Gluten Free Guerrillas

How many GF/Coeliac people can eat dairy?

Please let me know. I am pretty sure Zac is one of many who cannot tolerate either. I want to know how many of us are destined to carry our own packed lunch wherever we go?

Today, we took the children to Woburn Safari Park and had to dash for cover when it started to rain. We went to the indoor playhouse for a drink and some food. As usual, my expectations were low.

Nowhere ever caters for a dairy free person, although you do see more and more gluten free cakes. The same was true here. There were two cakes on the menu that were very clearly flagged as gluten free – a flapjack and a brownie. They must feel so proud of themselves.

So knowing that they are making some gesture towards catering for people with food intolerance, I asked the server if the cakes were also dairy free. She said, very politely, that she would have to check and a few moments later returned with the menu. She had a version that had a chart marked out with a grid of ticks and crosses and clearly showed which foods were vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, egg free and something else I can’t remember. Nothing marked as dairy free, but as vegan is by nature dairy free, I was able to see for myself that nothing apart from cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes were vegan or dairy free – and to be honest I could have worked that out for myself!

What I really want to know is how many of these cakes do they sell? Not just at Woburn but at any catering establishment that thinks it is catering to Coeliacs and other gluten/wheat intolerants. I have read many times that there is a large crossover between dairy intolerance and Coeliac. So if that is true these establishments are missing the point and shouldn’t someone tell them?

They are probably mistakenly thinking that they are going to the trouble of getting in gluten free food but not many people are buying it. Won’t they wrongly assume the demand is not there? Perhaps they will to reduce their offering rather than expand it. That is not what we want, so shouldn’t we tell them? The Coeliac Awareness week was great and there is no doubt that various charities and PR people are doing a great job at getting the message out there but who is waving the flag for the people who cannot tolerate dairy?

If you are dairy intolerant, it is pretty impossible to find a dairy free product on the free from shelves, that has not also had the wheat and gluten removed. This can actually reduce your tolerance to wheat and gluten and is probably driving up the number s of people who cannot tolerate any of it! What can we do? Do any of you know anyone or anywhere that is doing something positive here? Anyone want to join me?

34 Replies

I am coeliac but luckily can tolerate dairy. It must be so disappointing for you and Zac when out and about and trying to eat. In catering establishments it all seems to be catering for the masses especially in larger establishments. Had that same sinking feeling in the cafe at John Lewis today luckily could get a honeybun cake but absolutely nothing else, hardly a balanced diet ... On a lighter note just finished baking some buns, used a book called 'Cake Angels' by Julia Thomas this is my 4th recipe from this book and again has been a success all the recipes are for gluten,wheat and Dairy Free cakes. Hope this helps


Thanks so much for that tip. I will look it up. I really appreciate any directions on how to find some dairy free foods or recipes. It is a pain, but it doesn't seem to bother my little boy. He is too young to remember it being any other way. Just irritates me. I suppose it is because, as you say, the (few) options are always only on cakes. Not really helping with the so called obesity epidemic is it? All the rest of the foods on most menus are technically junk - full of low grade, low cost wheat and dairy derivatives. No wonder everyone is getting fat and sick. Perhaps we should be thankful for our conditions, at least we know we are getting good food. We know this, because we make it ourselves. Best wishes x

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Ill join you! I'm GF and DF and its near impossible to eat out - in fact i haven't eaten out for 6 months! You're right, these places are going to think there's no demand where in fact they should include DF too in at least one GF option but getting this message across is near impossible.

Its great news for anyone GF that people are making an effort but i sometimes feel as they are making the effort more for people who have heard gluten is to be avoided for a 'diet' as a lot of places can not guarantee cross contamination anyway. Its almost like its fashionable to offer a gluten free option rather than for people who are genuinely intolerant and have no alternative.

We need to come up with a process that raises awareness for all intolerances not just GF. Thing is most recipes are quite easy to adapt with ie dairy free spread for cakes.

I think the papers and magazines could be the best medium to pass information on - i wonder if they have a general newsletter that goes to restaurants that includes advertising etc that someone could write into?

I'm trying to get into freelance writing so this could be an angle for an article as well if anyone has ideas of how to develop it further.


