Food Diary of a Low FODMAPPER

If you have been following me recently will know that I am working through my digestion and energy challenges following my recent stool test.

I was relieved when my gluten antibodies (anti-gliadin IgA) came back negative but one thing I didn’t want to have to do was give up FODMAPS for two main reasons:

  1. I love onions and garlic :)
  2. It’s a pain

FODMAP stands for Fructose, Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monoamines and Polyols. It’s a bit of a mouthful so I am sure you can see why these are summarised as FODMAPS.

Ultimately these are types of carbohydrates which are more susceptible for fermentation in the upper GI tract, which, when overgrown with bacteria, can lead to symptoms like bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation and symptoms of IBS.

Despite my supplement regime, I was still experiencing a lot of stomach bloating. It seemed to be even worse than before.

I eat a lot of onions, garlic, legumes and broccoli. In fact, I was eating raw broccoli scrunched up in a salad with lot’s of avocado (which can also be a FODMAP). So the pain of staying the same eventually got greater than the pain of embarking on my new low FODMAP lifestyle and I took the plunge.

I have several clients who follow a low FODMAP diet and it is becoming increasingly common as I start to work with more and more clients on their digestion alongside their weight loss, that I am asking them to remove FODMAPS.

I therefore thought it would be helpful for me to write how I approached it and what I’ve been eating this past week, to make life a little easier for those who are embarking on a Low FODMAP plan.

The first thing I have to say is that FODMAPs can be confusing. Different resources will tell you different things. I decided to commit to one resource and then let my body feedback the rest.

I used the IFM Low FODMAP food plan.


The way I approached it was as follows:

  • I went through the food plan and write down a list of everything I could eat based on the foods I frequently buy and was already eating
  • I then went through a list of the foods highlighted in orange and wrote down any I was already eating and noted the portion size I should limit myself to if I was going to still include it.
  • Most of “orange foods” I was happy to exclude but I still wanted to include some quinoa, sesame and sunflower seeds (for my seed cycling regime), avocado and I had already had some hummus and beans in the cupboard that I needed to use.
  • I then photographed the list to keep on my phone so if I find myself at the supermarket or at a restaurant I can double check what I should buy or what I need to avoid.

This was my list before I added dairy; feta, haloumi and parmesan

I kept things simple.

I can be a creature of habit when it comes to food. So when I share my food diary, you will probably notice a lot of the same things repeating. I tend to eat a lot of the same and then get a bee in my bonnet about something new and eat a lot of that for a bit.

What I mostly tried to do is work with recipes I was already using and adapt them or just eat simple foods and make them tasty with lots of olive oil and lemon juice.

Although garlic and onion are to be excluded on a Low FODMAP diet a bought a garlic and onion salt to add flavour to dishes, which so far, I seem to be getting away with in small amounts. I don’t have any idea how these compare to normal onions and garlic so it might not mean that anyone following a low FODMAP diet would get away with them. As an alternative, you can infuse olive oil with garlic or add large chunks of onion to a dish and remove them after flavouring the oil.


Day 1



1 left over gluten free pork sausage, 2 eggs and 100g egg white. Spinach and Kale with olive oil, lemon juice and sumac


Watercress, spinach and 1 tin of tuna in olive oil, 2 carrots and 2 tbsp hummus and left over black bean spaghetti


Pan-fried Salmon, with courgetti sautéed in olive oil and parmesan


Day 2



You’ll see my breakfast smoothie feature a lot. I love it! I have it after working out most mornings and I feel like I have perfected the recipe to get a great consistency. It is as follows:

  • 1 banana
  • 120-150g frozen raspberries
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 10g-15g maca powder
  • 150ml-200ml almond milk (I use the alpro almond milk which is slightly sweet)
  • 5g Ashwaganda Powder (I take this to support my adrenal glands, it is also good for the immune system and mitochondria)
  • 10g L-glutamine (great for healing the cells of the gut lining and also for the immune system)
  • 30g beef protein (I’m using this at the moment because I think I was reacting to whey)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds or 1 tbsp flax and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds depending on where I am in my cycle.

