I discovered I was lactose intolerant the same way everyone else does…the hard way. I actually didn’t have a (known) issue with dairy until I graduated from college, and once I discovered dairy and I didn’t get along, I invested in some of those lactase pills and tried to cut dairy out of my normal routine. I even went so far as to check all the labels on my cereals and vitamins, and you’d be amazed at the amount of products containing some kind of dairy. Weeks later, after my dairy sweep, when I still noticed an issue, I was shocked to discovered that ‘non-dairy’ creamer has dairy in it. NON-dairy creamer has DAIRY in it. Now that’s messed up. But after some research I figured out how they can get away with such lies: technically if a powder is derived from milk but then altered considerably, they have the right to call it non-dairy. I’m sorry, but even if you ‘alter something considerably’ it still doesn’t change its identity! So what, can you then take a steak, stuff it with ham and cheese, and call it Chicken Cordon Bleu? This really pissed me off because I thought I was being ‘good’ to my dairy sensitive system and refusing it the delicious (and all natural!) half and half when it turns out all I was doing was putting chemicals and freakin’ dairy into my body!!
The dairy saga continued for years, then I became pregnant with my son and began eating incredibly clean. No chemicals, no processed anything, no medicines, I didn’t even chew gum. And something miraculous happened…my lactose intolerance simply went away. Even after I had him and nursed him for a year, I never had an issue with it. Fast forward three years to the pregnancy of my daughter and all of a sudden its back. And it still hasn’t left. I’m not on any specific diet, because diets make me crazy, but I just know that certain things I eat will come back to haunt me later so I’m very aware of what I put into my body. I know that if I have dairy without a lactase enzyme pill, there will be trouble.
But…I’m just so incredibly busy these days and sometimes I simply forget about stuff like that. Turns out I was so good at tolerating my intolerance that the whole thing just slipped my mind. Exhibit A: A couple of weeks ago my family went on a mountain vacation with some of our best friends and, if I’m not mistaken, dairy was a part of every meal for 2 days. It was wonderful!! Until I got home and, within a couple days, noticed a big change in my skin, my face, my body… I just figured it all would go away once I fell back into my normal routine but after a week and a half passed and nothing changed I became very depressed about it. Then I felt silly for becoming depressed so I decided what my body needed was a good ole detox. I needed to eliminate any possible food trigger for a week or so to ‘shock’ my body back into normalcy. My body needed to remember what it once was and kiss this new, weird cheese layer goodbye.
So I went to the store and bought a bunch of new things to set me up for the week (or weeks) to come. I knew that if I went out and devoted the time and money to buying new things I would be more excited about the process. For a week I cut out refined carbohydrates, all dairy, wheat, soy and peanuts. And that’s a pretty big deal for me. Like I said, I don’t diet. I exercise a lot and eat most things, but enjoy them in small amounts. My favorite things in the world are bread or starch-based. I have a big slice of my homemade wheat sourdough bread every single morning of my life. My kids do as well. I look forward to it, I wake up thinking about it. It is my friend. So, that was pretty hard to cut out. But I think the hardest part of the week was not taking my coffee with half and half. (The small amount of half and half I put in my coffee every day never gave me problems.) I drank my coffee black, which is simply not as fun for me as creamy coffee. So, needless to say, my mornings during the ‘cleanse’ were not very enjoyable but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t a permanent change. The way I looked at it was this- For one week I was doing something good for my entire body instead of just thinking about my mouth.
And what is really great about that week is that by the 3rd day, my cheese layer had gone away, I had my energy back again and the bloat and puffiness had completely gone away. Now I’m back to enjoying my morning bread, using a soy-based coffee creamer in my coffee (for at least a little while longer…) and remembering that I am not made of steel. It was a good lesson for sure.
I put together a list of what I ate during that week in case anyone else out there was in need of a yummy (and not very strict) detox plan:
My breakfast was 1/4 cup of steel cut oats mixed with about 2 TB of ground flax seeds, cooked in water. After cooking I stirred in some unsweetened almond milk* until I reached the consistency I wanted, some cinnamon and a few berries. And a small cup of black coffee.
A couple hours later I ate 2 spinach egg white ‘muffins’ made of only egg whites, spinach, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
are basically spinach balls gently held together by egg whites. I love
spinach, and knew they were good for me, so I enjoyed them, but they were quite densely
packed with greens. Here’s the recipe:
*Spinach and Egg White Bites
-Mix together in large bowl:
1 large (32 ounce) carton of egg whites
1 large (28 ounce) bag of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and completely wrung out of all water
2/3 cup of nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
lots of freshly ground nutmeg
-Pour into greased standard sized muffin tins, filling each 3/4 of the way up. You should get about 20 ‘muffins’.
-Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, cool completely in the pans and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
A couple hours later, when I was hungry again, I made a smoothie of unsweetened almond milk, frozen blueberries, half of a frozen banana and some chia seeds.
I made it in my Magic Bullet, but any blender-type device would work fine. I got a lot of energy from this smoothie, mostly due to the chia seeds, but it tasted good and I usually ended up sharing it with my 22 month old daughter who went a little nuts for it. Here’s the recipe:
-Blend together the following:
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 cup of frozen blueberries
half a frozen banana
1 TB chia seeds
-Blend until completely smooth. It may take awhile due to the frozen fruit. Drink or eat with a spoon.
Then I had lunch, which was whatever was leftover from the night before (meat and veggies). If there wasn’t anything leftover, or it wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied for long, I would make a salad of 1 small can of drained tuna packed in water, half an avocado, diced, a handful of parsley leaves, the juice of 1 lemon, kosher salt and pepper. Another option was a plate of Raw Kale Salad, either in place of one of the above or in addition to, after a couple of hours later if I was still hungry.
My late afternoon snack was 1 TB of raw cashew or almond butter on a small apple.
I drank 2 cups of a dandelion detox tea at different points throughout the day and a lot of water, and that (besides the black coffee) was it for beverages. I did my usual exercise routine as well.
I felt so much better after eating this way, and it really only took 2-3 days for me to notice a difference. Everyone is different and everyone has a different goal in mind. For me, I just wanted to feel good again. I tried hard to not think of it as a diet, because that word has such a negative connotation to it. You think diet, you think deprivation. But honestly, I had fun doing it. For me, it was an experiment that went very well. I’m happy to be back to my normal self again and will try to be better at tolerating the intolerance. It’s also good to know that I can return to this plan if I ever have another Cheese-capade.
(I almost included my Italian Blueberry Cheesecake recipe that I believe was the biggest cause for my distress but perhaps it’s too soon…I’ll be sure to post it one day, I promise!!)
(*I recommend buying this So Delicious Unsweetened Almond + Protein Milk because it contains pea and rice protein to bump up the protein amount from 1g to 5g.)