Disclaimer: I am not vegan. I am vegetarian. I still use eggs, chicken broth, beef broth, and the likes. I am dairy free. Dairy. As in milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream derived from cows.
About a month ago, I was really, really sick. My stomach was totally distended. No bowel sounds. Nothing. It was not a good situation. While I realize that may be TMI for some, it’s an important discussion because if your intestines stop working, you can have tissue death on the inside. And sepsis. You can die.
I’ve known for most of my life that I was what most people commonly refer to as “dairy sensitive” or “lactose intolerant.” Back in the 1980s when I was in elementary school, it was a nightmare. I was forced to eat cereal and milk (which would give me severe cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea…and I would always be told I was faking it to get out of school; not sure how one fakes diarrhea, but okay). At school, we were all forced to drink our milk which would send me again into an intestinal frenzy.
At 13, I had an upper and lower GI in the same day and diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I stopped drinking milk. I was a child and it never dawned on me that ice cream and cheese were REAL dairy. It’s just not something you really think about.
I gave up dairy ice cream about four years ago (don’t cry for me – Ben and Jerry’s makes an amazing non-dairy ice cream in my favorite flavor, Cherry Garcia).
And last week, I gave up cheese. I couldn’t figure out why I was sick again. Then I remembered, I’ve been eating a lot of cheese. I love cheese. I had rediscovered my love of macaroni and cheese. We almost always have mozzarella string cheese in the house (protein). We always have cheddar. I ate cheese in scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, with potatoes, on vegetarian tacos. You name it, I ate it.
I was really sad to give it up. Really sad. Really really sad. I love cheese. All I could think of was no more pizza (and I didn’t think about the last time we had pizza and I almost threw up right there inside of CiCi’s), macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese…queso. Sad times. But for the sake of not needing a fourth very expensive abdominal surgery involving the removal of scar tissue and any dead tissue, switching to nondairy cheese was a prudent method.
Thankfully, I have vegan friends…some of which switched because of the same issue with dairy. Turns out, Daiya sandwich rounds taste like spray cheese out of a can. I like their shreds. They even have mozzarella shreds. Dairy free parmesan and feta also exist. Daiya even had pre-packaged cheddar sauce and alfredo sauce (both of which are fantastic).
One week fully dairy free (I’ve always used margarine), and I’ve lost four total pounds. The bloat is gone. And my intestines are back to doing their job. I’m also thinking more clearly. I have less anxiety (thank you baby jesus ganesh buddah). I have less OCD tendencies (including counting). I feel more peaceful. Life is good.