A malteser bunny (yep, it’s low FODMAP! A friend of mine was advised it was okay to eat maltesers on a Low FODMAP diet by an NHS dietican), not in the smoothie though, I had this later as a snack!



Watercress, spinach, quinoa and 1 tin of tuna in olive oil, 2 carrots and 2 tbsp hummus and left over black bean spaghetti


Cod with sundried, anchovies, tomatoes, basil, lemon juice, parmesan, black venus rice, courgetti and olives pan-fried in olive oil

Day 3



2 boiled eggs, 1 gluten free crumpet, 2 slices of panfried haloumi and a tbsp. avocado


Protein pancakes: banana, chia, 20g oats, beef protein, cinnamon, cooked in coconut oil serves with raspberries, olive oil and chopped dark chocolate coated brazil nuts


Thai takeaway – red curry with chicken and all the vegetables were low FODMAP

Day 4


Gluten free chicken sausages, 2 boiled eggs and greens with olive oil and lemon juice


Popcorn at the cinema – it was a Sunday :)


Pan-fried steak in olive oil with spinach, mushrooms, creams, black rice


Day 5


Protein smoothie & 2 squares of 90% dark chocolate and 1 tbsp tahini


Watercress, spinach, 50g black rice and 1 tin of tuna, 1 tbsp olive oil. lemon juice, sumac and 30g of haloumi

1/2 red pepper and 1 tbsp hummus


Mince cooked in coconut oil, cajun spice, smoked paprika and tinned tomatoes. I had great intentions of bulking it out with carrots, celery, mushrooms and courgette before I realised I had finished them off so I added in 50g of cold quinoa instead. It was simple, yet delicious with the spices and you can always add more greens or courgetti


Day 6

On day 6 I had the same smoothie, but, because I had been running that morning I felt incredibly hungry so went in for a second breakfast of gluten free crumpets, butter, marmite, a sprinkling of parmesan and 2 boiled eggs. This is my favourite treat breakfast!


Then at lunch time I was back on the tuna salads just using up bits left in the fridge however, I managed to take a photograph this time, yet in doing so, completely forgot to scrunch up my green leaves in the olive oil and lemon juice. This time I added some romaine lettuce instead of spinach and finished off the last of the kale and watercress.

Although this salad looks pretty sparce, the following Low FODMAP items could have been used to make it more colourful and filling:

  • grated carrot
  • cucumber
  • micro-greens
  • peppers
  • radishes
  • tomatoes
  • 2T of Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, walnuts, pecans, brazils or macadamia nuts (always quite nice if you toast them first before throwing into a salad)
  • A little feta or hard cheese
  • I sometimes also like sliced grapes or blueberries in a salad, these are also low FODMAP options



For dinner that night I had the same cod dish again. But this time I managed to photograph it. It’s so easy to do, you just blitz up some sundried tomatoes, parmesan, lemon juice, basil, a couple of anchovies and sumac, smear it on the cod and bake for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees


This was served with some vegetables with I essentially just stir fried up in olive oil…


Day 7

The final day was smoothie again plus 2 pieces of 90% dark chocolate and 2 sliced of haloumi cheese (bit random but that was it)

For lunch I had left over cod with a side salad of romaine lettuce, olive oil, quinoa, my 2 tbsp allowance of avocado and some red pepper slices…. oh and another Malteser bunny :)



Finally dinner was a beef dish I had made in the slow cooker the previous day using the following:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cajun spice

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1kg diced organic stewing steak

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

400g carrots, chopped

5 celery stalks, chopped

I basically just browned the steak in a pan with olive oil and spices and then threw it all in the slow cooker for 8 hours (you could even do this overnight).

Day 8

As I didn’t go to the gym today, I had a lower carb breakfast of heck chicken sausages, scrambled eggs and egg white, final bits of salad left in the fridge (food delivery comes today) and I later treated myself to an Om Bar chocolate from the health food shop when I went to my ceramics lesson.

