According to the CDC, an estimated 8% of children in the United States suffer from food allergies, equalling roughly 1 in 13 children, or about 2 students per classroom.
When Nathalie Newman’s son was born with severe allergic reactions, she spent over a year trying to get him a diagnosis. To help other parents who were in the same boat, the award winning Allergy and Nutrition expert, and founded intolerantgourmand.com to be a resource for parents of children with dietary restrictions. The site features support, guidance, advice, useful tips and tricks and recipes, some of which she shared on stage at the London Produce Show.
Nathalie is well respected in the allergies and free-from arena for her fresh approach to working and living with allergies. Highly motivated and with an ambition to succeed, thanks to her son’s ongoing battle with severe allergies and eczema, Nathalie is a driving force in improving the public understanding of allergies and intolerances.
She regularly features on camera for campaigns with BBC Breakfast, Rip Off Britain, CBBC Newsround, Channel 5 News, Sky News and The Victoria Derbyshire Show, as well as extensive press coverage in The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Telegraph, various magazines, and radio interviews on TalkRadio, BBC Northamptonshire, BBC London Radio, Radio 5 Live, LBC and more as a leading voice on living successfully with allergies.
Nathalie is a full time freelance brand consultant, partner executive, project manager, writer, and presenter, food developer and photographer, with her work appearing in a number of publications. She regularly works with large brands to produce original recipes with free-from ingredients at the heart, as well as bringing new concepts to market and project managing teams involved.
She also works with brands, presenting recipe demonstrations, hosting live Q&A’s, consulting, teaching the day to day skills of living successfully with multiple allergies, and more.
She spoke to us about why she launched the Intolerant Gourmand, how attitudes toward children with allergies is shifting.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
A: I’ve been fortunate to have a career that has enabled me to support and help others throughout. From working in the NHS for several years, to working in recruitment, project management, and also in training, before setting up Intolerant Gourmand over 8 years ago. All of the skills I learned along the way provided a fantastic grounding to support the work I do now. After the struggle of getting my son back to a stable and well state, I now have a career that was built around regular hospital stays and appointments, all whilst supporting the allergy community, lecturing and educating the medical profession at conferences all over Europe, presenting and compering at leading events, working with global brands to showcase their products through recipes, and working with the media to provide a positive light on living with allergies and the associated challenges that arise along the way.
Q: Your company, The Intolerant Gourmand, caters to children suffering from allergy, eczema and asthma. Can you give me the story behind why you launched the site and why this is something that’s important to you?
A: My son suffered from several severe allergic reactions as a baby, 3 times in particular were very serious, and we weren’t sure if he would make it. Thankfully he did, and he went on to have extensive allergy testing where he was diagnosed with multiple severe allergies at the age of 16 months. His diet required a complete overhaul, and during my research, I realized very quickly that very little actually existed to support gluten and dairy free diets or indeed living with severe allergies, and those with additional requirements. After I learned how to cook safely for my son, I set up a blog to share the recipes I was creating and to share the tips and tricks I’d learned along the way. It quickly became very popular, gaining thousands of views each month. It was at this point that I started to work on a freelance basis, consulting for brands, writing articles, creating recipes, and presenting.
I’m known for saying ‘allergies are life changing, but they shouldn’t be life defining’ and my son is living proof of this. Through everything I learned, I have been able to give him the tools he needs to live positively with allergies, whilst also enabling other families to learn how we’ve done it too. I wanted to make sure that nothing would hold my son back, and to give him the opportunity to do anything he wants to, whilst remaining as safe as possible given his allergies. To empower someone with allergies to trust food again is very special, and I’m humbled to be able to do this as my job.
Q: It’s sad that such a resource wasn’t previously available. Why do you think that is?
A: There has been a huge shift in the last few years. Where allergies were deemed to be fairly rare previously, better education, understanding, awareness and research about allergies has meant that the food industry has been able to adapt accordingly and provide ever increasing amounts of ‘safe’ products for those living free from diets. The food industry has seen a huge rise over the past few years. In 2018 it was valued at $90.1 billion globally and is expected to reach $161.2 billion by 2026.
Q: Have you seen attitudes changing toward children with allergies and other problems that cause food restrictions?
A: Where before children might have been misdiagnosed, there is much better understanding and signposting towards possible allergies being the cause of symptoms that children present with. As knowledge improves, and free from product ranges continue to increase, there is a real shift to a more positive attitude now.
Q: You’re offering support, guidance, advice, and recipes. Where do you get the information from? Is it through partnerships?
A: The information comes from my own learnings, and the tips and tricks I’ve learned through our journey, as well as the various partnerships I have had with clients I work with. All recipes I post or create for clients are rigorously tested before being published to make sure they truly work. In the beginning, there were many failed recipes that ended up in the bin, but as my knowledge grew and my understanding of how alternatives could be used improved, recipes became a success and it grew from that. I will never post or share anything I haven’t experienced or tested myself, as I want to make sure the information available is correct and accurate. The same goes for brands. I need to trust them before I will work with them.
Q: Do you allow parents to connect to each other through The Intolerant Gourmand and share tips with each other?
A: The website isn’t a chatting site, more of an information site, but my social media channels actively encourage the community that’s been built up to interact with each other and share any tips, recipes and new product finds so that the whole community can benefit from shared knowledge.
Q: Why is it important for produce to be the champion/hero ingredient within a recipe or menu? How will you help that happen?
A: Good food showcases knowledge and understanding of how to really shine a light on the ingredients and produce you use to create it. You should be able to taste every element, and be able to appreciate the skill to create it.
Q: How will you get these recipes into the hands of the average person?
A: I will ensure that the recipes are written up and made available on my website and across social media. We will also provide details on the day as well.
Q: Is there anything else I should know?
A: If anyone wants to check out my recipes, or find out more about living positively with allergies, they can find me at: www.intolerantgourmand.com
Well this is a twist — our demos now have broader and deeper purpose. Not just boosting consumption but identifying pathways to help with specific medial and nutritional issues.