On again, off again

Dairy has been a food group of much contention in our house over the past year.  First, Matthew tested positive for a dairy allergy (at least according to one type of test) and subsequently went on an elimination diet.  He was part way through the “challenge phase” of the diet, where you add various forms of dairy back into your diet in a specific order (ghee, butter, yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, milk), when The Dude came along.

We had agreed ahead of time that it didn’t make sense for him to continue with the elimination diet once the little one arrived (by that time he was up to “hard cheese” anyway), what with the influx of donated meals.  We were already specifying vegetarian meals, and adding “no dairy” on top of that seemed too complicated.

However, after a few weeks of a very fussy baby, MY dairy consumption became the focus of attention.  Certain proteins in the mother’s diet can pass undigested into breast milk and cause problems for the baby, and dairy proteins are a major culprit, although it is relatively rare (estimates from various sources range from 1 in 100 to 5 in 100).  We consumed most of the dairy-containing food in the house, and then I went cold turkey.

Eight weeks of scrupulously avoiding any dairy, including most foods prepared for us by others, restaurant meals, etc.  Eight frustrating weeks where I really wasn’t sure if it was making a difference for Gabriel, or if I was going to a lot of trouble for nothing.  And then a few weeks ago, I started adding dairy back into my diet.  Not in any particular order — just trying to avoid eating “too much” on any given day.

Since then, The Dude’s poops have taken on a strange consistency — very mucous-y, with a few little streaks of blood on occasion — and, in retrospect, he’s had more issues with gas.  At first, I chalked it up to a bit of a stomach bug, but when it continued, I looked it up, and, you guessed it, the stool changes were consistent with a dairy sensitivity.

So it’s out with the dairy once again.  I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it actually helps him, and at least this time, I have something concrete (or not) to monitor for improvement.

Vegan again?

Although I’ve never officially been vegan, I was pretty darn close for a couple of years, including the time when I met Matthew.  On one of our first dates, we made vegan chocolate chip cookies.  He went out of his way to buy vegan chocolate chips and Earth Balance spread for the the recipe, knowing that I tried to avoid dairy products.

Though he had been vegetarian for much longer than I had, he liked cheese, butter, ice cream, and eggs, and my diet gradually came to incorporate more of those foods.

Over the summer, we started buying local milk regularly (one gallon every two or two-and-a-half weeks), some of which became yogurt and ice cream.  We’ve also been eating a decent bit of cheese, either local or non-local plastic-free.

Everything seemed fine and dandy until I suggested that Matthew visit my homeopathic health care provider (she has a doctorate, but cannot be considered a “doctor” in Missouri) about some ongoing health issues he’d been experiencing since August.  She ordered a simple food allergy blood test, and, lo and behold, the results came back with a Level 3 allergy to dairy.

While it is hard for him (and me too at this point, to be honest) to consider completely eliminating dairy from his diet, that is exactly what he (we?) will be doing for a month.  After his system has a month to recover, he will slowly reintroduce specific dairy products to see if there are some that he can tolerate.

We expect that straight up milk will be out of the picture altogether (which would not be a huge loss) but are hoping that butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese might not cause a reaction.

Since he has been eating them for years, this is clearly not a life-threatening allergy, but as the past few months have made clear, the allergy is most likely affecting his health on a day-to-day basis.  This may very well come down to a choice between optimum health and continuing to eat some favorite foods.