Monday, September 1, 2008

Dairy products make me sick!

There, I said it. I'm not one to make firm stands about food in public. But I have to say right now that dairy products make me sick! When I talk to friends or family, I'll answer questions about how I eat and will explain the benefits for myself or my children. I'll even tout the writings of Dr. Fuhrman or tell about raw foodists. But I'm careful about making blanket statements about food. Call me a coward, (okay, please don't :)), but there are so many theories about food and so many bodies that react in different ways (even my own changes from time to time) that I step lightly around the subject and try to avoid confrontation.

Maybe it's because I remember how little I enjoyed hearing people say things like "Milk is for baby cows" (or calves) when I couldn't imagine ever living without cold milk in my cereal, ice cream late at night (or on Fridays after school, or for every birthday or celebration imaginable, or in the summertime when it's hot, or when I was stressed and just wanted that calm feeling of ice cream going down my throat, or . . . I'm sure I could come up with more), and heaven knows I found a thousand uses for cheese. I dressed up any dish with cheese to cover the fact that I didn't know a thing about flavoring anything. I made statements at different points of my life like, "I could eat at Taco Bell every day for lunch and be happy" or "If I could get away with eating pizza every night, I would." When I was a senior in college (and overweight), I used to come home every day from class and make tortilla pizzas while watching Brady Bunch reruns. I was quite content. Once I learned how to make omelettes with cottage cheese or mozarella, I couldn't stop. They were just fabulous.

So I wasn't quick to want to give up dairy and thought those who did were pretty "out there." If someone had a legitimate allergy, I'm sure I could support that. Ooooh, how big of me!

I already wrote a post about going off of dairy, but I just have to add today on the first day of September that I can no longer have some dairy here and there if I please in August like I have the past few years. I found that since allergy season went from March through July and started up again in September, that I was pretty safe having a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone on vacation if I really wanted to in August. It wasn't always as wonderful as I'd remembered, but I think I did it out of curiosity or just to eat it "while I could" since I knew it would cause such problems in the other months. I did have an ice cream cone a few weeks ago and felt like someone had painted my insides with thick cream. This was not a good feeling. I felt so coated inside. It was awful and I couldn't finish my cone. I didn't have a problem with the pizza though. In fact, I probably had it 3x this past month. That's probably what kept me from sticking with my raw goals I kept setting. (You think?)

I knew I was treading on slippery grounds, playing with fire, or whatever cliche' I can come up with because last September I got really severe asthma. It was about the worst it's ever been. I knew the climate would change, new things would bloom, and I'd be risking it again if I didn't stop and get my body strong. In fact, besides a few times with allergies, I haven't been sick since last September.

Alas, school started last week. My youngest son had his very first day of school EVER and came down with a fever/cold/asthma illness that night. He was sick all week. I dabbled in dairy a few times for whatever reason and by Wednesday, I was sick too. Painful sore throat for a few days, achiness for another, thought I was coming out of it and decided to eat some Annie’s cheddar bunnies since it was still August and I’d probably be fine. What? So that night, I felt chills, got the full stuffy nose and everything else that comes with that typical cold you get in the winter time. I was in bed all day Saturday, sleeping for hours and hours at a time. I was in bed ½ of yesterday and feel much better today. I’m sure my raw eating for the past few days helped.

What have I learned from this? I don’t need to dabble in dairy anymore. It’s not like I love it that much anymore anyway. Even if I did, what good does it do me? I went a whole year with tending to my children’s illnesses without getting sick myself. I know my body is stronger when I stay away from dairy and eat a high raw diet. Yes, pizza is wonderful, but I can make pizza w/o cheese and white flour and enjoy that too. It may seem like it takes extra effort, but so does nursing an illness for almost a week. I’m grateful it didn’t go on any longer.

So blah, blah, blah – thanks for listening to my tale about getting sick. No one likes to hear about anyone else getting sick. But I just had to talk about it while the passion was still in me. Dairy really does make a difference in my immune system. I’ve heard that children on chemotherapy aren’t supposed to have dairy either because it lowers their immune system. Maybe it’s taxing on most bodies who aren’t baby cows. Try living without it and see if it makes a difference in your life. Mexican food really CAN taste just fine without the cheese and sour cream. That’s one thing I’ve managed to not miss anymore. I’m even fine without cheesecake on my birthday anymore. In a world with so many people having to do without, it’s amazing that I’ve even thought it would be a hardship to live without something like this.

What is it the raw foodists say? Something like “Nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy feels.” So true.


  1. Hello Renee! What an interesting post. First of all, I am very impressed with your "raw" way of life. That has always been something I've been interested in trying, but have been, I'll admit, a little afraid. It doesn't seem easy, quick, or cheap. :) And especially now, trying to get a family (husband) on board seems impossible. I tend to be sick all the time too. I had my tonsils removed which has helped so much, yet, I still don't feel really healthy. Anyway, you are my inspiration, as always so thank you. You know what, I'm going to call you tonight. Talk to you soon.

  2. Cindy -- Fun to hear from you. You're right that it's harder without your family doing it with you, but I found I could make gradual changes in my own eating and in family shopping that really help too. It doesn't have to be in huge leaps. A good place to start is with Dr. Oz's 5 ingredients to cut out (saw it on Oprah long ago and it's helped clean up my kids' eating a lot). I wrote a post about it in February (The Health Food Mom & Dr. Oz). Here's the link:

    I also wrote one about the expense of eating healthier. This was a big issue for me at first too.

    Can't wait to talk to you! -- Renee

  3. I guess those links didn't transfer well in a comment box. The second one is from February too and is called The Cost of Healthy Eating.

  4. renee, how awful to be that sick! yuck! i used to get allergies and they are so miserable.

    but, as a vegan for ethical as well as health reasons, the animals thank you. :-)