Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who Needs Dairy Anyway?

I gave you a break on posts for a few days to catch up on all the rapid-fire posting a few days ago. :) 

At the beginning of last year, I decided to go gluten-free and it was helpful for a variety of reasons. One of the benefits was that my eczema improved significantly. Over time, it flared back up and I had a feeling I knew what else was the culprit: dairy. My dad and brother both cannot tolerate dairy and I was allergic to dairy as a baby. My eczema got so bad recently that I had to give something a try. The pain and itching were unbearable. :( 

I've thought before about going dairy-free, but how fun does that sound? I love cheese more than life itself. I usually eat 3-4 servings a day. But pain trumps cheese. It was time to give it a shot. I'd recently started drinking a lot of milk each day because I was making my own chai lattes at home. It was the only variable that had changed in my diet, so I figured it was a worth experiment.

Within a few days, I felt like my body was less on edge, my skin was a *lot* calmer, and I knew I'd made the right decision. This picture was taken today:

Like being gluten-free, ditching dairy is a different way of life. You become that much more complicated for your loved ones (with the exception of my family, who completely understands!) and eating in varied circumstances becomes a little more of a challenge. My hope is that I can maintain a largely dairy-free diet at home and that will allow for the occasional bit of dairy here and there. Even with this, I've been able to have one Greek yogurt a day and be fine. It seems that it's milk and cheese that really get me. 

The other thing that surprised me was learning how many people have cut dairy out of their diets. There's a whole culture (no pun intended :)) out there. I've embraced goat cheese, something that I've always loved anyway, and I'm learning about a lot of great dairy-free recipes. 

As with gluten, we have decided to have Dean follow a (largely) dairy-free lifestyle. This is not entirely because of PWS, although we did cut out cow's milk for him years ago because dairy tends to produce bloating in people with PWS. But we also did it because of his predisposition for sinus infections. Dairy produces mucus --> sinus issues. When we went to the chiropractor, he tested Dean to be intolerant to dairy, so this is no surprise.  Fortunately, he is happy to eat goat cheese, drink almond milk (which he's been doing for a long time anyway), and he'll even eat Daiya, the cheese substitute (which I just really can't stomach). I'm glad to have a buddy in our immediate family who is following a diet similar to mine. Even though this dietary change is not entirely because of PWS, I'm glad that having Dean has made us all consider what we eat a little more carefully. We think about getting a bang for our nutritional buck with everything we eat (although, don't get me wrong, I still like my gluten-free cupcakes :)), and it's just harder to eat junk when you really know what you're eating. 

So, for now, that's where we are with dairy. The difference was undeniable. Are you dairy-free or do you know anyone who has ditched dairy and reaped the benefits? 


  1. Graham is free of all of the following:

    allergy: all nuts, egg, sesame
    intolerance: casein (dairy)
    just to be safe: gluten

    The dairy makes him very lethargic and changes him completely. You'd have to see it to believe it. A lot of people with ASD experience this and also benefit from being gluten-free, so we tried that too. he's been on this diet since he was just shy of 2 over 3 yrs now! We're totally used to it, but we never make exceptions, so it can be a pain in the butt to pack for all vacations and family functions, or other outings. I agree with you though, he eats much healthier because of it!

  2. Candice, I was thinking of you guys as I was posting. I know that people are allergic and intolerant of certain foods/substances, but it's even more interesting to hear of subjective experiences with behavior and performance like what you are describing with Graham. I have not tinkered with Dean's diet too much save for sticking with gluten-free and then recently taking out almost all dairy. Good for you for sticking to it and making no exceptions!

  3. I wrote to you before about dairy, but I thought I'd chime in. MH is gluten intolerant (and we suspect my daughter is too) and my son was born allergic to milk. I went dairy free for the year that I nursed him and couldn't believe the change it made for me. I always just thought I had a "weak stomach" but, no, turns out I just so A LOT better off dairy. I cheated for the first time in a year and a half yesterday and bought a big frosted (gluten and dairy-filled) cinnamon bun while grocery shopping ALONE and while it was delicious, I paid for it later. So NOT worth it!! Aside for the occasional pizza hankering - I'm surprised, how much I don't miss it. Good luck to you and YAY on WAY less eczema!! - Kerrin

  4. Kerrin,
    I remember you writing about that! I think a lot of people are probably in the same boat - they would do a lot better OFF of dairy. And I know what you mean about the cinnamon bun... one time this past year, I had one slice of pizza and I thought I would be fine. Not so much! I was sick for a day and a half. Ugh. Oh well, at least we've figured out what bothers us, right?

  5. Humm, I hate to burst your bubbles, but dairy free and gluten free is not something for me.
    When I tried it, I can say that my hay fever did not get better, but worse.
    I have allergies to pollens and they give me hives, sneezing, coughing and become voiceless.
    I have them 365 days/year, and I cannot make it without antihistamine. Even more so when I am gluten free and dairy free.

