Dairy-Free Isn’t So Easy

Standing in the queue in Costa yesterday I heard the woman in front of me ask for soya decaf latte. I had a little giggle and internally mattered ‘awkward’. Then it was my turn, large Americano for the other half and then I debated what I’d have. Nope, nothing. I don’t like black coffee, can’t have caffeine (another long story), and I’m apparently trying to be dairy free at the minute. So I did it, “decaf soya latte please”. I died a little inside and immediately wanted to apologise to the lady in front.

I’ve always suffered from IBS and lately it’s seemed to be get worse and I haven’t been able to control it. Not only that, but I’ve been having uncontrollable breakouts of eczema. After having loads of health checks at the doctors everything has come back normal. The doctor has recommended that I try to go dairy free for a while to see if things improve. I’ve heard loads about how dairy should be restricted or how a huge proportion of the population are lactose intolerant and don’t realise it, but I’ve never noticed any correlation between eating dairy and my IBS or eczema. However, as nothing affirmative has come back from the tests I’m kind of out of options.

So the first day, it seemed pretty easy. I was going to have a bacon sandwich for breakfast. Then you remember that there’s nothing better than a piping hot bacon butty for breakfast and the melted butter which makes it has to be excluded! That’s it, I’m not sure I can do this. I know I wasn’t prepared for this change and as I’m a food teacher I thought I would be fine but I’ve never really been conscious about my dairy intake. It was ok though, butter isn’t everything. After breakfast we set off on our weekend away and popped into Waitrose for our regular coffee and yum yum for the trip. Oh no, you can’t have them any more. Looking at the pastry shelves and what alternatives I could have to my yum yum and all I can see was MILK, MILK, MILK, MILK, MILK! At that point I knew this was going to be harder than I thought. You know it’s bad when you’re standing in the middle of a supermarket crying, ‘I can’t eat anything’, I’m not dramatic at all, really!

So we got to the hotel and the receptionist confirmed our reservation for that evening and asked if I had any dietary requirements, “yes, no dairy”. It’s started, I’ve become that person. The boyfriend giggles (supportively) but you know deep inside this is just the start of something. I’m going to have to say this all the time.

I have been looking forward to this meal, the menu looked great. We sat down and I lovely waiter asked what we would like to drink and that he would come back and let me know what I could have from the menu. I didn’t get my hopes up as he showed me his menu with the chefs notes on, lines everywhere. They were so good though, they had suggested removing some items from dishes so they would be suitable or changing them totally. I opted for a scotch egg starter and then beef fillet. I wasn’t disappointed, but when I was told that I couldn’t have the paté, I realised that I probably shouldn’t have had the paté with our picnic earlier that day. Looks like the dairy free was starting from now. I had poached pears with apple and blackberry sorbet for dessert which was nice, but just nice. I really did feel a little sad as I wasn’t able to have one single pudding off the menu and the chef had to make this dessert especially for me.

Day 2 (almost), after the gym I was feeling pretty lively for a Sunday morning; I announced that I was going to have a healthy start to the day and resisted piling my plate. I ordered my poached eggs, selected some bacon with little fat on and then some mushrooms, loads of them. I sat down and was so proud of myself for not ‘making the most’ of the buffet breakfast. The as I was tucking into it, BUTTER!! The mushrooms!!! That was it!! I was so mad. Mushrooms are my favourite part of a full breakfast but you know the chef isn’t going to be grilling these, butter is what makes them amazingly juicy. Well, there’s always fruit salad. One medium size bowl of fruit salad and I’ll add some yoghurt. No, can’t do that. So I become that person again, “hi, do you have any soya yoghurt?” I even apologised before she could answer. Nope, of course they didn’t have any because no one eats it!

We went for a walk later that day and the leftover picnic was a no go so I opted for the fruit and nut snack pot. Well, I can always eat fruit and nuts and I will be known as the bird from now on! Hopefully the rest of this week will be a little easier.

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