Peas & Figs

Celebrating what you can eat

About Peas & Figs - Created by Omi Ducat

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Peas & Figs evolved from the realisation, following a personal health scare, that there were few online resources to which people living with allergies could turn for both nutritional advice and inspirational encouragement. So sit back, grab a cup of tea (or a herbal infusion if you're avoiding caffeine) and I'll share the tale of how a personal health challenge created the idea that grew into Peas & Figs.

The need for a site like Peas & Figs first became evident to me after I suffered a series of adverse health reactions.  I first experienced what seemed to be a pretty severe allergic reaction after running a marathon in Barcelona two years ago. I have always had a few fairly common allergies: both hay-fever and a reaction to cats. But I've always been fit and never before experienced an adverse reaction to exercise.  The day after completing the marathon my eyes were puffy and swollen. I went straight to a chemist and, using my best Spanglish and lots of comical gesticulation, managed to purchase some anti-histamine.  The anti-histamine seemed to do the trick so and I assumed that my sudden attack must have been caused by something that I had consumed the evening before, so started assessing all the food I had eaten the previous 24 hours.

Then, five weeks later, I took part in the London marathon, only to experience an even more violent attack of my previous experience. Even worse, this time I could hardly open my eyes and my lips had swelled up as well. My GP was dumbstruck, so I embarked on a series of tests and consultations at Guys Hospital Allergy Clinic.

The first doctor I saw suggested it may be a condition which affects a small proportion of the population and is aggravated when you couple eating wheat with extreme exercise (I now know that the most severe manifestation of this type of allergic reaction is known to exercise induced anaphylaxis and can be fatal!).  I’m sure many would love to be told they are allergic to exercise. However, for me this was tough to hear as I love my running!

Despite this, I managed to carry on with life pretty much as normal, although I was probably taking too many antihistamines and did have to cut back on the running a lot – which I love to do after work. Then, approximately a year later, I moved in with my sister, who is a dog trainer and so inevitably owns and lives with two lovable miniature schnauzers. A couple of months down the line I was suffering at least a muted allergic reaction on a daily basis. I sought the advice of yet another doctor, who immediately diagnosed my condition as angioedema.  After much research I learned that this condition can be aggravated from excess light, cold, warmth, stress, specific food substances, the list goes on... essentially, just about anything you come into contact with on a daily basis!  This was intimidating and upsetting to discover, and no one really seemed able to offer me any real solutions, so I took it upon myself to learn more.

I enrolled on a course at Institute of Optimum Nutrition and loved every second of it. Although with the wisdom of hindsight, if my condition was stress related, studying this on top of full time work probably wasn’t the best course of action I could have come up with for myself! I also attended a series of consultations at the Hale Clinic and spoke to alakilising nutritionist Gareth Edwards. Ultimately, my investigations landed me with a wealth of nutritional awareness and a long list of foods that I should avoid, including gluten, wheat, dairy, lactose, chocolate, alcohol... the list goes on.

The more research I did, the more I realised there was no one resource where I could enter the foods I should avoid and be told which delicious foods and recipes I could still eat.  While on this journey of discovery, as is often the way in life, I happened to meet lots of other people with the same dilemma - people who had been told to avoid some of their favourite dishes without being offered any tasty alternatives!  But I was adamant the foods remaining to me (and others) didn’t have to just be comprised of salad leaves and spinach (although both are delicious)!

My ensuing mission to overcome the threat of a bland, repetitive and tasteless relationship with food gave rise to Peas & Figs – celebrating what you can eat!

I hope you enjoy my site. I am pleased to be able to share with all of you the exciting recipes I have gathered, but this is just stage one.  I have many more plans for Peas & Figs and I’m always open to receiving feedback from my most trusted users – you! 

I can be reached on omi@peasandfigs.co.uk.

Enjoy!