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Dairy-less

Today is the first day of me giving up dairy. Again.

That's right, again. Way back when I was in college, I started having regular stomach aches and was burping a lot. More than normal. The doctor I saw was no help, but the nurse! Ah the nurse suggested a few things to try, first and foremost giving up dairy to see if it was lactose intolerance. At this time, I'd never heard of lactose intolerance, nor had any of my friends and family. And it turns out that I didn't have the common symptoms that most people associate with it nowadays. But the nurse was smart enough to suggest that my problems might be that and what I needed to do.

So I cut out dairy from my diet for two weeks. It was not easy, not just because I love ice cream, milk in my coffee and chocolate bars. The byproducts of milk, such as curds and whey, are used in so many things, from processed meats to packaged breads. Lactose is even used as a filler in many supplements (note to self: check the non-active ingredients of the fish oil, vitamin D and iron supplements I take). Amazingly, my stomach issues cleared up. Over the course of the next couple years, I discovered Lactaid milk and ice cream, Lactaid pills, soy milk in my coffee, dairy-free cookbooks and the level of dairy I could consume without having any issues.

So why am I still not off the dairy? Well, when I was pregnant with the Pumpkin, I discovered that I could tolerate pretty much all levels of dairy once again. I quickly jumped back into the world of dairy and loved every second of it.

So why am I giving it up again? It's not for me. It's for the baby boy. And for me. The Pookie seems to be pretty gassy and always has been. He's still waking up a lot (A LOT) at night and seems uncomfortable. Soon after waking, he has a few farts and then seems to feel better. This may very well be totally normal for a baby with a developing digestive system, especially now that he has started solids. Unfortunately, he seems to prefer to be nursing so he can relax and let the gas out. As usual, I. Am. Tired!

I started wondering if the gas could be related to dairy, either how his system handles it or how mine does, since burping and gas was one of my lactose intolerance symptoms. I've noticed that the level of lactose I can handle has gone back down so I need to eat less dairy products that I have been. Maybe it's affecting him?

Maybe it's not. Maybe it has nothing to do with dairy or diet or anything like that. But I can go without dairy for two weeks (again) and see if there is a difference. Doesn't hurt to try.

Well, it hurts a little. Because that veggie omelet I had this morning would have been better with cheese, and the toast would have been better with butter. At least I still like soy milk for my coffee.

(Next diet change to start after the new year will be the Pumpkin's diet, in case dairy or fructose malabsorption are an issue for her. She is currently doing that picky toddler eating/non-eating where she is mostly living on yogurt and air, so I figure I can mess with her diet since it's currently so limited anyway. I've always wondered if she's had an issue with her diet and have been wanting to try and see if we need to change her diet. I suspect our diets affect our bodies a lot more than most people give credence to. So we are going to try!)

Comments

OneHappyCow said…
I am anxious to hear what you think. My girl is doing the same thing lately too, but I am suspecting enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Taking her to an ENT soon. Keep us posted, maybe I should give it a shot!
geeksinrome said…
I got a lot of pressure from people in Italy to give up milk while breastfeeding. It seems to be commonly thought here that milk causes colic in breastfed babies.

So with my first I gave up lactose for 5 months and didn't really notice any difference. His evening colic, I came to conclude, was his way of releasing tension, not pain from gas buildup.

My daughter on the other hand suffered terribly from gas and I just instinctually cut out gassy foods in my diet which meant every legume, and all veggies except potatoes, carrots and some lettuce.
It made a world of difference. So much so I kept at it for at least 8-9 months.

I didn't cut out milk because I saw such good results with the other foods being cut out. It sucked, but hearing her in pain (and knowing I was causing it) sucked more.

One doc wants me to get her off milk, but I hesitate because she had a bad growth period b/w 9-13 months and I want her to get all the bone building materials she needs.

It's weird how they can survive eating nothing, though! My kids eat almost everything, but just so little of it.
Cloud said…
Well, if Pookie really does have trouble with dairy in your diet, most babies outgrow it by about 6 months. My Pumpkin was no longer bothered by dairy in my diet by about 8 months.

We had Pumpkin at the doctor because she was complaining of a tummy ache (long story, but a subsequent throw up session makes us think it was actually a tummy bug)... and she said the top suspects for tummy ache are dairy and chocolate. Tragic.

And yes, there are weeks, months even, where I think Pumpkin is surviving via photosynthesis.
Cloud said…
Oh! And the problem with dairy is from the proteins, not the fat, and butter is all fat. So you can have butter on your toast.
Jana said…
Although I love the taste of cheese, I'm pretty much convinced that dairy is evil. I'm trying to get back on the vegan wagon, and it's not easy. But man, do I ever feel better when I'm dairy-free.
Shellie said…
Why not try? Especially if it helps. You know, if you go for the really dark chocolate, you don't get much dairy...
paola said…
I hope your kids' sleeping woes are diet related and your new diet helps the both of you get more sleep.
I very much doubt that ours were (are)as Zoe's crap sleep always coincided with documented developmental spurts, but hey, we do have food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies in our family history, so you never know.

