I briefly mentioned Rie was diagnosed with a milk allergy. This is not the end of the world—it will probably resolve itself around the time she turns a year old. Meanwhile, her doctor has encouraged me to continue breastfeeding because there is something about breast milk that protects her from how sick she could feel. This means we both had to cut dairy and dairy by-products out of our diets.
I went through a mourning period. It occurred to me that we will need to celebrate all the fun, food-based holidays without dairy. This stinks. However, we are so fortunate that this little bump in the road will hardly register on the radar in just a few short months, so my mourning period was likewise short-lived.
Then I went through a period of research. What are dairy by-products? I had heard of whey back when Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, but never casein, lactalbumin, or lactoglobulin. Where are dairy products hidden? Of course packaged bread is a big one, but I also found out that packaged sandwich meat, margarine, and pretty much all processed foods have dairy by-products on or in them. (Come to find out, I was a terrible vegan back in college.)
My basic research of dairy by-products led me to start looking into dairy-free recipes. The non-dairy bread was a silly adventure; organic sandwich bread is available at Whole Foods. (Yes, I’m printing their name because I am thankful to them for carrying options that cost less than $4.) Non-dairy chocolate chips are available too, but very costly. I actually cut the chocolate in my dessert recipe in half to spare myself some of the damage. The end result was still tasty, though very time consuming.
Then it all became so simple. Whole fruits and vegetables have always been important in our household (D has a fantastic garden), but we really started to emphasize them as staples. Cucumbers, sweet peppers, and tomatoes from the garden have been a delight. I tried my hand at canning and found it to not be as complicated as expected. We discovered organic fruit tastes much better than conventional and have brought enough variety into our home so we don’t become bored with the two or three pieces placed in our lunchboxes each day. Add a little organic meat and hard-boiled eggs and we have a pretty well-balanced diet.
In the end, you could look at this milk-allergy as a blessing. We don’t (read: can’t) eat out anywhere that is in our budget. We’re eating better now than ever before and spending less time preparing meals. This is largely due to the fact that D has unofficially declared a preference for vegetarian entrées, but that’s a different story.
Rie has the benefit of blissful ignorance. To her a slice of tomato is the best creation on earth and she does not think she is missing out on anything. Truthfully, she’s not missing out. That girl has more pleasure in eating than anyone else I have ever known.
As with all other areas we have been simplifying, it seems in hindsight these changes were obviously needed. Still, it is never too late to make an improvement to your diet or learn more about the food you are eating.