Gluten & Dairy Free – worth the effort?

I haven’t talked about my health for a while and although not all of my readers will be interested I thought I ought to give you a little progress report on whether my adopting this exclusively gluten and dairy free diet has actually made any real difference to how I’m feeling.

I know people want to hear me say how going gluten and dairy free has fixed me and has been the best thing I’ve ever done….but I’m not going to lie about it. I’m definitely not ‘fixed’…yet (ever the optimist). But some things are a lot better. For example, I’m not as tired. I don’t just mean normal tired though, because when I was tired it meant I had to have a two hour nap in the middle of every day which is obviously a little more than just ‘tired’. But the good news is, I don’t have to anymore!

I also don’t wake up feeling ‘hungover’ anymore which was miserable and exhausting in itself and would often bring on daily headaches. So that symptom seems to have gone away too. And I now feel like I am actually capable of sorting out my life, my children, my house, my to-do-list etc ect, when before it had really got on top of me. That elusive ‘brain fog’ that people talk about has cleared and I feel like I am functioning like a (relatively) normal mother of 3 again…if that can ever be normal?!

So to recap – I’m less tired, I have less brain fog and I’m waking up feeling clear headed and ready to get on with it. And ‘it’ has been this blog mostly, it gives me a lot of focus and clarity of thinking and hopes and aspirations that I sort of didn’t know I had. It’s allowed me to meet amazingly lovely people, connect with brands and companies who are actually interested in what I am doing so I’m very thankful for my new energy levels and the ability to focus on something again.

But…..and now for the depressing bit, my other major symptom that rules my life every single day – my IBS – has not been fixed. Yes I had assumed it would all magically go away once I had committed whole heartedly to an exclusively gluten and dairy free diet. And no it hasn’t. Without going into the miserable details of it, I still have episodes nearly every day to some degree or another, and it still affects what I eat and what I cook and how I feel all the time.


So, I trotted off to see my gastroenterologist again today and was ready for a fight. I had armed myself with vast tracts of information that I had copied from the internet all about something called Bile Acid Malabsorption. After I had all the millions of tests that I had back in 2014 and after my doctor had diagnosed me with severe IBS and gastritis and sent me off to see a dietician, it was the lovely dietician who mentioned BAM. She wrote about in a letter that she sent to my GP but I never saw it until around a year later when I read it over the shoulder of my GP and asked her about it. So I then started researching it and it was like having a proper epiphany – everything I read about was what I suffer from and the most exciting thing about it was that according to what I read there was a medication that can fix it.

In brief, BAM is when your digestive system cannot digest fats properly. The process of fats binding to bile acid happens in your gall bladder and then in your liver but by the time it gets to your intestines the acid itself ought to be reabsorbed naturally back into your system. If it doesn’t get reabsorbed properly then it speeds up the transit of your digestion resulting in chronic diarrhoea. So – it might in fact be fat that I’m intolerant to in foods such as dairy products, meats like bacon or sausages, fried foods like take away food, oils like coconut or olive oil…all these things are listed on my food diary as resulting in an IBS episode. And all this time I thought it was probably a combination of gluten plus lactose intolerance which is why I’ve been so depressed that going gluten and dairy free hasn’t fixed it. But it seems like there may be a whole other thing going on.

So I rushed back to my GP armed with this information and was dismissed again and again. Three times in the past year I have been with more information, more food diaries and more sob stories begging them to help me until one locum GP took pity on me and wrote back to my Gastro and asked for another private consult.

There I was this morning ready to fight for it, ready to cry, ready to read out months worth of ridiculously long winded food diaries proving that I potentially have BAM and asking for a clinical test to be offered or even a temporary trial of the recommended  medication. And what happened? He didn’t bat an eyelid, he just said “yes you could be right let’s order a SeHcat test”. I nearly fell off my chair. He then suggested a formal lactose intolerance test which is a hydrogen breath test that takes 4 hours just to be on the safe side to know that we’ve ticked that off the list too. Well, I never expected that! So I am now waiting with baited breath for my letter to come through for the test and I have never been so desperate to have a positive result for something in my life! I know it sounds ridiculously but I hope to god that I do have BAM and that I can get medication for it and that it fixes me. Not asking for much am I?!


