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Quitting Dairy and Wheat: Do I have a shot at every being happy again?
May 13, 2014 1:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm being forced to acknowledge that dairy and wheat products are probably the source of my constantly stuffy nose and eczema. Some days the sneezing and runny nose are so bad that I can't function. So I'd like to hear from others who have gone down this path: What is it like after quitting dairy and wheat products? Because honestly those are two of my favorite things in life and I don't how I'm going to handle it, should I go down this route.
posted by Cybria to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had to drop the dairy as well. What really helped me was education. Sometimes my Spock brain needed knowledge to overrule my stupid Kirk brain that wanted that damn cheese.

Once I realized that my addiction to dairy was real, based on caseomorphins, it helped me see it for what it really was: an unnecessary addiction, that might be difficult in the beginning to break, but an addiction nonetheless.

Here's some eduction for ya!

Addiction to Cheese Is Real Due to Caseomorphins.

Breaking The Food Seduction.

Brain Hijackers - The 4 Most Addictive Foods.

How To Give Up Cheese And Dairy.

Chocolate, Cheese and Meat Are Physically Addictive (Bonus! How To Magnetize A Baby!)
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 3:47 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


There is no evidence that cheese is addictive.

My advice is to get an allergy test.
posted by deticxe at 4:00 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


It's not so bad. I quit both of those for several years. I only avoid dairy now. If you improve your cooking repertoire, you'll be able to replace almost any taste that you're missing.

Shopping does become more of a pain, because you have to read all the labels. There's a few replacement products that you might be interested in, but the only one I ever used was soy milk.

Going out to eat also becomes more difficult, but what I like to do to make it easy on everyone is to ask the server what they can recommend without dairy (or whatever gives you trouble), and just go with the recommendation. I've had some nice surprises that way.

Don't buy or keep the problem stuff in the house at all if you can manage it. Of course if you live with other people that might not be doable. At least segregate the bad stuff away from the food you can eat, you can avoid thinking about it that way.

Romaine lettuce can substitute for bread in sandwiches, and you wind up eating a higher proportion of the stuff in the sandwich without the bread. Being unable to eat wheat and dairy actually kind of makes it easier to eat right, because junk food almost always has those things in it. You can use this as motivation to improve your lifestyle. Take up running or something like that if you don't do it already, it can make you feel pretty good. Something you may be interested in is turmeric. It's effective against inflammation, which may be at the root of a lot of illnesses.
posted by the big lizard at 4:05 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I'm three days in to a temporary week-long diet reboot and cut all dairy, wheat and coffee. I actually feel full and really great. I'm doing Phase I of Ultrametabolism and next week I'm going to start slowly adding back certain kinds of dairy and wheat foods. If they don't sit right, I feel pretty confident that I can find work-arounds based on the foods I've eaten so far.

My favorite recipe out of the book has been the avocado burritos, made on a sprouted corn tortilla. The author is right -- you totally don't miss the cheese on those things.

I'm doing this to sort out possible IBS symptoms, so YMMV. You can totally do this, though.
posted by mibo at 4:08 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I have to avoid wheat for IBS reasons and one of the things I have found very helpful is to rephrase "I can't eat wheat" (or whatever) to "I don't eat wheat" when I come across things I really want/am offered.

It makes me feel less likely to go "oh, sod it, give me a slice.../a little won't hurt*" because I am phrasing it in my brain as a choice I have made, rather than a choice I am forced into (if that makes sense...)

(*hahahahaha. Oh, how you lie, brain. >.<>
When I first started cutting wheat out, I missed it a lot and would always fall off the wagon because of the 'a little won't hurt' fallacy that my brain liked. Occasionally I have had to eat it because there is no other option (long story involving a camping trip and a lost bag...) but afterwards, it just highlighted how much better I felt when I didn't eat it.
posted by halcyonday at 4:38 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Probiotics allowed me to eat dairy and wheat again, in moderation, after over a decade of struggle. I would go 'pure' for a few days and then eat what I wanted and suffer the consequences.

