Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dairy Free Living

In case you didn't make the click last week to my guest blogging post over at The Great Walls of Baltimore, here it is. (I wanted to go ahead and record it over here, too, so that I can easily put it into my 2008 blog book).

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First, let me say that I am honored to be a guest blogger here at The Great Walls of Baltimore! I love popping over here because I always feel like more of a grown up. Mature conversation is always nice for a SAHM of three boys!

MommyK asked me to discuss how we live with food allergies, so let me give you an update of our situation: Our youngest son, Wittman (15 months old), has a severe allergy to cow's milk. And when I say severe, I mean it could kill him... just to get the point across. Upon contact with dairy products he will break out in hives. If he ingests dairy, he'll go into anaphylactic shock. We found this out the hard way when he was 5 months old. He has also tested highly allergic to egg white and egg yolk, but we don't know how his body reacts to those because he's never had either.

Out of all questions we had, the first thing we resolved was that our whole family would be dairy free because the boys are so young and can't understand the severity of the allergy. Being a dairy-free family has it's ups and downs. Some people think we're crazy. Some think we're right on. Either way, here are a few issues we deal with:


COOKING

Obviously no "real" cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. Oh, how I miss my comfort foods at times! However, my cholesterol has dropped back into the normal range without medication and the only thing that has changed is my diet. I also lost 5 pounds the first week (but must admit that once I found that Oreos and Original Pringles are DF, the 5 pounds came back! LOL!)

Suitable substitutes are generally more expensive than their dairy-filled counterparts and some are not locally available to us - pay extra to get them or do without. We've learned to do without in some cases, but still treat ourselves to vegan "cheese" in a casserole every now and then. I've also learned that many times a store brand will be DF when the name brand is not (Wal*mart or Kroger brand semi-sweet chocolate chips being a prime example). Sometimes DF is more expensive. Sometimes it's not.

I've also learned about a whole new world of ingredients! In my research about DF living, I've come across a few items I had never heard of: nutritional yeast, stevia, and quinoa. I've learned more about the health benefits of wheat germ, hemp seed and flax seed. I've also acquired a cupboard full of different types of flour and I get to have some fun experimenting in the kitchen! Not all of these are for dairy-free living, but they certainly are for healthier living! I've even become more organized and started a recipe blog to help keep up with our dairy-free recipe conversions.



EATING OUT

Eating anywhere else but our own home is stressful (for me). We don't eat at restaurants as a family at all. The possibility for cross-contamination is just too high and then of course there is the restaurant's high chair Witt would sit in... did the last child that sat in it have mac-n-cheese? How well was it cleaned? Did I double check for the Benedryl and and Epi-pen before we left? (We have had an occurance where we found a piece of cheese in the corner of a high chair that resulted in hives.)

We will "order in" occasionally. This in itself brings on a whole new dynamic to the family supper. Witt is first placed in his high chair with something safe to eat (if at all possible, it's something similar to what we've ordered). His high chair is placed away from the table, but still facing us. If Witt needs something, I have to clean myself up before touching him or his food. After supper, the other two boys are brushed off, hands and faces washed immediately. If needed, clothes are changed. The table is cleared and the food put away extra carefully or thrown away. If thrown away, the trash goes out. The table and chairs are washed down completely. The floors are swept. Mopped if necessary. The towel used to wash the table is washed out throughly and put in our designated spot so that it won't be used again until after it's been through the washing machine. After all that, Jeff and I wash up. Witt can then be taken out of his chair and sent to play with his brothers. (After all that cleaning, he's lucky if he gets a rag wiped over his face - just kidding... sort of... LOL!) But even after all that, there is still the constant checking to make sure we didn't miss anything and that he's not swelling up in any form or fashion.


Pot lucks with the church are stressful (for me), too. I am very diligent to keep Wittman well supervised and in his personal highchair in the corner of our fellowship hall so no one touches him (with possible dairy residue on their hands) or say, tries to give him a cookie. (Our congregation is large and not everyone knows about his allergy, and he's just so cute, I can understand why someone would want to pinch his cheeks or give him a cookie!)



READING LABELS

Hidden milk
products in unsuspecting places scares me. I am now an avid label reader. We've found or heard of milk products in toddler toothpaste, dog biscuits, shampoo, soy yogurt, and other places it really doesn't need to be (IMO). However, I know about everything that comes into my house. I may not know what it is or how to say it, but I know what's dairy related and what's not. I still buy my fair share of pre-packaged foods, but hope to find ways of cooking more from scratch.


