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How my food intolerances led me to start a business

Jenna Boyson is managing director of Portsmouth business Forced to be Fussy. It provides recipes, bake-at-home kits and accessories for people with allergies and food intolerances.

Forced To Be Fussy began without a name or brand; without a website or products. 

It started with me sharing photos on Instagram of the food I was making and buying. I want to inspire those living with food restrictions to try new ingredients and not to think they have to be boring with their diet. There is so much choice out there and it is great fun trying new things and experimenting with ingredients. Play with your food.

In December 2013 I received blood results confirming my extensive list of food/drink intolerances.

I didn’t have any symptoms. I was tested because it was recommended by medical staff concerned about a potential hereditary condition.

It was told to eliminate certain foods and drinks from my diet as a precaution ahead of potential severe symptoms later on in life.

Coming to terms with my diagnosis

I found the diagnosis hard initially. It meant I was unable to drink my favourite cocktails, eat chocolate or a toasted hot cross bun.

I immediately honed in on what I could no longer consume and was blind to the huge list of things I was still able to have.

Combining it with something I enjoy

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking and was bought up in a household where checking ingredients on packaging was a big deal.

My brother has Phenylketonuria (PKU); a rare genetic condition that’s present from birth. The body is unable to break down a substance called phenylalanine which can cause brain damage.

In a nutshell he is not allowed to eat very much protein. This is not connected in any way to food intolerances. Once I had gone through the phase of having tantrums in the supermarket over no longer being able eat what I want, I realised this is something my brother has always had to deal with. And it wasn’t so hard once you got used to it.

I guess my brother inspired me.

He has not only coped but embraced his condition. He cooks, bakes, manages a Facebook support group with his wife, writes a blog and demos recipes in vlogs.

If he can do it, so can I right?! So, I decided to sort myself out, do some research, dig out recipes and start experimenting… I’ve never looked back.

My business

Today I have a brand that continues to grow, a website and products that I supply to a number of cafes and restaurants.

I even have merchandise and sell at markets, shows and in retail spaces, as well as delivering inspirational talks about my story.

I specialise in sweet treats; cakes, slices and cookies.  I have bake-at-home kits, which allow my customers to replicate my cakes in the comfort of their own home.

Now I get to meet babies, kids, teens and adults who taste cake for the first time because of my recipes. 

I have had parents cry on my shoulder because they have finally met someone who understands the difficulties and because they can treat their kids to something special.

My mind is blown day in, day out from all the support.  

To find out more, visit: or follow @forcedtobefussyofficial on Instagram.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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