I too love most in the world the foods that I react too. I find that after a few days with them out of my system, I have a more reasonable approach to them, except during PMS. All bets are off during PMS.

Look for mild Detox teas (grocery store variety) and eat as many fruits and veggies as you can to clean out your system. It will move the cravings out a bit faster.
posted by myselfasme at 4:43 AM on May 13


It's actually not so bad. Once you get over the initial 2-3 weeks of grumpiness, you'll feel a lot better! I cut these two things out for a while just out of curiosity really, to see if it would have any effect on my exercise progress (answer was: yes! made huge gains while these two were out of my diet, though that might just be because I have a special predilection for ice cream, cheese, and cake...)

I didn't really find shopping to be much of an issue since most of my eating comes from fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats anyway. I normally don't eat a lot of canned/processed stuff (unless it was sweets or cheese). Eating out might be harder, but with the paleo craze still lingering around, I don't think it'd be really hard to find things that'll be grain and dairy free.

Avocado is an amazing substitute for creamy things like butter.

It's really the adjustment period that'll probably kick your ass. I recommend taking lots of naps.
posted by astapasta24 at 4:45 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I'm lactose intolerant. When I figured out what was giving me the years of horrible stomach cramps, I gave up dairy for the better part of 3 years, and am only now very, very slowly (and with lots and lots of Lactaid) reintroducing small bits of dairy into my diet.

It sucks! A lot! You have to read labels on basically everything processed because dairy is in everything processed. Things you'd never even expect. So on the plus side you're going to either get really good at figuring out what has milk in it and avoiding it, or cooking all of your own food.

And, while it sucks, and it is hard, it's so, so worth it for being able to walk around like a normal person. And different sorts of dairy sensitivities -- lactose intolerance, dairy allergy, etc. -- have different exceptions. I can eat aged ("extra sharp" or aged 9+ mos.) cow's milk cheese and any sheep/goat-milk cheeses that aren't cut with cow's milk (which is a lot of them, unfortunately) without issue, for instance.
posted by griphus at 4:47 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Where are you?, because right now in most all of the U.S. it is prime seasonal pollen allergy time, which would explain the sneezing and stuffy nose. Food allergies and intolerances to wheat and dairy are much less likely to cause these types of symptoms than pollen or mold allergies (or allergies to things like cats or dogs). Pollen and/or mold allergies are the more likely culprit, and this pollen season seems to be a bad one. You owe it to yourself to go to an allergist and get tested to find out what you are actually allergic to (and whether it does include things like wheat), and then formulate a plan on what to do next, rather than making dietary changes without testing data to go on.
posted by gudrun at 4:53 AM on May 13 [19 favorites]


Personally I've found that as long as I mostly keep wheat and dairy out of my house, I don't eat it.

Also, YMMV, but a steamed nonfat latte I can tolerate much better than a cold frothy milkshake. (The latter while tasty, probably induces the same issues in you as it does me. Ick.) Smoothies made with frozen fruit and coconut and/or almond milk can be very sorbet-like and scratch the itch for ice cream, at least for me. Plus I don't feel like hell afterward so that's make them taste better, IMO.

I've learned to have hamburger salad instead of the bun (just get it on a bed of lettuce). More aged cheese works better (I think there's less lactose), so learn to like some really lovely bleu cheese and other older cheeses. Bonus is that you can't really eat a ton of it at once no matter how good it is.

Provided you don't have nut allergies, you can make some pretty good pizza crusts and baked goods with almond flour. Just google and you'll find tons or memail me, happy to pass on my favorites.

