The dairy dilemma 

I didn’t find out that I was lactose intolerant until I was in my 20s, but looking back it all makes sense. If I ate ice cream late at night, I would be up around 2am with terrible stomach cramps and pains.  If I ate oatmeal with milk in the morning, I would throw it up at school.  If I drank strawberry milk, which was my favorite, well…let’s just say that to this day even the smell of strawberry milk makes me nauseous.

Why didn’t my family realize? Like most people in the 90s, there wasn’t enough education out there.  Even the school nurse thought I was a faker because I would ALWAYS be in her office for stomach pains.  I was in agony in elementary school.

Today, parents rush their children to the doctor or hospital for a little cough. But even so, we are truly blessed to have the resources we do in 2016, and have come a long way in 20 years.  Today there is more action and understanding.  Why couldn’t I be a child of today?

I like cheese, I love pizza, and I’m smitten with mint chocolate chip ice cream, but milk is the enemy to me and about 75% of the world’s population.

Did you know that humans are the only species that consume milk after age 2? And milk from a different species at that!  In a country where we are so concerned what breast-feeding women ingest, we let our cows ingest genetically modified grain, antibiotics, and food waste that, no doubt, appear in their milk supply.  Besides just being “bad,” milk is full of sugar and fat.  It is biologically engineered to help a baby grow into a strong toddler and a calf grown into a full-size cow.

I just re-read Skinny Bitch, and those authors are a pair of pretty scary chicks.  They attempt to alarm their readers into veganism, with all their gruesome facts.  If you’ve read it, you understand.  If you haven’t, I’ll spare you the details.  I’m not sure about going full vegan, but I can do without the milk.  It’s my kryptonite.

So why do we still crave and devour milk products? Well, because doctors, nutritionists, and even our parents try to tell us how good it is:  it builds strong bones, provides us with calcium, and makes us grow big and strong.  Remember hearing that?  I do.  But there are better ways of getting calcium – think broccoli, kale, figs, and oranges.  (I’m serious – eat your fruits and veggies.)

And, putting that aside, milk products taste really, really good. Cream cheese on a bagel, whipped cream on hot chocolate, vanilla ice cream on apple pie, the list goes on.  Milk is tasty…to the point of becoming an addiction.

Luckily there are also some pretty tasty milk alternatives – almond, rice, and coconut milk, to name a few. In recent years, and even months I have been finding awesome substitutions at the grocery store. Think pizza and ice cream!  You name it and I bet there is a sub.  And, if you’re lucky enough, the sub will actually taste pretty damn good (Insert wink face emoji.)  Manufacturers are finally starting to catch on.

Some BIG name brands are getting really good with dairy free substitutions. Daiya is a new brand that I love!  They make yogurt, cream cheese, pizza, mac and cheese, and more.  Totally vegan.  Even Ben & Jerry’s has stepped up and introduced a line of vegan ice cream.  Delicious.  And I’m sure more brands will follow suit.  There’s a big market for it.

Hurrah for the dairy free people of the world!

(Note: It’s worth it to say that dairy free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  There are a lot of processed subs out there that are probably even worse than the real thing.  As always, be mindful of the ingredients, keep everything in moderation, and when in doubt – eat real food.) 

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