Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Long Shmoo Update, with Bonus Momma Lunch

Hey, it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted a lunch! I just had to take a picture of mine this afternoon -- isn’t it beautiful? This is pretty much what I eat every afternoon: some kind of salad and steamed veggies or soup. This salad is topped with Blood Orange Vinegar, sliced oranges, and cold cooked beets. I just love all the color and freshness.

The cooked vegetables are asparagus and yellow squash. This is such a treat, the first asparagus I’ve had in months – so good! I can’t wait for May, when half my refrigerator will be devoted to our local asparagus.

Well, a lot has been happening here, some of it good, some of it bad. In the GOOD NEWS, I’ve finished writing a new cookbook! Vegan Lunch Box Around the World features menus from, well, around the world, with emphasis on nutrient-dense recipes and the healthy vegetables, salads, and fruits I like to feature in my meals (don’t worry – there are more than a few special treats thrown in as well!) Visit my flickr album to get a glimpse at the great pictures my friend Michelle took for the book (the veggie burger is my favorite). It will be available in September, so stay tuned!

In BAD NEWS, my son’s health has been failing this fall and winter. Bit of background: as I’ve mentioned before, shmoo lives in a mixed “mom loves veggies/dad loves steak” household, and although I try to present him with healthy plant-based options at all times, I’ve never dictated what the shmoo was “allowed” to eat. Although he consistently prefers veggie meats over the real thing, he’s never gotten over his passion for junk food, soda pop, and cheese. I battle with sugar addiction myself, and I know I haven’t helped at all with all the times I’ve broken down and brought home bags of cookies, taken him to Baskin-Robbins with me, or shrugged my shoulders when he wanted soda pop. Even worse, he continues to dislike a lot of the vegetables I offer, and his resistance to them seems to be getting more intense as he gets older. Many of the healthy foods he used to eat he now refuses to touch (he even turned down broccoli the last time I made it!)

Then a few months ago my husband decided to start buying raw, unpasteurized whole milk. This thick milk comes in glass jars with enormous globs of cream rising to the surface. Shmoo has been sucking this stuff down in huge glassfuls and loving it…it’s like drinking half-and-half.

This summer I was alarmed watching his weight go up, and then listening to the doctor prescribe him allergy pills. But I continued to maintain that my son was his own person and could make his own choices. I provided all the educational material I could without sounding too “geez, mom” lectury, but in my mixed household (i.e. without the agreement and support of his father) I feel like I’m only listened to so much, and that my hands are somewhat tied (i.e. I can suggest he lay off the crap, but I can’t remove it from my house).

Then in December, shmoo started coughing continuously, day and night, and was finally diagnosed with asthma. Now he carries an inhaler wherever he goes. Since then he’s also suffered two long-lasting colds that never seem to go away.

Is it the milk? I hate to talk trash about something certain people near-and-dear to me see as an ideal food, but I honestly think so. Of course, it could also be the junk food we’ve allowed (even vegan food can be unhealthy garbage!!), or the soda pop he always drinks when he’s away from home, or something else entirely.

Anyway, after nagging his wheezy little head off, I finally convinced him to lay off milk for the last three weeks or so. It’s impossible to say anything for sure just yet, but he tells me he feels a difference, and he has only needed the inhaler twice in the last week, versus several times a day before. Now if only the cold would go away…

What’s the moral, peoples?
If I had to go back and do it again, you bet I would be laying down the law a heck of a lot more, enforcing instead of suggesting healthier eating, and hopefully would manage to be a better, more consistent role model for my son.

60 comments:

Nicole (anotheronebitesthecrust.wordpress.com) said...

I hope your son feels better soon. Asthma is no fun at all :(

eilismaura said...

The best role model you can be is the one who teaches your son how to cope with life changes.

Changes in health can be VERY hard to learn to cope with especially if they come along with possible changes in ability to do things like 'normal people'.

It is possible - even if you did everything 'right' (whatever that means) he could have developed asthma anyway. It is important to understand and deal with the things that aggravate it and find what helps minimize it and how to deal 'attacks'.

Good luck! and DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!!!

Clare said...

That sounds like a hard situation. I hope it settles down soon and you work out what helps and what hinders. Good luck!

herbstsonne said...