Lunch was another tuna salad with freshly delivered greens (watercress, lambs lettuce, spinach and broccoli sprouts), carrots, hummus, tuna, olive oil and lemon juice.

The day was finished off with left overs from the slow cooked beef recipe the day before.

IMG_20170316_133038 IMG_20170316_074300-01

And that brings me to the end of my week (+one day) following a low FODMAP diet.

I must say, I had perhaps suspected it was something I may benefit from for a while. But I wasn’t prepared to full commit to it because, ultimately, it meant the effort of changing my routine.

I am amazing at how easy it became even after a few days because I put a little effort in at the beginning to work out what I needed to do and get organised.

Finally, I would also say, my digestion has calmed down massively over the past week and it’s lovely not to go to bed in the evening with a slightly distended belly.






I run a small Online Women’s Weight Loss Program that offer a personalised nutrition and exercise support to produce life changing and life-lasting results.

If you want to give up the guessing game and have someone just tell you what to do and hold you accountable to actually doing it then this is probably exactly what you have been waiting for.

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My Gut: The Story

The other day, on Facebook, I posted a picture of my little face surrounded by some supplements.

I commented that I had recently obtained the results of my stool test and was working on my digestive health. Since the middle of January I have been writing and “vlogging” via Facebook Live about digestive health, specifically looking at the link between digestive imbalances and weight loss.

Although I’m not struggling with weight loss, I think I have been in denial about some ongoing digestive issues and I am only really putting all the pieces of the puzzle together now.

Since I posted the picture I have had a few people reach out to me asking questions about what test I did, the supplements I am taking and the reasons why. I have mentioned bits and bobs but I wanted to build up the whole story for the main reason being, this is what I do with my clients.

I build up a whole picture of what is going on. I don’t deal in little bits here and there.

I couldn’t really decide where this story began.

The truth is, if you really think about it, it began when I began, which was in my mom’s belly.

But I will spare you all the details, although I will warn you that this will be longer than some of my previous posts. But I’ll do my best to not faff about with every little detail.

So grab your reading glasses and a cup of tea and enjoy.


The Back Story

My whole life I have struggled with my energy on and off. For the purposes of keeping things simple, I was in and out of hospitals from a young age. I had a hole in my ear drum which was eventually patched up by taking some skin from behind by earlobe. Before that however, I had multiple surgeries in an attempt to rectify the problem. This meant multiple surgeries back in the day when they put the anaesthetic over your mouth instead of in a vein (crucial point to remember later).

This was followed by the separation of my parents at age 7. At age 9 we shared a home with family friends who were immigrating to the US therefore became a temporary blended family for a couple of months, which I found quite stressful. After this point I was diagnosed with inflammation of the kidneys, nephritis, and put on daily medication (another point to remember later).

Additionally I was told to eat a high carbohydrate diet to “keep my energy up”, which ended up in donuts, crisps and ice cream and me gaining 2 stone in a couple of months, fast forwarding into early puberty.

I am still not 100% convinced about this diagnosis. But it happened. I was 9 at the time so I can’t remember much about it apart from that.

I don’t really remember much about my digestion growing up. It’s not really something you are very aware of but I do remember enough that definitely as a teenager there were some imbalances.

I now know that any of the following may impact the gut:

  • Diet (low fibre, high in refined carbohydrates and sugars)
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Medications

All of which I had plenty of exposure to, apart from the alcohol, before I even hit double digits.


My First Experience of IBS

I guess my first experience of what one would call IBS was when I moved to London in 2008.

I have written and vlogged about this several times now, so without trying to flog a dead horse, a huge amount of stress and poor diet caused me many digestive symptoms which were quite severe for 6 months. I managed to bring them under better control with diet and supplements after which they niggled on and off thereafter.

At the end of 2008 I had a laporoscopy to look for endometriosis after experiencing severe pre-menstrual symptoms as a result of said lifestyle stress. The laporoscopy came back clear, but it was yet another surgery in addition to having my appendix removed in 2006.

