Just because you have an allergy to some food doesn't mean you can't enjoy delicious meals, says dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd.
The Melbourne-based author of Allergy-Free Cooking Recipe Book says you should also focus on the foods you can still eat, as opposed to worrying about those you can't.
"If you've got an intolerance or an allergy to food, any adverse food reactions, you can still enjoy fabulous food," Dr Shepherd says.
Dr Shepherd has coeliac disease and must follow a strict life-long gluten-free diet.
But she says she doesn't let her diagnosis get to her.
"For me there's no ifs, buts or maybes," she says. "It's not a sometimes diet. It's something that must be followed."
She became an avid reader of food packet labels, began being careful when eating out at restaurants, and started educating family and friends who would cook for her.
She also redirected her career, and instead of studying to be a sports dietitian, which she was doing when diagnosed, she decided to specialise in the treatment of dietary intolerances.
It was after seeing a dietitian who only told her what she wasn't allowed to eat that she was inspired to make the switch.
Now, Dr Shepherd, 37, has a number of cookbooks published that help people with allergies to gluten, wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, shellfish, seafood, soy and egg.
She says making changes to recipes is a skill-building exercise.
"It is challenging because you can't always do a direct swap [of ingredients] so it's about finding recipes that are tailored directly for the requirements so that you don't have to swap and supplement ingredients. And you can do it but it takes a lot of time and skill."
It does become easier to manage, though, she adds, as does grocery shopping.
"With cooking for food intolerances or allergies you've got to be a little bit more vigilant in quantities and recipes and timing because the recipes aren't as forgiving as perhaps wheat-based [recipes] where you can be a little bit out with your measurements," she says.
Dr Shepherd's main advice to sufferers is to read and trust labelling.
She says the mandatory declaration of food allergens means any ingredient that is a declared allergen or any derivative of such an ingredient must be declared.
Companies will list allergens on food packets and therefore if an ingredient is not listed you can trust the product, she says.
"The key thing is anyone with a food allergy must read labels of food packets because if they read it, it will be there, it's law.
"Don't let this condition rule you.
"The best way to be empowered is to be informed and educate yourself as much as possible."AAP