Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why, Yes I Do!


Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment on my last post, offering their experiences and encouragement. It’s true, raising a child is so difficult at times, especially now that we’ve hit the preteens! Thanks for all your encouraging words and for sharing your own struggles.

It’s so fascinating and affirming to hear from all of you who have also experienced problems with dairy. You know, I’ve often read all the bad news about dairy on sites like milksucks.com and notdairy.com, but I've always taken it with a grain of salt. Many people I know (including my husband) consume dairy with no apparent difficulties, and sometimes I think people with an anti-cruelty agenda will say what they have to say to convince people to go veg, even if it’s not exactly true.

But now that I’ve witnessed it in our own lives and heard from all of you, I take the dangers of dairy (at least for some) much, much more seriously than I did before.

By the way, I wanted to mention that I've also been talking with a fantastic vegan wellness coach who specializes in teaching kids about healthy eating. Gretchen says she sometimes recommends cutting dairy with soymilk, starting at half and half, to start weaning resistant children off milk.

17 comments:

ulyyf said...

"Many people I know (including my husband) consume dairy with no apparent difficulties"

There it is, though. No apparent difficulties.

In my experience, quite a few of my friends, when told that this or that is a symptom of dairy intolerance, have acted surprised or claimed that it's "no big deal". They think it's normal to always be stuffed up, it's normal to have gas, it's normal to have loose, very stinky stools (or to be constipated). Or they're sure that their eczema or asthma has an environmental cause, not a dietary one.

I suspect - I don't know, but I suspect - that far more people are intolerant to dairy than realize, because they think their difficulties are normal. They're obvious to those of us who pay attention to such things (honestly, I have nothing against dairy, but man oh man do I have something against the dairy industry!), but people wrapped in them can't see them.

(And how often does it happen to me that somebody bitches enough about their asthma or chronic congestion or eczema or whatever, and I say "it could be the dairy", and they brush me off, only to finally try eliminating it a few months down the line? And when they do, and it works (I have a scary good track record with this), do they thank me? Oh, no, it's all "Nobody ever TOLD me!" and when I say that I told them it's "Oh, no, I think I read it somewhere!" I don't know why I bother, honestly. Hi, do you know me?)

marie*jolie said...

It seems like some people have the kind of immune systems that allow them to eat whatever they want without obvious consequences. But others are more sensitive. In our house, as soon as we gave up dairy we saw a major decrease in illness (to almost nothing). It was almost night and day. My oldest son had asthma, eczema, childhood depression, etc... which we later discovered related to gluten allergies as well as dairy issues. As soon as we cut out both the gluten and the dairy, his problems were eliminated. Pretty amazing how the body can work when given the right resources! Best wishes to you. It does seem to be a heated topic, and it's good of you to do your research and find out what's best for your family. In my experience, cutting out dairy has made a huge difference.

Frank Language said...

"There it is, though. No apparent difficulties."

Good, good point; I never realized I had a problem with dairy until I gave it up in 2001. The respite from congestion and other symptoms reminded me of when I was a kid and in the morning, before the school bus would come, I would have torrential nose bleeds. (I was a daily milk drinker; this was the 60s and it was unthinkable not to feed your kids milk.)

Laurel said...

Hey! first off, I'm a long time reader, never commented though!

Actually dairy, first thought harmless to those not intolerant, has actually shown to have negative effects outside of digestive issues. I wish I had a source for this but I read a study on people's diets. Those who cut out milk products had less acne than those who didin't. I believe it was thought to be the actual lactose in milk, in fact it sounds unrelated to digestive lactose intolerance.

meara said...

I'm an omnivore who just enjoys reading your blog. And I'm much more likely to have a random meat-free day than a dairy-free one. But I do have several friends (meat eaters mostly!) who've cut dairy out either mostly or completely, finding that it seriously aggravates their asthma/respiratory infections/etc. Some people are just more sensitive to things--just like other friends who can't have red wine and chocolate because it gives them migraines, and I'm a little bit allergic to grapes...

Rozmin said...

I guess I'm lucky. I not only have no apparent problems, I have no problems period. Well, at least not from dairy. I'm pretty sure my lack of a solid career path isn't due to dairy consumption. :-) I stick to organic though. I had an ex who had really bad asthma and was ALWAYS sick. When he moved in with me, that changed. I think part of it was the organic dairy vs. conventional (full of anti-biotics and hormones).

tanita s. davis said...

