Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

I was always aware of the link between what you put into your body, and your overall health. I knew I shouldn’t eat too much fat or sugar, I knew I should eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables and encorporate a balanced, variety of foods into my diet. I knew I should drink lots of water and limit my caffeine and alcohol, and I knew that If I ate rubbish then I’d feel rubbish. I’ve never been able to get away with a poor diet. Whether it be to maintain a healthy weight, or for energy, my body wouldn’t be long in reminding me that I wasn’t fuelling it properly. Despite feeling hard done to as a child, while my friends would live off beige foods and chocolate where as I could only have those foods in moderation, it meant when I became an adult and had control over my diet, it was a much easier transition. It also gave me an interest in nutrition and the relationship between how you fuel your body and how it affects you.

I was diagnosed with a connective tissue disease in 2019 and while it was a sight of relief, knowing there was something wrong with me for so long but not knowing what, it was a new thing in my life to manage which I felt powerless too because it’s incurable, and unpredictable. As I managed the first two years of my diagnosis, my body got used to the medication and it took me to a point where it was under control and we were as far as we could go in terms of medication. I was still frustrated because I was in a lot of pain at times, fatigued, and felt like I was losing control. I’d thought about a homeopathic route but in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt it was too much money to part with for a Skype call. The other thing I wanted to explore was the effect my diet could have on managing my condition. I’d read stories about how diet modification could improve conditions. Ella, from Deliciously Ella turned to a plant based diet to help with her conditions, and Nic Chapman from Pixiwoo has credited her diet in keeping her MS under control. I had read article after article about various diet options but as I have a sensitivity to dairy, I can eat it but if I eat too much I don’t feel great, I was interested to see if cutting it out completely would improve my health.

I made the decision fairly quickly so going cold turkey, seemed like a set up to fail. I decided for the month of March and up until Easter weekend, I would cut it out as much as possible but have the odd cheat day here and there for Mother’s Day, Easter, occasions. I also didn’t want to hassle anyone else with my dairy free diet while I was still tinkering with it. That would give me a solid fortnight off dairy to learn, settle into a new routine and see if I noticed a benefit.

I studied the free from sections of the supermarket and other than them being (at times) eye-wateringly more expensive, there wasn’t anything I found that I could haven’t have a dairy free alternative, which was assuring. From cheese, milk, yoghurt, chocolate, even condensed milk, there were options. Having a sweet tooth, I was nervous about giving up chocolate and even though I’ve found dairy free alternatives that I like, there is also some ‘accidentally’ dairy free products I’ve found which means I can still eat some of my favourite treats, like Bournville and Bourbon biscuits.

I cook a lot so found it pretty easy come mealtimes, but I did do a stock take and was surprised at some of the ready made foods that contain dairy like tinned soups and even some chicken sausages. I swapped cows milk for oat milk, switched cheese for free-from cheese which is coconut based and surprisingly delicious, I started blending cashews to make creamy sauces and swapped ice cream for soya based products. Dairy provides lots of vital nutrients so to supplement this, I made sure I was eating a vast range of veggies, I added more nuts, seeds and pulses to meals and nutritional yeast. I also take Vitamin D supplements so switched to Vitamin D + Calcium and now take a multi B vitamin daily and that seems to be working well so far.

Within the first week, I definitely felt better within myself which was a real positive and I didn’t find the dietary change difficult. My joint pain is definitely calmed down which is a huge benefit (although I’m pretty sure the dairy free has a lot to do with it, these conditions are unpredictable so I can’t say for sure that’s what it is). I’m not crippled with fatigue right now, but I haven’t been since Christmas so I haven’t noticed any direct impact, I suppose I’m moving more so should feel more tired, but I still feel pretty good.

After an indulgent Easter, I now have no interest in dairy products so feel like I’m in a good position to give it a real go and see if it makes a difference to my life. I am slightly worried about eating out, many foods contain hidden dairy so don’t want to eat it unknowingly, but I don’t have an allergy so I’m not as worried about cross contamination as someone with an allergy should be. Time will tell how I get on, but if it’s going to improve my quality of life, then I’m willing to try anything.

