A Juggling Act

Posted by Brette in Food

One member of our household (who wishes not to be identified) has been experiencing intestinal pain for a while and I’ve finally convinced said person it is time to get serious about tracking down food causes. So we are investigating dairy and gluten as possible culprits. The plan is to take at least one full week to entirely eliminate each item (one at a time) from the diet, then add it back in and see what happens.

Sounds simple, but it’s so complicated to do. The gluten actually seems easier to me right now than the dairy, since there are small amounts of lactose in things that are made with small amounts of milk and butter, whereas it seems easier to just buy gluten free foods.

We’re trying to test the dairy this week. Sunday was Mother’s Day. Mr. MarthaAndMe made me a nice omelet for breakfast and I said I did not want to attempt to deal with the crowds in restaurants for dinner, so I cooked dinner. I really, desperately wanted fettucine with chicken and broccoli, but felt bad making it with the current dairy restriction for the certain family member (once we do determine what the cause of the problem is, I will make big changes to the entire family’s eating habits to encompass it, but am not going overboard until we figure it out).

I decided since it was Mother’s Day, I deserved to have what I wanted (especially since I was cooking it myself AND since no one had thought to actually run the dishwasher and put away all the breakfast dishes). But I was worried about the person in question, so I came up with a great compromise. I made some gemelli pasta (half a box). Once it was done, I scooped it out of the pasta water and put in some tiny broccoli florets and just let that sit a few minutes and it cooked completely. I cooked three chicken breasts in a pan with about half a jar of pesto. In a separate pan, I made a quick cream sauce with 1/8 stick butter, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream and some parmesan cheese to taste (with salt and pepper). I served all the ingredients separately so people could mix and match as they wanted. My thinking was the pesto was enough of a sauce for the pasta and the broccoli could be eaten separately (as could the noodles) for those who don’t like things mixed or with sauces. Those of us who wanted a regular cream sauce pasta dish mixed it all together.

This worked out quite well and was a pretty good solution to the dilemma, I thought. It also tasted really good! Of course, the person in question whined a bit about how he/she wanted the cream sauce, but we all survived.

If you have any tips for me on how to isolate a food allergy, I would really love to hear them. The initial testing isn’t getting us anywhere – no dairy for two days and the pain continues. But from what I’ve read we need to really give it at least a week. If we get nowhere, gluten is next on the list to eliminate. Wish us luck!

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13 Responses

  • I think you are going about it the best way. With dairy I heard the difference is noticed almost immediately. I am curious to hear the outcome. Don’t forget to check out lactose free products too.

  • Thanks. We did buy lactose free milk and tried the lactaid pills, but there were some confusing issues, so we decided to just go cold turkey and eliminate all dairy then test to see if regular or lactose free is troublesome if there was an improvement with none.

  • 1. This looks fab.

    2. Google “elimination diet.” I think you’re supposed to live on mush for a week and then slowly add foods back in. Sort of the reverse of what you are doing. I did it once LONG ago. Your family member might have IBS, which basically means “we don’t know what the heck is wrong with you.” I found that triggers for me were acidic foods–OJ, tomato sauce, coffee, chocolate (esp in v high amts. Fake sugar and fake fiber (like fiber fortified products) also do me in. As do high amts of fried foods. And pure milk. But cheese doesn’t bother me. When I was first diagnosed, I was drinking 2 pints of OJ in the morning and eating tomato sauce twice a day.

  • Thanks. We’re focusing only on dairy and wheat right now. If it is neither of those, we’re going to pursue allergy testing I think. I’m hoping we can figure this out on our own though.

  • Alene says:

    Poor baby, whoever is suffering. I have I.B.S. (irritable bowel syndrome). The things that trigger my attacks are dairy, wheat, & caffeine. The dr. had me eliminate all those from my diet for 2 weeks, along with corn and potatoes, and I was much much better. I’ve gotten to the point where I can play with it, a little dairy here and there, something w/ wheat here and there, and absolutely NO caffeine at all. I just can’t do it 7 days in a row, cuz I’ll really feel it. So I don’t really feel deprived. By the way, IBS can be brought on by stress. I hope it’s not that cuz it can really stink (so to speak!).

  • Hum, I’m interested to hear your results. My mother has several food allergies, so I know it’s not easy to eliminate foods entirely. In her case, she’s allergic to corn products. That doesn’t sound too bad, until you try to cut out corn sugars–so anything ending in -ose. I had no idea how much corn sugar is in nearly every processed food.

  • Oh, gosh that would be hard to avoid! I remember a segment they did on Good Morning America where they did some blood test or something and could tell the hosts what percent of their body was made up from corn products and it was ridiculously high. Corn seems to be in everything.

  • Thanks! It looks like we’re going to say dairy is not the cause and move on to gluten elimination next. I thought I had IBS for about 5-6 years, but once I got my gallbladder removed, all my problems went away, so I think I had a faulty gallbladder.

  • My second daughter has IBS. I find it really interesting to note as an innkeeper, because I deal with a lot of people passing through and hear what they can eat, that gluten intolerance is really increasing. I wonder if it has anything to do with the genetically modified foods that are so prevalent now?

  • It is interesting, although they say that people just were not as aware of it in the past and there are still many people who have it and are not diagnosed. I just read an article in our weekly town paper about a walk to increase awareness and the fact that there is a bakery and two pizza parlors locally that now offer gluten free products. I also wonder if the fact that the last couple of generations were raised on hyper-processed grains contributes too. Maybe when people ate whole grains there was a lower incidence, but now that people eat all this white flour maybe that has changed things.

  • Alene says:

    If you go to today’s (or yesterday’s) NYTimes website, there is a front page article about food allergies. Very very interesting. I’ll try to forward it to y’all, but my skills are not that terrific on the computer

  • Thanks! I will check it out.

  • Sheryl says:

    Sounds like you reached a great solution, at least in the way you prepared your Mother’s Day meal.
    But I don’t know much about food allergies, and wouldn’t be of much help here. Good luck and hope you can isolate the culprit!