Category Archives: Health

Further Proof That Conveniences Are Making Us Think Much less

I’ve blogged in the past that convenience makes us lazy.
A shining example of this is the way LEGO now prints their instructions.

The old way was Lego just showed you a picture of what you needed to build and you had to sift through and figure out how to get there by looking at the pictures.

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Now they put little boxes in the (upper left) corner to show you exactly what pieces you need before you build.

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Yes, it’s plenty more convenient, but also takes some of the brain power out of the mix. Sometimes it’s just little nuances like this that that are scattered throughout life that makes us just have to think less on a daily basis.

Combine this with autocorrect, GPS, etc and our kids are learning less and less how to do things without some device or instructions telling them exactly how to achieve the end.

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Canadian School Suppliments Kid’s Unbalanced Lunch, Internet Goes Beserk Over The Outrage

So there’s this Daycare/ School in Canada that requires parents to send in a lunch2balanced lunch daily for their children. (Horrid, I know). This is a private institution that has a strict policy to promote healthy eating habits and has a known policy to supplement children’s meals if their families fail to provide one.  Parents must send 1 milk, 1 meant, 1 grain and 2 fruits/ veggies. Again, this is a known policy, there’s contracts and flyers involved, I’m sure.

So one mom sent her children in with a homemade lunch of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, oranges and milk. She was shocked and outraged that her meal was deemed “unbalanced” and therefore had to be supplemented with Ritz crackers, and fined $10 for her misdoings. (She had 2 kids, so $5 each x2).  Now, I’m not so sure how exactly she was so shocked since there was already a known strict policy in place, but she was. And then when she took her grievances online, the world was also shocked.. but that’s not so surprising because that’s what we do best with limited knowledge anyway. And plus the date on this note says it was last December. But we also love to make random things go viral, regardless if we have limited information or not, because, again, that’s what we do best.

So it all seems so unfair because a meal of veggies fruits and beef and potatoes sound pretty darn good, and probably better than most of us will eat on a daily basis anyway, but sorry Charlie, rules are rules.

While we’re all in a tizzy over how asinine this policy may be, don’t forget that these same fascist meal-nazis are also busy providing fruits and veggies for the parents who fail to provide them for their kids as well, or also protein and milk supplements. Maybe more schools should be paying attention to what their students eat and picking up the slack for when parents drop the ball. And yes, I know Ritz Crackers aren’t the picture of perfect health, but kids do need a balance. Paleo and Atkins diets aren’t for kids anyway. Next time throw a slice of bread in there.

I’ve heard comment after comment of people yapping in protest that they’d be super pissed if their gluten-free-organic-only-non-preservative-eating-spawn was given the devils food, Ritz Crackers, of all things on this planet; but again, just think for a second that this school, like most schools in this contienent probably have health forms given to the nurse or cafeteria. Let’s just assume that they are aware of any possible gluten or dairy or peanut issues and also just for shits and giggles, let’s just assume they’d comply if there were any such issues. Let’s all just take a breather here, I am sure there are plenty of public schools in her area that would love to not care if she gave her kid Poptarts or soda, or meat and potatoes for lunch. Hell, there’s schools in our country that deny kid’s eating if they fail to bring in the correct change. My kid’s school serves donuts and Trix yogurt for breakfast and tortilla chips as a grain. Meh.

My Search For Eco-Healthy

Guest Post by Stephanie Gallant. Stephanie is a licensed day-care provider in Rochester, NY and a mother of a one year old boy.

We have all heard the term Eco-Healthy. After opening my own in-home day-care, I began to be more concerned about what I could do to keep the kids in my care safe and healthy. I’ve thought about the foods I serve and the objects I place in my environment.  I took a class at the Child Care Council about becoming an Eco-Healthy Child Care. I thought I was Eco-Healthy because I recycle a lot, I reuse a lot, and I use cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I thought my business was Eco-Healthy because nobody in my house smokes, and I don’t use any harsh chemicals. While those were all good, I realized that there is a lot more to consider when thinking about the environment surrounding and affecting me and the kids in my care.