Thanks for getting in touch. Great to hear from you. I totally agree with you. I think it is more to do with 'trend' than anything else. I don't think anyone other than sufferers really understand what it means to be truly GF and DF. The restaurants just throw a GF on the menu and think that is all that is required. Even the celeb chefs are jumping on the band wagon and I don't think they really know what they are doing. Phil Vickery, Jamie Oliver, even Annabel Karmel all claim to have recipes for people with intolerance and yet they throw dairy all over their GF foods!!!!

Jamie Oliver makes me laugh the most. Supposed to be all about the healthy food and locally sourced and back to basics and all that yet, misses the point entirely. Stop putting cheese and butter and milk and all that 'junk' in and on everything. And their own brand convenience foods are the biggest joke of all. I thought we are supposed to all cook from scratch now - or is that unless we buy their own branded ready meals!!!!

They are all so wrong with their approach to this obesity campaign. I have friends and contacts in the US and Australia and DF is much more understood and therefore catered for.

Whenever I have challenged anyone in restaurants and food about thinking hard about DF they claim it is too expensive. My argument is that you do not always need to buy in a DF replacement, which may be expensive, just leave it off altogether - which is surely cheaper! Cheese makes Zac sick, so he does not want a fake cheese. He is happy to have a 'pizza' with no cheese. Don't cook everything in butter. Somethings are best 'naked' - let us add the 'stuff', if we want to.

The other thing that makes me laugh/cry is that people try and say that children are developing food intolerances and allergies because of the rubbish they are eating. My little boy was not even one when he got ill. Trust me, not a gram of processed food had entered his system by that point. Still hasn't and never will. You wean a baby at six months, by twelve months you are still barely passed the steamed veg and rice phase!

That is the irony of the whole thing. It is the people who are intolerant to dairy and gluten who may live the longest and be the healthiest. They cannot and do not (mostly) eat any kind of processed foods. I am not sorry that Zac has this condition. I am not praying for him to be cured, so that he can happily stuff his face on pizza and cheeseburgers, I just want to arrive at a restaurant and someone offer him fresh vegetables not cooked in butter, perhaps a fruit dessert instead of ice cream. Not so hard to do - surely?

I think we do need letters to press and plant ourselves in and on websites and discussions. Become a general nuisance until they have to listen. There is no-one covering this yet, so for any writer/sufferer, like you or me, there is plenty to be done!


What fantastic comments!!! I totally agree count me in. I am gluten free and lacto free (not exactly dairy free) but I understand exactly what your saying. Eating out what a joke!! I find it hard enough being an adult but it must be ten times worse having your child GF & DF I feel for you and Zac x


i agree about Jamie Oliver, even before i was GF/DF i found his recipes too full of fat as he just throws olive oil on everything! You watch him cook on the TV - that's more calories than are in the rest of the meal!

OK, i know olive oil is 'healthy' but only in small amounts.

He now has fishcake's among other things and wouldn't it have been nice if the breadcrumbs would have been GF? He didn't need to even make a big deal of it and put it in the GF section, just like Coop who use GF breadcrumbs in their Truly irresistible burgers but don't segregated them! And don't get me started on his contradiction of beliefs when he has his own sausages in supermarkets that are not free range, yet he promotes free range is best (which i personally think is right) which is the main reason i don't believe in him as i feel as though he's either sold his soul for money or he didn't care in the first place.

People will see his name and think the ethics match up which is completely not the case and that annoys me the most. I too am not bothered about processed food its something i can happily live without and i agree i prefer a plain GF pizza.

TV chefs have such a wide audience, they could educate alot of people. and I'm sure if one of them had a food intolerance they'd be telling you all about it then.

Do we really want to eat in places that do not give us the options that we need? That's the question. I find that if they are not accommodating I'm happy to leave (which i know isn't always practical, especially with a hungry child). Surely in the long run these places would be doing themselves a favour just to have something simple such as grilled fish, no butter on veg, and a fruit pudding!

Problem is in most of these restaurants the microwave does the cooking as the chefs live off a generic menu from head office and they have no initiative or creativity themselves so the problem starts there.


