It really seemed as cut and dry as the title suggests. I turned thirty-six at the end of October and it was around that time that I started to notice that eating had become less of a necessary, sometimes enjoyable thing and more of an “Oh god, do I really have to?”. Nearly every time I put food in my mouth my body reacted with itching, flushed face, coughing, etc. Generally within twenty minutes of the first bite. I started keeping track of what I was eating versus symptoms and it didn’t take too long to realize that my body had decided that dairy was the enemy.
My first thought? “Fuck!” My second? “Shit!”Like most people the thought of giving up dairy (or any major food type) seemed literally impossible. No more milk? No more cheese? No more ice cream?! Nevermind the types of packaged foods that have some measure of dairy in them. Casein. Whey. Things I really never paid attention to were now the secret undercover enemy. I became that person at the grocery store who checks every label before adding something to their cart. I also started pointing excitedly to things while telling my husband “Hey! Look! I can still eat this!”
It’s been about eight weeks since my discovery and the literal grieving process. (1. “No, it’s not dairy. There must be something else..” 2.”Oh FFS! Seriously? How? How all of a sudden?” 3. “I’m sure it’s okay if I have it sometimes. I mean, it’s not full anaphylaxis after all…” 4. I mentally list all the things I’ll never eat again and feel sorry for myself about it. 5. “Alright. Fine. By taking dairy out of my diet eating is no longer a dangerous activity. Plus my mood has turned up a bit as well.”) Since then I have begun a love affair with coconut milk. As a beverage, coffee creamer, yogurt, ice cream, etc. I’ve learned how to make dairy-free sour cream with tofu and actually like Daiya’s “Cheddar style shreds”. I am at no point going to mistake these substitutes for the real thing but they have a good flavor in their own right. I’m cooking more of my own meals which is never a bad thing. I really have noticed a difference in both my mood and the amount of energy I have.
I don’t know why in my mid-thirties my body suddenly just said “Nope!” and it still kinda sucks. But I’ve got a great husband who brings me home dark chocolate bars without dairy and awesome friends who make readjusting – especially at restaurants and such – much easier. I’m also not blind to the fact that there’s a lot of stuff going on right now – in my own world and the world in general – that hanging on to the negatives of this change is a waste of my energy. Energy much better spent on the people, animals and things I love.