Friday, August 5, 2011

Adventures in Dairy Free Cooking

Over the past year and a half, we have been working with our pediatrician on resolving our youngest son's constant congestion.  It's been hard though to decifer whether the congestion has been due to living at 8,500ft where it snows almost 9 months out of the year and almost zero humidity, or the dust from burning wood in our wood stove in the winter, or allergies in the summer from blowing dust and pollen, or from just a plain head cold.  We've tried every allergy & decongestant medicine out there, along with a variety of nasal sprays and washes.  Nothing really has helped.  I've always known that seasonal allergies run in my family, but up until now, have never really thought about food allergies possibly being a cause.  So at our recent well child check, we discussed testing for food allergies.  Since he was already receiving a lovely dose of immunizations at this visit (the prize for turning 5), we decided to opt for the elimination diet versus another stick with a needle for a blood draw.

Though we eat a fairly healthy diet (no HFCS, and try to eliminate additives and preservatives),  it never dawned on me that milk, or dairy products could be the cause.  From the overwhelming amount of information I've been reading so far, milk and milk proteins cause our mucus membranes to thicken, and consequently can lead to chronic sinusitis among other things.  So, first up on our elimination diet is dairy products, since this makes the most sense right now.  This is no easy feat, as just about everything has milk or milk proteins in it.  Try to find a sandwich bread that doesn't have these things in it at your local grocery store (not specialty store, as we have none up here) to make a PB&J for your five year old, and you won't get very far.  The same goes for snacks in which five year olds will actually eat.  Thankfully right now, a lot of fresh fruit is in season and on sale, so there are lots of options.  But come winter, I feel I may be doing a lot more cooking and baking things like granola bars since the price of fresh fruit will once again skyrocket.

We've only been into the dairy free elimination for a week now, but holy cow!  I can tell a huge difference already, especially when my son is sleeping.  I feel better already knowing that he's getting more rest from being able to breathe better.  While I can control what goes into his foods at home, I know our biggest challenge has yet to arrive when he starts school this fall.  Class snacks, treats for birthdays, etc.  Believe me, I WILL be talking to the teachers and making sure we are all on the same page.  At least I know that what I put in his lunchbox is dairy free.  So for now, I'm arming myself with a barrage of information, recipes, and patience, as we continue along this dairy free journey.

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