Thanks for this great reply. His whole global 'Food Revolution' thing made me so cross. The point was missed entirely. Surely they should have been getting people to think harder about what they put in their mouths.

It is my personal theory that the rubbish peddaled in supermarkets must be responsible for the problems our children are facing. Junk dairy and junk wheat is in too many foods and I believe we have unknowingly over consumed them for years.

I am 38 and as a child I don't remember any children having any food intolerances or allergies. Yet since I started my blog I have been overwhelmed (and saddened and alarmed) at the huge number of people who have contacted me with 'sick children'.

We have not fed them any bad stuff, most of them seem to have been born with these conditions. So what happened? Did something get into the food chain at some point? Was a whole generation unknowingly poisoned or is it a purely environmental thing.

How are we so 'well' yet our children are not? I know part of the increase is down to improved awareness and testing for these conditions, but if Zac had been born in any generation he would have been very ill. His reaction to milk protein - is severe. Way more than lactose intolerance. He used to literally explode out of his nappy within ten minutes of a bite of a biscuit or crisp that had a bit of milk protein listed on the label. So I will not take the blame on that one. I did not do anything wrong when I weaned him.

Anyway, I am ranting a bit now. If you are keen to know more about our struggle please visit my blog feedingmyintolerantchild.wo...

I have quite an interesting post on sausages. Another pet subject of mine.

So good luck with your personal fight - it is hard but at least you know that in some ways it is actually a blessing in disguise. Perhaps we can fight back and create our own campaign. The Food Revolution and The Fish Fight are nothing compared to what we could do!

Best wishes.


I will check out your blog as i think we both feel the same about a lot of subjects and don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything that i can do to help further your argument!

You do wonder why all this has happened in the last generation - like you said awareness is a big part of it and i agree.

However there is a lack of reasoning to why as i believe some doctors do not seem take intolerances seriously and even if they did there is no system set up that can identify reasons probably due to lack of funding.

i recently went to see an NHS food intolerance specialist who told me that i was unusual and they are still learning about this complex subject so hopefully one day we will find out.

In the mean time i have started to wonder whether pesticides play a part in all of this - i have recently been diagnosed as having Hashimotos at 28, and whilst i know there is a lot of theories on why it occurs, pesticides are holding up a strong case. I'm struggling to get by day to day and will now be on thyroxine for life - surely something isn't right with this picture?

Good luck with your son and the best for the future.


I agree a lot with you but i am also allergic to nuts and i get very frustrated with all the supposedly free from items that contain dairy and nuts. i would love to be able to just go into a resturant and not be treated like a second class citizen. i must admit though that when i went to Jamie Olivers resturant he did get the chefs to cook me something that was totally free of nuts dairy, wheat and gluten. i would love to be able to get a pudding when i am out that is not fruit salad.


I didn't understand, from your expressed concerns, why your son can't eat dairy. If it's an issue with casine, then of course it's off the menu, but if it's a lactose issue then there are more alternatives. I live in Canada and both our local dairies offer lactose free ice cream. It's a delight to be able to get it whenever I want a treat. I'm both gluten and lactose intolerant. I can buy a full range of lactose free dairy products and more are popping up all the time. I have no trouble eating out. My greatest problem is the potential for cross contamination, not lack of choice on the menu. When I was diagnosed 6 years. I made my own foods at home because of lack of availablity, but now there are many options.I think the market changes have been driven by consumer demands. When I started eating gluten free I called every manufacturer and asked about every product. I called every restaurant and spoke to the chef and sorted it out before I even got there. I always carried GF foods in my bag for emergencies. I don't need to do that any more, but I believe in being pro-active rather than reactive. Start an education program in your region will spread quickly. I've even offered to come in on down times and coach restaurants in how to be safe for Celiacs...3 actually took me up on it! We had great afternoons together and I learned a lot. Good luck! You're right can be done!


i did the same as you when i was first diagnosed and contacted every supermarket and manufacturers, the shops do now have more variety but it is frustrating when you find a product that you like and then they change the recipe and add dairy, Trufree did this they made lovely bourbon and custard cream biscuits then they changed them and added milk. i am actually allergic to milk protain so all the lactofree products will not help me.


