The Dairy Drug

Friday, 7 June 2013

Once, the thought of going bareblack and milkless with a cup of tea filled me with horror.  Now, apart from occasional lapses and semi-regular forays into cheese Twisties, I've been pretty much off dairy for close to a year.  I'd been thinking literally for years that I needed to kick dairy to see what happened, but it was always the milk in the cup of tea that killed my contemplation before it could turn into an intention.  (Because have you ever tried any other whitener in tea apart from milk?  Across the board, they are all plain disgusting.  In a fit of desperation I even resorted once to buying some of that coffee whitener to see if it would help milk up my tea but it tasted like it was made from a combination of floor sweepings and pig fat.  Sorta like a Hungry Jack's milkshake.  Nothing worked - not that, not almond milk, not rice milk, not oat milk, and definitely not soy milk.  Nothing replaces the taste of cow's milk in tea.  Nuthin'.)

These days, milk in my tea isn't something I even think about anymore.  It's just not an issue.  Though I still crave cheese, acclimatising to black tea has been achievable, and I am proof of something I could not do for years.  Yeah, I know, I know - in terms of accomplishment it's probably not up there, but in lieu of a brilliant career I gotta take the wins where I can get them.  And anyway, quitting dairy (by and large) is a big win.  According to some sources, up to 75% of the population are intolerant to dairy in some form.  And though dairy farmers are struggling to stay in existence, the problem there lies with parasitic supermarket chains holding them by the balls rather than a lack of resource for their product.  That's an awful lot of people who shouldn't be drinking dairy but who are.  I'm happy with myself that I've made the changes, albeit imperfectly, that I knew I needed to make.  Changing your diet is hard.

Like other stupid things I have consumed in my life like Christian conceptions of hell (though they didn't last long and I was skeptical from the start), unintelligent boyfriends and cigarettes, the wisdom you get when you come out the other side of consumption almost makes the stupidity of consumption worthwhile.  There is a kind of achievement involved in overcoming things you do not believe you can overcome, and if you are not careful you will fall into a vat of Hallmark sensibility when trying to describe it because it's true, you are bigger and stronger than you thought you were before, you can cope with more than you thought you could before, and you must stop italicising so many words in this blog post.

(Oh, and as an aside, I must say I didn't have any problem overcoming the thought of hell as preached by modern Christians.  I mean, what a bloody ridiculous concept.  So not only do you send your son to die for the sins of the earth even though everybody's still running around all sinny, but then you negate whatever it was he did by sending everyone who doesn't believe in him to hell?  What sort of an omnipotent loving thing are you?  You sound more like a psychotic sook to me.  But then different religions have different conceptions of hell - as in Buddhism and also even from within Christianity itself.  CS Lewis was a most eloquent speaker of the idea that hell is not anywhere that you are sent to, but a place that you choose yourself, echoing the idea amongst New Agers that there are two camps - those who define their lives with a service to others ethos, and those blood-suckers who live in service to self.  I could maybe even entertain the idea of hell as a place you choose if the rules of admittance were restricted to those parasitic elements who thrive in our current dying Western paradigms, who enjoy extorting other people for their own gain and calling it the market, or profit-making, or the way things are done.  That is service-to-self if ever I saw it).

But anyway, this is a post about dairy, not about my conceptions of hell.  Do keep to the point, Susan.

Which is part of the problem.  Because I am really struggling to concentrate on anything at all for very long today.  And that is probably at least partially due to the fact that last night I went sick eating spinach spaghetti that had dairy/cream in it, followed by a bit of parmesan on top, and then concluded with half a bar of white chocolate.  And now today, I'm all over the place concentration-wise, I've been sorta anxious and sorta depressed and sorta unable to get out of my bathrobe even though it's 3 pm.  I woke up feeling like I was coming down with bronchitis, and feeling sick in my stomach.

