My Trip Through Food Allergy Hell

Milk Allergy

“Any place or state of torment or misery.”
“Extreme disorder or confusion; chaos.”
“The powers of evil.”*

Damn straight. Couldn’t have said it better than the good ‘ole dictionary.

After years of tests, doctors, more tests, sleepless nights, crippling stomach aches among other not-so-hot symptoms… I learned I’m highly allergic to cow’s milk. My doctor believes I’ve been this way my entire life but got much worse as an adult.

Initially I thought, no big deal. I rarely drink milk.  Well let me tell you my friends, that’s just the beginning. Cow’s milk is in freak-ing EVERYTHING.

Butter. Yogurt. Ice cream. Chocolate. Cheese (duh.) Cottage cheese (another duh.) Bread. Salad dressings. Crackers. Chips. Cereals. Muffins. Cookies. Protein bars.

It just takes a couple bites to create symptoms from hell.

What is Milk Allergy?

Milk allergy is VERY different from lactose intolerance. According to this, milk allergy is an overreaction of your immune system to a specific food protein. In my case, that protein is casein and whey. With an allergy, your body thinks the food is a foreign invader and tries to go on the defense. This can set off a range of symptoms including anaphylaxis and can even lead to death. For an extensive list of symptoms list, click here.

Lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system. This shows how you aren’t able to fully digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products. A lack of lactase (which is an enzyme) is usually responsible. The symptoms can be… stinky (sorry, but it’s true!) and uncomfortable.  See here for specifics. Studies show (and my doctors have confirmed) it’s pretty common for adults to be lactose intolerant.

What did it feel like?

For me, it started as a rash on my face that would alternate from a light brown to a bright shade of red. It would show up in patches mostly around my mouth and nose. It almost looked like a blemish with little tiny bumps everywhere. It was very uncomfortable and embarrassing! I found myself putting on more makeup to hide it. The rash then made its way to my check, back, shoulder and stomach.

Some days I would wake up wheezing, and had no idea why. I would have severe dark circles under my eyes, to the point where my loved ones grew concerned. Everything on my body hurt all the time. My muscles ached; my joints were stiff and always did a crackle-pop (especially my left shoulder for some reason.) I would get tension headaches that would last days, and no pain killer could relieve them.

The worst symptoms came from digestion issues.  If I thought my IBS was bad, this took the cake. My stomachaches were so painful I would literally be knocked to the ground. Typically I would get a sharp pain tearing across my abdomen, either after a meal or for no reason at all. Eating was the scariest part. Minutes later I would want to throw up. Then I would be making friends with the toilet. Other days, I would have nothing but rocks in my stomach. There was no rhyme or reason. Plus, every day I was really bloated. I’m a tall but petite chick, so I looked preggo. I was a pathetic, frustrated, miserable mess.

What happens now?

No cheese. No ice cream. No buttered toast. No excuses.

The key for me is to remember what I’ve been through the last several years, and splurging isn’t worth it. I’ve found several brands that make ‘special’ milk-free foods and treats that are delicious.

I’m working on eating as clean as possible, minus the occasional cheat meal. I also take this therapeutic-grade probiotic along with glutamine and fish oil to heal my insides. I’ve also made sleep a priority. Working the overnight shift doesn’t make this easy, but sometimes you’ve got to put on your big girl panties and deal.

I’ve learned how important it is to listen to my body. I’ve ignored her, mistreated her, rebelled against her… and I’ve paid for it.

Now I’m happy to say we love each other again.

Do you or your children suffer from a food allergy? What obstacles have you overcome? Share your story with me below!


*I am not a medical professional. This is my personal account of milk allergy


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