I found my transition to making my way and completing my studies in the UK stressful on many different levels. I could go into many details of this experience but one that sticks so clearly in my mind is walking up a flight of stairs at the gym I was working in one day, foggy, bloated and exhausted and wondering how I was going to keep on keeping on. I would struggle to go out with friends in the evenings as I was just too tired to stay out late and I could easily spend my Sunday feeling like I had been hit by a bus.

In 2009 I eventually started seeing a Nutritionist myself who encouraged me to do adrenal testing which showed my adrenal function was one nice flat line (see below).



This was the consequence of many aspects of my lifestyle, a very stressful relationship causing me a huge amount of anxiety, burning the candle at both ends with work and study, sub-optimal diet and exercise practises (too much exercise and not enough good quality food).

And so began what in my mind was a 2-3 year journey to getting my energy back.

It was not achievable all at once. There were many layers of change that needed to happen and with each layer came an additional benefit. The major themes of these layers revolved around the following:

  • End negative and unsupportive relationships
  • Find a place to live where I feel safe and at ease
  • Find a way to better balance working hours with time to rest and recover
  • Cultivate happy and healthy relationships and become part of a like-minded community
  • Address energy balance between food and exercise (eat to fuel my bodies needs and let go of the need to do so much intense training)

The final pieces of that puzzle which came towards the end were meeting my amazing husband who is just one big ball of happiness and love but also the biggest support and rock in my life. Then creating a change and moving to the sea to have a greater sense of space and connection with nature.

All in all this took about 5 years.

I wanted to say this because health is a journey. You cannot unravel what you have been tangling up across years and years in 12 weeks. I’m not “lucky” to have the life I live now, there is no luck. I made it myself, including all the things that are not “perfect” yet.


More Recent Challenges

Since myself and Ben moved to Bournemouth I took my business online and created the my LTL coaching program to help women lose weight using the principles of Functional Medicine and mostly, by giving them permission to love themselves.

In doing so I created more flexibility and freedom in my day. But for anyone who runs their own business will know, it is fricken hard work.

I started to re-experience some digestive troubles shortly after our move. Although the move was a positive one, there was probably some stress involved relating to change.

This was mostly cleared up by a course of anti-microbials and fermented foods, hence my obsessive preaching about their benefits.

However, the problems returned mid-way through 2015 and I started to dig a little deeper.

The symptoms, if you must know, were smelly gas and lose stools. I would also sometimes be affected by urgency when all of a sudden I would need to find a bathroom, immediately! It is embarrassing to write this all down and admit these things even though when my clients tell me about their symptoms I am completely unphased.

It does occur to me now that these symptoms were not new symptoms. They had probably come and gone from time to time even when I was in South Africa. But their severity and frequency were mild and far between suggesting the imbalance was perhaps already there, but environmental factors (stress) were exacerbating it.

I did some investigating and I had a gluten sensitivity test done with Cyrex who test 20 different proteins associated with wheat and gluten. All came back negative.

Gluten was not the problem. But what was?

Eventually my symptoms were resolved on their own by fasting.

I experimented for one week with only eating two meals per day. About 1000 calories at breakfast at 8:30am and another 1000 calories at 5:30pm. If I could guess why this worked I would say that reduced meal frequency allowed the digestive system to rest between meals and therefore perhaps reduced inflammation and allowed for healing.

This is but a guess.

All was mostly well moving forward with the occasional incidences of urgency, particularly if I went running and this was aggravated by being out of routine (jet lag, foreign travel and not eating my usual foods).

Now here is the funny thing.

Last year September was 2 years since I had started my online business. I had 2 staff members as well as outsourced services and everything was running just fine. There was some money in the bank, things were ticking over, I wasn’t particularly busy or stressed out.

And yet, in this time I started to feel increasingly exhausted.

I lost my mojo.

I didn’t want to go to the gym, my digestion was getting worse again, I had no energy, my neck ached ever hour of the day. I was sleeping enough and felt tired all the time.

