New Section to my Filofax: Trying a Special Diet

My 14-year-old son has been experiencing some gastrointestinal issues, so we have been advised to try eliminating gluten and dairy from his diet for several weeks. This is a daunting experiment, especially during the holiday season. We were advised that it is particularly helpful when the whole family tries this at the same time to make it easier on our son. He’s willing to try anything to see if it helps him feel better, but my 9-year-old daughter is a picky eater. This means we have several things to consider:

  1. How to avoid a sense of “deprivation” to a family that loves cheese (and gluten, but the dairy-free part will be the trickiest, I think)
  2. How to make our teenager’s lunch appealing enough that he doesn’t “cheat” by getting non-GF/DF food from his friends’ lunches
  3. How to appease the palate of a child who is not very adventurous about food
  4. How to track our son’s symptoms to see if this effort is worth continuing
  5. How to make this manageable, given our busy schedule

Enter my Filofax. It will take a fair amount of planning to launch this special diet, and my Malden is the perfect home for all of it. I set up my work space with everything I need.


I’d like to keep an informal overview of my son’s treatment and tests so that I have the dates and notes to help refresh my memory when I speak with different doctors (below).

To help with the transition, I’ve been scouring the Internet for sites that post gluten- and dairy-free recipes our family will enjoy. I’m sure I’ve missed several, but I will keep this Post-it pasted on the back of the divider for his health section so that it’s the first thing I see. It can easily be changed or updated.



My other research — something I’m just starting — is a list of foods that don’t have hidden dairy or gluten in the ingredients. Thank goodness for the Internet, because many groups and bloggers have posted which brands/foods are “safe” for people with food sensitivities. They all caution that manufacturers can change ingredients without warning, so I know I’ll have to keep looking at labels, but this should help me generate my grocery list. I like the idea of keeping this in a binder, because I’m sure we’ll discover new items to add, as well as which items to remove if they are flops.

I plan to keep a food diary when we start next week. We’ll use this to track what my son eats and how he feels.

Food Diary

I’m starting to compile a short list of meal ideas so that when I do my weekly overview on Sunday, I’ll be able to plan our meals. I’ll use the page to track which ones are worth cooking again and which ones are flops. It’s clear not all GF/DF meals are created equal.

Tonight I plan to show my son and daughter lists of fruits and vegetables so that they can name which ones they would like to eat more often. I have a sense of their likes and dislikes, but this diet will be much heavier in fresh fruits and veggies. It will help to make a list for my Filofax so that our meals are as varied as possible. I know we’ll be cooking a lot more “from scratch,” so I don’t want to expend too much energy staring at a blank grocery list.

My A5 Malden is a great place to plan a major diet change. I’m not sure if this will make a noticeable difference for my son’s health, but it will certainly be easier because I have organized key resources to support our efforts.


6 thoughts on “New Section to my Filofax: Trying a Special Diet

  1. Kelly M.

    Wow! Good luck and good on you for doing it as a family. I had to eat special items (and still do) and my family STILL does not care or even try to help. Luckily I am an adult now and it’s only frustrating at the holidays when visiting them.

    I don’t eat gluten-free (though I should try it, but I found that my nutritional intake plummets when I attempt it. There is also a diminished effectiveness when I eat GF for too long.) however I have been dairy-free for 5 years now. There are only just now products advertising “dairy free”, and very little information online as well. It’s a much more difficult road to travel than only GF.

    You have a very good start (side note, my best wishes to your son, I hope that diet helps!) and one thing I would like to add, for resources, would be to look at vegan foods and sites. They have multitudes of recipe substitutions that are by definition dairy (and all animal products) free. I struggle with protein intake and am not actually vegan (I just know that something vegan won’t have ANY dairy so I trust it) so I will then add meat to it, making it very NOT vegan, but still dairy free, if that makes sense?

    For example, a nearby pizza parlour makes vegan pizzas with a “notta ricotta” which is dairy free, so I order a vegan pizza, but then ask for sausage and pepperoni, or add it myself at home. It is ironically a broader source than searching for “dairy free” as a keyword alone. There will be some issues with gluten with some substitutes in recipes but things are much more widely labelled as gluten free these days.

    There are moral and odd social pariah overtones with a lot of vegan websites and resources that imply that one cannot eat/use animal byproduct and truly “be” vegan, that it’s an all-or-nothing thing, but for myself I use it as shorthand to know something for sure has no dairy. I am lucky that I now live in a very progressive area and have access to some incredible vegan and dairy free foods.

    If you’d like any advice on specific substitutes or products and resources (I honestly have only read this post after following a link from Filofaxy, but I am Dairy free and had so little help or support when first beginning other than becoming so ill I needed to go to the ER when I had dairy that I learned how and what to manage by painful trial, so I felt compelled, as a fellow Filofax user & list maker, to comment. Plus I would have been so thankful had my family done this for/with me as a kid when things were so so bad. I didn’t know until adulthood that was what it was, but it would have been nice.) I don’t know your location but I have friends in Europe and Australia I can ask about availability if you aren’t in the US. Please if you’d like more info or just advice feel free to email me at the email I left. I do not mind sharing what I had to find out the hard way.

    Again, the best of luck to your family and your son. It’s rough at first and a definite learning curve, but there are subs or replacements for even the cheesiest of meals. Unfortunately there isn’t yet a great solution for a creamy stinky French cheese, but I’ll find one if there is!! πŸ™‚

    1. Mary Post author

      Thank you so much for taking time to describe your experiences and suggestions, Kelly. It must have been so much harder growing up when there were fewer products and resources like websites listing alternatives. I also wish you all the best with family during the holidays. Do you end up bringing specific items with you?

      I have been perusing vegan sites, and you’re right, there are a lot more people writing about vegan recipes than recipes strictly dairy-free! We also have a few grocery stores with some decent options.

  2. Carla

    Sounds like you have everything under control! Thank goodness for Filofaxes, huh? πŸ™‚ Good luck with this new venture. And I love your handwriting.

    1. Mary Post author

      Thanks, Carla! I know I *could* do it without the Filofax, but it certainly feels better using a pretty binder. Oh, and I owe my handwriting to teaching elementary school for many years.

  3. Kristine Aukner

    Good luck with the transition!
    A tip from me is to search for paleo recipes πŸ™‚
    They are all gluten free (and grain free) and dairy free, or with dairy free options.

    Also, all the food is natural, and no fishy substitutions.

    1. Mary Post author

      Thanks, Kristine. So far, it’s been pretty positive, although the learning curve is steep. I know it will get to where meal planning and prep isn’t the focus of our lives πŸ™‚ Thank goodness we’re making the transition when Paleo resources abound!


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