For about a year my mom has suggested that Ellie might be allergic to milk. She has been consistently congested for about that long (though not bad enough to cause concern or warrant doctor visits), which coincides with the timeframe we've had her on cow's milk. She is also extremely active (even for 2 year old standards - she's almost always the most active kid in a group of toddlers, whether the nursery at church or kindermusik or playgroup) and there are studies linking hyperactivity to milk consumption (specifically the protein casein, which is what cheese is made from). MOST of what Ellie consumes is in some way dairy related, from the milk she drinks (A LOT - over the past year there have been many weeks that she has consumed about 2 gallons a week) to the yogurt or cottage cheese she has for breakfast, mac and cheese or quesadillas for lunch, string cheese or sliced cheddar for snacks, feta with dinner... She loves milk and cheese. And perhaps it's this overconsumption that is making her so overly active.
So, at my mother's suggestion, we took her off milk on Tuesday. I didn't plan to start taking her off milk until Thursday, but we got halfway through the day and I'd realized I hadn't given her milk or cheese yet, so I just decided to go with it. She doesn't seem to have missed the milk. She asked for it once, but was happy with juice (well, 1/4 juice, 3/4 water) instead. I bought her some rice milk (both original and vanilla) and she doesn't seem to care for that at all, but she doesn't seem to mind not drinking milk, so it hasn't been a problem.
Cheese, however, she misses. She asked for cheese several times on Thursday, so yesterday I bought her some soy based fake cheese. Ouch! That stuff is expensive!! But she had a slice of "cheddar" and she seemed really happy about that. Didn't mind the taste difference at all. So, it's expensive, but at least it satisfies her need for cheese. We got some shredded "mozzarella" too, but she hasn't tried that yet.
So... We'll take her off milk products for a week or two and see if it makes a big difference in her behavior. I have a feeling, though, that it will. We took her off milk on Tuesday, and by yesterday (Friday) mom and I could already see a big change. She was mellower. Sitting at the table eating lunch without distraction in a busy mall food court, right next to the ride on machines in the play area. It was bizarre. Things that normally woud have been a meltdown because I told her "no" about something were not. She is still independent, stubborn, and two, but yesterday she acted like a "normal" two year old instead of a crazy one. Today Leif is seeing a difference in her, too. She is running with purpose, to a specific destination, instead of running circles just because. She walks places now, too, and is only full speed ahead when she chooses to instead of all the time. So I have a feeling we will be seeing this change from here on out as we keep her off the milk. We are supplementing her diet with calcium and she is taking vitamins, and we are trying to make sure she gets protein rich foods, to make sure that she isn't nutrient deficient now that she's not consuming mass quantities of milk.
So... it looks like we're going dairy free for Ellie. I'm not sure this is a road I really want to go down (dairy is in a lot of the foods we eat regularly!) but it looks like it's the road I'm on and if it helps Ellie, then it's the road I'll take!