Dairy Intolerance and how it affects me

For a long time I have suffered with what we termed in our house as 'a dodgy stomach'. It all seemed to come about when I was about 19 years old and after a heavy bout (and also my first bout) of food poisoning.

It came on due to a particularly dodgy meal at Wagamama's, it involved chicken and it made me very poorly for the best part of a week. Ever since then I had numerous problems with food and my tummy. I couldn't eat chicken at all for about 3 years, and despite trips to the doctors they assured me that Chicken was not an intolerance people had.

After many years of having stomach problems when eating and not really being able to pin it down to anything in particular, I decided to go and get it sorted. And soon enough it was found out I have an intolerance to dairy, or more importantly a lactose intolerance.

The NHS give this definition of lactose:
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.
You can find out more about Lactose Intolerance here: NHS Choices: Lactose Intolerance

For me, I lived for Dairy. I've never been much of a milk fan in that I wouldn't drink a glass of milk, but I would often make a milkshake. But more importantly for me was I LOVED cheese. I could not imagine not being able to eat my beloved cheese again. How crappy!

For a while I cheated, and I cheated a lot. I would still eat cheese, although not as frequently, but I would do it. I was avoiding milk but I wasn't always avoiding puddings and cheese. And even still choosing the creamy curries I like when I was going out for a meal.

I soon realised (and after being told off by my mum and boyfriend for cheating) that I really needed to be sensible about it. A good friend who also suffers from food allergies told me that soon enough I would get used to it. She was right.

At first it seemed like a massive change, and it was. Milk is in everything, even things you never expect milk to be in, there it is. Obviously cows milk is off full stop (and having read up on cows milk, that's not a big loss, but that is for another blog!) and cheese is off too (Sadface!). But with a few changes my diet changed, Almond Milk instead of cows milk, Lactose free cheese instead of regular cheese. Puddings are largely off, but Tesco do a dairy free pudding and I also have some vegan ice cream.

Now I don't miss things. I don't miss chocolate at all because I've never really been a fan and largely I am not bothered about pudding (and I have lactose free yogurts). I absolutely love Almond milk and really like the health benefits it gives too. I think even if I could have cows milk I would still opt for Almond milk. Cheese wise I miss cheddar a little bit but now not having it for so long that when I sneak a slice every now and then I find it too rich. I eat Lactose free cheese now, which is lovely especially when its melted! Yum!

Lactose intolerance can come in many forms, I, for example, can tolerate goats milk and ewes milk, and cheese that is made using these (such as feta!).

If you think you might have Lactose intolerance, or any food allergy/intolerance, the best thing you can do is go to your GP and get tested and not try the exclusion diet on your own.

Its big dietary change and it seems like you will never get used to it, but you do and one day you'll realise you no longer miss the things you once thought you wouldn't be able to live without.