I remember going out for breakfast with Ben one Sunday morning. Where we lived you couldn’t go anywhere without walking downhill which meant to get home, everywhere was up hill! All I wanted to do was have Ben pick me up and carry me home, I couldn’t even face the uphill walk.

So I did all the things I knew how to do.

  • Stripped back on exercise.
  • I took a week off the gym, stopped running and just did a little yoga and walking.
  • I had some acupuncture
  • Ate well
  • Meditated every day for 7 weeks
  • Had Epsom salt baths
  • Made sure I got enough sleep
  • Took some supplements to support my adrenal glands

And it did help a bit.

I felt better but I didn’t feel at my best.

And then we moved house – which was actually pretty straight forward and not that stressful – and I went to Bali to stay with one my best friends. I thought I was going to get to Bali and just collapse, but actually, in Bali I felt much better.

You could say it was the sunshine or the company but actually, at the time I was also launching the Sustainable Slim Down and when I think about it now, I was probably riding high on the adrenalin that comes with pushing a launch.

And when I came back to the UK I felt okay too. But my digestion was off again and slowly before I knew it, my energy was gone again.


This is what inflammation feels like

What I noticed was that when I was tired, run down or gave myself space to relax, I didn’t feel well.

I had what I call feelings of inflammation (which are very similar to feeling hungover); achy, tired, headachy, foggy brain. All those non-specific symptoms which could really mean anything.  I would even sometimes feel like this the day after a really hard workout, it went over and above just have some DOMS.

So enough was a enough and I invested just shy of £300 in the GI Map by Invivo Clinical.

10 days ago I got the results.

And what did they say?

Bacteria Infection

I have a bacterial infection called Clostridium Difficile Toxin A. C.Diff can be present in some people who are symptom free. It can also be present in some individuals and cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Common symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping.

Exposure to C.Diff is often via hospitals (which I was in and out of at least once each decade of my life, not to mention a lot in the first 10 years of my life). Antibiotics increases risk of C.Diff infection, I had a lot of antibiotics and medications as a child which could potentially have increased susceptibility. Who knows when or where the infection started. It doesn’t matter so much but it’s interesting to see the links given my history.



What was also present was an increase in Calprotectin. This is a marker of inflammation. Very high levels can be associated with irritable bowel disease, such as colitis, and bowel cancer. My levels were raised, which would make sense in the context of C.Diff, but not enough for me to worry too much about IBD or Cancer.



I had low levels of the gut immunoglobulin Secretory IgA (sIgA). sIgA is one of the first lines of defence in the gut immune system. It is elevated in the presence of infection to help the body fight it off. If for whatever reason, the body is not able to clear the infection, it may fall low over time.  Low levels have been associated with stress as well as intense emotions such as anger.

Before I knew I had this infection, I was pretty certain my sIgA would be low. I, like many people, spend a lot of time in my sympathetic nervous system. Although I have made many changes to spend less time in stress, it is continuous work in progress to rewire my nervous system against the norm I once created for myself.


My Interpretation

The rest was mostly normal and my gliadin IgA (an immunoglobulin against gluten) came back as normal so I was pretty happy that I don’t feel like I need to remove gluten strictly from my diet and also that there was congruencey against previous testing.

The following is my interpretation of the information above so please do not hold this to be 100% scientific truth. It is supposition until proven otherwise.

I am not sure when I initially picked up this infection, but when I reflect on some of my symptoms, some of them I have been having for years. Of course they could be due to other causes and I am pretty sure the worst IBS which I experienced when I first moved to the UK was probably due to other things which have since cleared and/or rebalanced

Being the robust, young and health conscious woman I am, in times when I wasn’t under too much stress, I took a holiday, there was sunlight (vitamin D is great for the immune system), I am eating and sleeping well I had the resilience to mostly be unaffected by the infection.

If I travelled, ate differently, lacked sleep or was exposed to different time zones, jet lag, my resilience was low and therefore my immune system wasn’t able to keep things in check.