It's really not that bad and once you've realized how much better you feel, it is soooo much easier to pass on completely (or only have a small bit of) something with wheat or dairy.
posted by sio42 at 4:59 AM on May 13


If you're lactose intolerant then consider purchasing Liquid Lactase. You put it into milk (and cream and custard), give it a shake, leave for 10 hours and then you can drink it normally. Works just as well in cooking too - in fact, if you're heating something up then you only need to heat it once, leave for 10 minutes and then reheat and you can eat it right away.

The good news is that it doesn't change the taste of the food/drink and people who aren't lactose intolerant can consume it just fine. Plus a small bottle of the stuff is good for 75 pints of milk and is significantly cheaper than buying dedicated lactose free milk and cream - you just have to plan ahead to put the drops in.

I make home-made ice cream with milk and cream both of which have lactase added and it's just as yummy.

Also look at lactase tablets. You take them before you're going to have something with dairy and they reduce the effect. Perfect if you're going out to dinner somewhere and you aren't going to have a choice in what you eat.

Finally, consider going to a dietician and going on the FODMAP diet. It takes around 16 weeks and is hell (especially lunch times) but will help you identify what foods upset your stomach. For me it was mushrooms - which make a lot of sense as I often used them in cooking. Now I try to avoid them completely.
posted by mr_silver at 5:04 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


You should talk to a doctor before you do this. There's testing you need to get before you eliminate wheat. You might need an epipen. You might need a consult with a specialist. They're also huge sources of nutrition (trust me, I am seriously allergic to dairy--it sucks and eating at restaurants is a serious issue).
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:05 AM on May 13


I'm gluten-free and really, it's not that hard! First of all, ride the wave of the fad, there are TONS of products out there.

Glutino products are universally good. I'm having one of their bagels this morning for breakfast.

Of all the gluten-free pastas, Mueller's made with corn looks, cooks and tastes most like wheat pasta. But, I prefer the brown rice pastas, try a bit of each until you find what you like.

Udi's and Rudi's (read the labels, not all of Rudi's products are gluten-free.) make very nice bread, toast it though, it's dry and crumbly if you don't. I like Udi's pizza crusts for pizza.

Restaurants do gluten free. Mellow Mushroom pizza does. My local pizza joint does, even Dominos has a gluten-free option.

As for milk, when I was doing dairy-free, I used Coconut Cream in my coffee. There's coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk and goat's milk. So you have an array of things to choose from there.

I'd back away from anything ersatz though. Soy cheese...no thanks.

Try it and see if it helps. My gluten allergy isn't severe enough to be diagnosed through testing, but I don't have nearly the problems I was having...digestively...when I stay away from wheat. It turns out that for me, milk in moderation isn't a problem.

A lot of restaurants are very hip to people with food issues and most servers are very knowledgable about the menu. Disney World was pretty intense with it, to be honest.

It'll take getting used to, and sometimes if you're in a rush, if you drive through, you'll eat plain burger patties, but it's pretty easy these days.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:08 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Years now. Lots and lots of asian and thai food, rice, potatoes, beans, coconut oil, delicious fatty meat, slow-cooked soups with soup bones, gelatin, etc., etc.
posted by zeek321 at 5:08 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


My nose may be stuffed and my skin may be blotchy but I eat what I like. Some cures are worse than the disease.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:50 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Did you have a workup done by an allergist who is suggesting this diet change? Did you try some drug like Zyrtec first?

Because, I mean, it's spring time in the northern hemisphere. I could practically make snowballs from the pollen on my car every morning.
posted by fontophilic at 6:21 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


It's really not bad. I used to love dairy, but I honestly don't miss it much. Trader's Joes makes a great soy "ice cream". Soy and almond milks are pretty good. I eat a lot of hummus and avocado as spreads instead of cheese- both are delicious and healthy. I eat corn tortillas a lot too- better than flour tortillas anyway. You can also eat rice, and will be able to eat most Asian foods.

(I am dairy-free, and mostly wheat-free)
posted by bearette at 6:24 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure why you have to admit that this is the cause of it. It's a very popular diet right now, which is fine, but that doesn't mean that you have to participate in it.

