Zoe is the owner of My Allergy Kitchen; a useful blog to support families with allergies and intolerances and author of The Busy Parent's Guide To Food Allergies, available both in Kindle and hardcopy. An accomplished blogger, Zoe continues to receive awards and recognition for her writing.
Zoe also provides great advice and tips to help families on our own site, which you can find in our blog section. We caught up with Zoe so you can find out more about her and the amazing work she is doing to advocate for and support the allergy community.
Teal: Zoe, why did you start your blog?
Zoe: I started my blog, My Allergy Kitchen, in 2018 because everyone in my household has some form of allergy or intolerance. Finding meals that are suitable for everyone’s needs can be tricky, and I wanted to help others in the same situation.
When I was at school, my favourite subject was Food Technology. It was a subject I did for fun! It never felt like work. For our coursework we had to adapt a recipe for a special diet. Who knew those skills would come in so handy?!
I’ve always loved writing and have been blogging on and off for over 10 years. But I never really found a niche that I was passionate about, so I kept starting blogs and then didn’t really have the enthusiasm to carry on. But My Allergy Kitchen has been so different. I’m so determined to help other people who are affected by allergies and intolerances. I never have a day when I don’t feel motivated to work on my blog.
Teal: What motivates you?
Zoe: Well all I really have to do is think back to my younger daughter’s first year of life. We were fortunate that my daughter only had mild to moderate allergic symptoms, but the flip side of that means it took a really, really long time to figure out the root cause. We saw so many different doctors who never even considered that she might have food allergies despite the fact we already knew she was allergic to milk by the time she was 4 weeks old!
It was a tough year. I was sleep deprived to the point of hallucinating. Going in her car seat caused her so much distress we pretty much stopped going out. I was wracked with guilt for neglecting my older daughter so much. We were in survival mode. I doubted myself, doubted my parenting ability, doubted my sanity!
It was such a relief when we finally discovered her symptoms were all due to food allergies: 6 in total (milk, soya, wheat/gluten, oats, eggs and legumes). With support from her paediatrician and dietitian, we cut out her allergens completely, from her diet and mine (as I was still breastfeeding). And almost overnight, all her suffering stopped! However, we were then faced with the new challenge of figuring out what we could eat. As a breastfeeding mother I was constantly hungry and I lost a frightening amount of weight.
Thankfully things have got better for us now, and she has now outgrown 4 out of her 6 allergies. Of course, there have been other challenges along the way, but generally living with food allergies just feels normal to us most of the time.
Teal: What are your ambitions?
Zoe: I aim to be a voice of hope to others who are in that bleak phase of life with a non-stop crying, sicky baby, or those who are suddenly saddled with an unexpected allergy diagnosis. I also create recipes that are truly inclusive, so they are suitable for a range of special dietary needs but also tasty enough to share with others. You don’t realise how much socialising revolves around food until you have allergies!
I’m really excited to be a part of the EpiCenter and TEAL apps – Joey and Caron are really inspiring and their apps are fast becoming an essential resource for people with food allergies in the USA and the UK. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!