Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We Got Caseined

de: Struktur von Lactose en: Structure of LactoseImage via Wikipedia

Instead of those omni-present Got Milk advertising campaigns, I would one day love to see people asking instead: Have you been caseined?

We got caseined over here recently. We were at a local, small town restaurant and I pulled the waitress aside and said we could not eat gluten, dairy or corn. How I wish I had said PLEASE don't give us anything that has casein in it. PLEASE.

What is casein?

Casein is a protein that is found in milk and used independently in many foods as a binding agent. You stand at least a 50% chance of having an issue with caseins if you have an issue with gluten. Isn't that special that they run in the same crowd?

My husband has felt for years that he was lactose intolerant so we removed lactose from our diets . . . but didn't yet know about caseins, which were still present in the lactose free milk and in many, many other suspicious foods we were still consuming.

I stopped ingesting caseins to support my husband and I was convinced that I did not have an issue with "dairy." I was wrong. I knew I did when I finally added some dairy back in my meals. I felt awful for days. It wasn't pleasant.

When we ate at the locally owned Mexican restaurant, I ordered chicken fajitas and ate them with no tortillas. Jeff had a wonderful grilled shrimp salad. If you can get through a Mexican meal and not touch a single corn tortilla chip placed on your table, you know that your will power to stay healthy is growing. We had no chips and felt good about our food choices.

A few hours later, Jeff's stomach was in knots and he did not feel well at all. I felt okay which may mean something or it may mean nothing at all in terms of my ability to digest caiseins. I called the restaurant and the hapless person who answered it listened to my questions about gluten, corn and dairy. She put the phone down and I could hear her yell to someone "HEY! do we put gluten in anything these people had for lunch here? They had chicken fajitas and the shrimp salad." She came back to phone and informed me that nope, we had ingested no corn, gluten or dairy. I didn't feel right about her "researching" my questions and by the way Jeff was feeling, I knew he had gotten something bad for his system, but what? It's the not so fun game of trying to figure out what you ate where that was now poisoning you. That game gets old in a hurry.

Then my phone rang suddenly. It was the restaurant owner! She wanted to tell me to ask for her next as she knew exactly what the ingredients were in every meal. She then asked me a question I will never forget to ask in the future: "did you tell the waitress to leave out the dairy or did you tell her about caiseins?"

I did just say dairy! Wow, someone in the teeny small Texas town we live in knew about caseins! She told me that they dip both the shrimp and the chicken fajitas in BUTTER before they grill them. Butter has caiseins! Our food sleuthing worked this time, not that it helped Jeff in the short term but it will for all of our future food restaurant dining. That restaurant is now our favorite little restaurant in town and we send them customers by the boatloadfull. (Though I do think it would help to have all of their waitresses well versed in casein-ology)

After that meal, I look the waiter in the eye and say clearly: we have some SERIOUS food allergies, please help us to not anything that might possibly contain wheat, gluten, corn dairy or anything that is made of a dairly substances such as butter.

Then I ask my honey if he brought that epi pen with him. Okay, I don't always ask about the epi pen but I will say that if I feel the waiter is not paying attention. Usually the threat of my throat closing up tends to make them perk up a bit and listen. Not that my throat would swell up but that sounds so much prettier to say than my guts will swell, don't you agree?

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