The Dairy Free Experiment (Results From 5 Weeks Without Dairy)

My 3 month old son has terrible reflux and his pediatrician sentenced me with the dairy free diet (read my first post on it here). As much as I feared the shackles of cutting dairy out, it really hasn’t been too bad aside from skipping pizza night with the fam, ice cream and some white chocolate M&M’s that were offered to me. Going dairy free has forced me to look much closer at what I eat, what my kids are eating, and really reading through everything that goes into our food.

After 3 weeks, we noticed no difference so at the next pediatric appointment she said, “Cut out soy and beef.” I didn’t keel over and die right there and then, but over the next few days, I started to realize that soy is in SO MUCH! I can live without beef, but I did not know that SOY would put an END to my social life.

We went out to dinner the other night and I was the annoying person asking for the nutritional information for their menu. Nearly 90% of the menu had dairy or soy in it. Even their chicken breast was “in contact” with soybean oil so I couldn’t even have that! I ate hummus (poorly done) with baby carrots and ugly cucumbers. Yes, ugly. They didn’t even bother to make them pretty. I watched the rest of my table enjoy their food until satisfaction. It left me a bit grumpy, oh, and hungry. Then, I was looking for a quick snack (with baby in arm) and we were low on veggies and fruits. It was time to shop. I looked at the package of rice cakes in the closet and I saw the dreaded words “contains soy.” What??! Why? The lesson to me is that nearly everything in a package meant for instant consumption aside from nuts was going to be a no-go for me. I thought I’d buy some salmon burgers and veggie burgers for nights when my arms are full and my time is limited…nope. “Contains soy” written on both packages. Whatever.

It hasn’t turned me into a bitter, grumpy woman (that would be from the lack of sleep.) No, I am finding some positives in this. I am a full believer in eating whole foods, making things from scratch and avoiding preservatives, chemicals and artificials when you can. This new “diet” is reinforcing this belief and forcing me to do some searching and some refining in terms of what I eat. It’s also giving me a reason to experiment with things I’ve read about, but not made the time to play with like making cashew cream. I’d like to tell you that we’ve seen improvement in the quality of my life and my son’s, but we’ve noticed…NOTHING.

I had heard that by removing dairy, I’d see clear, beautiful skin, my digestion would be perfect and I’d have more energy. No, nothing here. As I mentioned in my last dairy free post, I am a skeptic when it’s claimed that one thing is THE thing for everyone. I don’t believe that EVERYONE is intolerant to dairy. I don’t believe my son is allergic to dairy, he just struggles processing the proteins as many babies do. (I know he’s not allergic because they tested his stools. TMI.) I know that the growth hormone issue with cows is an issue for milk, but that aside, dairy itself is not evil (at least not for everyone). My opinion.

Now cutting out dairy, beef and soy, we’re hoping it gives his little body an easier time. We shall see. It’s only been a week of that. We have been adding in some other things for my poor little dude like CFT (cranial sacral fascial therapy), chiropractics and Prevacid in hopes SOMETHING works. So, now, we won’t know what is working and what’s not and at this point, I don’t care. We need sleep.

My original concerns with cutting out dairy were that it would cut back on my calcium intake and my protein intake. I used whey protein, greek yogurt and cottage cheese daily. I found this little chart with some calcium ideas and while I avoid soy, I’ve found that I love unsweetened almond milk which has more calcium than regular milk. Who knew?

I’ve found a plant-based, soy free protein powder that is great and also found this helpful chart for non-dairy, meat alternative protein sources.

Did you know you can bake with pureed chickpeas and even use them in sauces? Quinoa blends into a pancake batter and you don’t even notice! I made a quinoa, sweet potato, black bean chili that was protein packed and I loved it! Cashews soaked overnight in water can be blended to a cream! Almond milk and coconut milk are excellent substitutes in cooking and baking and avocado and coconut oil sub for butter nicely. Here are some other dairy free subs.

I can guarantee you that when I am done nursing, I will be eating dairy again, BUT, I will be keeping some of the dairy alternatives in my diet as well as the plant based proteins. Variety is best anyway and getting out of my box has been enlightening. As a side note, I didn’t know I had this much will power until my REASON outweighed my cravings. I learned a little something about myself and my diet to take with me long after baby is no longer baby.

Images by SparkPeople, A Food Centric Life, and Toxic-Free Challenge.

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