Here’s why:

According to the EPA there are over 80,000 chemicals produced or imported into the United States. Only 200 of these chemicals have been directly tested by the EPA, and only 5 are restricted.
Of these chemicals, many are persistent, bioaccumulative, and highly toxic. These include carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and endocrine disruptors.  
What’s that mean?

  • Persistent: hard to get rid of.
  • Bioaccumulative: collected in organisms (soil, water, plants, animals, people) and passed on (animals eat plants, we eat animals, we eat plants, we plant in soil, we walk on soil, we drink water, we eat things from water). Can be passed from a pregnant or nursing mother to her child.
  • Highly toxic:  VERY DAMAGING.

Okay, so?

  • Carcinogens: CAUSE CANCER
  • Reproductive toxins: chemicals that can affect the reproductive system (infertility, sexual development, etc) and the fetus.
  • Endocrine disruptors: chemicals that can interfere with hormones and can cause birth defects and other developmental problems (ADHD, cognitive problems, etc). These are especially dangerous to a fetus and infants because an amount that will hurt a fetus may not affect the mother.

Okay – so they are bad, bad for the environment and bad for the people who use them. And they are everywhere! Yikes!

Here’s two of the chemicals I am most concerned about as an in-home day-care provider and as a parent:

1) Polycarbonates (main chemical is bisphenol A or BPA. BPA leaches from the plastic, especially when heated. It is labeled as #7 plastic): ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: can cause prostate & breast cancer, reproductive problems, diabetes, & obesity. Found in water bottles, children’s tableware, and toys. In NYS it is illegal to sell baby bottles or sippy cups with BPA. BPA is also found in the lining of most canned food products, aluminum cans, plastic blender jars or food processor bowls, and plastic pitchers and cash register receipts. Researchers are warning pregnant women not to touch cash register receipts as BPA can increase the chance of miscarriages.

I found some children’s tableware that did not have a plastic recycling label. I got these as a hand-me-down and do not know the manufacturer. I will not be giving those to my children. I am still researching the toys I currently have. I have already replaced some dollar-store brand play dishes with Green Toys brand. I continue to research better alternatives to current toys we have. My inquiry to some places has been met with a “yea, most are BPA free.” I plan on continuing my research.

2) Vinyl Chloride (vinyl) or Polyvinylchloride (PVC). It is labeled as #3 plastic and can contain chemicals like lead & phthalates. ENDOCRINE DISTRUPTOR. PVC is toxic throughout its entire lifecycle: production, use, and disposal. It pollutes the water and air near its manufacturing plants, as well as the workers inside. PVC is found in the kitchen in some plastic containers and some plastic wrap and food film. Many shower curtains are made of vinyl. Many water pipes are PVC. Vinyl flooring, vinyl tiles, wallpaper, and synthetic carpet contain PVC. PVC is a soft plastic often found in toys, bibs, doll clothes, teethers, and vinyl shirt decals. ALL EVENFLO, GERBER, & IKEA TOYS ARE PVC-FREE.

I use Green-Sprouts plastic bibs, Gerber plastic bibs, and Bumkins plastic bibs which are all PVC free. Bumkins bibs are also phthalate, lead, and BPA free.  I checked the label on my travel diaper mat and it is made from polyethylene which is PVC free. I don’t think I have any more objects in my home containing PVC and I will continue to research alternatives (www.cleanhealthny.org/PVC_Alternative_Guide.pdf).

Then the other night there was a catalyst in my quest for safer and healthier products for my home- I went to a friend’s house where her friend was demonstrating Arbonne products. I don’t often wear make-up or use cosmetic lotions or products. Usually these types of parties do not interest me, but Arbonne was different. They are products that advertise as ‘Pure, Safe, and Beneficial’. On their catalogue they claim:
Arbonne personal care products are formulated without:
-Animal products or animal by-products (vegan certified)
-Parabens
-Formaldehyde-donating preservatives
-PABA
-Synthetic dyes
-Triclosan
-Hydroquinone
-Gluten
-These petroleum-based ingredients: benzene, mineral oil, petrolatum or petroleum jelly, phthalates, and toluene.

