Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Problem with Milk

Oh, the irony. For years, I worked on a famous advertising campaign for milk. When I felt pangs of guilt for working in a field where so much money and energy was spent on 30 second films to make people buy things, I consoled myself that at least I was selling something worthwhile. I mean, milk, c'mon. It's got vitamin D and calcium and all that good stuff. What could be wrong with that? Nothing. Unless you are intolerant to dairy, like my son Oskar. It's still kind of hippi-ish to believe in food intolerances, I think. Many western doctors will scoff at you when you mention dairy intolerance. Let them scoff, because this I know; before I took Oskar off of dairy products, he had reflux, eczema and asthma. Bad asthma. Like, the pulmonologist had me nebulizing him with steroids and Albuterol three time a day. The fact that the little mask they sent home was shaped like a fish did not amuse Oskar in the least, nor keep him from crying and struggling to get the thing off of his face. Luckily, one of the biomedical doctors I was seeing ran a simple test, called ELISA. This is something you can do at home. A fingerprick and about 10 drops of blood you send off to a lab. It tests for food intolerances, which are different than food allergies, which cause rashes and hives and anaphylactic shock. Intolerances are more like chronic yuckiness. Stomach aches, loss of appetite, reflux, wheeziness, rough skin, bags under the eyes. At the time I discovered this intolerance, Oskar was on the Ketogenic diet. It's a diet for seizures that is very high fat, and of course, based almost entirely on dairy products. Within four days of getting rid of the dairy, he was asthma free. His skin got better and he started wanting to eat again.

The good news about "the problem with milk", is that it only takes 4 days to get dairy out of your system. If you have a kid you think might be reacting to dairy, just get rid of it for a few days and see what happens. Luckily, stores like Whole Foods have replacements for almost every dairy product you can think of. Some of Oskie's favorites are vanilla almond milk, "So delicious" coconut milk yogurt and ice cream, Amande Almond milk yogurt, and Almond milk cheese. Almond milk has just as much calcium and vitamin D as regular 2% milk. You can also try Rice milk , coconut milk or hemp milk and some places carry flax milk, which is pretty tasty and has good omega fatty acids. For butter, we use Earth Balance spread made from canola oil. Apparently a lot of kids who have problems with dairy also have problems with soy, so you might want to avoid it if you can. If you decide to stay off milk for the long haul, have your doctor look at what your kid is eating to make sure they are getting enough fat and calcium and vitamin D.

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