In my early blogging days, I shared the story of how I came to realize I am allergic (or extremely intolerant) to dairy. I also shared about the elimination diet that I feel saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be right now if I hadn’t discovered my dairy allergy. I don’t even want to think about it.
When I tell people I’m allergic to diary, I’m often met with pity. Sad, downturned faces, and apologies are the norm. What they don’t understand is that my dairy allergy isn’t the end, it is FREEDOM. Freedom to live without pain, sickness and inconvenience. Since my self diagnosis I’ve had a new lease on life! For all of you that are tempted to feel sorry those of us who can’t have dairy, reconsider. Let me tell you what living dairy free is all about.
1. Dairy free is not a death sentence. It takes time, and yes some struggle, to adapt to a new way of eating but it is worth it. We eventually find substitutes for our favorite dairy free items. Some things we may even like better than the dairy version, like pumpkin pie.
2. Dairy free means renewed health. When I ate dairy I was sick, and I didn’t know why. Continuous pain, indigestion, sudden violent sickness, middle of the night trips to the ER with no explanation. No more. I’m healthy. I feel more normal now than ever.
3. Dairy free means freedom. My symptoms kept me from activities I wanted to enjoy. I never knew when I might suddenly be ill. Long car rides and being in remote places (far from restrooms) made my heart palpitate. Now I’m free to do what I enjoy, when I want to enjoy it.
4. Dairy free means realizing our strength. There is one product for which I haven’t found a suitable replacement – cheese. Sometimes I miss it. But mostly I don’t. Before, I couldn’t imagine a world without milk, butter or cheese, but it’s lost its hold on me. I’m stronger than any craving.
5. Dairy free means understanding. As a whole, we’ve lost touch with our bodies. They are screaming at us – high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes – and we can’t understand what they’re saying. Being dairy free has caused me to listen more closely to my body and understand what it needs.
Going from a dairy to dairy free life isn’t always easy. Raising a dairy free child can be a challenge at times. Bram is dairy free as well, so I understand. But it is worth it! You know that saying, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels? Well, since experiencing renewed health, I say nothing tastes as good as dairy free feels!