Alternate Reality

Friday, May 2, 2014: Tell us how you wish you ate if it's different from your day-to-day reality.

While yesterday's prompt was about the doing of eating, today's prompt is about how I wish I could eat. I'm not normally one to traffic in wishful thinking, but here goes nothing. In a perfect world, I would not be lactose intolerant. I would be able to eat any of the yummy things that come along without being hyper vigilant about ingredient labels or interrogating my friends about how they prepared particular dishes. I would not need to educate the world that eggs are not dairy. Yes, eggs usually go in the diary section of the grocery store, but they do not include milk in any way.

I started my downward spiral into lactose intolerance 12 years ago. At first it was just mild tummy trouble when I ate dairy. Nothing that a tums couldn't fix. However, I am not one who appreciates feeling yucky so I started to cut dairy out of my life. First, milk went.  This was a pretty easy thing to give up since there are so many milk substitutes available. After cutting out milk, I started feeling better which only indicated to me that it was time to give dairy the ax completely. All dairy had left my house by 2007. Unfortunately, my lactose intolerance has only gotten worse over time. If I accidentally consume dairy I turn into a giant rash and have much more painful tummy trouble. Hence the interrogations of ingredients lists and my friends and family. So, I wish that I could eat dairy, but I cannot.

As a result of my dietary issues, I have become much more understanding of the needs of others. When I invite people to my home for meals I always ask if there are any dietary restrictions that I should be aware of and often will discuss the menu with folks ahead of time just to be on the safe side. I really like to cook new food and will ask for help with substitutes if needed. For example, one of my vegan buddies taught me that 1 tablespoon of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed makes an excellent egg replacement in many recipes. Sometimes it's not about wishing you could change things, it's about making the best of what you have.

Being lactose intolerant had lead to some pretty entertaining conversations:

Q: If you're lactose intolerant, what do you eat?
A: The same things as you, just not dairy.
Friend: You pick the restaurant since you have the dairy issues.
Me: Where do you want to go? I can find something any where. You have the "picky-eating" issues.
Friend: I could never give up dairy!
Me: I'm sure you would consider it if you turned into a walking hive...

All of the above frustrate me often, even though I know that my friends and family are trying to be helpful, because they imply that my dietary issues somehow affect them or that I have chosen to not eat dairy. Trust me, if the stuff didn't cause me problems I would subsist entirely off carbs and dairy.

And my personal favorite from my then boyfriend, now husband:
Is bacon dairy?
I guess when push comes to shove, I've come to accept and embrace the fact that dairy is not for me. Luckily, with veganism going mainstream the availability of non-dairy alternatives have increased greatly in the past few years. There is now coconut yogurt, flavored non-dairy ice cream, cream cheese and sour cream alternatives, and the list grows daily. I even made a non-dairy cheese cake that was to die for!

Best wishes!


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