Surviving with Food Allergies in Finland

Gluten-free, Lactose-free, soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free […], when it comes to food, Finland are labelling-freaks. Which is a perfect if you have food allergies or want to know exactly what you are eating.

I have been diagnosed as highly lactose intolerant in September 2015, with in addition many food sensitivities including wheat. My first thought was “How the hell will I survive in a place, where already normal grocery shopping takes me twice as much time as home” (decoding Finnish labels is a lengthy process). Well surprisingly, it is actually not that bad. Considering that there are many things I know I cannot eat anyway, my choices are drastically reduced. Therefore the selection is smaller and I can pick more easily. I do not even look at the food that much, I scroll my eyes down the shelves of the supermarket looking for the magic words: gluteeniton (G) – laktoositon (L). Every single food sold in the supermarket is labelled with them if they enter the category. Of course, most of the globalized brands do not have them, but all of the Finnish brands do. Even when buying ham for example, it will be written gluteeniton – laktoositon.

They blend in so naturally that I am convinced I ate some lactose-free yogurts and cheeses without even noticing during my stay here last year.

The situation is not only really good in the supermarkets in term of indication, but also in most restaurants who print them on their menus. No need to have a look at each meal, analysing them mentally to see if it is okay to eat that. Gluteeniton – laktoositon, my best friends. There are always a few possibilities, and I have always been able to find a meal that combines both. On campus, the restaurant are very good with that norm too and most of the meal selection is lactose-free or/and gluten-free. I am so impressed and thankful for this.It makes life much more easier as one doesn’t have to check every single ingredients of the desired product (thus in Finnish).

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