Who knows how long my sIgA has been low for and who knows how much it is able to fluctuate based on the above?

When I have taken probiotics, used fasting protocols and fermented foods, all of these have helped to improve resilience and reduce inflammation, but not necessarily enough to clear the infection as a whole.

What you may have gathered from what I have already said about gut health is inflammation in the gut = inflammation in the body.

This is then responsible for producing systemic symptoms whatever they may be. In my case:

  • Foggy brain
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Achy body
  • PMS
  • Low mood
  • Feelings of hangover

When I am running on adrenalin and excited about work tasks or pushing myself in the gym, and doing my busy body whirl wind thing, I feel good because I am artificially pushing up my cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, it is also one of the body’s most powerful anti-inflammatories. Which is therefore, able to keep systemic inflammation in check. When I get run down, and I can’t sustain that high cortisol output, or if I relax and cortisol is naturally lower, what happens?

What I call, hit like a bus syndrome.

So what is the solution here?

There are a few things that need rebalancing:

  • Gut health obviously: clear the infection, reduce the inflammation and increase sIgA to prevent future infection or recurrence. Keep good bacteria up.

This is the easy bit.

The second bit is.

  • Rebalance the lifestyle: work on the busy body, A-Type personality behaviour and calm down.

This is the biggest challenge for me, because it actually involved rewiring my brain and creating a new way of being.

So what now?

I’ve bought a whole bunch of supplements as you may have seen.


These include:

  • Saccharomyces Boullardi which has been shown to be beneficial in C.Diff and may also increase sIgA
  • Vitamin A which is shown to increase sIgA
  • Anti-microbials: garlic, oregano, berberine and grapeseed. I actually couldn’t find any research to support any of these as being effective with C.Diff but I have noticed a benefit taking these in the past when I was just guessing. So I thought I’d give them a go. The garlic capsules weren’t so fun this morning when I was practising handstands with garlic burps in the gym! Ben who was working away all week also came home and told me I stink. So I apologise to anyone who I’ve affected by my garlicky presence this week, it’s just for 1 more week!
  • Inflammatone: a combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as ginger, curcumin, boswellia and quercitin

One of the consequences of all of the above is malabsorption. Not being able to absorb nutrients from the diet. So I am also taking

  • Zinc: due to white spots on finger nails
  • B-vitamins: due to geographic tongue, longitudinal fissure (the “denty” bit in the middle) and scalloping of the tongue (curvy bits on the outer edges), all of which can be signs of B-vitamin deficiencies and inflammation. See below (I am really sorry but there is no “pretty way” to photograph your tongue) The geographic tongue is actually something I knew about last year after a trip to the dentist. I couldn’t get my head around why I would be low in nutrients considering my diet, I was in complete denial of any link between my gut and absorption issues.
  • Multi-vitamins: just to cover the bases
  • Magnesium: because it’s good for everything especially sleep and I could do with better sleep.


General Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Please note, this is all on top of an anti-inflammatory diet. I am fortunate that my diet is good, really good. I am in a much better position to really notice the benefit of the supplements because I am not also learning how to eat well. Sometimes I have client who need to learn just to eat better and many of their symptoms may naturally improve before they’ve spent any money on supplements.

I do feel that my general diet and self-care have protected me against bigger and more complex issues.

I eat almost zero processed food (apart from some treats), plenty of fish & poultry, vegetables, gluten free grains, minimal dairy and added sugar, dark chocolate and homemade fermented foods. What you see on social media is what I eat. The bits that don’t get photographed just don’t look  that pretty on the plate but it’s all good stuff.

In addition to the supplements already listed, I also add herbal adaptogens to support my adrenal glands into my morning smoothies, this includes:

  • Maca
  • Rhodiola
  • Holy Basil
  • Ashwaghanda



What am I hoping for from here?

Well I have only been taking my supplements for the past week so I will have to write an update in a few weeks time. So far, my digestion is working really well, but I won’t hold my breath as I know it can do this from time to time and then act up again.

