Don’t tell my grandpa (he owns a dairy farm), but I have gone dairy free for two months now. This is the second time in life I have gone dairy free. Both times now it has been for my babies. Babies can sometimes have a difficult time digesting milk protein. This is different from being lactose intolerant. In my childrens’ experience, they cannot digest it until around 8 months old. It gives them gas, and reflux type symptoms, and mucousy stools. When I eliminate dairy, their skin gets clearer, their demeanor gets better, and their poops get more normal. Less forceful spit up is a big change too. If you’re still guessing as to why I’m going diary free when my baby is the one with the intolerance, it’s because I am breastfeeding. If you have acne, digestion upset, or just feel crummy after eating dairy, you could have a dairy intolerance as well.
There are a lot of cultures that do not consume cheese for a variety of reasons. If you care to look more into the history of dairy free cultures, this was an interesting article Cultural History of Dairy Free Cultures
When babies have trouble digesting milk protein, it’s called a milk protein intolerance or MPI. Often, when someone is intolerant to dairy, they are also intolerant to soy. I am also soy free as well. The term you might see is MSPI or milk soy protein intolerance. It’s fairly common. It takes two weeks to eliminate dairy or soy from your diet. That means if you eat a piece of cheese on a Tuesday, 14 days later you can see if it is the culprit to negative side effects. Look to see if there is a change in yourself or your baby after two weeks. If there is an improvement, it is most likely the dairy. If not, it may be soemthing else going on. Please consult your doctor or pediatrian before starting an elimination diet. Babies tend have more obvious symptoms of MSPI including bloody stools. You can have a diaper tested at you pediatrician’s office as well.
My babies are less gassy, happier, and have better poops when we are dairy free. This is my motivation. Having a colicky type baby is no fun for anyone, so anything I can do to make my baby a happier child, I will do it. I also tend to have a little more energy and lose a little more baby weight while dairy free. It forces me to be more creative in what I eat. I eat healthier, because I cannot eat many processed foods. Tons and tons of processed foods have milk or soy in them. I do a lot, I mean a lot, of label reading while grocery shopping. I cook more, and eat more fresh foods such as fruits, veggies, and meats.
Giving up butter! Butter, I miss you… Cheese! Cheese I kind of miss you. Let me tell you that going dairy free the first time was much much harder. Why? There weren’t as many substitute products on the market. If there were substitute products, they tasted like cardboard. To transition from dairy to no dairy, using substitutes will smooth the way to your new eating style. After a while, you just get used to it. You give up your favorite foods, like mac and cheese and cheese pizza. You can buy the alternative, but it just doesn’t taste quite like the real thing. You have to read labels, and you have to be wise. Milk is sometimes hidden as Casein or a milk derivative. I have to be careful. Even items advertised as dairy free or non dairy can have hidden dairy in their ingredient list. Soy is hard too. Soybean oil is a heavily used item in chips, crackers, pancake mix, etc… Eating out used to be hard. You have to cut the drama out of it. I don’t lust after my husbands cheeseburger or cheese pizza anymore. It’s just the way I eat now. If my family goes out to pizza, and they do, I order a personal pizza with all the toppings-no cheese. Yes, I said it, pizza without cheese. I am so used to it that I don’t give it a second thought. People look at me weird sometimes, but hey, that is pretty normal (ha). Don’t make a big deal out of being non-dairy or whatever other way of eating you have.
Eating out has its complications. Often times I order my food and just drop the cheese. I will tell my server no dairy. I ask questions about how they prepare their food. I just remind the server kindly, please no dairy. I also try to plan my order before I get there, and that way I have a plan. I check out the Dairy Free Fast Food Guide if the restaurant is on the list. Many fast food places are so processed that most things carry dairy or soy. Once you get your order down, it becomes natural. I usually order a hamburger with mac sauce to make up for no cheese. You have to check your order right away to make sure they remembered the no dairy. Often times the cook is so used to making things a certain way, that the bread comes buttered, or the salad has cheese. I hate sending food back, but at the same time I remind myself I am paying for it, and my baby will suffer if I eat dairy. I may kindly ask them to send it back, because I am dairy free. It gives me such perspective for those people who have a peanut allergy or any type of allergy. You have to be respectful to people’s needs.