Thankfully I tolerate dairy just fine. I have no idea how I would cope if I had to avoid both gluten and dairy. I'm also a meat eater so to be vegan, DF and GF sounds very challenging ..



My son Shane is GF but thankfully can tolerate dairy. His doctors think there is another intolerance there and took him off all dairy and soya products for six weeks last summer. It was a nightmare finding things out and about for him to eat, apart from fruit! Even his prescription bread had milk in it. I was so glad they decided to reintroduce dairy and soya with no ill effects because it really was difficult. Still haven't found what the other problem with him is yet though! Good luck.


Hi KittyBling, thanks for getting in touch. It is so hard isn't it? I am very glad that your son's doctors are at least being vigilant. The 'challenges' are very hard. As you say, you are left with not much more than fruit to give your child and too much of that also causes tummy troubles, well it did for Zac. He was a toddler going through this and it was so difficult to keep him feeling full. As you know little ones need to snack, and there is not much left if you elminitating so many foods. Thanks for your kind words and good luck with your son. Really appreciated the support. You can read more about us and our experiences on my blog. feedingmyintolerantchild.wo...



I have the same problem myself, and being allergic to soya and nuts makes it even more difficult.

On a visit to Costa I noticed they had three gluten free cakes available, but all contained dairy and nuts.

Ironically, if I take my own biscuits to eat, they say I can't eat them there as they haven't been purchased on the premisses. This has happened in several cafes and restaurants.


I've taken snacks into restaurants before then been told I can't eat it. My reply to them is always 'Oh, I'm very sorry. I'll have whatever you've got that is gluten, wheat, lactose and sugar free and stop eating this.'

No one has ever offered me an alternative!


I've had the opposite reaction. I've taken GF snacks into a number of restaurants, explained to the manager before I sat down and discussed the problem. All have agreed they had nothing suitable to offer other than a beverage and encouraged me to go ahead and eat what I can, with my family. I think it's a matter of approach and education. I'm always respectful and proactive. To me, the few minutes it takes, is worth it when I go back in the next time!


I had difficulties with dairy all throughout my childhood, I managed with milk on cereals and in tea when I started drinking that but used to vomit with cheese and yoghurt and large glasses of milky liquids.

I was not diagnosed with CD until I was in my 30s. After a year or so GF I found I could eat cheese and yoghurt with no ill effects although I hardly ever eat cheese as I find the texture a little disagreeable, probably missed some critical phase in developing a taste for it in my childhood.

I also have arthritis which reacts to tomatoes and chicken so understand how difficult it can be finding food out there with none of the things you react to in them.

However hard we shout we are always going to be a small part of the potential customer group for anyone selling food. When they think of their profit margins they are always going to cater for the overwhelming majority and the rest of us can go hang. If a company needs to buy a minimum quantity that they cannot guarantee to sell before it goes off they are not going to bother.


Hya, at least Zac knows that you go the extra mile for him so good for you.

Many coeliac have issues with too much fat apparently we don't absorb it well. We discussed this on a US site and a whole bunch of us were OK with milk in tea but lashings of cream gave us the runs.

I drink the lacto free milk as they add the enzyme lactase to it. This is the enzyme that our bodies produce at the tips of our villi which breaks down lactose so many coeliac are lactose intolerant until their villi recover.

There's lots of lactose free recipes on here and they are all wheat and gluten free:

I told my gastro that I was drinking lacto free milk and avoided fatty foods and he said that many coeliac are opting for the FODMAP and were felt much better.

I'd like to see dedicated gf cafe's and restaurants that have dairy free options. so that we didn't have to worry about cross contamination.


Hi, no I am just gluten free - I hope Zac enjoyed his ice cream cones??? X Ali

My son Adam (10) is egg intolerant and a Veggie, but won't eat quorn anything as it tastes like meat !! My husband Tim is a veggie too, so I understand your dilemma - meal times can be a pain, but eating out is a nightmare. If you lobby politicians, high street food chains etc., you will have my backing. x


Yes-I went for lunch to our local rather nice garden centre, where they too had GF cakes prominently on display. When I asked them which of their meals were gluten free, they told me that they couldn't guarantee any of them were!! So my friends had a nice lunch-I had a cake! Jolly well done them!!


