The Last of the Snow

Here in Sheffield, UK we are enjoying a glorious weekend of bright sunshine and mild temperatures.  Yet only 4 days ago it was like this:

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I went on a sales trip to Scotland, in some trepidation as to how bad the weather might be further north. To reach the motorway, we have to cross the Pennine Hills. There are two routes across this region: steep, rocky and breathtakingly beautiful hills which pass for mountains around here. The Woodhead Pass was closed, but surprisingly the aptly-named Snake Pass was declared open. At the summit, the road travels across a flat and desolate plateau, and we found it only just passable: covered by a thin layer of snow and  narrowed to a single track. Once safely down from the mountains and back in civilisation, skirting the city of Manchester there was no snow at all. We visited Glasgow, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Dundee and Perth, all completely snow-free, and we were most relieved. Back in Sheffield, next day, another blizzard hit, and despite lots of grit and salt on the roads traffic was at a standstill by five o’clock so once again I walked home trying not to slip over.

It is delightful to at last be able to enjoy some fresh air in the garden and feel the warmth of the sun whilst sweeping up leaves and thinking about doing a spot of pruning. New buds are coming through and I haven’t even dead-headed the hydrangeas yet. It has certainly been a long and snowy winter. I’m looking forward to getting out and about with my dog-walking buddies.

Knitting is on hold at the moment unfortunately. I am waiting to hear from my Uncle about making some oversized double pins for me. He hasn’t actually said ‘no’, so I hope he will be able to say a definite ‘yes’. My pattern is almost perfected and written out, after lots of trial and error and more prototypes than I can remember.  So as soon as I have needles, I will be flying.

In the meantime, I have a nice little project on which is to design and make a set of clothes for my friend’s little girl’s bunny. Mrs Bun-Bun has had all her pink fur cuddled away and she’s looking quite naked. A skirt, a jacket and a hat are needed to restore dignity.

Till next time,

L x

 

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Week 2 of no dairy

It’s almost 2 weeks since my doctor told me to cut out diary products, and it’s been surprisingly easy. I haven’t had any dairy cravings particularly. On the occasions when I would typically chow down a load of butter, cheese or milk, I have snacked on an alternative, or just not eaten anything. In fact I am really enjoying trying new foods and new flavours.

I am wondering if the almost constant headache and feeling of fatigue is due to dairy withdrawal. Or perhaps more likely, a slight head cold. How irritating to get a head cold after the amount of fresh fruit and salads I have eaten recently. Still, I have been sleeping a lot better, which is a good sign.

It’s interesting how differently I regard dairy products now. I feel as if I am on ‘the other side’: before dairy, and now after dairy. My attitude has completely changed. I really do not want milk in my tea now. I don’t particularly want creamy, cheesy sauces on my dinner plate. As for butter, my no 1 favourite food for years, I realise what I really loved about butter was the saltiness. I have salt cravings more than sweet cravings. I never crave chocolate. I’d rather eat a great big packet of crisps. So when I’m in the danger zone and want to rip through the bread and butter, I either have some plain mixed nuts, or a slice of bread drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper.

I have a few business trips coming up, so I will have to be careful to avoid dairy whilst out of my usual routine. I went to a big trade fair on Monday with a colleague. She thoughtfully brought some sandwiches to share. Cheese and pickle, or chicken salad. I reminded her that I was avoiding cheese, but said I would share the sandwiches anyway. She insisted I have the chicken salad, but was concerned that there might be butter on the bread. No danger of that in a Tescos sandwich, I said. More likely to be a scraping of industrial grease. So that was OK then. Thank goodness I’m not a vegetarian as well. Or I would have gone hungry that day. If I was a vegetarian, I guess I would be trying to go vegan right now. Which seems terribly difficult to achieve.

One thing I need to work out is, where am I getting my calcium from, if not dairy? And what about probiotics, as I’m not eating yoghurt?

Sometimes compromises have to be made. At work one morning, I had masses of work to do but felt lethargic. It was only 10.30 but I really wanted to eat my lunch. A large coffee with milk and sugar was the answer. It really picked me up.

My other weakness is butter biscuits. I pretend that because I can’t see the butter, it isn’t really there. And I need the energy to fuel my 40-minute walk home…

Til next time,

L x

No More Dairy

My doctor told me this week that I should give up dairy products. This was quite a blow, since I love all things dairy. I love toast slathered in butter, cheese sandwiches, desserts in pools of cream.  One of my earliest memories is being caught by my mother with my fingers in the butter. But in order for my nasal medication to have the best chance of working, I have to cut out, or at least radically cut down, on dairy foods.

The whole subject of diet is such a minefield, rife with contradictions. I have always been an advocate of eating anything you fancy, in moderation, including as much variety as possible. Now my doctor says that dairy proteins are quite a foreign to humans, in evolutionary, biological terms. Milk is meant to feed baby cows. When we ingest it, the body isn’t ideally equipped to deal with it, leading to some quite adverse effects. Yet milk is considered healthy for kids because of the calcium (and the protein). I suppose when we reach adulthood we can sometimes develop an intolerance.

I am at the point now where I am almost constantly blocked up, especially at night when I often find I can’t breathe at all.  So I wake up and pace about. This is very disruptive to my sleep and leaves me with a headache all day.  It can’t continue, so I am being sensible and embracing the new regime.

The new regime consists of non-dairy alternatives to what I am used to eating. So at breakfast, instead of cereal with loads of milk, or yoghurt on muesli, I have some cooked plums, apples and raisins in a sort of syrupy compote, on muesli, maybe with a banana.  At lunchtime, instead of the usual cheese salad sandwich (which included butter!), I am having a salad or a wrap of beans and feta cheese, or beans and tuna or smoked mackerel. At dinner time, I am cutting out creamy pasta sauces and cheese sauces.

I have stopped eating bread altogether, because I will only spread loads of butter on it. For snack time, which is the danger zone for me, I have stocked up with plain mixed nuts. As for tea and coffee, I don’t much like coffee anyway and can only take it with lots of milk and sugar.  So I can quite easily give up coffee.  I drink a lot of tea but I only have a drop of milk in it.  So it’s a small step to having black tea. Fortunately I quite like Chinese teas like Pai Mu Tan, so it’s time to get the teapot out again.

I’m feeling very motivated at the moment because I really want to breathe properly and sleep well again. Ultimately if there is no significant improvement they will offer me surgery to widen the nasal passages. In fact they offered me this surgery 3 years ago but I declined because it seemed a bit radical at the time.

Still, I am not going to obsess over this.  If I fancy a bit of cheese on top of my spag bol, I will have some. And the occasional butter shortbread biscuit is not going to guilt-trip me. Who knows, I might even shift a bit of weight.

If anyone has any suggestions of non-dairy snacks or recipes please let me know!

Til next time,

L x