    Gluten-free and dairy free can work for some people, but no diet, therapy... is a panacea.
    A psychiatrist told me once "For a first person, it can be awesome, for another, it can be catastrophic and for a third person, it does not toss monkeys". Great way to explain BTW

    Also, for some patients, when someone suppresses completely the allergen, it keeps the allergy going on : at the slightest contact with the allergen, the allergy becomes even worse.
    So, now, allergologists advise to make labial contact tests under medical supervision to see how much allergen the person can tolerate (some people can tolerate a little, other cannot tolerate at all, it's a case by case basis) and repeat such tests at regular intervals.
    Of course, for some people and with some allergies, such a solution is not advisable (like with celiac disease).
    But for peanuts allergies, for example, it is an existing possibility.
    After, everyone has to weigh the pros and the cons and decide for himself/his child because you are your own expert/the expert of your child.

    What I always say is that while a diet, therapy... can work for some people, it does not work for everyone.
    Not everyone is the same : what works for one may not work for another person.

    I say such a thing because I think about the third party reader, who reads for the first time but does not write.
    The third party reader can be a complete beginner and we have to be careful to keep in mind that what works for one does not work for another.

    1. Giulia,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences, as I asked readers to do. I'm not quite sure where you are reading that I recommended this as a course of action for everyone or that it was a panacea of sorts. I have noticed that on multiply occasions, you have made this assumption. My blog is merely my own experience and I am sharing that with others. I do not pretend to be an expert on anything except what works for me and for my family. :)

  6. Ali,
    Don't worry, I didn't assume that you talk about it about the panacea.
    I know that you don't even think that gluten free casein free diet is a cure all, or panacea (a Greek word BTW).

    My answer to your question is right here : "I say such a thing because I think about the third party reader, who reads for the first time but does not write.
    The third party reader can be a complete beginner and we have to be careful to keep in mind that what works for one does not work for another."
    I thought that it was useful in order to make myself understand. But apparently, I created confusion instead of making myself understand.
    I apologize if I offended you, it was absolutely not my intention.

    The third party reader is someone who reads but does not intervene.
    He may be a complete beginner.
    He may also not be familiar with the fact that what works for one may not work for someone else.

    I have moderated a medical forum in the past (I stopped because I don't enjoy it any more). So, when I talk about a third party reader, I talk about my experience as a moderator on a medical board.
    On medical message boards, blogs... we have a lot of third party readers.
    Some are already very knowledgeable, but many are beginners. They are not always familiar with "what works for one may not work for another", or that "what statistically works may not work for the person X"...

    While knowledgeable patients easily understand your point, ie that you only share your experience and that what works for one may not work for another, the third party reader is far from being to where you (and me) are.
    "What works for one may not work for another" is an advanced online patient knowledge. Not everyone is as advanced as we (you, me, Candice...) are.

    Think that you are already an online advanced and knowledgeable patient. I raise my hat for what you are doing for Dean and for everyone involved with PWS.

    When I write on medical boards, blogs... I always think about my third address : the owner, the other people who already wrote and the third party reader (the person who reads without writing).
    I cannot assume that my third party reader knows as well as you and me know, ie that what works for one does not work for another. When I write and I know that third party readers can pop up, I always think that this reader may be a complete beginner about health matters.

    To sum up, I always write a comment keeping in mind that there are readers who don't write and are not familiar with some basics you have already grasped.
    You know them because you are very advanced in your knowledge, I know them because I have years of experience behind. We cannot assume the same about someone else who reads your blog without making comments.
    I always keep in mind that people reading here have different level of knowledge, and some are complete beginners. The post you have written right now may be the first post about health the third party ready has been reading in his life. I cannot assume that everyone knows that "what works for one may not work for another", even if the owner (you) or other writers here already know it.
    My experience as a former moderator on a French medical board made me understand that even if the owner knows the important basics, we have beginners and we have to think about them before we think about more advanced online patients.

    I don't reply only to you or the other writers here. I also reply for the third party reader.
    Therefore, my sayings about things you already know as an advanced online patient.

    I hope that I didn't offend you and that I made my ideas clearer for you.
    Of course, as English isn't even my mother tongue, we can expect some misunderstandings to arise...

  7. For me, (and people vary), I've found that no, milk does no do my body good... (I also believe the dairy industry makes it very desirable - read $$$ - to keep that campaign going)

    Like clockwork, 20 to 30 minutes after I've eaten/drunk it, the growling and bloating starts, followed by intense diarrhea that lasts almost 30 hours! And excruciating pain...

    I get no such reaction with gluten, but I have a deep inkling that wheat does me no good either. My guess is not all gluten, but just wheat. I must confess there is a lot of denial on my part on the topic of wheat and gluten, I guess I am just not ready to give it up...

    The pictures of your legs are definite proof that this is the most appropriate lifestyle for you. I have no external indicators of my harsh reaction to dairy, but my "gut" feeling :-) is evidence I cannot share with other people... (well, at least without causing nasty gross-out reactions!)

  8. Natalia,
    I'm finding that it's more and more common that people are noticing a connection with their health and gluten and/or dairy. Obviously, not for everyone, like you said, but I'm amazed at how many others have given up one or the other.

    And I can totally relate to not being ready to give up something. I was like that for years with soda, gluten, and dairy, but it finally got to a point where I pretty much had to. I know you will too if you feel that that's the right course of action for you. And like you, I suspect my problem is more with wheat than with gluten per se, but it's basically just easier if I say I'm gluten-free. :)