Sorry-I'm fine with lactose!


I am gluten sensitive , recently diagnosed and on 6 month extremely strict gluten free diet due to suspected gluten ataxia. I have found restaurants have cakes but little else, not encouraged as I am also insulin diabetic. Reading the comments I have decided to eat at home or in car. My heart goes out to those who have young ones and attempting to give them restaurant food. There is very little understanding or interest even amongst many medical people.


I think we just need to keep asking and hopefully food venues will start to listen! Marks & Spencers offer gf sandwiches and as a rule, where M&S go - others tend to copy and follow. I agree that some places are satisfied with offering gf cake but surely if we are persistent, then hopefully they realise the demand and expand their gf range.


I am also coeliac but not dairy tolerate. However, I work in an organisation of about 500 staff so we started a support group and most have at least two intolerances, most commonly GF and DF.

I know it’s already taken place this year, but the Allergy show in London Olympia is also my best source for new products. Lots of stalls allow you to try before you buy and tell you where to buy the item after the show and deliver.

When baking I find that substituting butter and flour for ‘Pure’ DF butter and Dove farm flour gives the best results. I don’t need to change any quantities and my baking has been mistaken for regular baking. I also use the Pizza recipe on the side of the packet. I cut the oil by about half and find this makes a great pizza. This was also fun to make with my nephew.

I think that food education has taken a nose dive. I was diagnosed about three years ago. Although our ranges of food have improved loads since then I still feel very let down by the major supermarkets. Especial at Easter and Christmas, when our shelves are halved to make even more space for the seasonal items. I’m always stunned when people don’t know what their food is made of. I’ve been asked if rice has gluten in it, by someone who thought people were rolling rice from tiny bits of doe!


Hi, thanks so much for this comment. It is all very interesting and I agree with your point about food education. It is very poor. People don't seem to understand what they are eating or feeding their children. And as I am also discovering, even people who work in restaurants have little understanding of food and ingredients etc.

To be honest, I am convinced that the supermarketst are too blame for a lot of the intolerances anyway. Something must have got into the food chain at some point, as so many little ones are being born with these conditions. Perhaps it is just years of unknowing overconsumption thanks to the low grade dairy and flour that was dumped in food for so many years.

I also agree that we are totally overlooked at Easter, Christmas etc. I am sure they are reducing their ranges. Zac has been intolerant for two of his three years, but I am sure there is less now than even just a few months ago. And a lot of the stuff they do sell is pretty grim.

Thanks for the baking tips. I agree that Doves Farm and Pure seem to be the best combination for GF/DF baking and the results are often good. I have also found that Xanthan Gum helps with improving crumb quality. Stops the 'dustiness'.

Best wishes and thanks for getting in touch. N


As my baby seems intolerant to gluten, dairy and rice I have had to really experiment with flours as all the gluten free off the shelf flours contain rice. Ive found using coconut four and a small quantity of potato starch flour prodcues a good light cake - though for some reason it only works if cocoa powder is also used??! I use the Pure spread as well.

As you said earlier - its actually a blessing that our children ahve these problems as we are not tempted to feed them the junk thats in so many baby and kids foods. Im actually quite happy that my baby has only been able to eat meat, fruit and veg as ive been weaning her - plus other things i make using buckwheat flour, coconut flour, gram flour, and potato starch flour. Its great knowing she's eating such healthy things. have to look on the bright side during difficult times:-)


Back in the past, before modern diagnosis, children with severe intolerances/allergies, would often be described as those who 'failed to thrive'. If they survived they often ended up in special boarding schools for 'delicate' children, along with other poorly controlled medical conditions (epilepsy, asthma). They were shut away from society and often missed out on a proper education. The apparent increase in childhood illnesses would seem to be a combination of increased survival rates, increased diagnosis, and environmental changes. We live in a chemical soup and processed food is part of it. Cereal and dairy have also been 'dumped' into food because of farming surpluses.

