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by Laura

Hiya, I’m Laura.
A Yorkshire gal following a strict dairy and gluten free (coeliac) diet.

Now the awkward intro is over, let me tell you a little about what we’re all here for – the dairy free/ coeliac part.

I haven’t always been free-from, it only started in my second year at university when – quite frankly – it all went wrong. For some reason (I’m not a scientist so can’t tell you why – though there’s been some fascinating research on it I’d suggest you go have a read of) upon reaching the 20 years old mark, sometimes some peoples stomachs (and bowels) change and some people come out with allergies. So, at the ripe old age of 20, it became increasingly clear there was something wrong with my stomach.

Having a Costa hot chocolate at that time was my daily ritual before class, and suddenly I couldn’t *ahem* keep it down. Next, I waved goodbye to Magnum ice creams as they too betrayed me. The rest of the dairy category followed closely. It wasn’t until one day when I was whining to my friend Ellie that she suggested it could be lactose intolerant. Horrified, I told my mum, who didn’t realise the extent of the issue until she came to visit and realised I’d gotten pretty skinny and didn’t make it out of Nandoes before I was ill in the toilet. I also had full blown acne at this point which I’d not had even a trace of up until this point. 

I’ve never really admitted to the internet world about the acne side of it as lets not lie, we all find it a bit upsetting at the time of it happening and with the amount of photoshopping going on all over social media where everyone has poreless skin, it can make you feel very down and alienated. The fact I was wearing three layers of foundation for a night out and getting my friend to conceal my bacne wasn’t the way to carry on and so we took a trip to the doctors. The doctors confirmed that I was allergic to dairy and that was that.

The entirety of my third year went fine with minor adjustments – gone were my Costa hot chocolates and Dominoes deliveries to the library all nighter sessions and instead I was just really careful about having absolutely no dairy – it paid off and the acne disappeared within weeks, along with all the symptoms – and whilst I’ll admit to moaning once or twice (sorry mum) was a small price to pay to feel so much better.

The summer after third year was when the next round of symptoms began to kick in and ultimately, it got so bad that I was working for my mum as there was no where else could I lay on the floor in agony after eating breakfast and lunch for about an hour afterwards, go be ill, then go back to work in a haze. I say a haze because it wasn’t until after many many tests at the hospital (over Christmas when I was finally taken seriously) that they explained the pain, illness and brain fog all made sense. 

Aside from the toilet symptoms, the brain fog for anyone that’s going through it is horrible – you can remember little even when it’s just been said to you, you can read the same page 5 times and have taken in none of it and all in all just appear very vacant. The tiredness that occurred everyday was at times hard to deal with too. The fact I’d work a 9-5 desk job and at the end of it be so exhausted I had to go home and go straight to bed at the age of 22 was ridiculous. I was so drained on a weekend all I pretty much did was sleep and whilst friends joked that I loved to nap way too much, it was incredibly annoying to me. It wasn’t that I wanted to spend my whole life sleeping, so I wanted to get it sorted.

I roll my eyes at myself now for how long it went on for without me realising what was wrong, but in all honesty, those that self diagnose are usually wrong and cutting food groups out without medical professionals telling you to do so is usually actually bad for you, so I didn’t ever stop to consider it might be another allergy. But, just my luck, gluten was also taken out of my life. Cya later bread without holes in.

After only a few weeks of being dairy free and coeliac and after, I’ll admit, a few wobbles of ‘but I want pizza and it’s all so unfair,’ I hadn’t felt better for the longest time. Not being ill after every meal was the biggest relief, being able to go out after work and not being tired was amazing and getting rid of the painful stomach and brain fog/ fatigue made it possible for me to get another job and progress in my career.

So all in all, whilst people widen their eyes and list off all the things I can’t eat, if you’ve read this far you’ve probably suffered a similar illness or are going through it right now, we can all agree not eating the gluten/ dairy is way better than the 5 seconds you could taste the pizza.

Now I eat absolutely nothing that even may contain dairy or any gluten containing ingredients – not even made in the same factory, so nothing on this blog will contain anything to the best of my knowledge that contains traces of this. I’m a pretty obsessive person and this is one thing I’m definitely glad to be obsessed about – there’s nothing worse than seeing ‘free from ___’ then seeing it ‘may contain’ said ingredient.

I started this blog after the dairy diagnosis and continued it, with an altered name after the coeliac diagnosis. I’ve since rebranded once again (jeez can I make my mind up about anything?) I’d spent hours researching, and countless amounts of money on all the different products available for free-formers and was actually shocked at how many horrendous products there are on the market. 

Dairy free replacements that make you gip, gluten free food that’s hard to swallow it’s so dry and cardboard like. I didn’t want everyone else to suffer through poor food and so I wanted to write about the good. The good products, the good restaurants that cater for allergies and the places you can travel to and eat well because lets be honest, travelling with allergies – especially to foreign countries, is daunting.

Here’s a safe place for every dairy free/ coeliac (tick as appropriate) to see the best of the best that I’ve found. All of my reviews are 100% honest.

To everyone that’s ever sat and eaten a salad whilst everyone else has enjoyed deep friend chicken. To everyone who’s looked sadly at their can of sprite whilst they’re all slurping milkshakes and to everyone who’s ever claimed their not hungry whilst everyone else has ordered pizza.
This blog is for you.