For those that have been eating dairy free for long time, avoiding milk and seeking out alternatives is second nature. In fact, hearing of new dairy free products and recipes can be a real cause for excitement. Unfortunately, those that have recently converted can find the whole prospect quite daunting.
But the dairy free lifestyle needn’t be difficult to follow. To help, we’ve created a quick and simple guide, explaining our top tips for dairy free individuals.
Here are some of our top tips:
Step 1: Speak Up
Aside from the uncomfortable symptoms of milk allergies and intolerances, one of the biggest worries is being considered ‘awkward’. This means many dairy free individuals avoid dining out or eating with friends, worried that they’ll be considered a picky eater. The best way to overcome this is to speak up as soon as possible, and don’t be ashamed.
If you know you’re visiting a particular restaurant, give them a call the day before to explain your dietary requirements. This will provide the chef with plenty of time to plan a dairy free dish, as well as preparing other staff members. Don’t feel embarrassed about speaking up; no reputable establishment will want to risk a diner being disappointed with their meal or worse – getting sick. It’s also a good idea to educate your friends and family on your dairy free diet, so they can be prepared if you visit them for dinner. You never know, they might be inspired to get on board with dairy free living, too!
Step 2: Research
The internet has done wonders for people with special diets. Nowadays, there are so many great repositories online for dairy free facts, products and recipes, and a quick search will present you with plenty of useful information.
You can research restaurants online, discovering what previous diners thought of their experience, as well as checking out menus. Look out for food bloggers that document their own dairy free lifestyles, and keep up to date with their posts. Social media also comes in handy for people with specific dietary requirements, and you can easily track down others and ask them for advice.
Don’t forget to speak to a health professional, particularly if your dairy allergy is serious. While the internet is a wonderful place for discovering new things, you can’t guarantee that every nugget of information is factually correct. When looking for health-related advice, be sure to seek it from a reputable source.
Step 3: Make a meal plan
After all of your recipe, you should have found lots of new recipe ideas. Use them to create a meal plan for each week, ensuring that you’re getting plenty of variety and the right amount of nutrients. This will also be handy during your weekly shop, as you’ll have a good starting point for the types food you should be buying.
There’s no need to completely stick to your meal plan, but it’ll be a useful starting point. It will also prove handy should you visit your friends and family for dinner; they will undoubtedly ask what sort of meal you can eat, so save yourselves from the umming and ahhing and present them with a list of meals you can all enjoy.
Step 4: Try new things
While trying new food can be one of the biggest worries, it’s also a great benefit. Don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone and try food that you’d otherwise ignore. Plant-based cheese and milk made out of nuts might not sound appealing initially, but go ahead and try… you might surprise yourself!
Self proclaimed dairy lovers will struggle when they initially cut out milk products, but rather than mourning your beloved cheese toastie and strawberry milkshake, invest your time in tracking down new food. There are so many delicious, healthy, dairy-free alternatives available, it would be a shame not to try them.
Step 5: Know your body
Severe milk allergies mean that all types of dairy are off the cards, but the same can’t be said for intolerances. Lactose intolerance comes in many different forms: some sufferers find it difficult to enjoy any kind of dairy, but others can manage small amounts. Spend time testing out what you can and can’t eat, and adjust your diet accordingly. Everyone’s bodies are different, so get to know yours.
It’s also a good idea to learn about your own symptoms. Keep a diary of the times you’ve eaten dairy, the symptoms that occur and how quickly. Next time you accidentally eat it, or allow yourself a dairy treat, you’ll know precisely what to expect and how to deal with it.
Step 6: Be positive
If you’ve recently converted to a dairy free diet, a future without cheese and cream may look a little bleak… but try not to get yourself down. Concentrate on the new food that you can try, and be excited about your new healthy lifestyle. Look forward to the physical benefits of this lifestyle; dairy free works wonders for your body, ridding you of bloat, clearing up your skin and helping to lose those stubborn extra pounds.
Most importantly, focus on the fact that you’re banishing the unpleasant symptoms you experienced for so long. There’s no better reason to go dairy free!