Oh no, what a terrible thing to go through. :( And how frustrating. You're awesome for being so involved in your child's health and well-being, many people would chuck pills at him and not try to find out the cause of the problem. Don't be too hard on yourself!

Can't wait for the next book! The pictures are gorgeous!

Jafael said...

I'm THRILLED there will be a new book. The Vegan Lunch Box inspired me to look into Veganism, and in the process I discovered that dairy was behind my long standing health issues. I had no idea until I stopped having it every meal.

Consequently I would agree your son's health issues are linked to the dairy, since they mine were. I wish him the best of health.

DJ Karma said...

I feel for you- not easy living with loved ones who won't see the vegan perspective as their own. Hope it is a learning experience for them...you can only lead a horse to the water...best wishes for Shmoo!

Mary H. said...

I just cut milk out of my son's diet on the recommendation of our allergist. No more night time coughing and his allergy shiners around his eyes are gone. I hope Schmoo's health is better soon.

Congrats on the new book!!

emily said...

i'd love to hear how this goes. My husband and I rarely drank milk - neither of us liked the taste or the ethics behind most milk production. But then we moved and live near a great, ethically run dairy that puts its milk in glass bottles. Their milk tastes wonderful (which make you wonder about the other milk...) and we've been drinking it more often. Not so much drinking as using in coffee, cereal, recipes. We've also enjoyed their cheeses. Well, my weight's gone up a little (more sugar too, though), but everything else seems just the same. But I wonder what to do when we have kids... (and when we move away from this wonderful dairy).

ana4stampin said...

I hope your son gets better soon, specially if it is the milk. Personally, milk has never been my favorite but my youngest son LOVES it too! What to do?

Thanks for the update on the new cookbook! Can't wait!!

Anderale said...

I have asthma and have all my life. I feel much, much worse when I have dairy. I haven't touched milk in years and only have cheese when I break down and "cheat". I hope you can get him to give that stuff up. Good luck.

Kiersten said...

Sorry to hear about your son. I've had asthma since I was 2 years old. It was really bad when I was a child, but now it has pretty much vanished.

It's not your fault, you sound like a good role model to me!

veganmomma said...

Thanks for sharing this story. My children are vegan, but are still very young and I aren't out of my sight very often. I worry for sure about dairy, especially since my almost 2 year old son is showing signs of allergies. He is still nursing which is great as I have a good friend who weaned her child at 18 months and that is exactly when he got asthma! (ok, total tangent) anyway, I think you are being a very good mom by discussing it with him and he is even noticing that he feels a difference. If only we could get your dh on board! On a separate not, my 4.5 year old daughter is slightly overweight on a strictly vegan diet and I blame myself for allowing too many treats, or maybe too much refined carbs, not enough fruits and veggies, but all I can really do is try my best to provide her healthy meals and be a good role model since she doesn't like most veggies. Hang in there!

Natastrophe said...

Hi Jennifer,

Must be frustating but don't blame yourself. The truth is... well, I was a meat, dairy and sweets guzzling little fatty when I was a kid and it's not that my parents encouraged it... I was just a little piggy!

Anyway, don't be too hard on yourself. You're doing a great thing teaching Schmoo about the importance of freedom of choice (kids who don't get choice just resent their parents and want to rebel) and you're also teaching him about tolerance (you and hubby are a perfect example).

Sometimes it's OK to take control if you know for sure you're doing the right thing. I think you've taken a really positive, cautious step in asking him to lay off the milk a little to see if that's the problem (rather than blindly blaming the dairy).

If now is one of the times when you need to be a dictator, well, he'll understand when he grows up... all you've gotta do is make sure the milk is the problem and get hubby's support :)


P.s. Really looking fwd to the new book, pics are stunning!

Renee said...

I had asthma related to allergies as a kid, and milk and chocolate used to aggravate it. It may not be the type of milk, but the volume of it. Worth trying a break to see if health improves!

Jennifer said...

Poor Shmoo... I hope he feels better. I know for myself ( an omnivore) I feel much much better when I eat healthy and vegan. But the other commenters are right - don't blame yourself. You are an excellent role model of both health and tolerance. :) Shmoo eats much much better than most kids, and you're to thank for that

Amey said...

oh dear, poor shmoo and poor you. I hope you can find some solutions that help him feel healthy again. It's pretty neat that he agreed to do a no-dairy experiment. Good luck, and thanks for sharing this story with us. It's very thought provoking.