Additionally, if you have serious and genuine issues with wheat, Asian restaurants are often full of wheat in the form of soy sauce. Obviously, "Asian" is a broad category, but it's a good generalization. Indian food is particularly tricky because dairy is in most things. Then there's cross contamination...

Like I said, I would not attempt this diet in a serious way (vs a faddish way) without making sure you need to do it. It's a pain in the ass times a million if you ever eat out of the house, eat with other people cooking, etc. If a doctor tells you you don't have to, but you want to try it anyway, mazel tov.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:28 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


As Obscure Reference says, everything we do in life is about tradeoffs. There's no rule that just because wheat makes your eczema worse then you have to avoid wheat. Maybe avoiding wheat makes your life worse than eczema does. I don't know. We can't tell you.

I had major surgery and as a result my diet is more limited now than it used to be, and many formerly favorite meals are off limits. The tradeoff is that I used to be disabled, and now I am not. This was a good tradeoff for me. Sometimes I see someone scarfing down popcorn at the movies and I feel a pang, because I love popcorn, but I would never ever in a million years change the decision I made. When the benefit is worth the cost, honestly, it isn't that hard. That's why you need to figure out if what you'll gain is worth what you'll lose. Probably the best way for you in this situation is to just jump in and try a month of the diet. Stop worrying about "the rest of your life" and take it as it comes. None of these decisions are permanent.
posted by telegraph at 6:33 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I have to completely agree that you need to get an allergy scratch test done. It's relatively painless, just some pokes and maybe some itching. I think it's extremely unlikely that you are having skin and allergy problems but no gut/digestion problems. If you can't process gluten and dairy, it's happening in your digestive tract.

I have been gluten free and mostly dairy free for over 3 months (plus recently cutting out soy and egg) and although my severe stomach pain, night sweats, and hormone spikes and more have gone away, I have noticed NO difference in my skin. I still get dry spots here, oily spots there, pimples over here.

Not to mention most eczema is helped by eliminating irritants applied directly to the skin (such as switching lotions, soaps, laundry soaps, etc.)

And, it SUCKS to be gluten and dairy free. You can't eat at most places. You have to check the menu first, the majority of fast food is off limits, it's hidden in crazy places, etc.

I beg you to get tested and try a simple OTC allergy pill first and see a dermatologist for the eczema and get a cream or something. Hell, I only tested positive for molds and weeds on my allergy tests but I've been crazy stuffy and sneezy this allergy season too!
posted by Crystalinne at 6:53 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I am gluten and dairy free. Other than beer (beer! I miss you!) I don't think I'm missing much.

I do question your diagnosis, though. Is this based on a scratch test or something similar? I eat neither wheat nor dairy and I have eczema and bad seasonal allergies.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:01 AM on May 13


I'm mostly dairy-free due to lactose intolerance (I do sometimes cheat with lactaid pills, but while they eliminate the stomach cramps I still get bloating and digestive issues). For me, going 100% the thing I'd miss most is fancy cheese--not the melted crap that Americans put in everything, but things like raw camembert and brie, unfortunately my favorite kinds also have the most lactose. Vegan cheese is a lot more tolerable if cooked down with a bunch of other things.

I also have stress-triggered eczema, with flare-ups controlled by topical cortisteroids from the dermatologist. If you've already tried those without success, and tried eliminating lotion/detergent irritants if you suspect that's an issue, then it's possible you have food-triggered eczema. But I'd make that the last-case guess, especially since you don't have digestive reasons to avoid wheat and/or dairy.
posted by serelliya at 8:09 AM on May 13


Thank you so much for asking this question. I've spent years complaining about a stuffy nose and doctors I've asked about it have just shrugged and had no suggestions. I'm totally going to ask about this in the fall at my annual exam.

I have a friend who is GF and she has pizza and all manner of really yummy things because the advances in GF products have been amazing.