I plan to post a lot more dairy free content including things I’ve learned, accidentally dairy free treats and recipes so if you’re interested in that, or have any tips then please leave a comment below.

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My April Goals | April 21

My April Goals | April 21

This year, I’ve found it helpful to set myself goals at the start of each month to keep myself on track rather than big resolutions. I find it easier to break things into chunks, with shorter periods. The weather is getting warmer, things are looking up but the turn of 2020 into 2021 feels like a long time ago and this is normally my danger zone to fall out of touch with my resolutions, so I thought I’d share them.

  1. Clear out my iCloud keychain

    Probably not what you expected the first one to be, but I have so much rubbish on their that, what should be useful is a hinderance and I end up frustrated. I could avoid that if I took an hour and sorted it out.
  2. Change my car

    This should be an exciting one, because getting a new car is a big thing. The car I’m changing is my first one so I’m a bit nervous about the whole changing process, plus I hate all the sales chat when car shopping, on top of the whole Covid mask wearing, do you shake their hand or not?! It’s causing me minor anxiety. I need to just bite the bullet.
  3. Reach 160 WordPress followers

    My goal for March was to reach 100 followers and I exceeded that so I’m trying to push for 160. If you’re not already following my blog, and you enjoy the content then please do follow via email or WordPress, it really does make a big difference.
  4. Finish the first draft of 2 chapters of my novel

    I don’t know how this keeps slipping away from me, but it does. I find it easier to write storylines, then add them into chapters and fill in the gaps around them. I did barely any writing last month so I need to get back on it.
  5. Schedule my tweets for the week

    I find this is a better strategy for me than tweeting links a few times a day. I like to do this on a Monday and I notice my blog views dip if I don’t do it, so I want to be a bit more consistent.
  6. Improve on my March views

    As long as the number is going up, I’m happy and it is so encouraging to see my stats go up. I’m not putting a figure on it, as long as it’s at least one higher than March then I’ll consider this goal reached.
  7. Get into a routine of planning my content

    I’ve just started using Trello to plan my blog content and actually, I really like it. I want to get to a point where I don’t feel like I’m on a deadline to get a post out, but actually am always ahead of the game with my content.
  8. No Dairy after Easter

    I decided to give a dairy free diet a try to see if it improves my health. Throughout March, I tried to cut out as much dairy as possible but had ‘cheat’ days for Mother’s Day, and Easter weekend. From the 5th April, I’m not eating at all to give it a fair chance and see if I notice an improvement.
  9. Have at least 2 treat-free days per week

    I always notice my diet slipping between Christmas to Easter and I personally feel much better when my diet is good. I need to start getting it back on track on this month and I think the majority is habit. By limiting my treat allowance, I’ll be more conscious and hopefully start to break the habit this month.
  10. Post twice per week on The Gem Word

    This is my fourth month of blogging and I’m generally posting twice a week but there’s always a fall somewhere in the month where I don’t make it. This month I’m going to push to post consistently, twice per week.

That will more than keep my busy this month. What are you goals for April?

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Is Online Dating The Answer?

Is Online Dating The Answer?

I was about eighteen when I first heard of Tinder. At a work night out, one of the older girls showed us this new app where you could match with men/women in your area, that were Facebook friends’ of friends. I didn’t view it as online dating. At that time, I viewed online dating for middle aged divorce’s or those who really were desperate for love that they didn’t have the patience to let it happen organically. Too naive and fresh-faced, and in the words of Rachel Green, I just assumed everyone would get that chance where you’d meet someone, fall in love and that would be it. I thought online dating was unnecessary.

