The best piece of advice given to me at the start of our dairy free journey was to keep a food diary and I would definitely recommend this to anyone starting on the road of investigating possible food intolerances and/or allergies.
In the early days keeping a food diary was really extremely useful. It took us a while to work out what was making Cameron ill but gradually, along with eliminating the dairy from his diet, we were also able to see other patterns emerging by keeping track of what he was eating.
I came up with a daily sheet on the computer to fill in but it wasn’t always possible to print off a blank when we needed one and we soon had a file fit to burst with paperwork; to be honest it became more hassle than it was worth so we now use a diary – our dairy diary!
We went for a page a day diary – I write down everything he eats and drinks at mealtimes and any snacks throughout the day. I also jot down medicines and supplements he takes and any symptoms he might experience. We record Doctor appointments and any test results, etc too. Anything I cook I list the ingredients used and anything pre-prepared I also list ingredients along with the brand. It’s easy to take with us if we are not at home and all the information we need is in one place.
Cam has quite gotten into the swing of using it and although he has packed lunches at school he will sometimes come home and tell me that he has some fruit as it was ‘Fruity Friday’ or he had bought himself something from the canteen – though to be honest those few words fill me with dread! I have had to learn to trust him to make educated decisions as he has to live with any consequences if he pushes the boundaries. Sometimes he gets it wrong and we pick up the pieces but most times he is spot on – having a bagel at school with just jam and not the butter is a great example that he is learning to understand how to control his diet and not the other way around.
It works for us and I would also thoroughly recommend keeping a food diary as there have been times when I think I had it sussed but then Cam would be ill – it is most definitely a very useful reference tool to keep track of everything and refer back too.
If you prefer to use a daily sheet to keep track there are many templates online; The Children’s Allergy Network have a range of free printables to download on their website.
We have actually reached quite a milestone in our dairy diary– 23 days without any major symptoms – we are all so chuffed as we were struggling to get past a week or two just a few months ago. There were two occasions where we recorded slight stomach ache but these soon passed and Cam was well enough to manage school. So maybe we are getting to grips with his diet? Whatever it might be it is so nice to see Cam in a ‘better place’ than he was twelve months ago and this is reflected in his school report with his attendance a whole 10% higher than last year – fingers crossed it all continues!