My energy is still a bit up and down. I started with my supplements on Monday afternoon and 24 hours later I was feeling really grumpy and really angry (like wanting to put a pillow over my face and scream kinda angry), which is not an emotion I often experience. I then did a meditation and cried proper sobbing tears. So I am not sure if that is a bit of “healing” going on and it will settle down in time or if I am just bonkers or something else.

We’ll see.

I am however, hoping for the following:

  • Better and more consistent energy and less symptoms of systemic inflammation, essentially mental clarity and like I am thriving, not just surviving
  • Better digestive symptoms; no cramping, loose stools, gas or bloating
  • Improved pre-menstrual symptoms and more consistent mood at that time of the month
  • A calmer, happier and more loving approach to everything in my life

For the exact supplement protocol I will continue with the Saccharomyces, Inflammatone, B-vitamins, Vitamin A and Zinc for the next 3 months. I will do the anti-microbials in high does for 2 weeks and then probably take some probiotics after that. I’ll keep note of my symptoms and hope to retest in 3 months time.

So that is it.

If you have any further questions, more so specifically about working with myself on a similar journey, then please be advised that I take on new clients by application only. You can complete an application here or here or email me with a specific query here.

















My Stance on Dairy

I recently wrote about whether or not we should all be avoiding gluten. If you missed it, you can find it here – I knew this would be a topic that a lot of people have questions about.

But today I write about the next piece of the puzzle, I wanted to talk dairy.

Gluten and dairy are two of the common foods that are often eliminated when someone has digestive issues. They are the main two foods, along with sugar and alcohol, that I ask my client’s to eliminate when they follow my gut reset protocol (others can be eggs, legumes, shellfish and seafood).

Just like gluten, reactions to dairy can vary depending on the person and what is going on inside the donut hole. So again, I’d like to clear a little bit of that up and explain my stance on dairy in the diet.

An important thing to remember is that to make information easy to understand, at times I have to over-simplify and generalise. When I work with my clients, I have the opportunity to know more about them, their health history, current habits, medications, stress levels, likes, dislikes, budget and goals. All of this is considered when making a final recommendation.

Lactose Intolerance

One of the common issues with dairy is lactose intolerance. Lactose is the sugar molecule found in dairy. Intolerance is due to the inability to digest lactose due to an inability to produce lactase, the enzyme for lactose digestion. This means that undigested lactose passes to the colon where it can cause bloating, diarrhoea, nausea and gas.

Lactose intolerance is not an immune mediated response to dairy. Failure to digest lactose can be due to:

  • genetics, where no lactose is made from birth
  • Poor enzyme production which occurs with age
  • Inflammation and damage to the small intestine as we may see in dysbiosis, for example, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Poor tolerance of lactose may therefore stem from the common triggers of dysbiosis; poor diet, stress, alcohol, infections, medications, antibiotics, oral contraceptive pill etc.

If lactose intolerance is not genetic, it could potentially be reverse or improved by re-establishing the bacterial balance within the gut and supporting with digestive enzymes including lactase.

Immune-Mediated Reactions (Dairy Sensitivity)

It is important at this point to understand that dairy is made up not only of the sugar component, lactose, but also protein components such as whey and casein and fat components.

It is typically the lactose which may cause problems with intolerance and casein (and sometimes whey) which may be the culprit in immune mediated reactions to dairy.

Immune mediated reactions are reactions which happen in the blood stream. In other words, not in the donut hole.

In order for an immune mediated reaction to occur the intestinal membrane must be leaky. A leaky gut allows proteins to pass into the blood stream.

A leaky gut is associated with dysbiosis and inflammation.

Therefore, immune mediated reactions to casein or whey, require an imbalanced gut.

Therefore, these reactions are a symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself. 

The real problem is an imbalanced digestive system.

Immune mediated reactions to dairy may only be temporary, provided we can rebalance the gut environment, reduce inflammation and heal to gut wall (easier said than done).

How would you know you are reacting to dairy?

