This is the first in a series of interviews designed to highlight the many reasons people might have a dairy free diet and how dairy free fits into their lives. I’ve been around someone on a dairy free diet since I was 8. My sister Karen, aged 30(ish) is dairy free and this first interview is with her.
Karen says: “My name is Karen Cazabon, I am a designer, dj and club promoter and have been dj-ing and running London club night Hipsters Don’t Dance for the last four years. Dairy has never really agreed with me and when I was younger I was on a strict dairy free diet. Since then I did go back to including dairy in my diet but at the start of this year I decided to eliminate it again to see if it made a difference to my overall health, and coming up to a month on this diet I can really see the effects, so I was very happy to take some time out to answer some questions for Dairy Free Kids. “
When and why were you first put on a dairy free diet?
I was diagnosed with asthma at around 2 and a half. I had pneumonia and whooping cough aged four and had loads of antibiotics. I got whooping cough despite having had the 3 in 1 vaccination.
My parents brought me to an alternative practitioner who was also a medical doctor when I was around 4 and a half. He put me on an elimination diet and that is how we found out I was allergic to dairy – when reintroduced I had a reaction. I was also found to be allergic to citrus fruits.
What is your first memory of being on a dairy free diet?
I remember Mum making me these carob sweets. The other memory is going to the Saturday morning market in Galway to get a bag of goat’s milk.
What difference did it make to you then?
Then I used to get quite blocked up with phlegm when I had milk, when I stopped it felt like my breathing was more clear. My mum used to make sweets to bring to parties so I’d have something eat when the other kids were having chocolate, ice-cream and cake, I used to feel a little bit different but it didn’t affect me that much.
Do you feel you missed out on anything as a child on a dairy free diet in the 80s?
No I don’t think so. There were times where I went back on a dairy free diet, by the time I was a teenager I grew out of it and how it affected me changed, I get headaches now.
Are you still dairy free?
This year I’ve decided to go dairy free again, and after almost a month so far I feel much better.
How do you feel better?
I have more energy, less phlegm. I had a very bad headache after scrambled egg with butter in a restaurant lately for example, I know I need to be completely strict about it when out and about. My birthday fell in the first three weeks of year, the frosting of my birthday cake contained dairy and I had swollen eyes the next morning. It’s definitely a sign dairy isn’t good for me.
Any tips for parents of dairy free children or indeed for other dairy free adults?
Plan in advance for going out or social occasions. If you are going to a restaurant, look at menu beforehand so that you are not asking numerous questions or delaying everyone when ordering.
What is your favourite dairy free product?
At the moment it’s the Sainsbury’s free from chocolate brownies. I also love Mrs. Crimbles macaroons. Sainsbury’s chocolate bars with the squares are great.
What do you most miss and have you found a decent alternative?
Ice-cream and cheese. I don’t like goat’s cheese. I like haloumi, but not good for pizza etc. Macaroni and cheese.
A big thank you to Karen for taking the time and to Mum for filling in the medical bits Karen couldn’t remember. I hope to do more of these interviews.