It was between speakers at our CFA conference in Dallas a couple of weeks ago when my phone rang. The nurse from the twins' school was calling, which always sets off alarm bells - especially when I'm out of town. She immediately set me at ease by saying that there was no emergency. (We are, of course, on first name basis, because she sees one of my kids for daily meds, and we have had at least one health scare where I had to rush up to the school for an impromptu breathing treatment for the other twin.) However, she was calling to say that the school was in the process of re-evaulating all food allergies and would from here on out be strictly adhering to all doctor recommended protocol. In our case, this means no milk or eggs for William and Violet at all.
For me - this was a super bummer. They have no immediate reaction to these ingredients when in prepared food, so we've been pretty lax. Because of the new policies, instead of them being served the daily provided lunch, it is now up to me to bring their entrees. I completely understand that I have been so spoiled up to this point, and I also fully comprehend why the school is making this move. But - it seemed like such an inconvenience to me when I first started thinking about it.
However, the more I thought about it, the different it looked. John and I talked about it, and we decided that this was as good a time as ever to pull some stuff from our family's diet to see if it doesn't help some of the other issues (mainly skin related) to clear up. Since our hand was being forced at school, we decided to take it the rest of the way at home - especially with Miss V who seems to have a pretty fragile little ecosystem.
Why is milk in EVERYTHING? It is, you know. All the good stuff. Cheese, chocolate, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cheese. You may be picking up a theme here. And guess who loves cheese? Everyone in this family, except Lily who will eat grilled cheese and mac and cheese but will not eat pizza with cheese. This is unexplainable and also annoying, but I digress. The idea of actually cutting dairy was pretty hard to swallow and wrap my mind around. I'm not great at being real disciplined, and doing this all the way takes much more focus than I naturally have on such things.
So, the first day that I was sending lunch, I automatically sent a Wowbutter and Nutella sandwich for William and Violet to school, since V is also allergic to peanuts, and their class is nut free. The teacher had to gently tell me that Nutella is made of hazelnuts, and then I came home to read the ingredient label to realize that it also has milk, because it tastes good and of course it does. The teacher was so sweet about it, but really, she had to have wondered about me and not for the first time.
We are hardcore doing this thing now. I'm reading all the labels. And while I am still eating cheese/milk products occasionally, it is not around Violet. I went to Whole Foods and did find dairy free chocolate chips, as well as dairy free "Cheezy" Mac. The chocolate chips are really good, and the "cheezy" mac is mostly okay. It's also gluten free, so I am not sure what it is actually made of, but it came from Whole Foods, so it must be healthy. 😜
Thankfully, I was already subscribed to a meal-planning service this year (Prep Dish, love it!), and I've been preparing Paleo meals for us at home where dairy is always optional. This is a lifesaver in the face of this change.
I have never wanted to be THAT mom - the one with the highly allergic kid who is on high-alert and needs to watch every single thing. I certainly don't feel equipped to be her. I've carried epi-pens with us for years, but I've never had to use one. Because the worst thing that has happened is flat out vomit and nothing life-threatening, I've been able to skate by without too much real skin off my back. But, times change, and while dairy is certainly not life-threatening to us, we need to know if actually cutting it all the way will make a real difference in some of the issues we face. I'm gonna be THAT mom.
Sorry for the over-dramatic tone of this entire post - losing cheese dip at our weekly family Mexican meal out is not the worst thing that has ever happened - far from it. But it is an adjustment for everyone, and I'm working hard to make it work. 😝💪🏻👊🏻 Wish me luck and send me any tips you might have!