“Wow, those are the most delicious fries I’ve ever had.” I had just stolen a truffle french fry off my Mom’s plate at a fancy burger (who would’ve thought that those words would ever work together) place. The thing about the word “fries” is that is always plural. No one has ever eaten “a fry.” No one. And, so it was on this day. That one fry became most of the fries. Truffle, rosemary with the perfect crisp. Who could blame me?
The room starts to get hot quickly. Keith looks at me simultaneously with worry and disappointment. He knows what’s happening before I do. “The fries must have been cooked in butter,” I think as my face starts turning red. It’s my dairy allergy coming back to haunt me. I’m sweating. It won’t kill me. It won’t even put me in the hospital. But, I won’t be sleeping well. Plus, any number of skin symptoms could pop up (literally).
I’m allergic to casein, the protein found in milk. That means no milk, cheese, cream, or butter. I’ve been allergic since I was born. As a baby, I was raised on soy formula and couldn’t be breast fed. Later, I learned that if the mother goes dairy-free while breast feeding, the babies will be ok. My mom thought she knew the answer and would slowly give me little bits of dairy here and there once I got older. But, it turns out she was just keeping me a little sick most of the time. I thought I knew my limits and stuck by my golden rules: Never have dairy on an empty stomach and to stay away from cheesecake and heavy creams. I would pick the cheese off my pizza; I would pick around it if it was in my salad. If I stuck to those rules, I was fine. Or, at least, I thought that I was fine. But, I was running myself down. Before, I believed rosacea was my natural look. I also thought feeling queasy after every meal was what was supposed to happen. Being slightly sick and tired was my normal.
It was only after I met Keith that I learned I was slowly poisoning myself. He noticed the correlation fairly quickly and banned me from dairy. I’m lucky he’s such a hard-ass with things. The skin improvement was dramatic. My rosacea went away within a few days. My dry skin vanished. The eczema on my legs was gone. I slept like I had never slept before. Higher sleep quality, in turn, had numerous beneficial effects. The improvement was just short of miraculous. Someone should have told me this sooner!
Now, I’m fairly careful with what I eat. But, like in the instance of the fries, my body has gotten so used to running “clean” that, when I do transgress, it hits me super hard. There’s no pill to fix it either. Lactase won’t help because it’s an allergy, not a missing enzyme. Dairy is not like icoane powder; you don’t build up an immunity (if you don’t get the reference, congrats on being under 30!).
Because there’s no easy way out, I try to be extra vigilant. I ask waiters to double check all the ingredients. But, even that’s not always enough. We had a favorite organic Mexican restaurant. However, I always felt off after going. It turns out that they were marinating some of the meats in cream.
I’m not a huge fan of substitutes. What works for me is finding healthy, delicious foods and sticking to them. I’d rather have a delicious grass fed burger with broccoli and sweet potato than I would have some pasta with faux cheese. But, there are a few substitutes that I love to have. One is my Bulletproof coffee. We make it with Ghee instead of butter. Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is made by removing the milk solids and impurities from butter. Many people with dairy and casein allergies are able to incorporate ghee into their diets with no problems. Score!
On some days I won’t include the ghee and drink this dairy free adaptation: Turmeric Coconut Coffee
Another is ice cream. Keith has a recipe that is just what the doctor ordered for when my cravings kick in. It’s pretty similar to Dave Asprey’s Get Some Ice Cream.
The one key is that Keith replaces the butter with Ghee.
Being careful gets easier with time. I used to not want to bother staff with it. But, I realized being slightly picky is better than being VERY sick.
Of course, I miss cheese, ice cream, cake, profiteroles. Oh, man, profiteroles…
….I’m back. Sorry. I was having a nice day dream there. Anyway, I miss…things. But, what I don’t miss is the array of health problems. I had no idea I was wrecking my skin and my sleep. It was a real eye-opener. Now, I get a little sad when I see women or young girls with breakouts that are almost certainly allergy related. I want to stop them in the street to let them know that they are their own worst enemy. But, that’s a bit forward. I’ll have to do the next best thing and get the word out here. Likes and shares are appreciated for that very reason.
To your health,