Let me start by saying, I loved dairy.
When I say love, I mean LOVE on steroids or yerba mate. As a child I consumed milk and cheese as though I alone had to save a dying industry. It wasn't dying and I didn't have to save it, but that was beside the point. Papa Murphy's take and bake was my family's staple dinner.
I have three brothers and three sisters. We lived a typical survival of the fittest lifesyle. Which ultimately nursed habits opposite of moderation. We learned to eat as much of whatever was most delicious before anyone else, or don't have any at all.
All this dairy took it's toll on my body. In second grade I was diagnosed with hay fever. At that point, it didn't mean much. My ballet and gymnastics careers were flourishing and I was still one of the strongest and fastest kids in my class. Remember when that determined popularity? Surely, those were my glory days! They didn't last long.
By middle school my hay fever had become more of an ever present cold. My perma-red and runny nose was not quite the fashion forward look that teen girls wish for. On top of this, I felt tired all the time.
My mind was foggy and my body was heavy.
Adults in my life blamed this on the teen growth spurt and my busy schedule. They said it was common, and that I would grow out of it. I believed them because, well, they had more life experience.
In high school, my symptoms persisted. Though I continued working out with more gusto than many of my chums, my athletic abilities continuously declined. I would wheeze after just one lap around the track. I finally accepted the fact that I just wasn't a runner anymore.
Nobody took my symptoms seriously. On the outside I looked fine. On the inside, I knew something was wrong. Once at a swim meet my coach signed me up for the 200 Medley. I knew my lungs couldn't handle it, and I said so. Sure enough, half way through, I simply couldn't torture myself anymore. I stopped swimming and walked out of the pool, desperate to catch my breath. I was ashamed and embarrassed, and I just wanted to know what was wrong with me.
I now know that I was suffering from food sensitivity induced asthma and adrenal fatigue.
In college for massage therapy I was incredibly fortunate to have Naturopathic doctors teaching Anatomy & Physiology. One of them made and off hand comment about people with hay fever really being sensitive to dairy.
I was struck by his words. My mind was reeling with thoughts as I began to notice symptom trends based on my location.
The dairy saturated lifestyle of my adolescence was not realistic for a poor college student. I was eating minimally and more wholesome when I was at school. Visiting my parents house on weekends I would binge on pizza, ice cream, cereal, and of course, baklava.
I began experimenting with cutting it out of my diet completely, and reintroducing it. The results were clear. Dairy consumption resulted in an immediate sore throat, next day swollen throat with a mild fever, and boils.
I realized that my acne and itchy skin was from my sensitivity. I knew I had to clean my diet of this allergen, but how? As I said, I loved dairy. Why didn't it love me? This began my year long purging process. Dairy is addictive, especially non-organic. I couldn't give up such a staple all at once. First I let go of milk.
After just three months without cow milk I went on a five mile run with my sisters. I felt empowered.
If giving up dairy was such a simple road to better health, why didn't doctors catch my sensitivity sooner? Well, this is where it gets controversial. Simply put, I believe that doctors are wonderful people with hearts to heal. I also believe that the food and drug administration is extremely corrupt. As a second grader with hay fever, I was prescribed medication. As a wheezing teen, I'm sure that an inhaler could have played a helpful role in my athletic career. Fortunately my prescription was lost in the bustle of a nine member family, and my asthma was mild enough to evade diagnosis. I believe that those medications would have helped in the moment, but caused a longer lasting negative effect on my body. The drug companies would have made a profit, while I would have developed new reasons to take new drugs.
Cutting dairy out rather than masking the symptoms was my first step to feeling better than ever, and discovering the negative effects of mass food production.
My skyrocketing health fostered my interest in holistic health care. I enjoyed my last purposeful morsel of dairy in 2005. It was an old fashioned doughnut. I became a Certified Nutritional Therapist in 2010. I am excited to share my story in hopes that readers will learn to listen to their body's own voice.
I hope that my story will inspire others to take control of their own health one small change at a time.
Thank you for reading, make good choices. :)
Please share this if you feel it can help encourage someone you know.