Recently, I was tested for food allergens/intolerances, which revealed a severe intolerance to dairy. To me, this is pretty sad. I am a massive fan of cheese, strawberries with cream, and real butter on toast. I wanted to write a bit about finding alternatives, the minor but valid and significant symptoms of having a food intolerance, and how important it is to have a diet that suits your body’s needs.

Symptoms can range from gut and bowel issues to skin issues and fatigue. I have found that removing these dairy products from my everyday life (no matter how much it saddened me!), I felt a lot better. My skin improved, I no longer bloat as severely, and I have more energy. I did not realise how much food intake affects how we feel in ourselves and how our bodies react when taking in something they cannot tolerate.

I also wanted to write that there is a significant difference between toleration and allergies – a true food allergy could trigger some potentially life-threatening reactions if the allergy is severe enough. Intolerance is much less severe and actually is largely gut and bowel related.

Finding alternatives is a lot easier these days than it used to be. Packing in supermarkets is very informative, and the main allergens in food are often highlighted. Often, supermarkets do a ‘free-from range’ where things like gluten and wheat or dairy products are not added as an ingredient. Ranges like this are growing as people discover problems like coeliac disease are a lot more common than thought years ago. Restaurants are catering to specific dietary requirements. I felt like my favourite foods would be a thing of the past, but with research, I found delicious alternatives that my body could tolerate.

It is important to have a diet that suits your body’s needs and preferences. If your body is not tolerating foods, it will certainly let you know about it. I found researching food tolerance/allergen testing helped; talking to people who have gone through similar problems, and just trial and error helped. If you feel this is something that might be affecting you, please speak to a GP.