Fast forward to 2015 onwards, online dating, in particular Tinder has taken off, and now has more than 340 million downloads. It’s become a common conversation, a giggle with your girlfriends, an easy hook-up, a success story for some but for a high number of singles under 30, the app sits neatly beside Instagram on their Home Screen. Online dating has intensified in the last twelve months when we were all told to stay at home, and singles everywhere were left scratching their heads while couples on Instagram baked banana bread and did wall panelling together.

My experience with Tinder is very lemon and herb. I’ve got a few hundred matches but have properly spoken to only a handful of people and they have ended in me ghosting, or guys getting fed up because I don’t want to meet and ghosting me. Why do I not want to meet them? Firstly, have you seen You? I still have the mind-set that I’ll end up in a glass box and/or dead if I meet up with someone I’ve met online. Secondly, I’m still of the hope that I’ll meet someone organically, in person and probably subconsciously stigmatise against the idea of explaining ‘oh we met on Tinder.’ That being said. I’ve been single for a while and other than a boomerang ex, there’s not been anyone for a while, which gets me thinking – if not Tinder, where?

Work = too complicated.
Through a friend = I mean how viable is that, really? My friends barely have male friends never mind single ones.
Club = How can you hear anything over the music, plus I’m normally too busy having a good time.
Bars = Everyone is focused on their own friends (myself included).
Out and about = Taylor Swift had my heart from the second she said she still hoped she’d meet someone in Starbucks. Ironically, on the two occasions someone has spoken to me at Starbucks, my shoes became real interesting.

Now you’re probably thinking, you don’t seem to be prioritising love here, to which you would be correct. It’s not a priority for me right now, and maybe that’s why I’ve never given Tinder a fair trial but the romantic in me (she’s buried way deep, but she’s there) wants to be swept, not swiped. While I’m not necessarily looking for a partner, in the last year I’ve opened myself up to the idea of it and maybe going into the above situations with a different mindset would’ve been enough, thanks to Covid we’ll never know.

Now some people love online dating, they’ll get all dressed up to sit at their kitchen table on video to someone, or talk to someone for a few hours before arranging to meet up. I’ve heard of people getting married, having kids, moving in together all from an app and I don’t know why I’m so weird about it. Props to the people who persevere on these apps because you do need to weed through the masses to find someone worth talking to. Someone once told me they wanted to put my head on a wall (not sure if it was a sexual thing, or a serial killer thing?!) and the amount of times I’ve been asked if ‘I’m recruiting for a big spoon’ (HR dad joke, come on!).

Plus, dating apps allow us to be a lot more judgemental, and to take people on face value. The slightest things have made me unmatched, swipe left or ghost (I’m a terrible person, I’m aware) which then makes me think, is it enabling me to be too picky?

I just don’t think it’s for me but I’m starting to worry wonder if that’s the most viable option when I get to the point I am looking, or does it still happen organically outwit education or the workplace?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I expect boys to do the ‘wooing’ but actually, they’re just as shy as girls, and in my experience, the confident ones want someone to take home for the night, not to their parents. Which begs the question, are we Millennials/ Gen Z’ers too socially shy? That the phones attached to our hands allow us to have the social skills of a tea spoon when it comes to meeting new people, so much so that online dating is now our preferred method of meeting a partner?

The other conclusion I’ve come to is that looks aren’t enough. Now while, despite what f**k boy Twitter would lead to you to believe, looks aren’t quite as important as we think in the sense that seeing someone you like isn’t enough to approach a stranger. I don’t know anyone who has been approached by a stranger, just because they were good looking.

So, where I’m going with this, are there lots of singles wandering about their daily life, too shy to flirt irl so rely on dating apps, or are dating apps just magnified because of the weird world we’ve been living in for the last twelve months and actually, I’ve just been blind to what was going on around me?

I would love to know your thoughts on this, whether you’re in my position or not. If you’ve been swept off your feet in Starbucks or have found love from a dating app before. If so, please share your success story! Tinder fails are also welcome, please share the weird and wonderful if for nothing else other than a giggle.