I had heard about some of these chemicals in my Eco-Healthy Child Care class. Two of them have been on my radar as high concern:

1) Phthalates:  ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: can mimic hormones and lead to reproductive problems. Phthalates are the chemicals in PVC that make it soft and flexible. Phthalates are sometimes found in medical tubing, plastic packaging, and toys. Phthalates are the chemicals in lotions, shampoos, and soaps that help it keep its fragrance. If fragrance is listed as an ingredient, the product may contain phthalates. Phthalates will not be listed as an ingredient. Companies do not have to disclose on their label what makes their unique fragrance as it is protected as a trade secret. Consumers must look for “fragrance free” not unscented. Unscented products may have added to scents to mask other smells.

2) Parabens:  ENDOCRINE DISTRUPTOR: can act like human hormones and lead to reproductive problems. Used to control bacteria and mold and increase the shelf-life of products. Can be found in: shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving gels, pharmaceuticals, conditioner, and more. Prefixes like “butyl-“, “isopropyl- “, “isobutyl-“, and “propyl-“ are more hazardous and have a stronger endocrine disruption potency than “ethyl-“ and “methyl”.

There was another chemical that Arbonne mentions they do not use that I remembered learning something about in my Eco-Healthy Child Care class.

1) Triclosan: BIOACCUMULATIVE. Positively associated with allergies in children. Can harm fish and other animals that live in lakes, streams, and oceans. Used in antimicrobial pesticide in products like hand soap, dish detergent, and hand sanitizer. The prevalence of triclosan may lead to antibiotic resistance.

So automatically I was excited about Arbonne. I hadn’t looked around for new products yet, but I had read the labels on products in my home and the words paraben and/or fragrance and/or triclosan were on almost every label.  So now no more looking! Arbonne to the rescue! I immediately wanted everything in the catalogue. Then I looked at the prices and realized Eco-Healthy had a hefty price tag. I bought myself Renewing Body Gelee ($49), that along with the promise of being pure and safe, felt really good when I rubbed in on my aching feet after a long day. I also purchased ABC (Arbonne Baby Care) Hair & Body Wash ($16) as a gift for my cousin’s baby and Pure Mint Toothpaste ($17) for my toddler son. The toothpaste is fluoride-free (approved for toddlers) and paraben free! I had looked briefly for a toothpaste matching this criteria and hadn’t found any! Hurray Arbonne! Hurray pure and safe and eco-healthy!

I went home excited about my Arbonne purchases and my continued effort in making my family more eco-healthy. When I told my husband, Joe, I made a purchase and how much I spent he was upset with me because he knows I’m easily scammed. I explained to him all the things that Arbonne didn’t have in its products. He agreed that we need to be careful about the chemicals in products we buy, but told me we could get safe and pure products without paying $50 for lotion. I told him I didn’t agree, and he quickly looked up the Cetaphil that he and my son use daily. No parabens. No fragrance. No triclosan. And it is less than $15 at Wegmans. Likewise, the Aquaphor Gentle Wash and Shampoo that we use for my son is paraben, triclosan, and fragrance free. It also cost less than the product I bought through Arbonne.

My husband likes to research the best product for the best price before he makes a purchase. I don’t, but now I’m going to start. He doesn’t want to pay more money for something that can be bought cheaper. He’s a price tag reader. He should be. Now I’m starting to research the chemicals in products, manufacturing processes, and business practice before I make a purchase. I have started to think carefully about what companies claim. Arbonne claims to not have petroleum-based phthalates. That does not exclude Arbonne from having phthalates. I don’t want to compromise environmental or personal health for a few extra bucks. And I don’t have to.

I am still pleased with my Arbonne purchase. I believe that Arbonne is safer and more pure than a lot of the products we currently use- and for people interested in spa-quality, high-end lotions and cosmetics with promises to detox and prevent aging, they may be the most eco-friendly option. I am also pleased with the research that my husband encouraged me to do. I found a lot of other products that are paraben, fragrance, and triclosan free. These products do more of what I need- clean, moisturize, etc. Many of them are in the Nature’s Market section of Wegmans. They cost more than the popular products, but less than Arbonne.

My plan to become more eco-healthy is to start reading labels on products before I purchase them. I am learning more about products and becoming a better educated consumer (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/top-tips-for-safer-products/).  I hope that becoming a conscientious consumer (and encouraging others to do so) will get some of these harmful chemicals out of our products.   Hopefully the purchases we make can help create a safer and healthier environment, for our bodies and the world.

