I have been doing some online research and there is plenty of UK based stuff on coeliac disease and consequently all matters ‘wheat free and gluten free’. I even noticed that the Birds Eye potato waffles packaging has a ‘gluten free’ flag on. So it seems many manufacturers are becoming aware of the benefits of clear labelling at the very least.
However, there is still very little on dairy free. So I think that needs to be my point of difference, with this blog. The dairy free folk need more help! You can get wheat free and gluten free food that still has dairy in, e.g. many chocolate cakes. You cannot get dairy free foods that have not had the gluten and wheat taken out also – well I have never come across any! But I really wish I had…
When Zac first became ill and an intolerance to lactose and then all dairy was suspected, we searched very hard for dairy free foods. Thankfully, because he was so young and a hungry little chap, he didn’t seem to notice the difference when we introduced soya milk and soya yoghurts and we were soon Alpro’s ‘number one fan’.
To start with, we were told he could probably tolerate milk in various ’cooked forms’ and didn’t have to worry too much about it when it is baked into foods etc. But wherever possible, I did try and buy dairy free cakes and biscuits etc as his gut still seemed very sensitive.
As I mentioned, the dairy free cakes and biscuits are almost always also gluten and wheat free and I am not sure if this contributed to him developing an intolerance to wheat and gluten soon after. By removing them from his diet at several points had we lowered his tolerance to them? We might never know for sure.
The doctor and dietican suspected this might be the case and suggested some more exclusions. Initially we had to go wheat free, then gluten free and then low residue also. Once Zac was 100% dairy free, wheat free, gluten free and very low residue, he ‘became normal’. By normal we mean just one or two perfectly formed bowel movements each day, no bloating, no tummy aches and no disturbed nights.
Zac was just one when he first became ‘ill’ and he was just three when he ‘got better’. So for two thirds of his life, his bowel has been severely aggravated. So it makes sense that we need to give it a chance to rest and grow back some natural ‘flora and fauna’ as well as the crucial enzymes for digesting food stuffs such as dairy.
The doctor has advised us not to ‘challenge’ him for several years. So that means many more years of a ‘free from’ lifestyle. It has not been easy so far and it seems to be getting more difficult in fact. Certainly in terms of catering for his dairy free requirement. He is not a coeliac, we had him tested. But he still appears very intolerant to wheat and gluten. Even if he was not, we would still face a challenge, because, as I said it is so very difficult to find dairy free foods that aren’t also wheat and gluten free.
So I feel, as his mother and someone who knows many others who have been through this, something needs to be done to raise the profile of the dairy intolerants, and help them find the foods and recipes which will make life easier and more enjoyable!