Marti said...

I thought the sale of raw milk was illegal, because of all the contaminates it carries.

Jennifershmoo said...

It is, but there's a raw milk underground. Some people think it's healthier and more natural than pasteurized.

Frank Language said...

It's the milk.

In poor communities with high air pollution and where many children have no choice but to eat and drink the government-sponsored school lunches (read milk and cheese,) there is a huge percentage of asthma cases. In my own neighborhood (Lower East Side of Manhattan) there is an asthma epidemic, and while most blame air pollution exclusively, I'm inclined to give poor diet part of the blame.

You may know of Robert Cohen's NotMilk site; while some call his columns biased, they are based on his years as a researcher. I credit him for giving me the push in 2001 when I heard him on a radio program talking about how dairy is nothing but "pus with hormones and glue."

Just read this article and see if it rings and bells with you; or this one about raw milk.

I realize you're in the position where if you insist to Shmoo that raw milk is unhealthy, he'll probably want it more, but at least you'll have a little more information to go with.

Maybe it isn't the milk at all, but I'd bet money that it is.

Dobsonites said...

So sorry to hear about poor Schmoo. Hopefully he will start feeling better soon and find something else to drink.
My hubby has asthma, and although we're not particularly healthy vegans, he has noticed a difference since giving up dairy. He uses less drugs and he doesn't even get hayfever anymore (don't understand how that works, but there it is).

coloured light said...

i think the sugar is totally understandable, but the milk might be a problem. my sister has asthma and when we were kids she wasnt allowed any because it would just make her phlegmy and sick. even our doctor advised against it, especially cold milk. if he really wants milk, maybe make him drink warm milk, and then try easing him off it? my sister's fine now that she's older, and can drink milk without a problem. she was also advised to avoid citrus and bananas on days where she was phlegmy. perhaps this is because we kinda followed a more oriental food philosophy with 'heaty' and 'cooling' foods but they worked. anyway, take care, and hope your son gets better soon. its not your fault, keep your chin up! =)

tanita s. davis said...

Hi,
My sister has just turned 13, and she and my mother, who is vegan, have had this go-round for a long time. My dad is a vegetarian, but a junk food junker who does the dairy. Mom took the harder line and laid down the law about what happens within the house and so my sister is a no-dairy at home person, but definitely seeks out the rest when she's away, and it doesn't help that a lot of the families of her friends think she's deprived.

When I left home, I got asthma because I immediately dove into all of what I thought I was missing. It took a long time for me to figure out what I was doing wrong -- at least Shmoo has you.

I think that you're doing the best that can be done; allowing your son to see for himself how he feels. I'm excited that he chose to take the non-dairy experiment, and this is just a first memorable lesson in making good personal choices. No matter what, it's not the end of the world -- he'll learn. I'm sure you're doing this right.

Congratulations on your new book. Yay for you!

Shauna said...

I went from drinking 4L of homogenized milk a week (I'm 110lbs, so that really is a lot) and using my asthma inhaler 4-8 times a day to becoming vegan (ie- no dairy) and using it about twice a week approx. a month in.

It really makes a difference, and like your little one, I've had asthma since early childhood. I think cutting out the dairy will really help.

Hermione said...

in defense of raw milk (i'd like to point out here that i am a vegan, as are my children, so we don't drink it anyway; full disclosure!), there is nothing in raw milk that isn't in processed milk. and if you've worked on a dairy farm, you know it's a lot of junk in that milk, either way.

dairy is an asthma catalyst for a lot of people, whether it's been processed or not. for those people who do drink milk, raw milk isn't any worse for you than what you get at the supermarket and certainly has been exposed to fewer pathogens along the way just by dint of not having traveled as far.

as for kids and food choices, i raised mine vegan and let them start making their own food choices when they started school. they've chosen to be ovolactovegetarians (still hard-line against meat) and that's okay with me. it could be worse. they prefer soy milk to cow and eat soy yogurt with relish, but they can't seem to leave out the cheese and i will pry eggs only from their cold, dead fingers. we have our own hens, so this is also okay with me. so far, they're healthy, fit kids. if they started having allergy symptoms, i'm sure i'd take a very hard line.