Here’s some other commonly found dangerous chemicals that I’ve put on my radar to avoid:

–           Perfluorocarbons (PFCs): CARCINOGEN & ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR. BIOACCUMULATIVE. These are stain-resistant chemicals found in anything labeled stain-resistant. (www.saferchemicals.org/resources/chemicals/pfc.html)

–          Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR. BIOACCUMULATIVE. Flame-retardant chemicals. These chemicals are added to the foam (especially polyurethane foam) in furniture, padded books, padded toys, and carpet padding to make them less flammable. Polyurethane will be on the label, but the chemical flame-retardants will not. (www.toxicfreefiresafe.org)

–          Lead: BIOACCULUMATIVE (often found in soil) ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: can lower IQ, reduce learning ability, and cause behavior problems. Found in inexpensive toy jewelry, pipes, painted mugs or ceramics, artificial turf, older painted toys, electronics, and is an ingredient in PVC. (www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadpdfe.pdf)

–          Ammonia: ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: linked to kidney & liver problems. Found in window cleaners, floor cleaners, and oven cleaners.

–          Mercury:  Mercury vapor can damage lungs, brain, & kidneys. Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury but are only a hazard if they break. They must be disposed of properly (EcoPark in Rochester takes them) to reduce mercury leaching into soil.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive. There is so much to think about with art supplies, wood playground equipment, cleaning supplies, pesticides, and the chemicals on food.  When I start researching more of the food I serve and things I use in my house for cleaning and art, I will certainly share my information with others!

Please understand I do not claim to know everything, but I have a list of places I trust who know more than I do about these things and can provide more information.

www.cleanhealthyny.org

www.epa.gov

www.cehn.org

www.cda.gov

www.ewg.org

www.saferchemicals.org

www.healthybuilding.net

www.besafenet.com

www.healthystuff.org

eco friendly

51 Isn’t too Young To Die Afterall

jamesYesterday Actor James Gandolfini died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 51. He was newly married and had a baby daughter that is just 8 months old. Scrolling through tweets and statements made by other celebrities, many of his fellow actors described him as a "genius" at his craft.  Many people might say that the HBO drama that he starred in, the Sopranos, which played a major role in securing his place as a celebrity was one of the best series ever made. A sad loss to his family, friends and entertainment world indeed.   

It's interesting to see that as the news spread after his untimely death that so many of us were shocked, SHOCKED! to hear of James Gandolfini's passing when it's clear that typically according to his body type that he may have actually been a ticking time bomb, or rather a heart attack waiting to happen.

This isn't about fat shaming, but it's about being honest to ourselves and being realistic enough to admit that he was obese and according to statements made by his friends, he loved to over-eat. It's beyond time to start admitting that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in our country. We have an obesity epidemic because of a variety of reasons but poor exercise habits and even poorer diets is a big one and it's killing us.


Despite these facts of the looming epidemic in our society, There's a sort of underlining denial that we still insist on clinging to.

I saw post after post of people commenting that 51 was just too young to die.

51 is way too young to die, but not at all too young if you are at risk for heart disease.   


The average expected age in the country  is  in the upper seventies and we tend
to think that those numbers are a given regardless of the risky behaviors we
partake in or even when we seem to do everything right, but are overweight anyway. But we must not hold on to the idea that if you are of a certain risk type that at 51 you are fine.

We’ve all heard the old saying you are what you eat, and really to go further, you are what your lifestyle is.. sadly seems to have rung true here.


Take care of yourselves my friends, and today is as good a day as any to eat a little better and take a few extra healthy steps, because 51 should be way too young to die.

Bring On The Cold Medicine Baby!

As we are almost into December and right in the middle of cold and flu season, I am just starting to get my first cold of the year.  I’m starting to feel the soreness in my throat and the stuffiness in my nose creeping in, and as I’m thinking about what I can take to ease the symptoms or cross my fingers that I can ward it off before it gets too bad, it occurs to me that this is the first winter in 7 years (since I had my son in November of 2005) that I haven’t been either pregnant or breastfeeding during the cold season or winter months.  Three kids within the span of five and a half years.  I was pregnant for a total of 30 months of that time and breastfed for a total of 57 months, or easier to visualize: breastfed for 4 years & 9 months if you add it all together!

