I have a fully fledged free from diet without lactose, almost entirely without dairy and certainly gluten and wheat free.
Initially I found it easy to construct alternative meals from free from ingredients. However, over time I'm not ashamed to admit that my meals have become staid and "samey".
The key, I am learning, is to plan and prepare. There are some essential elements required in a free from diet that you previously could have neglected.
My Twitter colleagues have been fab at pointing out that you should always have a carton of long life alternative milk in the cupboard (thank you Nicola). My favourite is Alpro Almond Milk. There are also some other key ingredients that help me:
A range of gluten free flour
Dried fruit and nuts
Rice, Gluten Free Pasta
Gluten Free Bread
Dairy free cocoa powder with...
...dairy and gluten free marshmallows
They also stock up when discounts are offered at the supermarkets and share the promotions on line so we don't miss out, thank you Sugarpuffish (http://sugarpuffish.blogspot.co.uk/) and Dairy Free Baby and Me (http://dairyfreebabyandme.blogspot.co.uk/)
Many of the free from bloggers will happily share any new products they have discovered with an honest opinion thank you Kevin (http://gfreebythesea.me/). This is especially great if like me you live out in the sticks and miss hearing about the likes of Dominos launching gluten free pizza!
Then there are the professionals who we couldn't cook without. Our favourite chefs Pippa Kendrick (http://www.theintolerantgourmet.com/), Grace Cheetham (http://glutendairyfree.co.uk/) and Pig In The Kitchen(www.piginthekitchen.co.uk/) to name but a few. They all have tempting and inviting recipes posted regularly to help keep our free from taste buds alive.
I must mention there are also several very reputable dietitians to consult. Priya Tew (www.dietitianuk.co.uk) has a fabulous blog which supports her work as a dietitian for specialist dietary problems. A recent post covers meal planning for the week ahead.
Lastly, never be afraid to ask. Recent advice fromm the Food Standards Agency has suggeste that people suffering with food allergy and intolerance need to make cafes and restaurants aware of their needs. Personally I think we are the last people who want to make ourselves ill or worse. However, it is always useful to pluck up the courage and enthuiasm to ask a business what they are offering for free from diets. You never know when they will pleasently surprise you.
What I am leading to is: that a combination of the advice and help found from a group of people you keep in touch with on line can be invaluable to maintaining a varied and happy free from life.
So back in the kitchen I go with a smile on my face :)