Virginia said...

thank you so much for opening up with this story. parenting is SO hard and it helps to know that we are not the only mothers out there going through this with our children. you just have to do what you feel is best for your child, i agree in letting children make their own decisions but when they are this young, parents know better in the end. good luck!

Brenna said...

Hermione, I have to disagree about the raw milk. Yes, milk from small local farms may carry a lower risk of being contaminated than mass-market dairy, from not being pooled and shipped long distances. But pasteurization was invented for a reason: Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and other pathogens can all be found in raw milk. Outbreaks are pretty common. Don't be fooled by the "natural" halo.

Disclaimer: I am an epidemiologist, but I am not your epidemiologist.

Steph said...

Have you noticed problems when Schmoo is drinking milk that isn't raw? Is it all dairy? (It is a very common catalyst for allergies, as Hermione says.)

Essie said...

It could totally be the milk. I suffered from a dairy allergy for way too many years. Almost as soon as I went vegan I noticed an improvement and looked into the connection between dairy and allergies--it's very well documented! Why not ask the pediatrician, or just try a week or two dairy-free to see if it helps?

As others noted, raw milk is really not a good idea, allergies (and veganism) aside. Why in the world take a chance on Listeria, which can be FATAL? Even pasteurized skim milk is not a health food, and though it might be fine in moderation for some people, once I read T. Colin Campbell's The China Study, I knew I'd never touch any of it again! (Great book.)

Good luck. Hope your son feels better soon!

Laci said...

Jennifer-
(* this will be a long comment!)
First of all, congrats for finishing your second cookbook! It looks AMAZING and I <3 the photos, can't wait to buy it! (vegan lunch box has DEFFINATLY changed my daily school lunches into something way more exciting!) I love the ethnical theme, very creative!
As for little shmoo, I'm sorry you're stuck in this situation. I know how you feel to live in a house hold with someone with the oppisite food choices as your own, and then it must be even more of a challenge to deal with trying to be a healthy role modal for your child. The cow's milk, though it may be raw (any better?), is probably triggering his allergies and I'm so sorry he's gotten asthma, of all things. I know it's hard to convince us older children and teens to "eat their veggies" and for a while we may resent it. But I'm sure as he gets even older he will look back and think "gee, I had such a wonderful mom to have dedicated a fabulous, healthful cookbook to me as a child" and hopefully he'll take on the same habbits as he once did and pass them on to his own children. For now, I am just glad you are laying off the milk because I read that when a child's immune system isn't accumstomed to certian foods or animals or experiences, thier bodies may develop allergies or health issues around it... also, did you know 80% of the world is lactose intolerant? I read this in another article... consider that not all countries drink milk of other animals, US being the biggest industry, and many people are acually allergic to it though that may not be so clear. When I went Vegan my excama cleared and now I'm happy to announce my skin has never felt better. Anyways, I hope shmoo's health gets well once again, and remember, he'll be entering his "terrible teens" before you know it, but I assure you they'll pass, in addition to his food choices which may be influenced by the people around him, so just keep up with your modaling ones!
Take care, I wish you only the best! :)
P.S. I know what you mean about the sugar, it's almost like a drug. I admired how you used to put some sweet item in his lunchbox daily, but not overdue it, does he still resent this?

Karen said...

Its the milk. No doubt. Shmoo will feel so much better if he stays off of it for at least a month. I did the same experiment with my own "little shmoos" --the one that kept drinking milk (even though I encouraged her not to) has horrible skin, bad health and is always depressed. The one who is essentially vegan (an occassional egg--never cow's milk) is straight A student, NEVER sick (one cold in 2 years that lasted only 2 days), happy, clear skin, and an outstanding athlete. Trust me. It's the milk.

And I am SOOOO happy about the new book. Just in time for my birthday!

http://myristica.etsy.com said...

