Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Down with Dairy

I could never be vegan. I could live without steak. I could live without eggs. But to give up dairy....I just can't do it. A life without cheese and ice cream? That's just not the life for me. My kids share in my love of all things dairy and in moderation, I happily oblige them.

But lately, I've been more than a little concerned about my son and his passion for cheese. J has struggled with digestive upset since he was an infant. He was formula fed (that is not an invitation for nasty comments by the way) and was severely constipated pretty much from birth. Bowel movements were infrequent and excruciatingly painful for him. We called him the "Toot Monster" and I spent many a day rubbing and rolling his wee tummy, trying to expel the gas that made him miserable. By the time he was six months old, he was taking an almost adult dose of OTC laxatives on a daily basis. I questioned the doctor but she assured me that some babies just have digestive difficulties. It felt wrong to be dosing a baby with powerful laxatives but I continued to follow the doctor's orders.

J at four months
J started solid foods right around the six month mark. The less formula he had, the better his tummy troubles got. And when he stopped having formula, we were able to get rid of the laxatives for good. But still, we struggled with issues like gas, occasional constipation and diarrhea and tummy aches. At first, I wrote the symptoms off, chalking them up to overindulgence or a passing virus. But over time, I began to notice that these instances of digestive distress directly coincided with J's intake of dairy products.
J at fourteen months...can't eat cheese but mud's not a problem :)
Once I realized what was going on I felt relieved and guilty all at the same time. Relieved that I know how to fix his problem; guilty because it took me nearly three years to figure it out! I'm not planning to get him formally tested for lactose intolerance...there's a reason he cries if he drinks a glass of milk!We are still experimenting with just how much dairy he can have but thus far, we can generally avoid stomach upset if we keep him at one serving per day. We are lucky that J can tolerate dairy at all. Many cannot. If I had to cut it out completely my little man might have a massive meltdown. The boy LOVES his cheese!
Age three, at the beach last summer
I know many of you have children with food allergies and intolerances. What has been the most difficult obstacle for your family to overcome? What are some ways you "treat" your child without indulging them in forbidden foods?



  1. I'm lactose intolerant and it stinks!!!

  2. Honestly, L was fine until about a year ago when she asked me for a pizza. I still have not figured out which cheese will melt right and contains no casein or soy. We are going to try her "cheese" next time.....we will see, my last attempt at melting it were not pretty. At least you figured it out! And don't feel bad L was the same as a baby, very difficult to get her to have a BM.

    BTW, L misses K.

  3. From what I've read (and from personal experience with my own digestive problems), dairy intolerance can be due to lactose or casein, and different dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt etc) contain different amounts of these, so it depends what he's actually allergic to as to what you need to limit in his diet. Also raw milk (rather than pasteurised milk) contains the enzymes that we need to digest these, so you might find that he can tolerate raw milk (if you can get it). I am shocked that a doctor would prescribe laxatives to a baby, that is so ridiculous, and you were just trying to follow doctors advice and do the right thing, I can't believe that health professionals are not recognising the connection between diet and health. Also was the formula soy based, did it contain corn syrup? These could have contributed to his problems (not judging you, everyone has their reasons and its really difficult to find information). If you are ready to radically change your diet, you should read Nourishing Traditions, it explains the importance of enzymes, as well as vitamins, minerals, different types of proteins and carbohydrates for good health, and its not what your doctor will tell you! Good luck!

  4. Our seven year old son (breastfed) is lactose intolerant. We are lucky he is quite easy going about missing out on some foods. Cheese is one food he couldn't live without. luckily hard cheeses tend to be low in lactose so he doesn't have to miss out on that.

  5. Here's the thing: humans are the only mammals that consume milk past infancy. We're not meant to digest it well. My chiropractor told me today that if he eats dairy for, say, 10 days in a row, he starts snoring. He stops dairy: he stops snoring. My little man is dairy, gluten, and soy sensitive..so far. We've just discovered that goat milk is okay for him, so after 4 years I have hope that he can have a bit here and there. I make ice cream from coconut milk. The biggest challenge is being prepared...when he gets invited to a bday party I call the mom a few days ahead and make alternates to whatever she's serving, to be as close to what the other kids have as possible. I'm getting better at it; it's getting easier. We've made our way back to basics...meat and veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds...he's very healthy in spite of his sensitivities. You're wise to just avoid it altogether, because these things can irritate in small ways until he's a grown up and gets bigger digestive illnesses, you know? Have you noticed a shift in his behaviour if he eats dairy?

  6. I used to be the exact same as you. Cheese went on everything, I loved a tall glass of milk and the best New Years Eve I ever had was with a girlfriend and about 10 blocks of cheese.

    Then I became a (almost) vegan (details on my blog).

    I could never go back. The increased energy, belly health, losing weight without trying, etc etc etc just makes life so much easier and more enjoyable.

    And while it was tough at first, I've gotten over my love of dairy. Luckily there's always amazing coconut ice cream, so it's not all doom and gloom!

    Give it a try, you might be surprised how wonderful being a vegan feels!

  7. It's also possible you DS actually has a dairy allergy, not just an intolerance. My DH and both my sons (4 and 1) are lactose intolerant. We use Lactaid chewable tablets, they are vanilla flavored and my older son says they taste like candy :) Luckily they all only have issues when drinking a regular glass of milk, other products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream don't give them issues.
    With my older son, there was a lot of trial and error before realizing what the actual issue was, like you we had a less-than-informed doctor. Luckily the whole ordeal is what spurned me to become a much more informed consumer and much more conscious of our diets. My DH had never been aware of his own intolerance and was living with symptoms that were 'normal' to him. Boy was he glad when he started making changes to his diet! When my younger son was born I breastfed, but he was so sensitive anything I ate just killed him, poor thing. Luckily I caught on pretty quick and was able to tweak my diet and BF him for over a year without issues :)
    Ashley S :)

  8. I am allergic to dairy and it's possible to eat fabulous food that are dairy free. Here is a link to my dairy free blog: http://downwithdairy.blogspot.com/

  9. Have you tried goat's milk? Sometimes people who are lactose intolerant can consume goat dairy products without any problems at all!