MY AIM IS TO PROVIDE FUN, EASY AND INSPIRATIONAL TIPS, IDEAS AND RECIPES FOR A HAPPY AND HEALTHY GLUTEN, DAIRY AND SOYA FREE WAY OF LIFE THAT EVERYONE WILL LOVE, ESPECIALLY OUR PRECIOUS LITTLE ONES.
My story so far..
In 2013, my oldest boy, ‘Big J’, who was 5 at the time, was suffering with daily tummy ache, lethargy, sickness, lack of appetite and soiling which resulted in poor attendance at school and a lot of ‘Mummy’ anxiety. In addition, he also suffered from acute eczema with deep, bleeding cuts on his hands and feet, even in the summer months! After struggling with the NHS for over a year, we decided to go private and, following blood tests, were immediately told that he had chronic constipation and was intolerant to dairy. It was such a relief to know the cause of his symptoms and how I could then help to give him back his energy and enthusiasm.
We were also advised that my youngest boy, ‘Little J’, who was 3 years old, should also adopt a dairy free diet so I immediately cut out all dairy and became an avid food label reader and moocher in supermarket aisles. Over time, I saw progress in their general well being, ‘Big J’s’ attendance at school improved dramatically and the soiling episodes decreased too – much to my relief.
During this time, we were referred to an amazing dietician from the Manchester Children’s Hospital who advised me to note down every single food and drink item consumed. After weeks of diet sheets she informed me that our boys were too healthy. They were consuming double the amount of fibre young children should be consuming at their age and for their delicate little tummies. Her advice was to stay below the recommended fibre intake of 15g a day for children and to modify my choice for meals and snacks. This involved opting for 50/50 sliced bread and white pasta rather than the wholemeal alternative and to avoid bananas and any hard to digest food after 6pm, amongst other suggestions. This additional dietary change improved the tummy situation further and, over time, resulted in a reduction in their twice daily medication.
Where we became unstuck was with soya which is a very common dairy replacement. With an increase in consumption of soya came a noticeable deterioration in ‘Big J’s’ eczema leading to open cuts, bleeding hands and dry, chapped skin. The dietician advised me to eliminate soya from both our sons’s diets and, miraculously, ‘Big J’s’ feet and hands cleared up. We were able to avoid more medication and skin creams that were inevitable had we followed the NHS process and seen a paediatric dermatologist.
And so the story unfolds…
As with many other Mums, when it was first suggested that the boys should follow a dairy and soya free diet, I went straight to the very expensive, packaged “free from” range from supermarkets and health food shops paying through the nose for processed food filled with sugars and rubbish.
Being a health conscious family, I decided to go back to the basics of home cooking preparing fresh, wholesome and delicious meals that are easy to prepare and cook and that contain healthy, fresh and simple ingredients. I also love to bake and it’s heart warming to see the boys eating delicious cakes, flapjacks, tray bakes etc that that they would otherwise not be able to enjoy. In addition, baking is such a fun activity to do together and the boys get to lick the bowl every single time, so big smiles all round!
The result of this new dairy and soya free approach to food has been staggering as it has given the boys back their energy and zest for life that I’ve seen lacking for a number of years.
However, setbacks are inevitable and after a period of a healthy six months, we found ourselves back where we were a year ago with Big J suffering from tummy ache, sickness, lethargy. Unable to go into school, being stuck at home with me feeling desperately disappointed about the situation made for a tricky period of time. I was in a messy whirlwind for weeks not knowing if I was coming or going. With numerous trips to the hospital for more tests and analysis it really was an exhausting and worrying time but we carried on knowing we were getting closer to the truth. The results showed further intolerances and allergic reactions in his blood stream and so the consultant suggested we eliminate all gluten from his diet. I found taking dairy and soya out his diet bad enough but going gluten free was on a different level all together.
But I learnt to be positive, to persevere, to learn new cooking methods and to bake fresh, gluten free bread. Anything to help Big J feel better and to regain his vitality and zest for life.
And before I knew it, I was blogging!
It all started with simply wanting to diarise my creations. Then, after a few weeks, i felt I wanted to share our dairy/soya free journey with other Mums who I know often struggle with finding simple and easy meals and snacks to cook and bake.
And so Happy Little Tummies began with me posting photos of my delicious meals and cakes on Instagram. A page on Facebook quickly followed and now I am blogging about it here on my very own website. The interest and subsequent following has surprised me in such a positive way giving me a lease of life and true self confidence. I just hope I can keep giving fellow Mums a little bit of inspiration so that our precious little ones (and grown ups too!) can benefit from these delicious healthy, home cooked, dairy,soya, gluten free culinary delights.
It’s been truly rewarding and the great thing is, these recipes are so straight forward, easy and totally delicious too!
A very important thank you
My husband, friends and family have been incredibly supportive during the years of anxiety and worry with both my boys and their health. And more recently their encouragement in my new ‘Happy Little Tummies’ venture has been phenomenal. I couldn’t do it without you all – thank you!
I would also like to say a very special, heartfelt thank you to my sister, Janna Caley, Director of Boxed Red Marketing. Without her amazing support and belief in me, I wouldn’t have a Happy Little Tummies brand or even a gorgeous platform to blog on. You’re one talented lady and I am forever grateful for your kindness and for giving me a wonderful, fulfilling purpose in life x.
My final words
All I hope is that I can sprinkle a little bit of enthusiasm and inspiration to cook and bake for ourselves and for our little ones and that we all support each other in our dairy and soya free journey towards healthy and happy little tummies!
Lots of luck and love