BEING FAIR

Being fair to all of my children while being safe is probably the most difficult of all. Try explaining to a 5 year old that he can't have the treat his teacher gave him until his baby brother is down for a nap. And even then, he must sit at the table and then wash his hands and mouth (and maybe change his clothes, too) as soon as he's done. William has gotten very good at asking me if something is dairy free and sometimes he's quite disappointed when I say no.

Will also won't drink soy milk unless I've flavored it with Nesquick chocolate powder (yes, DF!). He didn't mind the sweetened vanilla soy milk at first, but has since said that he misses "not dairy free milk". That makes me a little sad that he struggles with being dairy-free. Now that he's in school though, I send him money so he can get a carton of milk with his snack. That seems to please him enough. I also send yogurt covered raisins in his lunch box as a treat.

Nathan (age 2 1/2) doesn't have a thing to say about being dairy-free. He wasn't even 2 years old when we made the switch, so it's a non-issue with him... for now.

We are still hopeful and prayerful that Wittman will outgrow his allergies. Last I heard, 80% of children will outgrow their milk allergy by age 4. Witt goes for his annual allergy test this December. Also, in case you start hearing more and more about milk allergies, just a heads up... it was reported to be the most common food allergy (thanks for the info, No Whey Mama!)

Please feel free to swing over my way and say hi sometime. I don't always talk about dairy-free living, sometimes I talk about how to make a superhero cape out of granny panties. ;)

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And there you have it, my first guest blogging post! :)


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9 comments:

Nowheymama said...

Great post!

Super B's Mom said...

WOW. My heart goes out to you - it's amazing how quickly I've forgotten many of the stressful details. I'm so thankful Super B's allergies are subsiding as he gets older. I pray that the same can be said for little Witt. :)

YOU ARE SUCH AN AMAZING MAMA!!

babyboofelt said...

Great post! It's hard being allergic to milk, my parents found out when I was 6 months, when I had my son I kept him dairy free for an entire year until he was tested for allergies.
I have the exact same reaction as your son, I never grew out of it myself but my sister's less sever allergy just limits how much she can have before she gets a rash.
Another ingredient to add to your list of things to watch for is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, although it can be made of soy it can also be made of milk protein (the very part that I'm allergic to).
Gavin still prefers his silk soy milk and yogurts, and won't eat ice cream. For the most part I don't worry about his not liking dairy my friend who is a nurse always says we're now cow's so why would we drink their milk lol

nottryingforaboy said...

As always, great post. I don't know if you read my post from 9/4, but TheYoungest (dairy, soy and egg) just had her first birthday. I made the divvies cupcake recipe, but had trouble finding a suitable butter replacement for the frosting. She liked it anyway.

I have an acquaintance at my kids' school. Her son was dairy allergic too and finally outgrew it at 5 years. He doesn't like how it tastes now, but it would be nice to not to have to live in fear like we do. Here's hoping for Will and for my baby they will outgrow it (preferably before 5, but I'll take whatever I can get.)

nottryingforaboy said...

good grief. I just realized I said Will instead of Witt. I'm sorry.

Becky @ Boys Rule My Life said...

Don't worry if you've mixed up Will and Witt ~ it's gonna happen a lot in our lives, I think! :) You're not the first and won't be the last, I'm certain.

It's so easy when skimming to mix the two up, maybe when I'm talking about both of them in the same post I should use their full names. Not a bad idea....

reprehriestless warillever said...

We get stressed enough avoiding dairy for our lactose-intolerant son -- I can't imagine needing to be *that* careful about milk-derived products.

mom24 said...

Sometimes I have a little pitty party for myself about our food issues with the kids (sensitivities). But yours are truly scary! I can well imagine how stressful it must be to always, always, always, always have to be prepared and incharge of EVERY piece of food that he comes across. But God's knows you can do it - He's made you strong enough, organized enough, and prepared enough! Keep praying that this is an allergy that he will grow out of....
Andrea

i'm beccy. said...

I just found your blog, and am thankful for your post and will be checking out your recipes. My name is Beccy and I have a 2 and 3 year old boys. My 2 year old has a moderate dairy allergy, so we don't have to be AS diligent as you, but I sure cried about it because I had to learn whole new ways to cook (and my older son is a dairy fiend - he gets a lot of his protein from dairy becuase he isn't a big meat fan.) Anyhow, it is encouraging to know I am not the only one out there struggling to figure out some of this stuff.