Learning more about allergies

Sara Pollard. Picture: Laura Scottern Photography
Sara Pollard. Picture: Laura Scottern Photography
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Director of Free From Temptation Ltd, Sara Pollard says people are too quick to criticise those with specialist dietary requirements

The recent Great British Bake Off alternative ingredients week was an amazing episode to be aired.

For me, publicising healthy eating and allergy awareness is essential for my business to grow.

Unfortunately too many people, including a certain national paper, which recently wrote an article to this effect, try to make people with allergies and intolerances feel alienated and their affliction devalued.

As you may have read in my earlier articles, three years ago, owing to a friend with Coeliac Disease, the ‘gluten–free’ baking bug bit me.

After extensive research, I found that whilst it may be a fad diet chosen by some, for those diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, and those suffering with genuine allergies that restrict their diets due to intolerances, it is a nasty condition that controls their lives.

In fact the thought of not being able to eat a tempting, warm crusty baguette or a sugar coated doughnut would have terrified me.

My aim was simple, I decided to learn as much as I could about this horrible disease and then aimed to ‘trial and error’ my cake baking until I’d produced something tasty and comparative to gluten containing products.

Getting the perfect cupcake recipe took a long time to master though and even now I enhance my recipes when needed, to continue improving them and learn.

When I hear critics speaking about allergies and how for some they are just ‘in their head’ or ‘being one of a crowd’ it angers me.

I’ve had the privilege to get to know some fantastic people over the past few years, and seen first–hand how important it is for them to know what is inside the food they are eating.

This seemingly tedious task can stop someone from getting seriously ill.

My thoughts on this matter ring back to something my mother taught me when I was little.

She simply said, ‘Sara; if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

So on that note, remember this: just because you don’t believe in something yourself, doesn’t mean you have to ruin it for others.

Allergy awareness is important and I feel the only good thing to come out of the recent media coverage is that the associated backlash has spread far more awareness than the original article itself.

n Sara Pollard is originally from Portsmouth and now lives in Fareham.

She is the award-winning director of Free From Temptation Ltd, in Napier Crescent, which specialises in gluten-free cake and fine confectionery