Pic of cheeses from Queen Vic Market by Alpha under a
CC attribution/noncommercial/sharealike licence
I've been really good for so long, apart from those Twisties forays (everyone has their limits, right?)  And I've been able to get away with those - I think.  I've gotten used to going without the occasional chocolate eclair, and in a way to the idea of not having cheese though I wanted it, and apart from the occasional mini chunk slobbered after whenever my partner was chopping some cheese off the block.  After a while the thought of eating cheese substitutes didn't fill me with despair, and I got used to putting nutritional yeast on my gluten-free pasta instead of a bunch of parmesan.

Then a couple of weeks ago I started taking digestive enzymes.  And even though I suspect that I have a dairy intolerance that is based on an inability to absorb protein rather than the sugars in dairy and that digestive enzymes as far as I can see don't help with protein absorption, I did begin to notice that lately I seem to be able to tolerate the occasional bit of gluten, the occasional bit of cheese.

Hence last night's ridiculous avalanche.  Like a teenager who had a stubby the weekend before and now thinks he can tackle that four-pack of UDLs this weekend, I have overestimated my body's abilities and fallen into today's mass lethergy and depression-that-didn't-need-to-happen.  And I only have myself to blame.

And dairy.  Bloody stupid practice we humans have developed.  Can you imagine if emus went around stealing the milk from sheep that was mean for their babies?  Stupid dairy.  Stupid.

I must say though that after spending all day feeling like this but still eating last night's leftovers for lunch, even though I felt like shite and nauseous, that this stuff is powerfully addictive and I have been eating it forever, and I am a stupid dolt who takes forever to learn and so I must cut myself some slack.

The thing that disturbs me though in my addiction is that even though it made me feel like that, within a body which is struggling for homeostasis as it is, the fact that I earlier took a few things that seemed to help quell the symptoms only made me think in that druggy way that sees an escape hatch that ooh, maybe it means I can just feast on dairy until it clogs all my arteries and gives me a heart attack.  Irritating thinking.  But still, it's good to know that an extra bunch of digestive enzymes, a dose of betaine (which reduces homocysteine, which is the inflammation response that rises when your body perceives an invader), and some Lactase for good measure, I feel a little better.

And because I'm a dickhead, I probably feel better enough that I won't be able to resist tackling half of the white chocolate bar that's still sitting in the pantry.  I'm a stupid bloody dolt because though it wrenches my guts and depresses my soul and makes me write in italics a lot, I still want to eat it even now. 

We are often allergic to the things we crave the most.  I don't need cocaine.  Dairy is my drug.


  1. Hope you get up and running eventually, Sue. So much stuff humanity got itself addicted to after resorting to it out of temporary need. Grains, dairy... boy, don't we complicate food so? Butter's the only vestige of dairy I still have, and it doesn't seem too bothersome. I find discovering what works for the body is an adventure - sometimes ecstatic, sometimes... not so much!

    1. I think I'm actually getting there, Harry! It's been rather hellish but the last week has been a real turnaround for me. Have begun taking a particular form of folate called 5-MTHF and wow. I feel a certain stability since I've been taking it, and though I've still been going up and down, it's been (largely) without the crazy emotional mood swings of the past year.

      I sooooooo agree that discovering what works for the body is a real adventure. It's fascinating, the way we work. And the best bit? Feeling awful earlier in the day, taking a few things and bam - off into the shower, out the door to walk the dog. Wowee!

      Yeah, butter is very harmless, isn't it. Luckily :) I'm so glad you've got a whole lot of things sorted - like the fact that dairy doesn't work for you. You're a true adventurer in many senses of the word :)

    2. Rock on, Sue! Keep walkin' the dawg! Glad to hear of your progress. Yes, I can sometimes feel terrible, even now, but if I listen to the subtle body messages I'll eat something that fixes it. It's a great conversation :)

      I think I'd despair of life if I had to give up butter. Let the adventure continue! Tolkien has nothing on this. One of my fave brands is Anchor, from your part of the planet. Kerrygold Irish is my very top, but it tends to cost a bit more. They're both like nectar though :)

      I didn't know all that about casein either. Intriguing - so many things that humanity's taken to be 'staples' are actually addictive slow poisons. Says so much about us as a species...

