Dairy Free Eating (still need to edit)

I’ve needed to write this post for a long time since I often get asked about the dairy-free resources I used while exclusively pumping (EPing) for my first son after finding out he had a dairy sensitivity.  I’ve put it off for a while, but now my second boy has a sensitivity.


Let me start at the beginning.  When my first was really little, he’d be fussy and spit up a lot after eating.  He also started having green, mucous-y poops that were sometimes streaked with blood.  My husband did some research online and found out that those symptoms can be a sign of a dairy sensitivity—those can mean OTHER things as well, and there are also other symptoms of a dairy sensitivity he did not have, but they were indicative of it enough that eliminating dairy from my diet was a worthwhile thing to try.  (See Kelly Mom for more info: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/food-sensitivity/#dairy )


My husband and I disagreed about how to go about eliminating diary from my diet.  Cow and dairy proteins start leaving your system as soon as you stop eating them, but they can stay in your system for up to two weeks.  Needless to say, we both agreed that we wanted our son to start feeling better right away.  I wanted to just eliminate dairy and keep feeding him my breast milk.  My husband wanted us to switch him to soy formula for the two weeks it took for the cow proteins to be completely eliminated.


Starting my dairy-free quest, I got some information from friends about how to eliminate dairy.  One friend is a La Leche League consultant, so gave me good information; another dealt with dairy sensitivity with her children.


First, and I really want to reiterate this, a dairy-free diet isn’t that bad and not as constricting as you’d think!  Sure, it takes time to get used to it, and yes, I miss cheese, ice cream, and not having to skip a dessert someone made because I don’t know if there’s dairy in it or not.  I still eat a wide variety of food, I still have plenty of desserts I enjoy, and most recipes don’t require all that much modification to make them dairy-free.  All this info will come across as overwhelming at first, but it gets better!


Dairy-free doesn’t just mean no cheese, milk, yogurt, or ice cream.  Dairy isn’t JUST those obvious things.  It’s a sensitivity or allergy to cow’s milk proteins, and these can be “hidden” in tons of foods.  Sometimes, a dairy issue includes a sensitivity to anything “cow,” including beef.  You have to read labels and not just assume something is dairy-free.


The website “Go Dairy Free” is an awesome resource—bookmark it! They have a ton of good info, recipes, guides to eating out, etc.  My recommendation is to go to their list of dairy ingredients, print it out, put it in your purse or wallet, and reference it every time you go grocery shopping until you memorize what ingredients are safe and what aren’t!  (http://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-free-grocery-shopping-guide/dairy-ingredient-list-2)  You don’t even have to shop at a health food store to find foods that fit into your new diet.


A 2004 law (http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/allergens/ucm106187.htm) states that if a prepackaged food contains one of the top eight allergens, milk/dairy products being one of them, the label must state that it contains that allergen.  When shopping look for, “CONTAINS: MILK” or “CONTAINS: A MILK DERIVATIVE” at the bottom of the ingredient list to make it easier.  It’s important to be familiar with the dairy ingredients list, though.  I’m not sure if the law includes, for example, baked goods from a grocery store’s bakery; additionally, if you are looking at a restaurant’s website or a list of ingredients provided to you when visiting the restaurant, the allergen warning may not be necessary.  **I’d recommend reading ingredients anyway—I haven’t noticed the dairy warning on all products with hidden dairy**



Here are things I found that worked for me:


I’m a big coffee person.  I drink far too much.  However, I like my coffee with creamer.  The typical creamer, like International Delight (this doesn’t include the lines with REAL cream in them, obviously!), isn’t actually dairy based, but it isn’t dairy-free.  It contains sodium caseinate, a dairy product.  For awhile, I cut this out and tried drinking my coffee black or with soy creamers.  I was about to give up on coffee altogether (gasp!), but tried reintroducing JUST my favorite creamers, and was lucky enough that just the sodium caseinate in creamer didn’t affect either of my boys.  Phew.  This might not always be the case—it’s trial and error to find what works for you and what doesn’t.



Cheese and I are *likethis.*  The thought of giving up cheese was the hardest thing for me. I could  handle giving up ice cream, sour cream, yogurt, etc., but cheese???  I wanted to cry.  I decided the first thing I needed to do was find a cheese substitute, so looked at health food stores and got a couple options.  I tried them—and they were awful!!!!!  Obviously, this is a matter of taste, but nothing is as good as REAL cheese.  I decided it was better to have no cheese than disappointment cheese.


However, even though I don’t eat it, make sure you read labels on “fake” cheese.  Lots of the soy based cheeses still contain dairy products.  One brand recommended to me was Daiya.



I need dessert.  No meal is complete for me without some sort of sweet thing after.  Not being able to have dairy sort of messes this up, because so many convenient desserts/sweets have some sort of dairy product in them.  However, there are definitely ways to work around that!