Eating at BBQ’s or parties can be a little tricky. Often times I eat before I go, that way, I am not starving when I get there. The same goes for my kids. I will have them eat something at home before they go so they don’t fill up on candy. Even though my son eats dairy and can have all the things at parties, I like to make sure he is eating as healthily as possible. Fresh fruit or veggie trays are a good option. I stay away from breads and dips, because most likely they have dairy or soy. Baked goods are a problem too. Butter is often used. I will usually have my own sweet treat at home.
The good news is that in the last 10 years, dairy alternatives have come a long way. I never thought I would say this, but there are even some alternatives that I prefer over dairy, and will continue to buy forever (even when I go back to dairy).
Brands and products I love:
I will drink any of these without hesitation. There are other types, but these are favorites. My son likes almond the best. I add these milks while baking and to cereals.
Nothing beats traditional butter. If you have gone dairy free, Earth Balance has some good options. It spreads, it tastes, and looks like butter.
I have yet to find an alternative to block cheese. Chao is a brand that tastes pretty darn good, but has casein in it. Daiya is another popular brand. I have tried their slices, shreds, and pizza’s. They are not good. Go Veggie doesn’t taste very good either. If you know of one let me know!
Here are some other products that I have around my house.
1.Kite Hill Cream Cheese- so good you won’t know the difference. Kite Hill has a wide Almond based line of products that I highly recommend. I will continue to use their products even when I am not dairy free.
2. and 3. Califia-Califia Almond Kefir and Creamer. Califia makes great products as well. They tend to have more gums in them for texture, which is a down side, but they taste great. They have great creamers for coffee as well.
4. Good Karma-Flax Chocolate milk. These are for my son, or when I want to have something sweet.
5.Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Remember when I said I would eat a sweet treat at home ? I love these dairy free chocolate chips. I can make many baked goods out of these. Enjoy life has a great array of sweet treats that are processed. If I want something sweet fast, these are my go to. I especially love their crunchy cookies.
6. Miyokos- Quickly coming my favorite non-dairy brand. Their products have very few ingredients, yet taste like the real deal. I have been loving their cream cheese and mozzarella. They are made from almonds. I will also continue to purchase these products when I am back eating dairy.
7. Cocoyo’s- a coconut kefir yogurt. It kind of tastes like kombucha and yogurt mixed together. Not for everyone, but I like it for it’s probiotic properties.
8. Kirkland Almond Milk-for day to day cereals, smoothies, etc… This is budget friendly and tasty too.
9. Not pictured are Hippeas. These are delicious dairy free snacks Hippeas
Where to Shop:
These are just some of the products I use on the day to day. There are more. I find them at Costco, my natural foods store, Safeway, and Vitacost.com . Costco is good for Almond Milk, Safeway is good for Kite Hill products, and Vitacost is good for dried goods/sweet treats. Grocery Outlet is also another option, but it is hit or miss. I call it the Ross of grocery stores. You will get a great deal, but you are going to have to shop frequently. I noticed Target is starting to carry some in the store. The rest are kind of specialty items that can be found at your natural food store.
*A note regarding these products. Almonds are heavily sprayed with chemicals to be easily extracted. Try to look for organic products. Also, any type of non dairy product can contain a lot of additives such as gums, and fillers to create a smooth texture for consumption. Sometimes additives can cause intestinal upset. Carrageenan and Gellan Gum are two main ones to avoid.
Starbucks-If I am going to have coffee or chai I ask for almond milk or coconut milk. They have these options. The milk alternatives they offer have a lot of additives.
*A note about soy. I am not a fan for a couple of reasons. It is often an allergy food. It also contains estrogen. There is debate on whether or not the estrogen could alter your hormones, but I am not about to take my chances. Soy is also one of the top 5 GMO and is heavily sprayed.
A2 milk is a dairy product that is new to the market. It is marketed to those people who have stomach upset and may be a better option. I am still researching this option. If you know about where your milk comes from, it can be tested for A1 or A2 milk. A2 is the higher quality milk. If you are someone who consumes raw milk, ask your producer. Raw milk is a hot topic as well and is outlawed in many places.
More and more options for dairy alternatives are easily available. This has been a huge improvement across the health world. I encourage you to check out some non dairy options where you shop.
Eventually, we will incorporate more dairy into our diets. Mostly we will add cheese and butter at around 8 months. Great options for this are Rumiano Cheese. Check out their options at Rumiano. High quality and great tasting dairy from Humboldt.
*disclaimer-please contact your doctor before starting any kind of diet. This post is not giving medical advice.