Apart from experiencing obvious digestive symptoms after consumption, immune mediated reactions to any foods, not just dairy, may also be responsible for extra-intestinal symptoms, systemic symptoms associated with inflammation.

  • Joints that ache
  • Auto-immune conditions
  • PMS
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Skin complaints
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety, depression, changes in mood
  • Non-specific symptoms like foggy brain or fatigue

Although testing is available, the most reliable (and cost effective) assessment is a trial removal for 4 weeks during which you apply the principles of the 5 R Program (Remove, replace, reinoculated, repair, rebalance), and then reintroduce dairy to note any return of symptoms.

It is important to understand that not all dairy products are made equal:

  • Butter, ghee and double cream may contain minimal amounts of dairy proteins and sugars and may well be tolerated
  • Hard cheese may be higher in dairy proteins and fats and contain minimal lactose
  • Softer cheeses, milk and yoghurts may be higher in lactose
  • Fermented yoghurts and milk kefir may be lower in lactose and therefore tolerate

Therefore, when reintroducing dairy products I always recommend this is done in a structured way to assess what “class” of dairy could still be included in the diet.

Reactions to dairy do not necessarily means that dairy needs to be excluded life long.

Working on digestive health and establishing which forms of dairy work best for your body, may mean that you can safely reintroduce dairy back into your diet. For the most part, this rests on restoring digestive balance:

  • Optimising the balance of bacteria in the gut: probiotics, fermented foods and a diverse plant based diet
  • Ensuring healthy gut membranes: bone broths, vitamin A, D, E and L-glutamine
  • Minimising inflammation: omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, D E, diverse plant based diet, turmeric, ginger, bromelain
  • Ensuring a positive gut immune system: probiotics, saccharomyces boullardi, prebiotic fibre, vitamin A, zinc carnosine, L-glutamine, colostrum, stress management

Other Considerations on Dairy

Gut health aside, one of the concerns with dairy is the Insulin-Like-Growth-Factors and in some cases hormones that may be found in non-organic produce. I usually recommend clients who are experiencing any hormone imbalances, including acne, to be mindful of their dairy intake irrespective of gut health.

In this case, choosing organic dairy where ever possible should be high on the priority list and perhaps not relying too heavily of dairy as a staple, but finding alternative foods to meet their need.

Concerns About Calcium

The concern for many when it comes to avoiding dairy is calcium intake. Many people perceive dairy to be the best source of calcium in the diet, which isn’t actually true.

The following foods all contain more calcium per 100g than the equivalent amount (100ml) of milk.

In mg/100g:

Kelp 1093

Collard Greens 250

Kale 249

Turnips 246

Almonds 234

Parsley 203

Brazil nuts 186

Watercress 151

Sunflower seeds 120

Eating 100g of kale per day, would give approximately the same amount of calcium per day as a 250ml glass of milk.

My Personal Stance on Dairy

At home, we tend to keep dairy to a minimum. The main reason being we choose to get our calories from sources that offer better nutrition (more nutrients for calorie content) and I do have some hormonal symptoms I manage through diet – more information on how I do this in my Happy Hormones Ebook. 

I personally don’t drink milk or eat yoghurt. I use nut milks to add to smoothies and coffee.

We do take dairy in small amounts from organic butter, feta cheese and parmesan. We usually go through a 100-200g bar of feta cheese and 50-100g of parmesan per week between two.

Butter seems to last for ever as the primary added fat in my diet is olive oil due to it’s health benefits. At times I also use coconut oil for cooking and other seed oils like avocado or walnut.

I do use an organic whey protein from Pulsin in my smoothies on a weekly basis.

I often recommend to clients they switch up their protein powders, for example, use a rice protein for a week, then a whey protein for a week, then a pea protein for a week and so on.

I must admit, despite my best efforts, this is something I have struggled to do myself because I just love the taste and texture of the Pulsin Whey.

However, more recently I have switched to an unflavoured Beef protein from Bulk Powders which has been an ample substitute. This has mostly been motivated by some digestive issues which I have been having (I intend to share more on this soon).



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