I hope your son feels better soon. In my house, I went from being "omnivore" (very heavy on the meat)... then started going "organic" and "natural", including raw milk. If my kids were to drink milk, I much preferred the raw milk from the local farm that we visited. When we lived *way* out in the country, we used raw milk from the neighbour's cow -- none of the factory farm horrors. Then, one day, I'd read enough (and experienced enough death of loved ones to cancer) and became Vegan. I still think that if someone wanted to have some meat or dairy, it's best to have the wild stuff and not the factory farm polluted stuff. I sat my kids down, and explained my decision to be Vegan (initially, it was mostly a preventative anti-cancer decision), and that they were old enough (ages 15 and 10) to make a decision for themselves, too.
They continued eating fast food cheeseburgers, drinking milk, etc. for a while... but then I noticed they were eating more and more of "my" stuff instead... that I'd go to fix myself something, and my supplies were gone because they'd eaten it. I started having to throw out the cow milk from the fridge because they weren't using it up before the expiration date.
Now, we're at the point that my kids eat vegan at home. They prefer hemp milk to cow milk. They prefer soy butter. They gobble up my sprouted flax bread, etc. They've come to really like TVP and my homemade seitan.
I know they eat other things at school and around their friends, but I figure the foundation they get at home is a really good start.

Quick question... if your son is getting allergy medication, what is the dr. saying the allergy is to? Milk? or is he turning up allergic to something else as a by-product of drinking large quantities of milk that he's not accustomed to?

I hope it works out soon. Thank you so much for being an awesome resource. You seem like a wonderful person.

veggievixen said...

i love the combo of oranges & beets.

i'm so sorry about your son--i was thinking food allergy as i read this too. you never know, because our bodies change chemistry every 7 years.

you could try cooking carrots in maple syrup or using spinach in pesto instead of basil, or even pureeing cauliflower and calling them "mashed potatoes."

best of luck with everything.

Bianca said...

At least he's starting to feel better! My parents, neither or whom are veg, were very lenient with me on food choices. I ate pretty much whatever junk food and nasty meat stuff I wanted to, but they chose to eat a bit healthier.

In about 3rd grade, I suddenly ballooned into a fat kid. And kids started making fun of me. Then one day, my dad pulled me aside and mentioned that I was little overweight. Like duh, dad. But anyway, it inspired me to take charge of my weight and eating choices.

My parents were supportive of that and I started working out with my mom and eating much better. By 14, I went vegetarian. So I'm sure Schmoo will grow out of the junk food phase since he has such a healthy mom role model.

laurenk said...

I love your blog and it's my example of how a "mixed" marriage (like mine) can work! know many of us out here are cheering for you.

This might be a weird idea, but have you thought of betting him vs. nagging. (Obviously take this w/ a lot of salt as I don't yet have a kid.) There was an article in the NYT a couple weeks ago about diet betting and how competitive cash incentive helps people lose weight, maybe it work w/ kicking or reducing dairy too (because I was a greedy kid it could have worked on pudgy-child me). The dairy and junk food industry spends way more to convince him than you possibly could!

Good luck!

Maxime said...

Don't feel bad! When I was a kid, all I ate was hot dogs, Kraft Dinner, fish sticks, chicken mcnuggets and potatoes! I clearly remember the first time I ever tasted broccoli; I was 19! So even with the junk food and pop, your child is eating better than 90% of children in North America. And that's awesome!

As a side note, I was brought up on raw, whole milk as well (my step-father worked on a dairy farm, so it was legal), and I never had a single allergy problem in my life. I would venture to guess that milk doesn't cause allergies, but it probably aggravates existing allergies that would probably be very minor otherwise.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Have you noticed problems when Schmoo is drinking milk that isn't raw? Is it all dairy? (It is a very common catalyst for allergies, as Hermione says.)

This is really the first time shmoo found milk that he loved so much he started drinking it in big glassfuls every day. Maybe it has more fat than storebought milk, or maybe it's just the quantity?

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Quick question... if your son is getting allergy medication, what is the dr. saying the allergy is to? Milk? or is he turning up allergic to something else as a by-product of drinking large quantities of milk that he's not accustomed to?

Oh, that's a good point -- the allergy symptoms are red, itchy eyes and a runny nose, so the doctor said he was probably just allergic to dust and pollen. She prescribed something like Claritin and didn't think it had anything to do with diet.

Amy said...

What beautiful pictures of your new book. I'm very excited to get the cookbook after seeing them. Everything looks so delicious.