If you want specific items, I can personally recommend the stuff from King Arthur Flour. They have really gone nuts with the gluten free options like pizza dough mix, cookie mix, all purpose four, etc. I've tried a few of the things as experiments and they are good. They have a free baking hotline - you can call and ask about using alternative milks with the mixes before you buy anything. They might know, and if not, you can check the online reviews and do a search - lots of people who are GF also have other allergies as well and this means a lot of the work might be done for you already.

As for dairy free... There are many, many good dairy-free things aimed at vegans now. I can recommend Tofutti ice cream, and there are many good vegan alternatives for cream cheese, etc. I can't stand cow milk and always drink some other kind of milk... I recommend brands Almond Dream and Soy Dream if you want something thicker, go for Rice Dream if you want thinner. Hazulnut milk is usually a darker color so avoid that if you prefer it to look like milk. I use these alternative milks in all my baking and it is only rarely that it fails. Mostly you can't tell the difference.

For butter, try Earth Balance instead. The taste is only slightly off but after a week I did not notice. There are a few other vegan margarines as well, and for the most part they have always worked fine for my baking. The issue is when you have something like a cookie or a bread that you want to have a butter flavor. For that, try to find GF butter flavoring.

Eating out will be a disaster at first, I'm sorry. You'll just have to find a few restaurants or places like that who understand the importance - those able to cater to vegan will be your best bet, because they will likely also have GF options as well.

Can I suggest you look at this as an adventure rather than a trial? I was vegan for 3 years and spent a lot of time testing brands and things to find what I liked (Tropical source chocolate!! I think they might be branded Dream or Sunspire or something now, though). Some of it was a disaster, of course, but this was almost 20 years ago. Things have really, really improved in terms of taste, texture, and price since then.

If you don't have to give up eggs, you will still be able to eat brownies; consider yourself lucky. Brownies without eggs are just Not Right.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:17 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


For those questioning if this is a real thing, stuffy nose from allergy to food:

http://drbenkim.com/articles-nasalcongestion.html


http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nasal-congestion/basics/causes/sym-20050644
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:21 AM on May 13


I'm personally am not questioning that you can react to food allergies in some odd ways sometimes. (My husband's allergies manifest party as rashes, verified by allergy testing.) What I do question is making major dietary changes without going to an allergist (not a GP), and getting tested, to find out what the actual allergies are prior to trying to treat them. OP sounds like they have enough symptoms that it is worth it doing this in a systematic way in consultation with someone who specializes in this. At least, as others suggest, I would try taking something like zyrtec to see if it alleviates some of the symptoms prior to making any diet changes. I finally got sick enough from my allergies (mold is my nemesis) to have to go to an allergist, and really felt kind of silly that I had postponed seeing a professional for so long.

Also, as Crystalinne says, if you have eczema, are you using fragrance free/hypoallergenic products - soap, laundry detergent, etc., etc.. That is something that people with skin issues should try as a matter of course.
posted by gudrun at 8:46 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I've cut dairy and wheat (as well as eggs, soy, fish, tree nuts, and peanuts, sigh) over the past few months as I've been running down a suspected protein-intolerance in my breastfed baby. The combination of going gluten-free and dairy-free will make some things more difficult than dropping either one alone; it's been my experience that the plethora of gluten-free options in my area tend to all contain other allergenic foods (eggs and milk being the most common) so it's not as simple as just ordering the gluten-free hamburger buns or pizza crust, unfortunately.

The two hardest issues in undertaking this dietary change have been: (1) losing entire categories of go-to snacks without realizing I'd need to replace them with something else, leading to a lot of hangry moments; and (2) the crazy-making symptom watch, where it hasn't been 100% clear one way or another that cutting the food has "fixed" the issue, so I feel stuck in a limbo where I don't want to re-introduce and potentially lose the benefit but I also am constantly wondering if I should start cutting other foods as well.

