What’s the Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities?

Foods to know the Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances &Sensitivities

01 Oct 2021

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What’s the Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities?

We’re all familiar with food allergies, but nowadays you constantly hear terms like “sensitivity” and “intolerance” to different foods. These three terms often get lumped together, but they’re unique conditions that elicit different responses from the body and have varying levels of seriousness. So, what do all these terms mean? And how should they affect your cooking?

Food allergies

Of the three, food allergies are the most serious. A food allergy is an immune response in your body, usually diagnosed by an allergist with a formal test. The cause of food allergies is still unknown, but the body perceives a harmless food as a threat and in response releases an immune hormone called histamines to “attack” that food it sees as harmful. The release of these histamines causes various symptoms such as hives, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. The onset of symptoms from an allergic reaction is usually immediate.

In cases of extreme allergic reactions, the victim can go into anaphylaxis, a rare allergic condition which can cause fainting and restricting airways. Anaphylaxis requires emergency medical attention and can be life-threatening.

People can be allergic to almost anything, but the most common severe food allergies are milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, wheat, and shellfish.

Allergic reactions from food can range from a slight itch in the ears to a fatal case of anaphylaxis, and just a trace amount of the allergen can be enough to cause a dangerous reaction. Even those who believe they have a “mild” allergy may have a severe reaction any time they consume that allergen, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. Cooking for someone with a food allergy must be done with great caution.

Food intolerances

While food intolerances are not as serious as allergies, they can cause significant illness and discomfort. An intolerance is not an immune response like an allergy, but instead is marked by the body’s inability to digest certain foods. Most food intolerances cause uncomfortable symptoms including stomach pain and diarrhea, but they are never life-threatening. Food intolerances are usually diagnosed by a doctor and symptoms often take several hours after eating to occur. Some common food intolerances are to lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, and wheat.

Unlike with allergies, those with food intolerances can usually have small amounts of the food they’re intolerant to. For example, those with a lactose intolerance may be able to have a little bit of grated parmesan cheese on a pizza or a touch of heavy cream cooked into a soup, but a spoonful of yogurt may make them sick. Similarly, someone with a mild intolerance to gluten may be able to have a dash of soy sauce over rice, but not a bowl of pasta.

There are, however, some more severe intolerances. Celiac disease is a rare intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, that can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and violent vomiting. People with Celiac disease cannot have any traces of gluten.

Food sensitivities

Compared to food allergies and intolerances, food sensitivities have the mildest of reactions. Similar to an allergy, food sensitivity is an immune response so it can affect multiple organs with a wide range of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, rashes, and nausea.

The reaction from a food sensitivity can begin hours, or even days, after eating. Because of the delayed onset, food sensitivities can be hard to pinpoint and many of them go undiagnosed. Food sensitivity to gluten, for example, can be as simple as generally feeling tired a couple of days after eating bread. A good way to figure out if you have food sensitivity is to systematically eliminate certain foods from your diet for a week or two at a time to see if there’s a change in how you feel. You can also get tests for certain food sensitivities.

For many people with food insensitivities, a moderate amount of the ingredient will not lead to symptoms. However, as with allergies and intolerances, the level of sensitivity varies from person to person.

The bottom line

Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are all challenging conditions that should be taken seriously when cooking. When cooking for others with any of these conditions, be sure to talk to them beforehand and fully understand the nature and severity of their condition. If it’s just a mild sensitivity or intolerance, you may be able to use a little bit of the ingredient to make the tastiest dish possible. But, if your guest has a severe food allergy, you should steer clear of that ingredient.

At CookinGenie, all allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are taken very seriously. CookinGenie chefs undergo a rigorous interview process, and they are adaptable to different dietary restrictions. The CookinGenie support staff will also work with you closely to ensure your meal meets your requirements so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious homecooked meal.


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01 Nov 2021

Let’s do a little exercise really quickly. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “personal chef”? More than likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of how expensive it must be or how only the very rich can afford to have their own personal chef.  

Are you ready for a little secret? 

Lean in a little. Okay, here it is. 

Personal chefs are an affordable choice that can fit just about any budget. In fact, you could be doing yourself a disservice by not using a personal chef service for special occasions or as a little treat.  

What is Included in Personal Chef Service? 

You may be surprised by what’s included when you get a personal chef service. The first is that they come to your home after shopping for all of the ingredients that they need to cook the dishes that you requested. Then, the kitchen magic happens where your regular kitchen is turned into a fancy restaurant kitchen for one night. Your selected chef will prepare the dishes so that you can enjoy a hot meal at home. Once the meal is finished, your personal chef will then clean up the kitchen leaving you free to enjoy the meal and conversation without worrying about whether or not that sauce is going to easily come off the pan or how long you’ll need to soak everything. 

Personal Chef Services are More Affordable Than You Might Think 

Are you still thinking that a complete chef service that includes so much is going to break the bank? You are about to be surprised. A personal chef service will cost you less than going out to eat.  

At a traditional restaurant, there are a number of costs to consider. Meals can cost about $20 to $25 a person. Don’t forget to add on the cost of any drinks you and the rest of your party are enjoying. Even drinking a carbonated beverage can add up to your bill. Then, you must consider other costs associated with dining out. You had to drive to the restaurant, so that’s gas along with wear and tear on your vehicle. You may have to pay to park or use the valet service depending on where you’re dining. Then, there’s the time factor. Going out to eat, especially today where many restaurants are having staffing shortages, can chew up a lot of your valuable time as you wait for an open table, wait some more on your food to be prepared, and then wait on the check to arrive at the end of the meal. 

Personal chef services like CookinGenie can be less costly and time-consuming than the old way of going out. You can pick your meal and see your price. Don’t want to have leftovers? Order exactly the number of portions you need. Want to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day? Order more portions.   

