Dairy Dolour


Milk by @Doug88888, on Flickr

I am sad today. I think I am going to have to bid farewell to a couple of my favourite food friends. Sigh.

As my faithful readers know, I’ve been dealing with ulcerative colitis since the mid-eighties. It comes and goes, based on the amount of stress in my life and how good I am with getting enough sleep. Since 2009, when I had my last really major flareup after my eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah (followed by a wonderful but exhausting trip to Europe), I have kept it reasonably under control with the help of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

The SCD is really just a nineties version of Paleo, except that it includes fermented dairy –  in fact, home-made SCD yoghurt, fermented for at least 24 hours, is a mainstay of the diet in that it helps repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria. There is a list of permissible cheeses, which includes most hard (i.e., fermented and aged for a length of time) cheeses.

Before discovering Paleo, I had been vegetarian since 1994 in an attempt to improve my health. It did help, but not enough, so I added wild-caught fish. As a person who values kashrut and needs to maintain it in her home, allowing non-kosher meat and fowl into my house was not an option. However, most kosher meat is raised in CAFOs, which are also not acceptable (and their meat is not good for you anyway). I have moaned about this dilemma in the past. But now its horns have become particularly painful, because I have to give up dairy.

There, I said it. I’ve given up my delicious, local, artisanal cheddar cheese. I’m still hoping sheep’s milk feta cheese will work for me, but I’ll find out this weekend when I eat some during Shabbat. But what makes me particularly sad is that my lovely SCD yoghurt now seems to hurt me as well. I’ve only had a small amount, so maybe the reaction that I had was a coincidence. I’ll keep trying … but life without cramps trumps eating dairy any day. My main problem now, aside from missing some pleasure, is going to be ingesting enough fat and protein. Grains and legumes are banned from the SCD with good reason. I bought a can of wild-caught sardines today to add to my collection of salmon cans. My eggs come from a local CSA, so I’m planning to eat lots of those, but they aren’t finger food. A work in progress.

So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to emphasise the importance of becoming the expert on yourself (with an acknowledgement here to Dean Dwyer). My gastroenterologist sees me twice a year. He can ask me questions and give me expert advice, but really, the only person who can judge how I feel after doing something (eating something, taking medication, losing sleep, whatever) is ME. So we need to become unafraid to take charge of our own health and declare ourselves the experts on us.

How about you, are you the expert on you? If not, who is?


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One Response to “Dairy Dolour”

  1. Jo-Anne Sullivan Says:

    I completely agree with the concept of “we know ourselves better than anyone”. I always try to relate that to people who ask me how to do something that I’m doing….everyone is different and will react to things differently. Trouble is, in this modern society, many people trust more in what a doctor says (even if they only see him/her rarely and for such short visits). I know so many people who are not willing to try anything (or eliminate anything from their diet) unless a doctor specifically says so.
    Doing these things does, of course, require a good deal of research to attempt to understand what changes you will make. But it also requires alot of self-confidence; even bravery!! I LOVE to experiment on myself with herbs, wild plants (well researched) and other things!!
    We do, however, have a local dietician (registered) who believes in none of this “nonsense” and recently delivered me an info sheet on reading labels. This sheet was only concerned with calories, fat and sugar content. She even thinks my ferments or homemade cheese will make me sick and advises me to stick with “properly packaged” commercial foods!!! (“Blue labels, Health checks, and Low calorie foods are safest”, she advises) She believes they were developed for “our own good” (not for profit) and if we stray from commercial products (and standard produce) we are taking risks. And she regulary advises diabetics, cancer patients, etc…..that is scary. These are the people who are considered “experts” and I know so many people who follow their word to the max. She actually advised me to eat more bread (Wonder bread is amazing, now, she says) and I never ate much bread to begin with and eventually cut it out completely since my own boy told me it didn’t care for white flour….

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