Where’d the Cheese Go?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love foods like milk, cheese, and chocolate.  Unfortunately, it came to my attention a couple years ago that I could no longer consume dairy products of any kind.  I’ve always had some sort of unexplained health issues and have tried a few things over the years – cutting out gluten (yeah, yeah), beer, peanuts, etc.  I went so far as getting tested for celiac and a few other food allergies, but I had no luck finding the guilty party.  A couple years ago I tried lactose-free products and lactose-inhibiting pills (e.g. Lactaid).  I know they work for some people, but not me.  My theory is that it isn’t lactose that’s the culprit, but casein – an ingredient in all milk products.

As a result of these discoveries, I’ve been avoiding cow’s milk for some time now.  Despite being an inconvenience, the good news is that I feel a lot better!  So what does a milk-aholic eat and drink when they can’t have milk products?  I was using soy milk for cereal, chai, and other dishes and drinks, but I’ve switched to unsweetened almond milk.  Trader Joe’s and Ben & Jerry’s have some excellent ice cream products, as does Tofutti, who also make a decent faux-cream cheese.  Daiya make a cheese substitute that’s great for pizza and tacos/nachos.  Are they as good as the real stuff?  Absolutely not!  They’ll do in a pinch though.

At restaurants, I try to figure out options before I order and not announce the allergy.  I do get some curious looks when I request a pizza with bacon and chicken and vegan cheese.

In a lot of cases there are food where that contain dairy that you never would have thought of.  Most fried chicken has buttermilk, a lot breads have it for no reason, and lunch meat uses it for filler, especially turkey and sausage.

Although it’s been an adjustment, it’s been worth feeling better on a day-to-day basis.

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