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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dairy Free

When Pearl turned one year old, we did the standard practice of giving her whole milk (to supplement breast milk, not to replace it). For about a month, it seemed like everything was going well, but the more milk she drank, the more tantrums we seemed to have. We had days on end where it seemed like all she did was cry and whine and destroy things. Eventually we began to notice that she had developed two rashes on her body.

So we finally made the decision to eliminate dairy from my diet and from hers. The first week the rash went away, and by week 3 she was only having 2 or 3 mild tantrums a day instead of day-long tantrums. Then JunkMale, in a sleep-deprived-brain moment, forgot himself and gave Pearl some dairy. The rest of the day was a nightmare. Pearl was hyper, aggressive, whiny, and angry. And if that wasn't enough proof, the rashes came back the next day.

Eating dairy-free for the past month has been an interesting experience for our family. We have eaten a lot more Korean food, because the Korean diet is naturally dairy-free. JunkMale has noticed significantly improved digestive health - whether from eliminating dairy or eating kimchi every day, he is not sure - and Pearl has of course had an improved disposition and less itchy skin. But as for me, I notice no difference except that I long for my dairy.

We have learned that we love almond milk and I have learned some new yummy Korean recipes (spicy mixed noodles/비빔면, crab pancakes/해물전). Korean food is, of course, less expensive than American food, but dairy substitutes like margarine, soy and coconut yogurt, and "ice cream" are much more expensive. Sometimes we are able to stay under budget, but often we have to go over.

I have learned to make my own kimchi, and unlike during our Korean food month, I'm not finding myself craving American food. I am treating myself to expensive coconut ice cream and American junk food treats, so I don't really feel deprived like I did back then. And I also have two extra years' experience both in cooking and in learning to enjoy eating Korean foods.

In subsequent weeks I will be sharing some of the new recipes and also some strategies to eating dairy-free. If you have some strategies to share with me, please leave a comment, and also if you have questions about eating dairy-free let me know and I will try to find the answer.

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2 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • alice

    Hi my son had eczema and when he was tested, my allergist was resolute that he was "not" allergic to dairy. But I tried the same test you did and within weeks his skin cleared and his sleeping patterns and tantrums improved. I did reintroduce dairy after the age of 4 and he tolerates it very well now.

    This is just another lesson in "mothers trust your gut, you truly know your child best."

    Alice

  • Harmony

    Alice, mother's intuition usually is right! I'm glad you figured out that dairy was the issue.

    I used to be sensitive to dairy, but by the time I was about 5 or 6 it had disappeared, just like your son's. Hopefully it will be the same for Pearl!