We have a mixed house here too so I know it's hard and I have 2 kids that get eczema after eating dairy. It sounds like you are doing the best you can.

gillian said...

Lay down the law vegan momma! I was force fed milk my whole childhood with constant nose bleeds - asthma, ear infections, and several vists to the ER. "Is she drinking enough milk?" My doctor would ask - Vegan for 20 years now.....2 vegan kids.....all perfectly healthy.....hardly even a cold ever for my kids. I told my husband prior to marriage.....a non vegan lifestyle would be a deal breaker. He has thanked me many times over for forcing his eyelids open - His asthma of 32 years dissapeared. No more inhaler. My kids will also proudly state they do not eat muscle. you go for it!!!!

lisbet said...

I don't have a kid but I am a vegetarian (mostly vegan) married to a carnivore (who is at least particular about the meat he eats).

Anyway, I have gotten acupuncture from several practitioners over the years, and they have always advised me to not consume dairy. They tend to identify it as a root cause of my allergies.

I still do eat cheese in the course of a week, but don't drink cow milk.

I have noticed a big difference in my allergies and overall constitution.

Steph said...

Sorry to hear of your & Schmoo's troubles. I have to admit, though, it sounds like the problem is *excess* milk rather than milk in general. Moderation, therefore, might be what you need there. I have lactose intolerance - or did have - since I was a baby. Of course that didn't exist back then, and my mother noted that I just didn't sleep and had "colic" and all that. As a college student I noticed that I had bouts of upset stomach after multiple glasses of milk, so I cut milk out entirely for a while, then started having an occasional glass of milk - not more than a cup at a time, never more than once a week. Now I can't even tell that I have a problem. Turns out I can tolerate that much - so now I know my limit and stick to it. Also, I think it is fair to note that milk is baby food and we may not be able to process it as well the older we get. My daughter has stopped asking for it, and I don't force it on her. She happily drinks water with her meals now, and no complaints. Milk does still go good with cookies, though! :)

I hope this helps.

Chris said...

My kids live in the same situation. A vegetarian mom, from birth, and a meat eating dad. The first two I let choose when they wanted to eat meat. The last three are not *allowed* to eat meat. I made a mistake letting the first two eat meat and now they are too old for me to break them of it. I know they will choose the right thing eventually...

Oh one of my vegetarian children has asthma and allergies (shots, 5 daily meds :(). Food or milk made no difference in his symptoms, sadly.

Ellen said...

My son is 7 and vegan, thanks to you. He was diagnosed with asthma at age 18month and did 2 40minute nebulizer treatments per day. At age 6, we had his allergy tested and he came up allergic to milk and sensitive to gluten. With those foods removed, he has been off all medications for over a year. He is healthy again. I highly recommend a homeopathic MD who will encourage allergy testing and supplements. Good luck!

Zedral Z said...

Here's hoping Shmoo feels better soon! The Flickr photos are beautiful. I was so happy to see the Turkish recipe for stuffed eggplants, or as they say around these parts, zeytinyağlı patlıcan dolması :) One of my favorites!

Lili said...

You might be interested in reading The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid. It explains why so many states and countries have banned the sell of raw milk, as well as its health effects (different from pasteurized milk).

aredcardigan said...

poor lil shmoo...i hope he feels better soon. milk is bad and i am highly sensitive to milk products too....

he has an awesome caring mom looking after him.

it's gonna work out:D

Garden Faery said...

I'm sorry to say, but it's the milk. Milk causes a build up of mucus in the body. If you get your son back on a veggie diet with NO milk at all, his weight will come down and his asthma will disappear.

Isla said...

I was born in the mid 80s and brought up on a healthy vegetarian diet.
I am interested to read that you are not strict with your son ie. you allow him to make his own decisions. I would advise you, based on my own experiance, to continue in this way. My own parents were very strict with what I ate and as a result as soon as they were out of sight I ate any unhealthy snack I could lay my hands on! When I was a little older, they chilled out a lot and when they started allowing unhealthier foods in our home as a choice these snacks stopped being so exciting and I found that I would rather eat the tastier healthy food than the bland formerly forbidden food that had seemed so tempting before.
As a result I grew up to have a very healthy lifestyle that does not feel like a chore.
Carry on giving your son all the information he needs to eat healthily, but don't ban unhealthy snacks, it just makes them more tempting. If he makes the decision himself he is far more likely to carry on eating healthily when his parents are not there to police him.
Regarding his asthma; My father developed severe asthma at 35 and after a year of doctor visits and hospital admissions he sought the advice of a homeopath. Within 5 minutes she suggested a dairy free diet and he has since gone from daily problems and life threatening attacks to a mild attack avery few months.

