Since 2014, Target’s Made To Matter program has highlighted brands with natural, organic, sustainable products. This year, the retailer is stepping it up a notch by challenging its partners to innovate across five key areas that impact the environment and the day-to-day lives of shoppers.
Today, we’re diving into the dietary restrictions category, and we called on a leading voice on food allergies, Nicole Cogan, to help us unpack the complex issue.
Food allergies can manifest themselves in many different ways, and they really can take over your life—especially if left undetected. Take the story of Nicole Cogan, a NYC-based food and lifestyle blogger who lived with undiagnosed gluten and dairy allergies for years.
"Before I was diagnosed with food allergies, I was chronically sick. From strep throat and the flu to waking up in the middle of the night doubled over in stomach pain and unexplained 'seasonal allergies', there was always something wrong. And worse, I embraced this life as normal," Cogan explains.
Since discovering her food sensitivity seven years ago, Cogan's symptoms have completely subsided and she's able to live the active lifestyle her allergies kept her from before. But getting to this point wasn't exactly easy.
"Although I've always been a relatively healthy eater, my diet used to feature toast or a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich or wrap for lunch, and protein with pasta or some form of bread for dinner. It was extremely difficult to cut out certain foods—pizza in particular— and there are some tricky, less obvious sources gluten I still need to look out for. Soy sauce and salad dressing are two that come to mind right away!" she says.
However, with the help of a variety of gluten- and dairy-free products, she's finding a bright side to the seeming setback.
"Prior to going gluten-free, I never cooked. The extent of my culinary abilities was whipping up some pasta or throwing together a healthy wrap. Now, cooking has become like a therapy to me. I'm pretty much a kid in a candy store when I go grocery shopping, and I love taking classic dishes and adding a unique twist to them. For example, baked eggs ... in an avocado!"
Her allergy is catapulting her into a healthier lifestyle that's full of nourishing, whole foods.