Monday, May 16, 2011

On going dairy-free

In the most recent development of my ongoing stomach issues saga, my doctor friend has asked me to go dairy-free for two weeks. This was after my actual doctor, either because she wasn't happy that I was discussing my health issues with my doctor friends or because she was simply unaware, told me there was no such thing as a lactose intolerance test.

You see, my doctor friend wondered if my stomach issues could be more than H.Pylori (it wasn't) or GERD (this is probably part of it). Our current "favourites" are Irritable Bowel Syndrome, something deeper, darker, and scarier and rarer that has yet to be mentioned, or lactose intolerance. To recap, not only will I probably have to take Proton-Pump Inhibitors for the rest of my life, based on the treatment's semi-effectiveness one month in, but I probably will have to make another change in my day-to-day routine.

So we go dairy-free. It's the hard way of figuring out if I'm actually lactose intolerant or simply lactose sensitive, as I've been terming it. I haven't been able to drink straight-up cow's milk for at least 3 years, and the creamier a food, the more trouble it gives me. This means ice cream is often a pain in my gut, and I avoid alfredo sauce, creamy desserts, and more. (Yes, I know about soy and almond milk products. I can't handle the texture - it makes me feel like puking.)

One would think that since I'm already on "lactose-free" milk, removing dairy from my diet wouldn't be such a big deal. I just have to manage my cheese and chocolate cravings for 14 days and forget butter exists. Easy peasy!


Did you know that most prepared meats, breads/baked goods, snacks, salad dressings and canned foods have some sort of milk additive? Look up the ingredients. If you see casein, whey, dry milk powder, prebiotics, high protein, or any other variations on the list, that product is not dairy-safe. Even prescription pills use milk products as filler! My morning cereal has whey in it so I can't even have that stable staple to look forward to!

No potato chips, no crackers except for melba toast, no seasonings except for oil and herbs.

Basically, my diet for the next two weeks will consist of "fresh" meats and fish, veggies, and pasta. I'm not risking any canned foods in case they're not listing possible milk cross-contamination, since there are no milk allergy or "lactose-free" guidelines in Canada. Fortunately, my regular bread is safe, as are peanut butter and most jams/jellies/honey.

I spent half my day today looking up safe and unsafe foods, finding appropriate recipes, and reading the ingredients on pretty much everything in my fridge and pantry. Tomorrow, I'm going to pick up some dairy-free cheese and finally attempt to make my own tofu. I'm also going to search for dairy-free chocolate (cocoa is dairy-free but most commercial brands add lactose or milk powder to their products and even dark chocolate could be contaminated from being produced on the same line as milk chocolate.)

I'm just really glad this is a two-week try-out. And that I'm not allergic to milk because I'd probably be dead by now if I were... Between my love for goat cheese and my addiction to chocolate, I put up with a fair amount of discomfort to satisfy my cravings.

That's going to be the hard part. That and remembering to read the ingredients in everything, including sauces used for marinades. If I weren't focusing on finishing a paper (and then 2 group papers and a conference presentation), I wouldn't mind the extra time commitment that this diet demands. If I wasn't a mono-dweller, I'd also find it easier to manage. But cooking for one or two requires a whole lot of portion planning and, as I've re-discovered this past week, a lot of my fresh ingredients tend to go to waste simply because can't use them up fast enough. I try to limit my shopping trips since I don't have a car but I was considering not buying fresh until I had more time to plan my meals. Throwing away rotten ingredients is not something I'm proud of, especially when so many people around the world are literally dying for a bit of that food. Plus, it's expensive.

Needless to say, the next two days will be a roller-coaster. So far, the craziest thing I've done is squirted Nesquik into my mouth to try to squash a particularly poignant unrelenting chocolate craving. Since I don't drink tea or coffee, chocolate is my main source of caffeine, not to mention its excellent comforting capacities. I guess I'll be making a lot more herbal tea in the next 14 days! Only time will tell if these sacrifices were worth it!

And then, regardless of results, I have to find a way to break it to my doctor. Wish me luck!


Melly said...

Yes I've also been told there is no lactose-intolerance test, both my doc and naturopath. I had to eliminate dairy from my diet to see if that helped, which it didn't.

Naila J. said...

Yeah, I'm not sure that's my only issue though it could possibly be a factor. We'll see! :)

Melly said...

It wasn't an issue with me. I did find out that having a gallbladder removed makes IBS worse :(

Naila J. said...

Ah, the things you find out after the fact!