Watching Lisa Hinwood play with her 19-month-old son, Oska, you would never guess she had a serious medical issue.
But a simple glass of milk, handful of dried fruit or slice of toast can have dramatic and debilitating consequences for her health.
The 29-year-old is one of a growing number of Australians needing to meticulously manage her diet as a result of severe food intolerance.
The inadvertent consumption of even the smallest amounts of gluten, lactose or certain preservatives can trigger an episode.
Hyperactivity, depression, hives and digestive problems are just some of the symptoms that appear within 24 hours of these foods entering her system.
The Tamworth woman, who is on maternity leave from her job at a local bank, went through a painful process of trial and error before settling on a diet that worked.
Food intolerance differs from food allergies in that it does not involve the immune system, does not cause anaphylaxis and does not show up on allergy scratch tests.
“When I was 21, I was in hospital three times with a pretty severe digestive issue and I had hives every single night,” she said.
“Every doctor said ‘there is nothing wrong with you, this is psychological, you’ve got mental issues’.
“But I saw a naturopath and went on a gluten-free, lactose-free diet and I haven’t been on any medication since.”
While Mrs Hinwood has her diet firmly under control within the confines of the house she shares with husband Nic, eating out still poses problems.
She said at first she was so self-conscious about her dietary restrictions that for a period she stopped going out at all.
“I hate going out, I really hate it,” Mrs Hinwood said.
“When I first started (on the diet) I actually stopped going out for dinner and things, which was difficult because I was a single female.
“Now, quite often, before I go out I’ll call before and say ‘this is what I can’t have, can I bring some things’?”
Mr and Mrs Hinwood also face the challenge of ensuring Oska is kept away from milk products after he was diagnosed as lactose-intolerant at six months.
“He’d scream 19 to 20 hours a day and sleep only in 20-minute lots,” she said.
“It took us six months to work out he was actually allergic to me.
“Everyone says you can’t be allergic to breast milk, but he was.”
- Northern Daily Leader