My Dairy-Free(ish) Life

Recently I said goodbye to a very good friend of mine. Or should I say, a “dairy” good friend of mine.

Wait, come back! Sorry. I’m so sorry. I haven’t written a blog post in a while, you guys.

So anyway, I gave up dairy. This is A Big Deal. Like, bigger than a Hollywood producer giving up his sex dungeon.

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Topical!

I love cheese. LOVE IT. I probably spent more time with cheese than my own husband. I basically ate like a hobbit my entire life, with cheese for lunch (what’s a salad without blue, feta and cheddar cheese piled on top?), dinner (grilled cheese, pizza, mac n’ cheese, pizza, lasagna, pizza…) and snacks (basically anything covered in cheese). Don’t even get me started on second breakfast and elevenses.

My motto was, why talk when you can just eat cheese?

But the downside was I had stomach issues almost every day of my life. It seems obvious now that dairy was the culprit but since it took me 40 years to figure it out maybe it wasn’t that obvious. Because my stomach issues were very sporadic and took a different form each time.

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Like a really inconvenient shapeshifter.

Sometimes I had horrible, blinding pain. To the point where I couldn’t get up, move or breathe without pain. Sometimes it was just an annoying stitch in my side. Sometimes I was bloated and/or felt overly full even though I didn’t eat that much. Sometimes I… well…

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“Who puts a bathroom in the woods?!”

And it wasn’t like I could pinpoint exactly what caused which problem because sometimes after a nice cheesy gorge-fest I felt totally fine.

I remember once my husband and I were celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Sarasota (yes, we’re 75 years old) and ordered this amazinggggg pizza from a local pizza place and wolfed it down in one night. We were in mid-wolf when Eric says disapprovingly (with his mouth full, I’d like to point out), “You’re going to regret this tomorrow.” NO ONE ASKED YOU, SIR.

But I woke up feeling great, to the point where I felt confident enough to expose my non-bloaty stomach to the world (i.e. the elderly tourists of Sarasota).

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Walter and Iris were very impressed.

It wasn’t until I experienced a months-long bout of stomach flu-ish symptoms this past summer that I finally decided to cut one major food group at a time to see what the hell was the matter with my stupid body. Dairy just happened to be first on the list. And it worked. All the stomach problems that I’ve dealt with my entire life are gone. And the solution, unfortunately, was the very thing I loved the most.

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Oh, cruel irony! Wait, is that irony?

The only thing worse would be giving up wine. Because I am a middle-aged lady and we are legally bound as a group to love wine above all things.

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I’m drunk right now!

I’ve learned to adapt to my dairy-free existence, though it was really frustrating at first. I never realized how much food contained dairy. Ramen noodles, for example. Ramen noodles.

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It’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore.

And no more cream in my coffee, which meant no more lattes from Starbucks, which meant… Nooooooooo! No PSL?! WHY WOULD GOD ALLOW SUCH A THING?

But I’ve compromised with my delicate little flower of a stomach by switching to coffee with pumpkin spice flavoring and non-dairy creamer. I know, it’s not the same. But I can drink it and not be miserable and bloated afterward. (That’s what I’ll title my Starbucks review.)

I’ve also discovered that I can treat myself to pizza (or a cheese-centric equivalent) once every couple weeks just so I’m not completely deprived of my former beloved. Since I’m not engulfing mounds of cheese for every meal, my stomach barely even shrugs. I just can’t go back to my cheese-filled glory days where I sat like Henry the Eighth on a mountain of grilled cheese and nacho dip.

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BRING ME THE HEAD OF CHUCK E. CHEESE.

I know it’s the wrong king, people. All that matters is the joke landed, dammit. Right?

Moving on. So what have we learned today, kids?

Perhaps you stumbled upon this blog post in search of answers. (If so, I’m deeply sorry.) Maybe my repeated use of the word “cheese” caused this to pop up in your Google search whilst searching for cheese recipes. Mac ‘n cheese no longer doing it for you, hmm? Does 5-cheese pizza suddenly sound like not enough cheese? Have you tumbled into the dark, delicious rabbit hole that is “cheesy crock pot recipes?” I’ve been there, friend.

I guess if I had to impart wisdom to the masses it would be something like, “’Tis better to go without than to worship at the altar of cheese, for that road leads straight to the bathroom.”

Or something like that.

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It’s good to be back, folks.

 

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