When I was pregnant or breastfeeding I was very picky about what went into my body.  No caffeine, no green tea or herbal tablets, no alcohol until my kids were 12 months old, no ibuprofen, no super-strong zit cream and very little to no cold medicine.  There were many times I suffered through sickness and colds and headaches because I was so picky.  I’d use the Netti Pot and smother on the Vicks hoping it would help slightly.. It never really did much, meanwhile my husband is saying how great his super-power cold medicines were (Ahem: you all know what a man-cold is though, right? *rolls-eyes*).

As my youngest hits the two and a half mark, it does almost feel like I should be thinking about the next one.. And all these sweet newborns I see every day online.. But then I come back to my senses and I know I’m happy and content with my three perfect children and soooo ready for this next stage in motherhood.

So now that I’ve had my last baby and he’s getting more mature by the second it seems, and I’m no longer breastfeeding and never will be again: BRING ON THE COLD MEDICINE BABY!!

I honestly don’t even know where to begin..

Um… this might be a bit too strong still..

The Clean 15: Produce That Contains the Least Amount of Pesticides

I already posted the Dirty Dozen list of produce, fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticides.  This list is the “Clean 15,”  or the produce that contains the least amount of pesticides.. take a look at number 7.  mmmhmmm.

The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods You Should Be Buying Organic

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday List is actually a Top Twelve list.  Organic food obviously costs more, so it’s not always an ideal option for every family to buy everything they consume in the organic section.  Here’s a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides.  If you’re not ready to make the plunge into a completely organic diet, here’s the list of the most important produce to start with.  Kale was on the list in years past, but traded places this year with cucumbers.  That doesn’t mean that it is out of the woods so to speak as far as pesticides go.  Green beans just squeaked by and didn’t make the list this year, but they are another one to watch out for, since they too are grown with a concerning number of pesticides.  These numbers are recorded AFTER washing.  If you aren’t washing your produce, then you are ingesting way more!  Looking for produce that doesn’t have as many pesticides?  Check out the list of the Clean 15!

Apples: Contain 42 different kinds of pesticides

Blueberries: Contain 52 Kinds of pesticides

Celery: 64 kinds of pesticides

Grapes: 34 kinds of pesticides

Peaches: 62 kinds of pesticides

Lettuce: 51 kinds of pesticides

Nectarines: 33 kinds of pesticides

Potatoes: 37 kinds of pesticides

Spinach: 48 kinds of pesticides

Strawberries: 54 kinds of pesticides

Sweet Bell Peppers: 49 kinds of pesticides

Cucumbers

So I’m 31 & All of a Sudden I’m Lactose Intolerant, or Something

For those of you that know me, you probably know a few months ago I had my appendix removed.  For those of you that don’t know me, a few months ago I had my appendix removed.

After a few days of this nagging excruciating abdominal pain, that I assumed would go away, didn’t go away, but only got worse and worse and finally unbearable; I decided to go to the emergency room and have them check it out.  I figured they’d give me an antibiotic and send me on my way.  I never thought they’d come in and say I needed immediate surgery.  Later I’d be informed that my appendix did indeed burst, it was severely infected, filled with puss, and that it was also wrapped around my colon and intestines, which part of had to be removed as well.  As far as appendicitis goes, it ended up being pretty severe.  I’m lucky I didn’t wait any longer.  I ended up staying in the hospital for five days, and battled a persistent infection with strong antibiotics, during and after the time I was released from the hospital.  After the antibiotics were finished, certain bowel related symptoms popped up and my health seemed to get worse.  It turns out I got a nasty bacterial infection called, C. Diff (or Clostridium difficile).  Apparently the strong antibiotics not only killed the bad bacteria, but wiped out the good bacteria as well.  For six weeks and through several more rounds of other kinds of antibiotics, I struggled with the C. Diff, before I finally was able to kick it.  I also got thrush in my mouth from the antibiotics, but that just seemed like a persistent annoyance compared to everything else.