I could do with an elimination diet myself. I am allergic to so many foods which I have not cut out of my diet ( grain, corn, rye, to name a few)and lactose has a nice big question mark hanging over it too (being of southern European stock). But I'd rather put up with the discomfort of bloating (and other more disagreeable symptoms) than cut out pasta, polenta and gorgonzola!!

P.S. Have you learnt any more about Pumpkin's peanut allergy?
Becoming Mommy said…
I read that human breast milk has 7 times the lactose of cows milk. So, if pookie gets better after your going off dairy, it's unlikely the lactose. It could be that cows milk has protiens that are just harder for humans to digest, i've heard that goats milke is much easier, if that helps. AND whole foods does have goats milk in everything up to icecream (though it has a strange undertaste).
It could easily be a vegetable, spice, or fruit in your diet causing him digestive ills. My little guy can't seem to have ANY of the tropical fruits (save bananas and avocados) without some horrid digestive aftermath. And we have to watch how much soy he eats too (or have spare pants ready.)
Best of luck in figuring it out. Elimination diets ae such a pain.
caramama said…
Thank you all for your support! I've been thinking about all your comments. They have really pointed out things that got me thinking.

I know that lactose intolerance is very rare in babies, although milk allergies are more common. I don't think the Pookie is lactose intolerant, and I doubt he even has a milk allergy. My thinking is that I should cut it out because it's a food that makes ME gassy, and like @geeksinrome, I feel like I should cut out those things that make me gassy because it could affect my milk that the baby is getting. If this doesn't help, I will continue to eliminate things to try and determine if it is diet-related or its just his system working itself out.

@One Happy Cow - Good luck with your girl and the ENT!

@geeksinrome - Good point about other foods that make you gassy. I'm not surprised about the pressure to give up milk in Italy, considering the high rate of lactose intolerance in the Italian population. Incidentally, it was when I was living in Italy that I developed my lactose intolerance. I've always figured it was because I had so much more dairy (pecorino cheese... Mmmmmm) while I lived there.

@Cloud - I didn't realize that about butter! Wooo hooo! Sorry your Pumpkin was sick.

@Jana - I can't imagine trying to have a vegan diet in this country! It's so hard to go off the "norms" in diets in many places, especially eating out. Good luck! And I also feel better when I don't eat much or any dairy, so I totally hear ya.

@Shellie - Unfortunately, I don't like dark chocolate. Sigh... The things I do for my kids!

@paola - Do they have the lactaid pills over there? Those are great for letting you eat whatever dairy you want without having the consequences! And you are right, the Pumpkin's sleeping woes really always have been tied to her developmental spurts. But some things that hedra said about her kids and the fructose malabsorption made me start to wonder if the sleep and some other things might be easier if we changed her diet. Probably not, but what the heck. And the peanut allergy is still not definitive, but we have to treat it like she has it. I'll write more about this soon.

Becoming Mommy - It was my understanding that even with more lactose in human milk, it is somehow different than cow's milk. But maybe I'm mixing up the proteins and milk allergies. I know that most babies aren't lactose intolerant, so maybe it's the proteins. Thanks for the tip about goat's milk. I will look into other foods if this doesn't help!
Cloud said…
@Becomming Mommy- the current thinking is that it is the proteins in cow's milk that cause problems in babies, not the lactose. As you say, human milk has lactose, too. Lactose intolerance is really, really rare in children- most people start out with the enzyme and in some people, its expression is "turned off" as they age.

When my Pumpkin had problems with dairy in my diet, it was pretty obvious to me that something was wrong. It wasn't just that she was gassy- she had what I called "screaming gas", i.e., she would scream and fart for hours. Fun times. (For the record, the problem isn't really an allergy- it is more properly called an intolerance. An allergy involves an immune reaction and is much more serious. An intolerance is usually just a problem digesting something.)

I have also heard that goats milk is easier on babies, but I've never tried it. Some babies also can't handle soy in their mom's diet, but I get away with eating soy.

My pediatrician told us that some babies can handle cheese and yogurt in mom's diet before they can handle actual milk in the diet. This makes sense to me because some of the proteins in cheese and yogurt are digested in the process of making them.
Hope this change makes a difference! If it's not lactose intolerance with Pookie, it might be a milk protein sensitivity. If it's that, it's likely he's sensitive to soy as well, because milk and soy protein sensitivities tend to go together, according to Lexie's GI doctor.

BTW, infant probiotics made a huge difference with Lexie.

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