I hope this is of interest.

Berta said...

Hi Jennifer,

I drank milk while growing up and because I didn't have the typical lactose-intolerant symptoms (gas, diarrhea, etc.) I thought I was fine. I did occasionally break out in hives, and I constantly had a runny nose and watery eyes starting in high school, but didn't think of it. It wasn't until the stress of planning my wedding that I started breaking out in hives daily, which drove me to see an allergist. After taking a test for IgG antibodies, I found out I was sensitive to dairy (and eggs and yeast). Anyways, since I cut out the dairy, I've felt much better. Occasionally I will make exceptions (ice cream, cheese) - but it's always done with the consideration "is this food going to give me such pleasure that it's worth the consequences the next day or two?" I think as Schmoo gets to know his body better he will naturally choose foods that make him feel good.

millipuppy said...

I just thought I'd say I've had allergies all my life and asthma since my early 20's (after a bad bout of pneumonia, but predisposed to it thru family)

A few years ago I gave up drinking milk because I thought it was bringing on migraines, but I kept on eating cheese and ummm... a lot of ice cream ;)

I found out that when I was a baby they told my mother that I was allergic to milk but that I would grow out of it...

however, just a few weeks ago, I'm in my mid 30's now, I had blood tests run for allergies. Along with some surprises (cats... we have 6!) there was milk on the list with a significant reaction.

So now i'm starting to adjust my eating habits to eliminate all dairy from my diet, and I think it's already making a difference.

I'd suggest taking shmoo back to his doctor, the new blood test is sooooo much better for detecting allergies, both food and pollen/environmental, than the old scratch test. I had the scratch test years ago and it was miserable (so very itchy).

That way you'll know for sure if he's got a milk allergy, which is apparently fairly common. Also, the allergen is the protein so the whole milk with the cream would probably just have more of the associated proteins so the reaction could be stronger.

Either way, you shouldn't feel bad at all. I've been reading your blog off and on for years and I think you've done an amazing job. Besides, nothing is as ornery as a pre-teen or teen... I bet as he gets older the healthy habits are what will come naturally to him and he'll really appreciate the time and effort you spent to give him the healthiest start you could.

Margaret said...

My son is severely IgE allergic (anaphylactic) to milk and cannot consume even minute quantities and has not, except for some horrible mistakes, his whole life. He still has a cough variant asthma from his environmental allergies that is controlled with medicine. Milk (while evil to my son) is definitely not the whole story. There is a sort of IgE bucket theory of allergies out there that may apply to your son. That your body can deal with so many allergy issues but eventually the bucket fills up and your body reacts with symptoms. Milk may have pushed him over that edge if he is sensitive to it. The theory goes that removing any allergen may help. It may be worth finding out if he has other allergies. Just a thought, it's no fun trying to figure this stuff out. Good luck, I enjoy your blog.

Becca said...

Two of my brothers had some pretty bad allergies growing up. We drank milk substitute and didn't eat eggs because of it. Of course we did eat meat like liver, so we were in no way vegan. I know my two brothers would test out foods to see if they were allergic, and sometimes claim they could drink milk no problem after having it at school once or twice. Typically the onset for milk allergic symptoms is 7-10 days. Funny enough, one of the brothers got 'asthma' and had an inhaler and the whole nine yards. My mother found a different milk substitute that we liked the taste of and his 'asthma' went away. The doctors said he might have outgrown it, but when he didn't even develop it until he was 14, I doubt it was really asthma.

Have you tried giving him oat milk? Its definitely not the same a whole raw milk, but its a reasonable substitute for skim.

Texan Will Travel said...