Don't underestimate the effect of #2 on your mental well-being. To that end, I'd highly second the recommendation that others have made above about spending the money to go to an allergist and get a scratch test for these allergies, so you KNOW that it's worth it for you to cut. I've been surprised at how easily my son's doctors have kind of thrown out suggestions to for me to cut dairy/wheat/soy/other proteins to see whether it helps his issues without really appreciating how difficult that makes it for me to feed myself healthy food. If the scratch test worked for infant protein intolerances I would do it in a heartbeat to save myself the stress of trying to figure out whether the dietary modifications were "really" working.

With respect to #1, all I can say is that you should go to the store and find a bunch of safe foods to snack on that require no cooking or preparation before you start cutting dairy and wheat. It makes staying on the wagon a thousand times harder if you're cutting both a food group as well as (inadvertently) cutting your calories by 10% or 20% as well as trying to learn new dishes to cook for meals.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:02 AM on May 13


I understand people are concerned that OP is making good decisions but I'm a little baffled by some people's insistence over the accuracy of the diagnosis. Dairy and wheat-free diet is not radical. Chinese food for example is virtually dairy and wheat free (yes - people do slip in wheat in unexpected places. Like soy sauce). What OP is asking is a form of elimination diet. A mild one at that - which is in my opinion a good thing and a whole lot better than pumping your body full of drugs.

OP - if you're simply trying this out, one thing to make life a little simpler is to commit for a shorter amount of time first (I would suggest at least 3 weeks to see any changes). It's daunting to think that "OMG! I can't ever eat dairy and wheat ever again! EVER!!!"
It's much easier to say to yourself, "Let's do this for a month." And then re-evaluate after one month. Maybe you can get away with just no wheat but cheese is okay. Or maybe this is not for you altogether. Or maybe you feel so good you'd go the whole nine yards.

The hardest thing for me was the temptations. That means cleaning out pantry and reducing eating out significantly. But after the initial 2 weeks of grumpiness (mostly due to much lowered carb intake due to no wheat and grain in general) it was very much do-able. Cravings do go away after a while. It's the mindless snacking and social aspect that were harder.
posted by 7life at 9:35 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I did this as part of a paleo challenge, and the main key is to find delicious foods that have similar comfort value. I agree that avocados and good oils (and things like coconut milk) can be a huge part of making the transition easier. My two favorite things in the world are ice cream and mac n cheese, but after the first two weeks (well, after the first two where I Actually followed the diet), I also did not miss them much. I felt So Much better that I could never imagine going back to wheat and dairy.

[Spoiler: Yeah, I went back many times... and I don't feel nearly as good when I eat them. Enjoy feeling good!]
posted by ldthomps at 9:45 AM on May 13


I agree with others that you definitely need an allergy test, if you haven't had one done already.

I'm lactose intolerant (and lactaid pills don't work for me) and I try to avoid carbs, so my diet is similarly limited, at least when I don't cheat on it.

I think the best way to approach it is by trying and cooking lots of new foods. I don't like "replacement" foods very much, but there's a lot of things that are similarly satisfying. Do you like miso, avocado, tahini, coconut milk? I've definitely added more types of food to my diet than I have removed.

Here's just a couple recipes that I think are satisfying:
Vegan Peanut Stew
Restaurant Style Dal Tadka
Mac and Shews (use a non-wheat pasta, of course)
posted by inertia at 10:21 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I was dairy-free for three years because it had a negative effect on my breastfeeding daughter. After the first few weeks, it wasn't so bad. I did still miss it, don't get me wrong, and since I'm also a vegetarian I sometimes felt like I didn't have a lot of options. But once you're living it, it's usually easier than you expect.

The thing that helped me the most was to let myself get treats that normally I wouldn't. I had very little money at the time and avocado was a huge luxury for me,and getting to eat avocados regularly helped make up for it. (And they have the same fat/ mouthfeel as some kinds of cheese.) If you restrict other foods for reasons of health or expense, you might consider lightening up on that to give yourself treats other than cheese/ wheat.