During those horrible weeks, I basically felt like I had the worst stomach bug of all time, times a zillion.  Everything I ate or drank, even water, instantly turned to diarrhea and nausea.  I’d have to run to the toilet often 30-40+ times a day with painful diarrhea.  I could barely leave the house for fear of not being close to the bathroom. I felt terrible for my kids because I couldn’t take them anywhere.  My two-year old is still very clingy, months later, because I had to pass some of the childcare duties on to my mother and my husband.  I lost the daycare job I had. I was introduced to the nasty institution we call the healthcare system.  I learned Googling symptoms is a bad idea.  I became very scared to eat, but also became weak from nutrients not being able to absorb into my body.  I often was very dehydrated, anemic and several times had to be re-hospitalized because of the effects of dehydration and malnutrition, which led to weakness, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and feelings of despair.  These were both symptoms of my illness and side effects from my medication and malnutrition. There were times I felt so weak I couldn’t lift my head.  At night I felt crazy.  My hair started to shed by the handful.  I didn’t like being left alone because I was scared I may fall down or pass out and have no one to help me.  I remember having to call my mom long distance at certain times because I was confused and didn’t remember how to boil an egg, or that I was scared I’d fall over cause I barely had the energy to walk across the room to use the bathroom, or at night I’d be scared to be left alone with my anxiety.  Many times I’d get very confused, off-balance and disoriented. Sometimes I’d forget to eat, other times I was scared to eat.  I lost probably about 15 pounds.  I realized that dairy was one of the things contributing to some of my problems, and I cut that out of my diet.  It seemed to help to a certain extent.

After the 6 weeks of hell, I finally tested negative for C.Diff, but other problems persisted. I still couldn’t eat like normal.  Certain foods still triggered abdominal problems.  I started to have severe rectal bleeding.  It was a terrifying thing to see blood flowing from places it’s not supposed to be coming from.  After a colonoscopy, the Dr. determined the walls of my colon were very irritated due to how much abuse it has endured during the C. Diff. My colon is also bent.  She put me on a low residue diet, and after several weeks, it seems that the bleeding had stopped.  I had to drink Ensure and eat protein bars to gain my strength back.  I had several set-backs in my recovery and had more days of feeling like I couldn’t get off the couch.

My colon is still temperamental and when I failed to stick with the new and improved diet and ate popcorn, or things with skin, the bleeding comes back.  I’ve also realized with trial and error, that I’m still having trouble with dairy.  Even with the lactose free cheese, that I thought would be okay.  It’s a big adjustment and I feel like I’m still in denial that the lactose sensitivity will be a permanent problem.  It’s taken a long time from being weak and sick to get back to myself.  I’m still not 100% myself.  As i knew it.  I still don’t feel like I could go to the gym or do rigorous activity.  I still have difficulty digesting food.  My time in the bathroom still isn’t the same.  Maybe it will never be?  If I eat too fast or too much I get nausea, bloating, cramps.  It’s a hard concept to understand my limitations at times.  Fullness comes very very fast, and even day after day of knowing food is going to bother me, it’s still hard to get a handle on it.  I eat a tiny amount and I feel like I just ate thanksgiving dinner.  I’m sensitive to anticipating being sick, because of the fear of feeling like I did at that time.  It’s disappointing to go to parties and not be able to eat anything.  Its frustrating when I make an entire meal, then remember I can’t eat vegetables with skins on it.  I’ve only drank alcohol a few times since I’ve been sick, and it doesn’t really seem to agree with me either.  I took being able to freely eat food however I wished, for granted.  Even though I still have problems, I’m thankful I’m on the mend and have what I have.  I’m thankful of the kind words people have said to me and mostly my mother who has coached me through the past few months.  I’m glad my kids are resilient and survived my ordeal without too much resentment.

At this point, the suckiest thing is the lactose intolerance.  Today I actually gave in and bought Lactose Free Milk & Lactaid Pills.  I should have bought these months ago, but I hung on the idea that any day I’ll snap out of it and be normal again.  In a way I’m still holding out hope, but at the same time looking forward, well terrified actually to try some cheesy goodness to see if these pills actually work.