I think you were too hard on yourself at the end of the post. You've been a great role model for your son! One of the things I'm grateful for is that my mom was constantly (constantly!) cooking new things and introducing us to new fruits and veggies in our vegetarian household. It was a great lesson in learning to try new things...
On a related note, as a child I was diagnosed as being "allergic" to corn, malt and milk. (I've never considered myself to have allergies, because I've known people who carry around epi-pens and end up in the ER if they eat a certain food; thank goodness that wasn't me!) But my mom didn't make too big of a deal of it, since it didn't seem to affect me all that much that I could tell - and she could never find a milk substitute in the 80's that I liked. I thought they were all too sweet; thank goodness there are better alternatives today.
As an adult, however, I was better at noticing reactions to the food I ate. I was like your son with milk: I could down glass after glass - I craved it. And that's what made me stop. I finally realized that drinking milk just made the craving worse and I didn't like it. And while everyone is different, I have also noticed that when I eat processed foods with a lot of corn or corn oil, or lots of milk, my pulse goes up. Within 20 minutes of eating more than I should have of that food, I can be in the 90-100/beats per minute range, when normal rest for me is in the 60's. That reaction may not occur for everyone, but it was something I learned only after some research - it was my body's way of reacting to something that wasn't quite right.
Your son has a good foundation; he is learning good habits. So don't kick yourself for not regulating things enough; you're doing a great job! And if he's like myself and many others, he'll turn out just fine...

Krista said...

I'm a vegan, so I don't believe that milk is made for human consumption.

BUT IN DEFENSE OF MILK, You get the nasty bacterias from factory farm dairies. If you get your milk from a small local dairy where the animals are well cared for your risk of getting the dangerous bacterias goes way, way down.

As for all the other living things in raw milk, it's antibodies the mother cow passes to the babies. No, it's not made specifically for humans, but they aren't "bad," either.

That being said, I do feel that dairy had a lot to do with your son's flare-up with asthma and allergies. My hubby is still a vegetarian, but in the home we're vegan. He hardly ever eats dairy. When we go to my mom's house he eats gobs of cheese and his asthma and allergies kick in. When we're at home eating vegan he doesn't have problems.

And I want to give a shout-out from the Tri-Cities, that's where I grew up! Hi!

Seanain said...

Dairy increases phlegm production in any one, so at the very least it would make asthma symptoms worse. That said I had asthma-like symptoms growing up (not to mention chronic ear infections), turned out to be the dairy, specifically cow related dairy. So he could have a bovine allergy (anything from a cow, or other animal of the bovine family). So if he is eating beef, then you might have an argument for him to try laying off that for a while too, and see if the rest of the symptoms go away.

Crystal said...

Illness is what pushed me from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet. I kept getting sick- bronchitis that lasted over a month, etc. I knew that dairy created phlegm and knew that cutting back on dairy was good. I then read something about casein and the way in can inhibit your immune system. I did a two week trail run of veganism to see if I noticed a difference. This July will be my third veganversary.

Anupama said...

It is great that your son is better now.
One question :- Did you do allergy testing for your son?
Also , would he drink the unpasteurized milk without boiling? Back In india where I come from we get this milk but we do not drink without boiling.
Just curious.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>One question :- Did you do allergy testing for your son?

No, we didn't go in for allergy testing, although I would have if stopping milk hadn't worked. Luckily it seems to have worked perfectly -- not a hint of cough, cold, or asthma in the last few weeks! :-)

>>Also , would he drink the unpasteurized milk without boiling? Back In india where I come from we get this milk but we do not drink without boiling.

I wish my husband would boil it, but he doesn't. There's a whole group of people here that believe in the health benefits of drinking raw milk that hasn't been exposed to heat.

It's interesting to note how many cultures that traditionally consume dairy turn their raw milk into a fermented product (like yogurt) before they consume it. Perhaps that was their way of making it safer and more digestible?

Jill said...

I know this is super late (was surfing and found your blog), but yes. It's the milk.
I had serious asthma the whole time I was growing up...and being fed a steady diet of milk, cheese, pudding, and second hand smoke. About 10 years ago I gave up the milk (after a long battle with a chronic sinus infection that came out my tear duct...then I surrendered). For 9 of the last 10 years doctors have told me that I no longer have asthma. 33 years of a disease and it just disappears. it was the milk. Good luck with it. It just depends on individual people's tolerance of milk. Mine is apparently zero.

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