About

My parents found my dairy allergy when I was three weeks old. In the past few decades, it’s gotten significantly easier to stay dairy-free, and the options are a lot greater than they used to be. For one thing, the dairy substitutes now actually taste decent and are widely available. Restaurants are more aware than ever of what allergies mean. That’s not to say it’s easy.

I grew up with a constantly upset stomach and vaguely feeling ill all the time. I thought this was normal. After college, when I first had the chance to take control of my own diet, I went to see a doctor about my lingering health concerns. She suggested a gluten elimination diet for a month, which promptly sent me into a spiral of horror and uncontrollable crying fits — if you’ve already had to eliminate a major portion of the American diet, even the idea of taking out something else on top of that is upsetting. But I took the next couple weeks and, instead of eliminating gluten (because I am a total carb fiend — it is the one category of food I can rely on when my stomach is in knots) I really examined the processed foods I was eating.

And, after twenty years of avoiding dairy, I found a lot of trace dairy still sneaking in.

The next six months, my husband (then boyfriend) and I purged dairy from my diet more vehemently than at any other point in my life. Possible cross-contamination was okay, possible trace amounts were not. Sodium caseinate, whey protein, all the stupid chemicals that started from a cow and hide in processed food. We found them all and got rid of them.

And for the first time in my life, my stomach didn’t hurt.

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