The super short version of my dairy free story is that I’ve had eczema throughout my life and once I started cutting out dairy things significantly improved. I finally made the big decision to see an allergist last year and got confirmation that I was indeed allergic to dairy but also to a bunch of other things (all of which impact my eczema).
Keep reading if you’re looking for the longer version of my journey to becoming dairy free.
I’ve had eczema throughout my life.
There were times when it was very bad and other times when it was just a small patch on my wrist. No matter what, it was always there.
At high school I was getting very sore skin above my top lip and on my eyelids. These may sound like nothing major but not only were they very itchy they were also a cause of much stress as it led to a lot of bullying. I’d do anything I could to hide my mouth including wearing huge scarves where I could hide half of my face and biting my tie, I know, that probably made matters worse and didn’t hide the situation at all.
It was around 2008 during my university years when things got particularly bad.
The severity of my eczema and the lack of help and support from doctors led me to take matters into my own hands.
I started to look at what I was eating and kept a food diary. It wasn’t long before I noticed that my skin was flaring up whenever I had dairy and eggs. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was both of these things (I always had cheese with eggs) or just the one so I had to do a lot of experiments and note down all the reactions I had.
In hindsight I now know that not only was dairy triggering my eczema but house dust mites too. Those student houses were super dusty and don’t get me started on the old mattresses.
Anyway, let’s get back to dairy.
Through the process of elimination I figured out that dairy was the main culprit.
So, from around 2008 onwards I began cutting down on my dairy intake.
At first I simply reduced how much dairy I was having and as you can imagine, this was better than nothing and I noticed big changes. I’m fairly sure that during this time I was mainly cutting down on cheese. I’d still have dairy in cakes and was still consuming milk but just not as much.
There would be times when I wouldn’t have dairy for a couple of months and my skin would clear up fully. I would then introduce dairy again. A tiny amount was fine but then I’d get excited and have a pizza which would result in an eczema flare up and around 4 weeks to get back to something resembling ‘normal skin‘.
As time went on I realised that simply cutting down on my dairy intake wouldn’t be enough.
I think it was around 2010/2011 that I began to take things more seriously. At first I switched to lactose free milk and then to almond milk. I also wasn’t eating cheddar cheese and perhaps no cheese at all.
It wasn’t an overnight thing, it took a month or two to see improvements but then the bad patches of eczema were gone or at the very least they weren’t as sore as they had been.
My body was responding very well to the reduced dairy in my diet and slowly but surely I began to cut out more and more dairy as the years went by.
Cut to 2022 and I longer eat dairy as a main part of my diet. However, since speaking with an allergist last year I do have a small amount of butter or a square of regular chocolate each day. He has advised that I find my threshold with dairy because cutting out a whole food group can lead to much more severe reactions later on. I’ll talk more about this in a blog post.
Here on Dairy Free Daisy I’ll be documenting all of my favourite dairy free products, reviews, recipes and more. The main focus is dairy, not eczema but I wouldn’t be able to tell you my dairy free story without mentioning it.