We may just be very lucky but I have found that the independent cafes and restaurants in my area are improving their gf ranges, and can often provide gf and df food. I like to support local businesses over chains when possible. As ilovelola said, if M&S are doing it, things may be getting better, but as I can't eat yeast, sandwiches are no good for me! I can now tolerate a little dairy if I have to.

Good luck with Zac and your campaigns, Feedmyintolerant child. This May Pauline Latham OBE, MP for Mid Derbyshire joined Dr Chris Steele to call for better diagnosis, it will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.


Thanks so much for getting in touch. I agree with everything you said. Times have changed and definitely not necessarily for the better. There is a long way to go as so few people really understand the issues that sufferers face. Getting a diagnosis is hard work alone. But that is only the start. Leading a 'normal' existence is a long way off with regard to eating out and food shopping. I am still always staggered by the sheer cost of the foods we have to buy and that there is no real explanation for this. The other thing I fear is that the Free From foods in the supermarkets are poor quality and filled with other 'junk'. It does seem that the only way to keep 'safe' and manage costs is to cook everything ourselves and forget about eating out. I would love to do something to alter the misconceptions and see if we can get some influential people to take notice. Will be interesting to see how the MP and Chris Steele get on. I might try and contact them myself. Thanks for the tip. Best wishes.


Very interesting read.

I am Coeliac and intolerant to wheat, dairy and egg.

To be honest I find the 'free from' section in the super markets a joke.

There are no items that are free from my four.


Hi, thanks for the comment. I do feel for you. It is impossible to find anything suitable let alone tasty. The supermarkets are a huge let down and bordering on criminal in my opinion. Today I paid nearly £1.40 for a packet of free from 'rich tea' biscuits. You can get 'normal' own brand ones for about 40p! How dare they? Anyway, I have been working through some of my own recipes, as home made is definitely a better option for us too. I have a few egg free recipes, as well as DF and GF, so keep an eye out! Kind regards and best wishes.


I do not have a problem with dairy thank goodness. I have Celiac disease and Hashimoto's thryoiditis. I follow a gluten free diet now and I am really well, better than I have felt for years.

I keep my food simple with protein, fruit and veg with some healthy oils. I do not buy processed foods but try to stick with natural food most of the time. I always carry a snack with me that I can eat in an emergency if there is nothing suitable available. I also have a meal before I go to any party or barbecue as there is no way of knowing in advance if there will be anything suitable to eat.

On a recent visit to the UK from my home in Greece I found people much more understanding when I explained about my Celiac disease and found both gluten free and dairy free options available to me.


I cannot digest Dairy. The smallest amount of casein will cause cramps for a week. I too am so irritated at how some restaurants put dairy in EVERY thing. This, on top of the gluten problem, makes me feel like a starving person any time I am out for the day shopping or at a conference. It seems so unfair that I can't just pick up something and eat without putting waitresses through the Inquisition and then being made to feel with a witch for doing it.


Hi there

My son has been allergic to dairy since birth and eggs since age 2 and coeliac age 8 so I hear you!! I have always carried food around with me but he could eat some things in a restaurant/ cafe. Now with gluten free in the mix it's very hard so we just don't go very often. I miss it but he's ok with it. I've always baked and have made him wonderful dairy and egg free biscuits and cakes but now he's gluten free I have been struggling with the cakes. His gastroenterologist suggested challenging him for dairy ( giving him some in a controlled way) because the coeliac damages the bowel the lactase can diminish their fore the lastose doesn't get broken down and you have lactose intolerance. So we reluctantly challenged him and were amazed he was ok. So we have no idea when he 'grew out' of it but he has. Maybe your Zac will do too? I know of a boy who had an analphalactic dairy allergy who is now able to eat dairy. I think he was 5 or 6. I know your son has a milk protein allergy but it's still possible. I was super careful with my son but now wish we had challenged him more often. My fav g/f d/f egg free company is the Scottish firm Lazy Days. I but their tray bakes on Amazon for my son and carry them with me for cafes. I have thought of suggesting my local eateries get them in. Yes your right gluten free foods are appearing in cafes but dairy free, egg free forget it!!!! Sorry I can't be much help but I can definitely know how you feel.


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