Growing up and as an adult I struggled with frequent bouts of tonsilitis, and it got to the point where I accepted that I pretty much had it all the time. My days were spent gargling solutions of salt water and feeling pretty shit, whilst juggling life as a full-time mum as well as everything else that was going on. I was feeling pretty fed up with it but had put it down to the enormous amount of stress that I was under. However, something made me start researching into what may cause recurrent tonsilitis and although it did not come up on the likes of the NHS etc I did discover an article about someone else who had spent their life battling tonsilitis and they gave up dairy which gave them pretty instant results.
Being quite desperate to try anything to no longer have tonsilitis I thought there was no harm in trying to go dairy-free for 6 weeks to see if I noticed any difference. The results were amazing and within a week my tonsilitis cleared up and I felt I had more energy for the first time in a long time. Despite being overjoyed to no longer have tonsilitis I was a little hesitant about going dairy-free indefinitely as I always said I would never want to give up cheese and my diet did consist of a lot of other dairy products. I drink lots of milky cups of tea, I was having cereal for breakfast and cheese, yogurts and butter were consumed pretty much on a daily basis.
However, more than a year later I am still tonsilitis (touch wood!) and dairy-free!
There has been an element of trial and error to find substitutes that I am happy with, but the dairy-free and vegan choices out there are fairly impressive.
I would say that the biggest struggle is when eating out as it is still hit and miss to find places that provide dairy-free or vegan options. More and more places are at least offering a milk alternative but there are far too many cafes and restaurants that offer NO alternatives whatsoever. It is amazing how many meals include dairy even if it’s not obvious. It’s like everything is cooked in or covered in butter and or cheese!
My favourite food before going dairy-free was pizza and I have to say that I have struggled to find a pizza that has the stringy, greasy cheese taste that I used to enjoy as a treat! Saying that it has no doubt helped with the weight loss by not finding a very good substitute!!
I also loved cheese and admittedly did have it with most meals – I also loved ploughman’s lunches or cheese and crackers and again I haven’t found a cheese that I feel I would enjoy taking a bite of on its own. There are some that do the job for using in cooking or for mixing with other ingredients, but I definitely eat a lot less cheese now. If they ever make a cheddar like cheese that tastes like the real deal or a brie, then I would be a very happy bunny!!
I have found that there are a lot more choices when it comes to sweet things! This is probably helped by the fact that cocoa is dairy free. There is an awful lot of chocolate alternatives but there is a huge range between barely edible to amazing! M&S do some delicious Belgium chocolate truffles! Galaxy have a range of dairy-free chocolate but it does not come close to eating a real bar of galaxy. I would love it if dairy-free Maltesers existed…maybe they will in the future. What would be even better (but dangerous!) is if Lindt invented dairy-free truffles as they were my all-time favourite! I recently discovered that there was a Bounty bar that was dairy-free so I jumped at the chance to try it but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed but maybe that’s because I remember the traditional Bounty bar and this is a bar of chocolate with bits of coconut instead of coconut smothered in a thin layer of chocolate.
Not long ago I saw that vegan KitKats had been launched in the UK and once I knew that they were available in some UK shops I could not stop thinking about them!! So, when I passed a Sainsburys yesterday I decided to pop in on the off chance and I could not believe my luck when I found them!! Safe to say I bought more than one!! It made my day! How I drove back without ripping off the wrapper and testing it I do not know, instead I kept looking at them dreamily!!!! I have to say that after testing one (yes, just one…I have saved the rest), I was not disappointed. It tasted exactly how I remember a normal KitKat to be and is probably the best dairy-free replica I have tried. So, it can be done.
I have joined a group on Facebook that keeps me informed of vegan alternatives and the best places to eat that are vegan friendly. Although I am not vegan, I am more than happy to eat vegan food and there are a couple of places that I would like to try. So, when I get some child-free time I may have to go and check them out!
We love to bake in our house and all our cakes are now dairy-free as I use a dairy-free spread, but I have to say that you cannot tell. I have baked birthday cakes; oodles of buns and scones and they all have turned out really well. As I am not a vegan, we still use eggs so its only the butter than is substituted. I have even used dairy-free spread for butter icing, and it is just as good. Again, there are a some very good substitutes for cakes when out and about but quite often they are dry which makes me wonder why.
Not long ago I had a craving for squirty cream and managed to find some that was dairy-free, but I ended up sharing it with my girls and it all disappeared as they discovered how to squirt it themselves! At least they were squirting it on strawberries (and in their mouths!!)! If I cannot have Gillian Anderson feeding my strawberries with cream who better than my girls?!