Being put on a special diet to combat allergy or disease can often mean missing out on not just your favourite foods, but tasty food in general.

Which is the inspiration behind TV doctor and former president of the Australian Medical Association, Kerryn Phelps’s decision to open a health food store with a clinic attached at the St Margaret’s site on Bourke Street, Darlinghurst.

I wanted to cater for people with special dietary needs, specifically people with things like celiac disease or diabetes, or people who are wanting to lose weight, so they didn’t feel as if they were missing out, Phelps says.

A lot of the time when people are told they need to go on a restricted diet, all they can think is, -˜Oh my god, my life is at an end. I can’t go out to dinner and eat the foods that I love.’

Phelps and her team have tried to gather interesting and tasty gourmet food for people with all manner of health and dietary requirements.

The health food store is called Ueathealthy, which is staffed by nutritionists and naturopaths who can give customers professional advice. Doctors, dieticians and fitness professionals are available at Uclinic.

Phelps plans to split her time between Uclinic and her Double Bay practise. Her partner Jackie Stricker will manage the store.

Phelps is particularly aware of special diets after 10 years of living with Stricker, who has celiac disease and can’t touch anything with gluten. She also has a lot of food allergies.

For us food is a constant theme and Jackie is somebody who always keeps searching for answers until we find them -“ we’re very compatible in that way, she says.

One of the things she’s been looking for all this time is somewhere she can go where there is interesting, good gluten-free food and food for people with allergies and health problems.

Phelps puts the rise of special diets down to a growing awareness in the health profession and in the general public about the role of food in health, particularly with rates of obesity and diabetes on the rise.

We need to make people aware that, just like you have your car checked on a regular basis, you should give your body a full annual check up. Look at your diet, your lifestyle, how fit you are. The whole idea is to identify the problems, she says.

Sometimes it’s something as simple as sorting out someone’s medication for them or getting them to eat breakfast, or saying that the particular training program they’re on needs to be adjusted because it’s not quite right for them at their stage of life.

Or changing the types or amount of food they eat or adding a supplement, or exchanging a medication for a herbal treatment.

Sometimes just a minor adjustment can be the difference between feeling lousy and feeling great.

For more information visit the Uclinic website.

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