So anyway, I am sure you’ve had enough doctor talk for one blog post, so onto more important things. What do you do when you’re feeling depressed and miserable about something? Eat cake. Well that’s what I do anyway. And this one is a beauty. Totally overindulgent, far too rich, gooey, oozing all over the plate and very hard to resist! I hope you guys have a chance to make this one….it’s a crowd pleaser that’s for sure!


Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • Servings: one 3 tier 8
  • Difficulty: a bit of effort
  • Print


You will need this:

  • 200g 70% dark chocolate (check for no milk solids if you are dairy free)
  • 150g veggie butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g maple syrup
  • 300g pre-cooked beetroot, chopped in a food processor and drained in a sieve (you don’t want too much liquid so squish it until just the beetroot flesh remains)
  • 250g plain gluten free flour (or add 250g regular flour if not gluten free or add 150g flour plus 100g ground almonds if not nut free….I would recommend making it with the flour/almonds combo if possible because it adds a nice moisture to the crumb and gives a better texture but this cake here is nut free)
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp xantham gum
  • 2tsp baking powder

You make it like this:

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water
  2. Beat the eggs in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy
  3. Add in the sugar(s), vanilla & maple syrup
  4. Weigh out your flours and/or ground almonds (whatever combo you are using) with the cocoa, baking powder & xantham gum
  5. Add to the mixer
  6. Now add the melted chocolate & butter mixture
  7. Lastly add the chopped beetroot
  8. Pour into 3 lined 8″ round cake tins until they are about 2/3 full and all the same height
  9. Bake at 180 for 25-30mins until firm to the touch
  10. Let cool completely on a baking rack

To make the frosting you will need this:

  • 150g 70% dark chocolate (check for no milk solids if you are dairy free)
  • 100g veggie butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 40g maple syrup
  • 50g almond milk (or regular milk if not dairy free)

You make it like this:

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water
  2. Take off the heat, add the maple syrup and sieve over the icing sugar
  3. Stir until all absorbed then add the almond milk and mix vigorously until it’s smooth and shiny and gorgeous looking
  4. Pop in the fridge for 30mins to firm up a little whilst you’re cakes are cooling (if like me you run off and do something else and leave it in the fridge for far too long 10-20secs in the microwave should soften it back up again!!)

To finish:

  1. Stack your cakes with a generous layer of frosting in between them, one on top of the other
  2. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting and using a spatula or a palette knife smooth around as best as you can
  3. Put entire cake into the fridge for another 30mins so frosting can harden
  4. Just before serving melt another 100g dark chocolate over a water bath, add 1tsp coconut oil (or other flavourless cooking oil) and drizzle over the top
  5. I decorated mine with some amazing dairy free fudge that I found at Waitrose!



5 thoughts on “Gluten & Dairy Free – worth the effort?

    1. Yes it was the Fabulous FF fudge, amazing isn’t it?! I made the cake for the school fair and people couldn’t believe it was dairy free! I’ll look out for the choc raisin….yum, lv Ax

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s interesting what you say about the difference in symptoms since you went GF/DF. I feel so much better from cutting out gluten and my hashi’s antibodies are much reduced. I started having a reaction to dairy in the new year, so cut it out for a month and things settled down. I re-introduced it and so far, I have been OK. Don’t know if you have read Izabella Wentz’s book ‘The Root Cause’ but it has a lot to say about the link between our gut and autoimmune disorders. Good luck with your appointment – I hope you get a positive result! PS. the cake looks awesome 🙂


    1. Yes you’re right, I ought to get another antibody test done to compare my results before and after gluten free, a lot of people say it reduces antibodies quite dramatically. That book is a great resource, I often re-read bits of it when I get symptom flare ups to remind me how and why everything is so dependent on everything else! Thx for your comment xx


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