in future. An NO…this does not mean saying you are allergic to mom’s dinner only because you not feeling it…shame on u!

Food intolerance on the other hand is never life threatening and is defined as a digestive system response rather than an immune response. It occurs when something in a food type irritates ones digestive system or is unable to properly digest or breakdown the food in our body and occurs every time the food is eaten. However no allergic reaction takes place. Food intolerance symptoms generally come on gradually and does not involve an immune response. One of the most common types is intolerance of cows milk which means that the body does not produce enough of the enzyme to breakdown the protein. If you do have a food intolerance you may be able to take steps that help prevent a reaction instead of avoiding the product eg. If you are lactose intolerant you may be able to drink lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme  pills (aids digestion)  where as with an allergy there is no exception. A food intolerance can cause the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy so people often confuse the two.

Did you know?

  • There are people intolerant to alcohol
  • You can do an intolerance test yourself by taking your pulse and monitoring your body’s reaction to a certain food

There is a strong genetic pattern to food intolerance and because we are born with high levels of lactase in our bodies, lactose intolerance is only diagnosed after the age of  breastfeeding and some may only experience symptoms years there after. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of enzyme your body makes and the amount of food that was consumed. Food intolerance can be managed simply by cutting the food out of your diet or in adults, tolerating small amounts of the troubled food and experimenting with the use of lactase enzyme drops or capsules, in this way you can still go for that chocolate milkshake once in a while, a huge while.

I trust that you have enjoyed reading my post. I welcome any of your questions, comments and suggestions relating to this topic as I am sure to follow it up. foodyfaheema

Eating disorders: AWARENESS

We have all heard the saying before “you are what you eat” and have probably examined ourselves according to this statement, but how relevant is this and can we actually BE what we EAT?

Upon enjoying my favourite meals it often awares me that food is an art that should be consumed in moderation not only for nutritional reasons but also for the purpose of pleasure. However, many individuals amongst ourselves are not able to do so for some or other reason and are either starving or overeating themselves on a daily basis. During the holiday I came across the word “Orthorexia” and with great concern I read up on its meaning and was amused that something I once wondered about actually has a name?! Thee obsession with healthy eating! I have indeed witnessed this before but never thought it would become as serious as being called “Orthorexia Nervosa” and  this immediately drew me to my blog post this week! Awareness on eating disorders…

We often overlook the pleasures of having appetite to eat with our bodies rather than our minds…one particular day we feel like stuffing ourselves and the next we stick to small portions an then…go back to stuffing on that yummy cupcakes without feeling guilty, and so we carry on but nothing of this becomes a mental issue and we quickly overcome our unusual eating patterns .To some people however, the simple action of eating can become an emotional as well as a mental issue of great concern. Eating disorders has been diagnosed since the very beginning and over the years more has been identified. It is defined as when a person eats, or refuses to eat, in order to satisfy a psychic need rather than a physical need. They do not listen to bodily signals and is at times not even aware thereof. While a normal person will eat when hungry and stop when the body has had enough (satisfaction), a patient with an eating disorder cannot relate to this. There are three categories of eating disorders that are diagnosed according to the symptoms given off by the individual. They are classified as Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Anorexia nervosa being the most common amongst all, can be defined as a lack of appetite due to an excessive fear of gaining weight even though they are dangerously thin while  Bulimia nervosa involves the person eating a lot of food in a short amount of time and then indulging in actions  that will prevent weight gain .The two are similar in terms of certain behaviour patterns shown by the individuals namely, repeatedly checking their body weight, intense and compulsive excercise, purging by means of vomiting and abuse of laxatives and diuretics .Binge eating on the other hand is characterised by periods of uncontrolled or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full, we can all relate to this at some point i guess haha! but to binge eaters it is more than just a “good appetite” and can have serious impacts on their well-being. Other eating disorders include Over eating (eating too many calories at a time for no mental or emotional reason), Night eating (lack of appetite in the morning and then overeating at night with agitation and insomnia) and Orthorexia (a fixation on eating proper foods or nothing at all).


Conditions that may trigger these disorders are plenty and include Personal factors eg. low self-esteem and depression, Interpersonal factors eg. troubled family or personal relationships and Social factors eg. cultural pressures that glorifies being “thin” .It is important for us to remember that these disorders can literally affect any one at any point in time as we have witnessed female celebrities of highest fame and fortune being the most common sufferers . People with eating disorders often do not recognise or admit that they are ill and as a result they may strongly resist getting and staying in treatment. This to me is a huge downfall .I am in full favour of eating disorders being treated as critical and as sympathetic as any other medical condition rather than being seen as a mental disorder and the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated the better the outcomes are likely to be.

Did you know?

  • Eating disorders can run within the family
  • Anorexia nervosa is the number 1 killer of girls and young women aged 15- 24
  • Anorexia affects males as well (Manorexia) an affected  the famous Elton John and John Lennon before their death


There is indeed much more to read and learn on regarding this topic and I’m hoping I have endured some interest towards you by making you more aware thereof and hopefully changing your social stigma towards the topic. You are welcome to pose any questions and comments of concern relating to this post as I am sure to follow it up with. foodyfaheema

HACCP – My career of choice

As I’m nearing the end of my three-year diploma course in the field of Food Science, I was required to make that final decision as to what exactly my path of interest would be after completing this course, which will ultimately determine my future. decisionsDECISIONSdecisions!!!  This week I decided to inform you on the career choice I have made and give you a brief description of what it entails, this will not only help you understand what my future occupation could be (major confusion at times) but also improve your general knowledge relating to FOOD safety!