Cookies: I do a lot of cookie baking using shortening instead of butter as it is—I like the way they turn out better and there is no dairy in shortening.  If you are using chocolate chips, try Ghiradelli Semi Sweet chips.  You don’t have to buy vegan/specialty chocolate chips if you are just doing a dairy-free diet.  They are delicious!


If you are going dairy-free because you are nursing a baby with a dairy issue, you definitely need to try the Major Milk Makin’ cookies recipe from Dr. Momma (http://www.drmomma.org/2010/08/lactation-cookies-recipe-increasing.html ).  Like I said in the previous paragraph, just use shortening and dairy-free chocolate chips, and you have a yummy cookie for you that helps your milk supply.  (Note: Brewer’s yeast can be hard to find, call health food and vitamin stores in your area, or, you can order online.  Brewer’s yeast is NOT nutritional yeast or the kind of yeast you use in baking bread.)


Pies: It’s easy to make fruit pies dairy-free; find a crust recipe with no milk and use shortening.  My pie crust recipe always turns out nice and flaky!


Cake: Lots of cake mixes and from-scratch recipes are dairy-free, and I know there are dairy-free frosting recipes online! Here’s a link to a whole board full of them on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/explore/dairy-free-frosting/


Ice Cream:  I wasn’t even going to bother with trying non-dairy ice cream, I didn’t want to be disappointed.  When I first went dairy-free this time around, I decided to try the So Delicious coconut milk ice cream.  I won’t say it compares to real ice cream, but it was actually a decent substitute.  My only recommendation is to keep it out of the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes before trying to scoop it because it gets REALLY frozen!!


Desserts on-the-go: My other weakness is coffee, as said above.  Combine coffee and dessert and you get things like peppermint mochas and caramel Frappuccinos at Starbucks.   Guess what?  Dairy-free! The Starbucks Gods graced us with their dairy-free mocha sauce and the ability to replace regular milk with soy milk.  You can even experiment a little—peppermint and raspberry syrup are around all year, so change things up by adding some to your mocha.  Also, if you get a SOY caramel Frappuccino, make sure you tell them not to use the caramel drizzle SAUCE.  The Frap itself is made with the clear caramel syrup.  So yummy.  Unfortunately, I use the “I’m eating dairy-free and don’t have my desserts” excuse too often and indulge in Starbucks more than I care to admit!



Eating Out

This is where dairy-free gets trickier.  However, don’t let being dairy-free scare you off from eating out if you want to!  There are plenty of options and substitutes, you just need to do your research before you head out. The Go Dairy Free webpage has a tab about eating out.  There are links to different fast food restaurants and their nutrition/allergen menus and a guide to eating out at restaurants and which ones are recommended.  Some of my favorite fast food choices:


–Jimmy John’s French bread (not sure about the other bread) is dairy free.

–Qdoba’s pork is dairy free (most of their other meats aren’t!) and a burrito with guacamole in place of cheese and sour cream is really good!  Chipotle’s chicken is dairy-free.

–Lots of salads and some soups at Panera are dairy free, as are their French and whole grain baguettes.


Additionally, at “sit-down” restaurants, I have found that they are very willing to accommodate customers with a list of ingredients or allergen information for their dishes.  Also, they may modify how they prepare your food if you tell them you can’t have dairy.  For instance, at a local restaurant, I got a delicious grilled sandwich and asked that instead of butter, they either substitute olive oil for butter or don’t use any oils at all.  They did as I requested, and it was delicious.


Some even go above and beyond.  I asked for a soy mocha at Panera once and mentioned that I couldn’t have dairy.  I got the rest of my to-go order and went back down to the bakery to wait for my drink.  I noticed that the person behind the counter was cleaning the espresso machine!  I thanked her profusely, and told her that with my personal sensitivity, that wasn’t necessary but was appreciated.


Everything Else  (Part of my “still need to edit” is adding more dinner ideas)

There are SO many options when you aren’t eating dairy.  There are lots of ways to modify your regular recipes to be dairy-free, and if you can’t, there are tons of other great recipes out there.


For cooking and baking, try Earth Balance margarine (a friend tells me they also make a shortening, but the margarine bakes pretty well.  I haven’t tried their shortening or baking with their margarine, but cook with it).


Lots of cereal is dairy-free and most tastes even better with almond or coconut milk on it.


Thomas bagels are dairy-free and delicious, and there are lots of breads out there that are dairy-free.


Oreos and some Pop-Tarts are dairy-free.


Fruits, veggies, whole grains (like oatmeal—also good for milk production if you are nursing), and meat (again, be on the lookout for sensitivities to cow proteins if you eat beef) are all dairy-free, and there’s so much you can do with those to make satisfying meals.


You can do a search on Pinterest for dairy-free recipes, there are plenty that come up!


Again, dairy-free isn’t that difficult!  Yes, it takes some getting used to, but it’s far from boring or restrictive.  And, bonus—your cholesterol will be the best it’s ever been!


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