January 23, 2012

Dairy temptations

Recently I mentioned that I’m on a two week dairy free challenge to see if I really am allergic to dairy.  It’s now day seven and I can’t believe I’m halfway there already.  It’s been quite challenging not only to avoid eating the obvious dairy foods but to remember that dairy is also included in many other meals as well.  There have been days when I’ve forgotten that eating a slice of plain cake has dairy in it, or ordering a meal in a restaurant thinking it’s a safe option only to realize when the plate arrives that it’s got cheese all over it.  Sometimes I wish restaurants would be more specific with their meal descriptions but how specific can they really be?  With so many allergies out there, it would be impossible to cater for everyone.

There is one restaurant here in Dubai that I have to give credit to, and that’s the quaint Italian restaurant Medzo at the Pyramids mall at Wafi.  I was there last night with some friends and I was quite impressed with the owner, whom I never got her name.  Although I have to admit that she was all over her poor staff like a hawk, she really went out of her way to accommodate my dairy allergy by personally seeing to adjusting my meal.  I left it up to her to make a suggestion and she came back with a delicious starter and main course, even remembering to remove all butter from my meal (Oops, I didn’t think about that!).  This is not easy when just about every dish on an Italian menu has cheese in it.

Other than my dairy requirements, I also had to ask them to cook everything well done since I’m also pregnant (by the way, this is the exciting news I mentioned in my post earlier this month).  I hate asking for meat to be cooked well done, since being a food lover myself I think it’s criminal to ask for food to be cooked until it almost resembles a piece of charcoal.  Medzo did an amazing job with all my fussy requirements and we all left the restaurant feeling happy and content with our meals. 

One of my favourite dairy staples - Halloumi cheese

So what's the update on my allergy?  Well, it appears my doctor was right.  I have been feeling a lot better since removing dairy from my diet.  For those who, like me, have been raised to believe that dairy is good for you, well apparently the opposite is true for some.  Dairy is not supposed to be a staple food.  If you eat a balanced diet you will get the calcium you need from eating seeds, nuts and green vegetables, not to mention all the other minerals that dairy can’t provide.  Some good sources of calcium include sesame seeds, sardines, almonds, spring greens, watercress, brazil nuts, kale and calcium-enriched soy or rice milk, to name a few.  If you can’t include these in your diet, you can always take a calcium supplement.  

So what’s the next step?  After the two week trial period is over the plan is to introduce soy, rice or oat milk and occasionally a few goats’ milk products, which are said to be easier to digest.   

Do you struggle with a dairy allergy?  I’d love to hear how you made it work for you.