Eat Healthier with More Convenience & Less Cost 

Personalized Meals  

So, using a personal chef service is cheaper than visiting a restaurant. There’re some other benefits that also come with this option over dining out. Ever go to a restaurant and must eliminate many of the dishes from consideration because of a food allergy or not like a particular ingredient? It’s often easier to just order something else because even if you go through the process of telling the waitstaff to remove an item, there’s always a chance that it will end up in your dish anyway. Kitchens at restaurants can be loud and busy places where sometimes things get lost in translation. Imagine being able to tell your personal chef that you don’t like mushrooms or a family member has an allergy to peanuts, and feeling safe in the knowledge that they won’t buy mushrooms or peanuts during their shopping trip. That’s a great feeling. 

Be Healthy 

At the end of the day, is dinner a rushed event in your home? Do you rely on packaged meals that may not be the healthiest choice, but it’s quick and easy? That happens to a lot of people who have enough to juggle in a day on top of making sure no one goes to bed feeling hungry. Going with a personal chef service means that you’ll get freshly made and healthy meals that aren’t coming out of a can or the freezer. You do not have to feel guilty about not having time to make a meal that not only tastes great but is great for you and your family.  

Focus on What Matters More 

The convenience that comes from hiring a personal chef gives you the chance to focus on what matters the most to you, and that is worth its weight in gold. Your life is busy. It’s easy to forget how to connect with those you love the most when you have got to handle everything on your plate in a day along with getting food on a plate for everyone to eat. Imagine instead of trying to rush to the store to grocery shop, someone else handles it for you, even if just for one day a week or month. Plus, an added bonus is that you do not have to worry about handling the cleanup after spending even more time with your family. 

Convinced yet to give a personal chef service a try? Still worried that the prices are too high for your budget. You can do a little experiment. Pull out your last receipt from your favorite restaurant you like to visit for special occasions. Then, open CookinGenie website, so you can compare the two. Oh, and do not forget that you do not have to buy the groceries, do any cooking or clean-up, and get to enjoy the professionally made food hot and ready right from your kitchen without the inconveniences that come from eating in restaurants in a world still getting over the pandemic.  

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So, you’ve been thinking of exploring your options as a home cook, but aren’t quite sure what you need to have on hand. Before you go packing your entire kitchen including the sink into the trunk of your car; let’s explore what is actually needed and expected of you to bring as a home cook. it’s best to have open communication with the clients you’ll be working with. You’ll want to discuss menu preferences, number of people you’ll be feeding, and food allergies or preferences. Of course, it all starts with food, so once you have a menu set the first thing you’ll be transporting is groceries. Having a way to transport groceries is a must. Usually this can be done with a cooler, and a few grocery bags. (Remember to follow all food safety guidelines and maintain freshness of ingredients.)

The second thing you need to be aware of is the environment you’ll be cooking in. Take a moment to discuss with your clients what tools they have in their kitchen and what appliances you’ll be needing to use. Some cook’s even have clients text photos of their kitchen appliances to make sure they are suitable for completing the tasks needed. Discuss with your clients how much space you will be needing in the refrigerator. How long you’ll be in the kitchen prepping food and how much space you will need to prep. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions.

Once you have an idea of your menu, your groceries, and your work space, it’s time to think about tools. Most cooks bring a few personal tools along with them, such as a set of knives and a food processor. Others prefer a pressure cooker. Think carefully about the meal you’re going to prepare, and as you mentally walk through the steps make a list of every tool you might be needing. If there is a tool you need that you can’t complete the meal without it’s best to bring it.

Last but not least, be flexible. Inevitably things are going to go wrong. Ovens will cook slower or faster than expected, your clients may only own serrated knives. Their corkscrew might break before you get the wine opened. Things go wrong in every job, at every business on the planet. It’s your job to keep it from ruining the meal. Be flexible, have a backup plan, and continue to communicate openly with your clients about any challenges that come up.

CookinGenie can help you connect with clients who are in need of fresh home cooked food. Sign up to cook with us today & find out more about us.

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I believe Cleveland’s own Michael Symon says it best: “Cooking and feeding people always makes me feel better and, I think, it will also make everyone else feel a little more normal and better, too.” 2020 has, to nobody’s surprise, devastated the culinary industry around the world. It has left many cooks, chefs, dishwashers, and servers without a reliable source of income and taken away a major part of their daily drive. But as times change and industries evolve, people find new outlets for work, creativity, and passion to satisfy their craving for fresh food. 

Right as the pandemic took hold and many places were forced to close their doors, I found myself without a kitchen to run and a lot of time on my hands. It allowed me time to pursue other culinary outlets and has given me the chance to explore the world of cuisine from outside the confines of a hot bustling commercial kitchen. With CookinGenie, I am able to keep pursuing that daily drive and practicing my art, even in times of turmoil. At first, as with any new industry, I had my doubts about reversing the typical restaurant status quo and traveling with my expertise. But as I would go on to learn, culinary passion is the same whether it was in a busy kitchen or in someone’s home.  

One of the best feelings of working in a restaurant is going out to the dining room at the end of a busy night and seeing a packed house of customers all having the night of their lives. From couples having a romantic night out, to families celebrating a birthday, it brought a sense of accomplishment and pride to see plates of food that took so much time and effort to make come back practically licked clean. With CookinGenie, I am able to work directly with the client and give them that same sense of satisfaction, while being able to give them and their food one hundred percent more focus and attention. My first client was a family celebrating getting their vaccine and being able to see extended family from out of state for the first time. I was able to connect and bring these people a stress-free, decadent first meal in a long time. It allowed them a chance to reconnect, drink and share all while not having to worry about shopping for fresh ingredients, clean-up, sanitization, or any other worry that could come with traditional restaurants. 

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