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Is There Life Without Ice Cream?

My doctor should have prefaced it with, “Are you sitting down?  You might want to be when you hear your blood test results.” Instead she just kind of breezed through them as if they weren’t so life altering and earth shattering.  In fact, it’s almost been 24 hours, and this Zen Mama Wannabe still can’t quite get my head around it all.

Me – Miss Lover of Cheese, Ice Cream, Milk, Chocolate (did I mention cheese and ice cream?), Miss Vegetarian who eats only fish and dairy products (no meat, chicken, pork), Miss Tries-To-Get-Her-Protein-Through-Soy told that I have a high sensitivity to all things good dairy and need to avoid them at all costs?!   No more eating/drinking milk of any kind, or cheese made from cow’s milk (american, blue, cottage, etc), or yogurt, frozen yogurt, or…gulp…ice cream?  Does such a world exist?

If that wasn’t enough (and I thought it was plenty!) I am apparently highly sensitive/allergic to “casein” – a protein found in milk that is often used (among other things) as a binding agent in processed foods, and in many SOY products to bump up the protein content.  Yes, soy – my number one source of protein.  Does this mean no more soy hot dogs, veggie burgers, etc?  You take away all that and what else is there for me to eat??

It might not sound so daunting.  Make some changes, eat a bit healthier – what is wrong with that?  But when I really stop to pick it apart, it seems beyond impossible.  Give up the 6oz of nonfat milk I put in my homemade latte each morning?  Everyone knows you NEVER get between someone and their morning coffee – and I don’t ever drink it black.  As a friend once teased me, “Do you want a little COFFEE with your milk?!”  Exactly.

Stop eating my “breakfast on the run” of a yummy Zone bar?  With 14 grams of protein (and protein being hard for THIS vegetarian to get enough of) I felt like it was a decent trade off.  Not the BEST choice of course, with ingredients I can’t pronounce and a high sugar content, but the amount of protein and fiber made up for it – plus it was fast and easy for my busy rush-out-the-door weekday mornings.

Weekend mornings were always a different story.  Still the same wonderful latte, with the same amount of nonfat milk, but I would trade my Zone Bar for homemade (yes from scratch) pancakes or French Toast.  Both of which use key ingredients of milk and butter – now two big no-nos apparently.

As I mulled over the information, I looked down at my dinner plate.  Last night I made one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula.  If I could just overlook the milk (er, cream) and quarter cup of Parmesan cheese, I’d be fine.  I glanced over at the kids as they nervously finished up their little bowls of ice cream, obviously wondering what MY news meant to THEM.  I stared at their last few bites like a vulture eyes his prey.  I could almost feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  No more Rocky Road or Mint Chocolate Chip? Would life ever be the same?

What was happening to my fantasy French life?  Café au lait.  The cheese course.  Rich milk chocolates.  Creamy gelato.  All forbidden foods as of 3 hours and 20 minutes ago.  Now when I finally get my first chance to go to France, what the hell am I suppose to eat??  All I’d need to hear is that there is casein found in red wine, and I’d probably have to shoot myself.  (conflicting reports about that actually  – outlook is cloudy).

And without the use of soy, how do I get enough protein in my diet?  My red blood cell count is already low.  That had recently been an area of concern and I had actually been trying to imagine going back to a life where I would eat meat, or chicken, or both.  In many, many ways it would make it easier for my whole family if I did and I really tried imagining it becoming a reality.  Couldn’t get there, unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on your take of vegetarianism).  But I have been realizing that I needed to bump up the protein – and of course, one of the easiest ways for me was through soy. Now, if I can’t use that option, what the heck am I gonna do?

Time for desperate measures.  Time to remind myself I wasn’t being told I had cancer or anything scary like that.  Sometimes you need to put things in the proper perspective.  There are so many worse diagnoses – worst things to be told.  My news is shocking and disruptive and not fun (at all) but it is NOT the worst card to draw.

I am all for having a healthier diet.  I just never imagined there would be a world (ahem – MY world) without cheese or milk or ice cream.  It will be an interesting journey.  Just need to figure out what I can eat along the way!

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3 Responses to “Is There Life Without Ice Cream?”

  1. Lauren Says:
    February 14th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Oh, wow. You have my deepest sympathies. I’ve always thought I could relatively easily give up meat, but never cheese. I mean, everything’s better with cheese, right? Sorry, I’m not helping.

    Luckily there are a ton of wonderful vegan recipe sites out there these days. I’m sure you can find great (or, well, decent anyhow) vegan pancakes and french toast.

    Good luck! Is there a vegan restaurant I can target for our next ladies’ lunch? Maybe Cafe del Sol…

  2. Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Knowledge is Power – Get Tested Says:
    February 15th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    […] many comments have come in about my previous blog article: Is There Life Without Ice Cream that I felt it only fair to follow up.  The main theme was, “How could you receive this news and […]

  3. Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Chef Chloe – My Vegan Savior and New Best Friend Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    […] forced to eat a vegan diet was certainly not something I had ever anticipated.  As I mentioned earlier this year, my favorite food group (after Fruit) was Dairy.  Milk, ice cream, cheese, butter, yogurt – […]

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