I think it also has a lot to do with how you start out -- Schmoo was more vegetable oriented, and now his focus has changed, and his body has had a harder time keeping up. My husband was raised on whole milk and tons of cheese, and other than being pudgy had no problems with asthma or illness related to dairy -- but now that he's mostly vegan, his allergies to dust and pollens are primarily gone. (As is most of his extra weight, which was MY impetus to go back to vegan!)

This Is What a Feminist Looks Like said...

I'm so sorry that your son is having these problems and hope that cutting dairy turns out to be a solution, since dairy-free living is probably easier than living with serious asthma! That said, while it's clearly true that people are allergic and sensitive to dairy products, people are also sensitive to vegetables, fruits, and grains. So I don't think dairy deserves a bad rap, particularly :)

Leslie said...

If you really want to open your eyes about meat and dairy--read "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell.

Jill said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I just now ordered your book from amazon and can't wait to get it.

Kara said...

I second the comment about "The China Study." It has totally changed the way I look at food.

Laci said...

No Jennier, thank YOU for sharing your story about little Shmoo's issues with dairy and great recipes with dairy alternitives, you fans are always here to be a help!

mikaela d. said...

"Many people I know (including my husband) consume dairy with no apparent difficulties..."

Exactly. One size does *not* fit all (have you read Integrative Nutrition, btw?) -- and besides that, the body responds to change. If Shmoo had been raised on a dairy farm and consumed raw milk weekly or daily since birth, this may not be an issue. Further, if he had been given dairy daily since birth and suddenly went soy crazy, there's a great possibility that he'd be suffering from similar ailments. Our bodies are so different from each other and blanket statements like "dairy/carbs/nuts/soy/wheat are evil" only provide fuel for the I-am-a-bad-mother fire...

You are an awesome and intuitive mom who has given incredible tools to her little man. I *totally* get the desire to allow a child to make his/her own diet choices, but I don't think you're out of line to want to lay the hammer down at this point.

Sigh... tweens are SO MUCH FUN, aren't they? ;)

Lisette said...

As a professional allergy educator and long-time asthma sufferer myself, I know what Shmoo might be going through, and how hard that must be for your whole family!

An important part of behavior change is ownership. Obviously, you have all the information. But does Shmoo? Have you had him read different things about his own health? Having him do it will satisfy some developmental needs, like independence and curiosity, and make things easier for you -- you won't be the only one in the house who knows this information. There are kid-geared websites about allergies and things, but those tend to oversimplify things. If he's a decent reader and has access to a dictionary, I'm sure he could muddle his way through even stuff like Eat to Live. You're there to answer questions, but also have him keep a notebook of questions he comes up with for his doctor. That way he has complete ownership of what he is doing, and he is informed. He also gets practice with some upper-level reading, and gets to flex his critical thinking muscles!

Speaking from personal experience, I started reading my own medical information when I was in 4th grade, and that was the best possible thing for my health -- my asthma was life-threatening, and if my doctor wouldn't have said "Hey, your mom already knows this stuff, you are the one who actually needs to know it." That needing to know has proved to be one of the greatest things anyone has ever taught me.

Your wellness coach sounds great -- you are so very lucky to live in a part of the country where "vegan" isn't a bad word (like here in Iowa)!

Good luck in asthmaland!

Candy said...

Hi, Jennifer! First, I want to say that neither I or my family are vegan, but I am always on the lookout for ways to add more veggies/less meat to our diet. Also, my Mom has recently found out that she is allergic to milk and your site has been really helpful in giving us some non-dairy cooking alternatives. Thanks so much!

This may have been really obvious, but just in case... Has your son been checked for tuberculosis? it has symptoms similar to the ones you mentioned and it's a risk of unpasteurized milk. My dad grew up on a dairy farm and one of his sisters contracted TB from some of their milk even though they had their cows tested regularly.

Anyway, I hope he feels better soon!

mitzi said...

In addition to dropping the milk, Shmoo might want to start watching for his triggers. I was diagnosed with mild asthma as an adult (nobody knew that the violent coughing fits I had when visiting an aunt who smoked were asthma). My mom is chemosensitive, so my parents did not smoke or wear perfumes or use perfumed cleaning products. Winds up I'm allergic to all the above in one form or another, and they can't be tested, because they contain potentially cancer-causing chemicals! Have him watch for it, and he'll learn fast what to avoid. Asthma can be an odd blessing in a way- he'll probably never be able to smoke, or date heavily made-up, perfumed girls, or go into troublesome business establishments. It can keep you out of a world of trouble in high school and college.

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