A science experiment set up of a beaker with a wedge of cheese, petri dish with goldfish crackers, a blueberry muffin with a small crumb sample on glass slides and tweezers, a chocolate chip cookie on a scale, and a small carton of milk with a tube apparatus connecting it to a test tube sit on a pink background

Is It IBS or a Dairy Allergy: 1 Year Update

Last updated: February 2022

This article will be talking about bodily functions that may come off as personal or off-limits, but it is necessary to bring up the topic of discussion. I will also be referring to my body with accurate terms so that everyone is clear about what I am referring to. As I share my experiences and symptoms, I want to note that this article cannot be used as a tool for self-diagnosis, only for self-realization. Please talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your personal health.

So, for those of you who are new to my IBS journey, I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy a little over a year ago, but I have had IBS for over 4 years. My doctor told me that after a year, there was a chance that I could start to reintroduce dairy into my system, and hopefully, I could go back to eating dairy like I was before.

Now, because I have IBS, I took that statement with a grain of salt – I expected dairy to be one of my IBS triggers and I have accepted that. But now that I have hit the 1-year mark (more like 1.5 – I was scared to start my experiment), I decided to eat dairy at a very slow pace and track how my body reacts. This post explains how I tried to reintroduce dairy and what that looked like for me.

Dairy allergy symptoms

My allergic reaction looks like this:

  • 30 min after ingesting dairy – nausea
  • 1 hour after – nausea and gas
  • 2 hours after – nausea, gas, hot flashes, and constipation
  • 3 hours after – vomiting and diarrhea
  • The next day – joint pain

My dairy allergy experiment

So, to fully test my new limits with dairy, I had to wait for a day where I could slowly eat larger portions of dairy every 3 hours. If I didn't have a reaction after 3 hours, I would eat a larger portion than before. This would continue for the entire day if there was no reaction.

Food 1: Blueberry muffin

From my original post about this diagnosis, I noted that baked dairy did not cause the same reactions that raw dairy did, so I started with a blueberry muffin that contained milk in the batter. I was able to eat this muffin throughout the entire day without any immediate reactions. However, I did notice that my joint pain would still pop up the next day.

Food 2: Goldfish crackers

The goldfish was an easy transition because I know that this is still a baked dairy product, but I was curious to see if there was a difference between milk and cheese for my body. I was happy to see that I did not have any immediate allergic reactions to this food, but I still had joint pain the next day.

Food 3: Chocolate chip cookie

Unfortunately, this is where my experiment comes to a halt. I tried to eat just one bite of a cookie and after 30 minutes I felt nauseous and gassy. So, I immediately took antacids and drank ginger ale until the symptoms started to subside (my symptoms do not respond to allergy meds). Because I felt these symptoms so early on in the experiment, I decided it was best to stop here.

Dairy allergy experiment results

In the end, I learned that I can technically eat baked goods with dairy, but I am still very cautious of it. Because I am someone who lives with chronic pain, I cannot predict when I will have a good or bad day. And if I can help to prevent a flare-up just by avoiding dairy, then I will continue to do that. I might have a muffin or goldfish once every couple of months when I get a craving, but I will maintain my dairy-free diet in the meantime.

What I have learned about my IBS

Maybe. My doctor did say that I might have more success with hard cheeses like parmesan, but for the moment, I am hesitant to try anything that includes raw dairy. I have come to the point in my IBS journey where I have learned my body's limits, so I need to respect them.

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