I’ve had lots of emails recently asking about how nutrition has helped me recover from CFS and I thought today I’d speak a little bit about dairy and CFS. This is the first in a series of posts about nutrition and I hope you find it useful.
I’ve pretty much always been vegetarian. At age 5/6, I remember my Mum making Spaghetti Bolognese or Chilli and the first thing I would do was scrape all the meat to the side of the plate. So, being vegetarian for me is as natural as breathing. I know it’s really hard for people who love meat to give it up and they often get tempted back, but I’ve never thought about it, not even once. As I’ve got older and played around with my diet however, I’ve discovered that my body really seems to love being vegan. There’s also the animal cruelty slant on it, which seems to be getting more and more important for me as I get older.
My Dairy and CFS Story
I gave up milk about a year and a half ago, and even though I was fully recovered then, my body loves life without cow’s milk, yoghurt, butter and eggs. Sometimes if someone offers me tea, I’m too polite to refuse it if it comes with cows milk and feel sick and ‘heavy’ when drinking it. A friend of mine always used to wake up with a sore, phlegmy throat, so, on a colleague’s recommendation, he tried to give up diary. His throat cleared up and he’s never looked back (or gone back to diary)! My skin is probably the best its ever been (I had quite bad skin as a teenager and when I was ill), and I frequently get compliments on it. My energy levels are always constant (and usually quite high!) and my stomach doesn’t feel as sore and irritated as it did when I ate dairy. Lots of asian countries don’t really use milk in their diets and seem to be thriving!
*Please know that being vegetarian and vegan is not for everyone, as your body may require these nutrients as you are recovering. I am not a doctor or nutritionist, so please don’t try anything without professional consultation. I’m just sharing what works for me!) *
The big one for me was milk. I used to have milky coffees and tea and now find it really heavy and unnatural. Luckily, there are some alternatives you can look out for if you’d like to experiment with dairy and CFS:
Tofu and tempeh are great sources of alternative protein for vegans and vegetarians, them. But there are lots of reports saying that genetically modified and non-organic soy can interfere with hormones, and therefore, I’m trying to really be careful with it. Make sure your tofu and tempeh are from as organic a source as possible if you’re using them.
Beans and chickpeas are also amazing sources of protein- bean stews and curries are amazing! Substituting meat with veggies in general will ensure you get maximum nutrition and health benefit- you can still cook creatively with veg!
If you’d still like to include meat in your diet, choosemeat from animals fed on organic grain or grass-fed pastures that seem to have been treated well.
Rice milk and homemade almond milk (my personal favourite!) make great alternative if you’re trying to examine if there is any improvement in your CFS after removing dairy.
Soya milk is also very popular, but again look out for organic soy (see my comment about tofu above). Also, some cartons of soy milk that you can buy in the supermarket are packed full of preservatives and chemicals, so be sure to read the side of the carton.
Organic, full-fat yoghurt is great if you want to stick with dairy- again, be sure to look at the label to avoid nasties. It’s great with fruit and chia seeds!
A personal favourite of mine is coconut yoghurt, which contains no dairy and no nasties. I could literally sit and eat a whole tub of it in one go and not feel guilty in the slightest! My favourite brand in Australia is Co Yo.
This might sounds absolutely disgusting, but I sometimes use coconut oil in place of butter and I think my body responds really well to it. It’s full of good fats, helps to manage weight and cholesterol and is also excellent for cooking. See this article for more information.
I know, I know- I had trouble with it too! If you’d still like to include cheese, look for organic cheeses with non-animal rennet.
Vegan alternatives include savoury (also called ‘nutritional’) yeast flakes, which sound disgusting, but are fantastic for adding to sauces or for garnishing. They actually really do taste like cheese! There are lots of tofu-based alternative cheeses out there, but I’ve never tried anyone them. They don’t seem massively appealing, for some reason.
I really hope that helps you. Let me know if you’re trying to cut down on your dairy or any thoughts you have on the post.
Love and life,