The meal looked beautiful. My guests were in for a treat. I’d prepared everything I love to eat. A salad with liberal amounts of feta cheese and walnuts would start the meal. Moistly tender chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and smothered in a mixture of mushroom soup and sour cream was next. Our desert to end this delectable meal was cheese cake with a graham cracker crust, covered with a generous scoop of glazed fresh blueberries and whipped cream.
My tummy rumbled. I glanced at the clock. Even though I hadn’t eaten since an early lunch, I wasn’t hungry. My tummy felt as though I’d just finished drinking a gallon of water.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Intermittently I’d felt sick for most of the past year. Did I have cancer? My imagination ran wild with other dreaded possibilities.
Frowning, I wondered why some days I felt fine and other days not. Last Friday morning I was very sick. By three in the afternoon I felt much better. Since I hadn’t eaten anything since my breakfast cereal, the rumble in my belly indicated hunger. My daughter was home for the weekend. She suggested, “Since you’re feeling better, what do you say we go out to eat?”
At the restaurant I ordered salmon and a double order of steamed broccoli and a long island tea to go with it. For one brief moment I worried that I would feel sick again after eating, but when everything set before me tasted so good, I quickly forgot that thought.
I woke up the next morning feeling great. I wondered, “Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me after all.” Setting to work making eggs for breakfast, I dismissed the whole problem from my mind by reasoning, “I’m just a big old worrywart!”
My daughter and I visited a farm show that afternoon. Since it was June Dairy month, several booths were handing out free milk, cheese and ice cream pops. I grew up on a farm and loved anything made with milk, whether it came from a cow, goat or sheep.
That evening I didn’t feel hungry for supper. My belly was making sounds like a whale calling for its mate. Between dashes to the bathroom, I wondered, “What in the world is wrong with me?”
Denial is a strange thing. Although the evidence is totally clear, a person in denial can’t see it for what it is. When I finally got around to recognizing that my well and not so well times directly related to my dietary choices, I still refused to recognize that eating dairy products had anything to do with how I felt.
“It can’t be dairy intolerance.” I exclaimed to my family. “I grew up eating all things dairy and love how it tastes. Something so good and healthful can’t possibly be harming me!”
After eating a delicious desert made with cream cheese, followed by an ill-fated shopping trip, I decided to take a vacation from eating dairy foods for one week. The change in my health was so astonishing, I finally admitted to myself that I had developed dairy intolerance.
Since then I’ve stopped eating dairy products. I enjoy feeling well. Now, when I travel, shop or visit people, I don’t have to constantly be searching for bathrooms in a panic.
There is a downside to feeling better, though. I feel sad about not being able to eat foods I love. Ordering from a restaurant menu has become more challenging. In Wisconsin, there are very few foods that do not feature dairy products. Almost all salads have cheese in them, because who wants a pile of green leaves without the cheese? It brings tears to my eyes to order a hamburger without cheese.
The absolute deal-breaker is ordering pizza and beer with friends, because it makes me intolerant of dairy intolerance. To stay well, I’m supposed to pull the cheese off and eat the naked crust! That is so totally unfair! Wah!
in•tol•er•ance (ɪnˈtɒl ər əns) n.
- lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, or persons of different races and backgrounds.
- abnormal sensitivity or allergy to heat, foods or drugs.