I went off wheat and gluten for a two-month period, so can't speak to that as well. I eat very few convenience/ processed foods so didn't have to do a bunch of label reading. I used my bread machine to make gluten-free bread, and it was much yummier and cheaper than store-brought gluten-free bread, but substitutes like that usually made me miss the "real" stuff more. Opting for entirely different grains like rice and quinoa worked better for me.
posted by metasarah at 12:50 PM on May 13


There have been times probably when you were fed up with wheat. Not another PB sandwich for lunch... Forget it, that's the last box of shreddies for a long time... Must use up that old carton of yogurt... but I can't face it today.

At a time like that you would have been delighted to get some variation in your diet. My suggestion is that you sit down and make a list of all those things you would love to eat which just happen to not include wheat or dairy. Green pepper and shrimp salad. Fried rice. Roast of beef'n'potatoes. Coconut macaroons. Fresh pineapple. Meatloaf (made with potato flakes, not breadcrumbs), smoked oysters and so on.

Then hie yourself out to the library and hit the cook book section. Not the Diet for a Bad Digestion section, but the cooking of Southern China and other warm and moist parts of the world, especially Asia, where wheat simply doesn't grow very well. You're not giving up on wheat and dairy, you're embarking on an international adventure.

This way you will have two menus to draw from, your relatively familiar western one for those days when food is a bit of a chore and an exotic menu for when you want to do something extra-specially nice.

Another approach is to think of something you regularly eat - say eggs and toast, and start thinking of all the ways you can eat the basic components of that dish without including wheat or dairy. In this case you are thinking about eggs, so you can make a list of interesting possibles ranging through omelet, deviled eggs, potato salad and so on.

Probably the last thing you want to do is eat the standard substitutes for wheat and dairy, like almond milk and rice crackers and gluten free bisquick mix. Those should be in reserve for times when you are really brain-dead and the effort of thinking is a strain. Otherwise you will get sick of them in short order. If you buy a carton of soy milk instead of your usual carton of 2% there is always a chance that you will sit there drinking the vile stuff with an expression of acute misery on your face and at strong aftertaste of bean in your mouth. So don't try one for one subsitutions. Introduce soy milk as something new you are trying instead of a substitute for something you would prefer to eat. If you don't normally drink smoothies try using the soy or almond milk in a smoothy so that the unfamiliar taste doesn't make you feel deprived.

This is a good time to introduce completely new foods to yourself that are not dairy or wheat replacements. The idea is to feel that you are not restricting your diet but broadening it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:25 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I think an accurate diagnosis, or at least a better idea of what you're aiming for than you've listed above, would be very helpful for you--you'll also get a better idea of what it's like, because there are some huge differences.

Allergy vs Intolerance: Allergies are dangerous, and are more in line with some of the symptoms you describe (although not completely). An allergy is your immune system attacking some non-harmful thing. If you have an allergy then you will want to remove every trace of the offending food from your diet, which really does mean a lot of label reading and looking for things like "Processed on equipment which also processes wheat". It is an absolute bear to do this and will remove many, many foods from your diet, so if this is what you suspect then it is very worthwhile to confirm this somehow (even if it is just a home test with short term elimination diet).

Intolerances are usually not dangerous, they just cause discomfort. An intolerance is a problem your body has with properly processing some food. Typically the main symptom of an intolerance is digestive upset, and they don't usually have the skin and respiratory symptoms, so not in line with some of the symptoms you describe. On the other hand, someone with an intolerance generally doesn't need to fully eliminate the intolerant foods, just reduce them and find the variations (such as aged cheese or lactase supplemented milk or even just normal butter) that are easier to digest. There is not much label reading, and it's not nearly as hard.

On a side note, either way you can eat zoodles (zucchini noodles) and (in the junk food aisle) corn chips.
posted by anaelith at 7:22 AM on May 17


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