As a warning, I talk about some less-than pleasant things here.
I’ve noticed that in today’s society, cutting out a whole food group is really, REALLY popular to do. So many people go “gluten free” because “it really makes me feel better, you know?”… But when in reality, you can digest gluten just fine. (That came off a little bitchy, don’t take it that way please!)
I have some friends who are Celiac who obviously take advantage of the gluten-free craze, because it makes it easier for them to find safe foods for them to eat.
I do also know that a gluten-free diet can greatly benefit those with Hypothyroidism, and Autism. So if it helps you, that’s awesome!
Which brings me to the dairy free journey conversation.
When I tell people I can’t eat dairy they immediately assume that I’m lactose intolerant.
I’m not. If I was lactose intolerant I would buy a life-time supply of lactase and go eat a block of cheese this very second. But sadly, that won’t work for me.
Also for some reason people think I can’t eat eggs… Like.. What? No.
I tell people that I’m allergic to dairy, because in explanation terms, and in terms of how it makes my body react/feel, it can be similar. Also it’s just easier than explaining it.
From what I’ve learned from developing this: It started when I was 25 when I realized that putting chocolate milk in my coffee gave me crazy stomach cramps. I still ate cheese and yogurt and icecream, but I couldn’t drink milk without getting a bad stomach for some weird reason. Then I got to a point where I realized that I almost always had a bad stomach (and an ultrasound-tech that made a comment about how much poo I had in my intestines, but I never ever get plugged up). This is where the experimentations began.
We assumed it was a gluten problem. I ate a lot of breads and gluteny things so it only made sense. I researched the Paleo diet, bought some cook books, followed some online paleo communities and went to work. But I was still getting sick. Sure I had more energy and I was losing weight, but I had pretty much cut out all starchy carbs for a period of time. (Except treats, cuz I fuckin love french fries and chips.) but I was still not good.
Randomly I made taco salad for lunch one day, and used greek yogurt instead of sour cream (cuz I’m a bit food crazy) and I got the most painful bad stomach ever. I was at work and thought I was going to throw up but I kept it down. I wouldn’t figure out why I felt SO sick. This happened a few times and so I went to my doctor and we talked. She said I could be lactose intolerant! HUGE surprise, because no one in my family has any kind of food issues that I knew of at the time.
So I got some lactase and continued on my normal diet. It worked for a little bit. Maybe like a month or two? Sort of. By “worked” I mean that it stopped the horrible bad stomach stop that made me feel like vomiting for a full day after I ate something milky. But it didn’t stop the other after effects.
I went to an allergist last year to get a test for why I couldn’t touch my face or eyes in the fall without a huge reaction. (Turns out I’m crazy allergic to dust and have this like reverse hay-fever thing that happens in the fall/winter. Bodies are neat hey?) So I asked him about the milk thing. He said it didn’t SOUND like an allergy because I wasn’t getting hives or my throat wasn’t closing up. So wtf was wrong with me. (We didn’t test for milk though, FYI)
The actual problem is protein. Lactose is what makes me incredible nauseous (I’d likely vomit instantly if I drank a glass of milk), but my body can’t digest the protein in milk. Not to the point where I can’t eat whey or eat cheese. But to the point where if there’s any kind of milk product IN something I eat, I will get sick. I can’t eat regular margarine because there’s whey powder in it, even at that small of amounts. I can’t eat regular chocolate because of milk powder. I can’t even use those flavoured coffee creamers, even though they’re lactose free, they still contain Sodium Caseinate… Which is Caseine. Which is also milk protein…
SO… With that being said. I no longer lead a life of milky treats. I do, however, regularly dream about pizza and nachos. So there’s that.
How do I cope?
Well… I have a really great supportive family. My parents always make sure that anything we eat together always is totally dairy free. Mom also bakes goodies with vegan butter for me so I don’t miss out on everything!
My boyfriend makes sure that we eat places I can get something, and gets me treats that I can eat when he gets treats I can’t eat.
Work.. not so much. I work at a high school, and any kind of teacher treats that are left in the staff room are 95% of the time something I can’t eat. Muffins from Tim Hortons, Nachos, Subs with cheese on them, home-made mystery food, buttermilk battered fish… Etc.
I’ve learned which brands of Vegan products I like, and which ones are utterly disgusting.
Earth Balance stick vegan margarine for baking (the gold foil) next to normal butter for my parents. I also use Becel Vegan soft margarine for toast and stuff.
Almond milk! Works perfect in recipes, and it’s pretty tasty on its own too! (unsweetened of course! Me and my BF will get a carton of the sweetened chocolate sometimes as a treat. He loves the Almond Fresh chocolate one in particular, more than regular chocolate milk!)
Cheese is Daiya. I personally like the pre-shredded stuff a bit more than the blocks. I don’t like the “slices” of cheese. It’s just too weird of a flavour for me to deal with. But I do love the daiya mozza cheese. There’s a bag of cheddar in there somewhere too, but I like the mozza better. (my boyfriend calls it “shitty cheese” haha)
And coffee… Ah my love. Silk makes amazing coffee creamers. Almond or Soy ONLY though. The coconut creamers are gritty and go bad extremely fast. Maybe if you really love coconut you’d like it, but I’m not a huge fan so, no this is what I like!
The Almond Vanilla, and Almond Hazelnut are amaaaazing too. This is just what was in the fridge atm depending on which grocery store we go to. (Where I live, Dominion has Soy and coconut, Sobeys has Almond vanilla/hazelnut)
Yes that’s a teacher mug. It’s my mom’s. (I live with my parents while I’m here teaching because it’s in the area and free-rent. Duh!)
So those are my dairy-free must haves.
People always make jokes about how I’m so skinny. Well cut out everything with any kind of dairy or dairy derivative in it and we’ll see how fast you shrink too! (If you can get through the dairy detox. HOLY shit. I’ve never craved something so bad in my life.)
The Physical Differences?
A lot of people wonder how my body has changed since I gave up dairy. Besides losing weight (which I really didn’t lose much to be totally honest. Being this size takes work for me) my previously horrible eczema has almost totally cleared up. I get spots here and there, on my back or shoulder, and on my eyelid sometimes. But I have an oil for that.
I have amazing poops once, maybe twice a day. (Gross I know, but if you even think there’s something up with your poops, go see a doc and figure it out. Everybody poops. I have no shame in it.) I also rarely have gas now!! It’s amazing.
My attention is a bit more focused. I guess where my body was always trying to get through things it couldn’t it used up a lot of energy. Which now goes to powering my brain. Woo!
I rarely get pimples anymore! I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m a human, I still get pimples. But my skin was the best it’s ever been when I gave up dairy. (and later developed an actual skin-care routine.)
So sure, picking meals is a bit more challenging, but my body is finally feeling good!