Friday, July 20, 2007

What's the Deal with Dairy?

I'm turning to you, thoughtful readers of the blogosphere, for some input on a decision that has been slowly building traction in the back of my mind for several days now.

Should I go dairy-free?

I saw my doctor this week, a follow-up appointment to see how I've responded to my antibiotics. My respiratory infection has definitely improved, but my bronchiectasis exacerbation from it is still pronounced, so I have a handful of new meds and inhalers to try and quell the chaos rumbling in my airways. I don't even remember how it happened, but dairy came up in our conversation. Of course, I've long known that dairy is a mucus-producer, and if there's anything I don't need, it is more phlegm in my life.

"I really don't consume much dairy," I told him, sheepishly looking at my cup of coffee on his desk, which clearly contained milk. I don't even like milk; even as a kid I never drank it on its own, it was merely a conduit to moist cereal, and as an adult, it's merely a conduit to what I think is better-tasting coffee.

But when I thought about, I do have dairy often enough. I eat cottage cheese a couple of days a week because it's a great protein source, and while I try to avoid cheese because of its fat content, I do have feta on my Greek salads regularly.

"Well, the less dairy you have, the better," my doctor said. I nodded.

The seed was planted.

And then I stumbled across this site in the comments section on Kerrie's blog (ironically, her original post included something I'd written about going gluten-free, so I'm now engaging in an amusing but totally productive game of blog-tag, I think :) ) and I started to think about giving up dairy more seriously.

Enter the back and forth dialogue in my mind: It would certainly be a big sacrifice, lots of labels to read and accommodations to make. Yet so was going gluten-free, and you wouldn't change that for anything, you know you feel so much better. Yes, but I have celiac disease, so clearly going GF would make me feel better--I am not lactose intolerant and don't think I feel any worse when I eat dairy, so would I even see results? But don't forget, you know you get more congested after frozen yogurt, so even if the only change was less phlegm and less exacerbation, wouldn't that be worth it?

And, finally, the remaining question: But your diet is already so limited. Wouldn't removing dairy make an already difficult dining situation (remember, one of your hobbies is trying new restaurants!) even harder?

Yes, but if it helped, wouldn't it be worth it?

Leaving the dialogue in my mind alone for a second, what you do think? Is it worth a try? Is it something worth doing in degrees--eg, removing "big" thinks like milk, cheese, etc but not whey and all those little tiny ingredients that appear on labels? (This reminds me of people who go wheat-free but still eat many other forms of gluten). Would I still get any benefit, or, like going GF for a celiac, is it something that only works when you do it 100 percent?


Anonymous said... for people who aren't celiac but minimize wheat intake-do those people feel better? or is that an all or nothing affair to see results? i know for celiacs GF is a must to see results-but do you know what that would do (if anything) for non-celiacs?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

try just making the big changes- no milk with cereal, no milk shakes or ice cream, and go with soy milk and rice dream and almond milk, and all their varieties of ice cream (which are amazing by the way)
i still eat the occassional cheese on salad on in pizza (big mistake there living in chicago, but ok..) My balance is that when im at home, i limit myself, because i can control that better.
when im out to eat, i can get anything i want within reason...every now and then.
give it a shot and see how you feel! :-) good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi. First time reading your blog, and I like it.

Interestingly enough, I am lactose-intolerant, which evolved after my 30s, much to my dismay.

But I have learned to adapt - eating habits, recipes, and eating out. You do have to do a little more research, but it's not that difficult.

I have adapted some of my favorite recipes to dairy-free with excellent results. I highly recommend Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese - use these in any recipes that call for same dairy ingredients. You will never miss the dairy. Honestly.

Soy yogurt is quite good too. Tastes a little different than regular yogurt, but not objectionable at all. I recommend vanilla soy milk instead of plain soy milk - it's a little more flavorful.

Please feel free to contact me if you need more info. Dairy free helped me with my symptoms, and it would definitely help you with yours.

BTW, eating out is a little more challenging but not at all impossible. You do have to ask your server about dairy ingredients occasionally, though.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

hey Laurie

I live on a dairy free, gluten free, egg free diet and sure it was tough to begin with....given that I had to give up more than one thing at a time but its not so bad....
its been 13 years now... life as normal....

Sure it involves reading a lot of ingredient panels but you probably do that anyway, right??

Its a bit like going GF, once you know what to avoid its a piece of cake... or not, as the case may be.

I find that I just have to get a little more organized and bake for myself instead of using the GF bakery ( they are now doing a line of DF food too).

I am a little paranoid when it comes to my food however, I have to be, eating the wrong thing can kill me so I guess I have to be more vigilant than most.

Yes, eating out becomes even more of a nightmare and it'll take your taste buds a while to lose the craving for milky(especially cheese) but it might make a difference....

That said... Soy milk isn't so good on the phlegm front either.... not as bad as cow but still causes a little thickening...

Give it a crack.... what have you got to lose....other than Ice Cream(as apposed to Iced Soy) Cream, cheese, yogurt etc....

I'll stop torturing myself now.

Good Luck.

Laurie said...

Thanks for all the suggestions and insights!

I eased my way into a dairy-free existence Saturday with a sugar-free vanilla soy latte--I know if I can hack the coffee drinks sans dairy, I can do it.

I also stocked up on soy milk and other dairy-free products at Whole Foods and today was my official first day going dairy free. So far, so good.

Audrey--from what I've heard, some non-celiacs who go either wheat-free or gluten-free report feeling better--more energy, etc. It all depends, I think, on the person, the diet they were eating, and so many other variable.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there's an interesting reason why dairy intolerance goes along with celiac.

The tips of the intestinal villi that become blunted or atrophied because of celiac is where the enzymes that digest dairy are produced.

The good news is that with many people, once the villi heal they are able to produce the dairy-digesting enzymes again. So it's often a temporary problem.

I had dairy intolerance for probably 3-4 months at first. After that, I've been fine with it.

Some people are actually permanently intolerant to dairy (casein intolerance). You might want to google GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) to find more info and support if that ends up being the case for you.


ChronicBabe - Jenni Grover said...

hey there, well i tried going gluten free ( shows my trials and errors) and then went off it for a while...and decided i'm going to do it again for the long run. and now i'm contemplating dairy-free, too, so that's a funny coincidence, laurie. i've read lots of anecdotal stuff (and had lots of other chronicbabes tell me) that dairy-free is great for asthmatics or folks with other lung issues. so it just might be the thing for us. let's keep each other posted!

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