Of Lactose and Privilege: Or, How Privilege is Largely Unintentional

A block of yellow cheese

As I’ve referenced in another post, a few years ago one of my kids was diagnosed with several health problems, the solution for which was an elimination diet that forbade gluten and dairy. In an act of solidarity, our whole family decided to eat this way, and today we remain gluten and dairy (or more specifically, lactose) free. While my daughter was the only one for whom this diet was recommended by a doctor, many other things started to clear up once the rest of us were on board: my headaches and joint pain went away, as did my husband’s acid reflux, as did our son’s very frequent night terrors. In the midst of all of the good, however, there was a new issue that emerged: because we no longer eat lactose or gluten, we have lost whatever capacities we individually had to digest them. Thus what began as a mild sensitivity for most of us has now blossomed into all out gastrointestinal misery for all of us if we are accidentally exposed.

What this means in a very practical sense is that we are now living in a world that, from a dietary perspective, has many pitfalls and traps, and is filled with what feels like an endless amount of label reading and Pepto Bismol. We have a very difficult time eating at restaurants, cannot eat many pre-packaged foods, and must often work double-time to provide substitutes for our three children’s very full social lives, where birthday parties, playdates, and movie nights include mounds of forbidden foods. Continue reading “Of Lactose and Privilege: Or, How Privilege is Largely Unintentional”