The fact that you are a follower of my blog tells me that a majority of you have a background of food knowledge , whether it be partial or in-depth, hence I am sure you have all heard about the food safety system called HACCP. However, to those whom are not familiar, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic preventative approach to food safety that addresses Physical, Chemical and Biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. In simpler terms…FOOD SAFETY. HACCP came about in the 1960s when the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked Pillsbury (American food company) to design and manufacture the first foods for space flights, this ofcourse required great knowledge and application of food safety measures to ensure that the food would be and stay safe for consumption…can you imagine a food safety scare up in space??? The rest is history.

Today HACCP is globally used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards so that key actions can be taken to reduce or eliminate the risks of the hazards being realised.  As a job, it involves monitoring, verifying and validating of the daily work that is compliant with regulatory requirements in all stages at all times. HACCP is an industry wide effort approved by the scientific community as well as regulatory and industry practitioners. The advantages of HACCP are plenty but most importantly, it focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food instead  of inspecting the hazardous end product, it is based on sound science, record keeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than on any given day, helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market and ensures customer security.

 The system is used in all stages of production and preparation processes including Packaging, Distribution, etc. it has also been increasingly applied to industries other than food, such as Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals making it a fairly broad aspect of occupation. For this reason, amongst others, I see myself following a career in food safety rather than Production, Retail, Media etc. we all have our preferences…and like all things successful, we need to work hard in order for it to happen! Yes we can all decide on what occupation to follow in but it takes loads of effort and sacrifice to see it becoming a reality. With the knowledge and skill required for food safety, I am indeed motivated to further empower myself in this category of food as I am intending to make a huge success thereof, after all ,I could always picture myself in some formal uniform roaming around between the chefs criticising left and right! lol 😀  but it’s certainly not as glamorous as that as people’s lives can depend on whether the job is done correctly and according to standard.

I trust that you are now more informed on the concept of HACCP, what exactly it entails and how it fits my chosen career. I welcome any questions or comments that you may have pertaining to this post as I’m sure to follow it up with. foodyfaheema

MEAT FREE MONDAY by foodyfaheema

South Africa is joining the global move to encourage people to have at least one day a week free of meat. It’s a small move with a big impact on the Environment, on Animals and most importantly on YOUR Health. This week I decided to bring this topic to your attention not only because I am in full support thereof but also to raise awareness and encourage you to in fact take part in the running of this campaign. The advantages that comes with this one meat-free day per week are numerous. As for the aspect of Health, cutting out meat one day for the week will help prevent four of the leading causes of death namely: Heart disease, Stroke, Diabetes and Cancer. At the same time, reducing our meat consumption will help reduce excess weight and Obesity and with todays unhealthy lifestyles led by many, loosing weight is often the aim of most individuals (with an exception to some) being a part of this campaign can help you do so. Other advantages includes Positively contributing to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,  Protecting our animals as they endure traumatic experiences during slaughtering and towards Combating World Hunger.
I’m sure people are asking WHY Mondays? Well, It has been recognised that adding a time factor to a message of this sort helps people to change their behaviour in addition to the memorable alliteration of “meat & monday”. Also, Mondays are traditionally the “start health eating” day of the week for most people and many find themselves going to a Gym on a Monday, with MEAT FREE MONDAY, it’s a bit like going to gym but with the added advantage of protecting your planet! An thee best part of all…its absolutely FREE! So the next time you find yourself planning your menu for the week, think about it, excluding meat for just that one day is a start to having even more meatless days per week. So either way you are benefiting yourself and contributing to the advantages mentioned. With this said, I do not see reason for anyone not to participate in a campaign like this and even though some of us need all the meat we can get (lol) excluding it for at least one day can be the start of a healthier you!
In addition to the theory I have included an exciting, easy to prepare recipe that can serve as a delicious meal to a family of four! by preparing the meal on specifically a Monday, you are automatically contributing to this purpose. ENJOY!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
1 large yellow pepper, seeded and cut into wedges
1 tomato, deseeded and cut into 6 wedges
1 courgette, washed and thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, skin on
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp mild curry paste
125g basmati rice, washed under cold water
500ml hot vegetable stock
1 star anise
1 tsp tumeric
2 tbsp chopped corriander
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Salt & pepper for seasoning


Heat the oven to 190 degrees*
Place all the vegetables into a large roasting tin, sprinkle the olive oil over and thoroughly making sure all the vegetables are coated.
Cook in the hot oven for 20 mins until all the vegetables are cooked through and beginning to brown.
Stir in the curry paste, rice, stock, star anise, and tumeric. Cook for a further 20- 30 minutes until all the stock is absorbed.
Stir in the herbs and serve. (serves 4)

And Vwolaaaaaaaaah! you have a delicious meat free curry!
Remember, it’s never too late or even too early to change our eating habits for the better. foodyfaheema.

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