My name is Valerie DiClerico, and I will be your guide to dairy free living! If you read my story below you’ll learn a bit about my journey, but in short, I’ve been dairy free for many years. My mission is to help those struggling to do the same. I love to help people, and think I have some good tips and suggestions to make life a little easier for others trying to live dairy free.
I am a chef and a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Health Coach by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, Purchase College, State University of New York and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I trained as a chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute, focusing on health supportive, whole foods based cooking. I specialize in working with adults with food allergies and restricted diets, as well as adults that have children with food allergies.
Unknowingly, I lived in pain for a good portion of my life. Not sure why, but I thought it was normal to feel sick after eating just about anything! I thought it was normal to struggle to get out of bed in the morning.. Eczema, violent mood swings, depression, terrible cramps (particularly on my lower left side), etc. All these now obvious symptoms just became part of everyday life. Blended with the paper cuts, mosquito bites and stubbed pinky toes.. irritating, but expected.
Persistent cramping and aching on my lower left side became the first key to unlocking the cause. I’d often go to the doctor complaining of pain assuming I had a cyst (which I had had a history of getting from time to time), or tumor, or something even worse. Every test and exam was normal, though. I was beginning to think I was crazy, or that my agony was psychosomatic… Until I saw a different doctor.. one who looked beyond her specialty and told me, “You don’t have a cyst, but you should see a gastroenterologist. That’s where your bowel is located.”
So, off to the gastroenterologist I went. With only one test to rule out other disorders, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and at the age of 21, told to take pills every day until forever to “fix” the problem. No one asked what or how I was eating. It’s easier to prescribe a pill, I suppose.
About a year later, dissatisfied with the quick fix and increasingly uneasy with the idea of taking a pill for the rest of my life, I sought help from a naturopathic doctor. After keeping a food journal and trying a few unsuccessful digestive enzymes, the doctor suggested I try going dairy-free. The thought was absolutely horrifying. “I cannot live without cheese,” was my first reaction (as it is for many people when confronted with the idea)!
Eventually I was persuaded to try it for a few weeks. Difficult, but I did it. I definitely noticed a difference, but it didn’t seem that drastic, That is, until I reintroduced dairy into my diet. Suddenly it was so clear! That’s why I feel terrible all of the time! My previously unrecognized symptoms jumped out at me. And there I was. Face to face with my delicious, delicious enemy. I decided I had to give it up. Nothing tastes good enough to make it worth me feeling that bad.
Now? I feel great! I hope I can help you get there, too!