Wednesday, 19 August 2015

'What do you mean there's milk in chocolate?'

When I started writing this blog I promised myself I would never write about food or baking or cupcakes. But this isn't a post about food really, this a post about tummies and, more specifically, tummy aches. I think I have some sort of stomach pain every single day: sometimes it lasts for 10 minutes, sometimes it lasts most of the day. I've been to the doctors countless numbers of times and been diagnosed with everything from IBS to anxiety to lactose intolerance to 'maybe there's something wrong with your thyroid...but only maybe'. I think it's probably a mixture of everything, but since I'm a chronic worrier, there's nothing wrong enough with my thyroid to warrant medication, IBS is a mystical tummy destroyer, I've decided to give lactose intolerance a go. Again. 

Today marks the sixth day on my committed journey to kick lactose intolerance's butt and I'm already struggling. We'd run out of almond milk, I wanted butter in my sandwich and there's chocolate in the fridge at work. I've found myself staring at a wheel of brie, and repeatedly looking on the ingredients list on a packet of chocolate biscuits in an attempt to convince myself that there must be some sort of chocolate (that isn't fancy) or biscuit that I can eat without being subjected to epic bloating. I haven't found any yet. I've also, much to my dismay, discovered that more foods have lactose in it than you think. Who knew that some breads, crisps, supermarket meats and cereals (and god forbid CEREAL BARS) contained lactose? I even discovered that some contraceptive pills contained lactose. Bizarre. It's slowly becoming a reality that basically everything I eat I now can't. And that's very upsetting. 

But I am feeling better, much better. I wake up in the morning and don't look pregnant, and  I can eat a meal without having extreme hot flushes and feeling like I'm going to be sick. I'm eating much more healthily. It turns out that when you can't eat cake or ice cream or biscuits, you actually eat a lot more fruit and veg. Houmous becomes your new best friend because it tastes kind of creamy, like it should have some cheese or something in it, but it doesn't. Savoury is the go to because it seems like everything sweet is dairy based. I sat watching my brother eat a chocolate chip muffin last night and wondered whether giving up dairy was worth it, and then I remembered that I'd scoff it, then curl up on the sofa for an hour cramping, go to bed and be forced to lay on my back because I'd be too bloated to be comfortable in any other decision, and wake up feeling 5 months pregnant. I had some strawberries instead. 

I've decided that if I'm going to continue with this, potentially for the rest of my life, I need to start being a bit more creative and making my life easier for myself (and any help doing so would be hugely appreciated). I'm already worried that I won't get enough calcium, and am eating broccoli like it's going out of fashion whilst in the search for calcium supplements that don't make you feel like you're about to vomit a pint of milk every time you take them. I want to try and bake some lacto-free cakes/biscuits/cereal bars for when I fancy something sweet, but am yet to be inspired by much other than a tried and tested carrot cake recipe (though it's not the same without buttercream). I need to invest in all dairy free products ever, including almond milk, coconut oil, soya yoghurt, dark chocolate to make cooking and eating the few remaining things that aren't fruit/veg/fish/meat possible. It's a bit of an adventure I suppose, just a really inconvenient one that makes eating out a pain. 

I'll keep you updated on the journey to a pain-free tummy but, in the mean time, if any readers have food intolerances (or are vegan!), get in touch! Please share your tips, recipes, survival techniques for when you accidentally eat dairy and destroy yourself. Help, before my diet becomes almost entirely houmous based!

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