    3. Yeah. Casein could be its own metaphor, couldn't it :)

      I may have to try some of that Anchor butter. I don't think I could resist living without butter either.

  2. Haha! Had a good laugh over your ruminations on hell. God - a, "psychotic sook"? Awesome!!

    And, speaking of ruminate, yuh huh, dairy is like crack. And, I was a dairy crack-whore for years. Til one day I went cold turkey.

    It is a (socially acceptable) drug so difficult to kick.

    Milk contains ‘casein’. When our bodies digest casein, it produces caso-morphins… derived from the digestion of this milk protein. Their characteristic is the strong opiate-like effect on us.
    And, because cheese is heavily concentrated milk, the body ingests more concentrated casein, thereby producing more caso-morphins than milk, yoghurt etc.
    We become hooked.

    That’s why people crave cheese – it truly IS addictive as it contains small amounts of morphine. It’s not just a funny quip people have – there is a chemical process going on when humans eat it.

    Nature has ensured that baby calves/animals bond and get ‘addicted’ to their mother and her milk, until they are old enough to have received enough nutrition and are able to fend for themselves, then they are (often forcibly) weaned. It’s a survival design.

    Humans are the only animals who drink another species' mother's milk. Weird.
    But, I fully understand the craving. I am human :)

    1. There seems to be two gods in the bible. One is awesome and then there's the bloody sook. Sort of like people, huh :)

      Wow, that is the best summation of what casein does that I've heard. Excellent. It makes sense when you describe it in terms of it being designed to bond the calf and mother together ... and we pay the price for our stupidity eating the stupid bloody stuff.

      Glad to hear that you too have kicked the habit. So a dairy crack-whore (haha) one day and then wham, cold turkey. And so was that it? You never let a crumb of cheese pass your lips since then?

  3. Nope, not a crumb - and I hate to come across as sanctimonious. For I do understand that "dreamy cheese high" look that people get in their eyes. So, I'm not judge-ee with them.

    It's been over seven years since I've had any dairy.
    Definitely can say I don't miss it at all.

    Though, many years ago, we had milking goats on our property. I loved them for their wonderful characters.
    So, I miss them, but not their milk.

    I don't agree with what goes on in the large commercial dairy (cow) industry. It is deeply "flawed", when the calves are cruelly separated from their mothers at days old, tied up in sheds and bottle fed (often still going hungry) while the mothers' milk is taken from them by machines and sent off for human consumption.

    So, on many levels, I don't miss dairy.
    Sorry to be so serious.

    1. No, you don't come across as sanctimonious at all. I stand in awe at your self-discipline, actually in terms of that sort of level of cold turkey, and in agreement with you about the disgusting nature of the diary industry. Breaks my heart (even while I eat their products).

  4. You should check out the new doc Hellbound? It takes the traditional hell doctrine to pieces. (Oh and my name is in the credits, but hey). And I plan to use the phrase 'all sinny' as soon as is possible. I've tried to give up wheat and did for 3 days and felt awesome (which I would put in italics if I knew how), but I can't give up bread, I just can't. The bargains we make...

    1. Now, that sounds like a worthwhile project to be involved in Ms E - breaking the shackles 'n all that :)

      Giving up bread is so hard. Especially if you are buying lunches - although it has improved a lot in recent years because so many people have problems with wheat gluten. So what are you eating instead of wheat bread?

    2. Oh no I still eat wheat bread. Couldn't give it up, I'm afraid. I don't have anywhere near the self-discipline to give it up!

    3. Hehe, yes. I've been sneaking wheat in a bit lately. It's very hard to avoid and resist

  5. I feel you on this. Not so much dairy, although I'm coming to have philosophical issues with that, but I'm having to make the choice to give up so many things I love in an effort not to go blind or lose my limbs from diabetes. I guess I can say I've finally decided to be a grownup about it.

    1. That must be a hard space to be, Erin. I'm glad that you have become comfortable enough with it to face what needs doing - it's so hard with food, especially when there is so much around to tempt us when we're out.


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