It wasn’t always like this. Before the age of 18 I could eat what I wanted, and kinda did (apart from being vegetarian and a bit fussy). However, on my return from my gap yah in Thailand, I discovered that I had contracted a disease called giardiasis, a tropical bug that ate my stomach lining (in short). I went through months of everything I ate making me ill, and constantly feeling sick and bloated. Finally, I saw a doctor at the London School of Tropical Diseases and he suggested that cutting lactose and gluten out of my diet would help. To start with, this was really hard: I had no idea what had gluten and/or lactose in and the more I looked at ingredients, the more I discovered that they were in pretty much EVERYTHING. Anything ready-made seemed to have it in, although I was really lucky that I had just moved to Brighton for University, which is a place that loves a restricted diet: every other restaurant is vegan or raw or something special. There are some great healthy food shops around too, so I could easily get soya milk and other bits and pieces.
It’s taken a good couple of years, but I think I have now cracked my diet. Even though the doctor said that I could go back to slowly introducing gluten and lactose into my diet, I am too scared, and no longer really bothered by it: I am quite happy the way I am now (most of the time). Even though sometimes it can be a bit restrictive going out, day-to-day I rarely notice that I am different from anyone else.
The biggest difference that I have noticed recently is when I stopped being vegetarian. Spring last year I just started eating meat again: I’m not sure why but I am so pleased I did. I actually really enjoy eating meat, and feel more energetic and that I recover quicker from exercise.
There’s a massive trend going on at the moment for people to cut gluten/diary/sugar out of their diets by choice, and this is fine – if you think this’ll benefit you, that’s cool and go for it. However, spare a thought for those of us that really suffer when we eat these things. If I go out for a coffee, and the barista accidently puts the wrong milk in, I know about it for a long time afterwards: it’s not fun. We could all do with cleaning up our diets, and cutting out gluten and diary seems to be a good place to start, but don’t forget not everyone has a choice in the matter, before you start getting really fussy…
If any one is thinking about cutting out gluten/diary then just gimme a shout: having been at it for nearly 5 years now, I might be able to help with meal ideas. The best book that I’ve found is by a lady called Pippa Kendrick, called “The Intolerant Gourmet”. It’s fantastic, truly brilliant. Full of cakes.