Dairy-free. It’s not so bad. But that depends on the day.
We’ve been dairy-free going on 5 months now.
If you’re new to the blog, we found out my son has a dairy allergy, and since I’m breastfeeding that means no dairy for this mama. Thankfully, we found out fairly early and fingers crossed, he will outgrow this.
I was seriously depressed at the thought of taking dairy out of my diet, but it’s getting easier every day. What I didn’t expect was this to be such an emotional issue. Some days, I get so frustrated; it can completely put me in a funk for the day. Some days, I make mistakes then worry I’ve hurt my little guy.
Dining out is especially difficult. You have to ask a million questions. Is the bun buttered? Does the bread have milk or butter baked in or brushed on top? No croutons or cheese on my salad, please! Waiters tend to not know all the ingredients included in each item and honestly, many don’t seem to care to find out. Guess I can’t blame them. Unfortunately, it’s easiest to find options I can eat at chains as their menus are standard and ingredients can be found online. Eating out just isn’t as fun as it used to be.
The benefit of dairy-free? If you’re needing help losing baby weight or weight in general, cut out dairy!!! Unfortunately for me, it’s also causing some health concerns. For the first time in my life, I’m having trouble keeping weight on. Between breastfeeding and no dairy, it’s taking a toll on my body. (Yeah, I’ll hate myself for complaining about this one day.)
One of the initial struggles was knowing what to buy at the grocery store. It was overwhelming to start reading every single label for hidden dairy items. I still read a lot of labels but know some of the tricks.
- Most labels list potential allergens such as “This product contains: soy, wheat, milk”. Check this before reading through the list of ingredients.
- “May contain traces of milk” – this is a vague term and basically a CYA for companies. Food with this notation could have been made on equipment that had a milk product but was sanitized before the dairy-free product was made. It can also mean that workers at the factory where it was made are allowed to eat dairy items in their lunches. We disregard this warning and have had no issues.
- Whey is dairy and is a common ingredient. Check chips and vinaigrettes for this one!
- Dairy-free whipped topping and creamer? Yeah, they’re not dairy-free. Go figure!
- Anything noted “Vegan” is dairy-free.
- Casein/caseinate is a dairy product.
- Butter – many people (especially restaurant) tend to forget this is a dairy item.
- Margarine – most include dairy, but not all
- Mayonnaise – most are not dairy, but lots of people think it is.
For anyone else on this journey, here are my favorite grocery items. Many of them are chocolate :) Disclaimer – I eat items that “may contain trace amounts of dairy.”
Blue Diamond Almond Milk – my go-to substitute for recipes. I tend to buy the unsweetened but the vanilla is an extra special treat with cereal.
Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk – excellent cold or warmed up for hot chocolate
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – my go-to for a spreadable butter replacement
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks – works well for cooking but I’m not sold on using it as a baking replacement. I’ll keep trying.
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies – my, oh my…delicious! Try this with pumpkin.
Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk – I haven’t really used this as a substitute but am making more recipes that would typically use coconut milk.
Attune Dark Chocolate Probiotic Bars – great nutritional substitute and oh, so yummy. Look for them in the yogurt section.
Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – good for baking and snacking
So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream Sandwiches – taste and texture are spot on
Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups – gosh darn, these are awesome!
Papa John’s Pizza – no cheese of course! The garlic dipping sauce is dairy-free too!
Chik-Fil-A – Grilled Chicken Sandwich, waffle fries, Roasted Honey BBQ sauce, Chik-Fil-A sauce, Polynesian, and I think a few others are dairy-free
There are a few items that I never would have thought were dairy-free. Unfortunately, they are totally processed snacks and for some reason, I eat more of these items since going dairy-free. Maybe because they are easy to grab and now that I know they’re safe for me to eat, I don’t have to check a gazillion labels??
Yeah, yeah…don’t judge.
Oreos – now a permanent staple in my pantry
A GREAT reference is Go Dairy Free. Alisa has tons of information and has an exhaustive list of restaurant options.
KellyMom – well, really it’s just a great source for everything about breastfeeding
Where are we now?
So, the doc said to try dairy again at 6 months. We’re there. I’m totally scared. I had a tiny piece of chocolate one night with no repercussions. Last night, I made cookies with dairy-free butter but milk chocolate chips. Between the dough and the cookies, it was probably somewhere around six cookies (oops!). Today? No issues.
Are we over it? Only time will tell. I’m not ready to go order a cheeseburger.
We’ve also just started solids. This means really spacing things out so we can find the culprit of any potential issues.
Dairy-free. It’s not so bad, but certainly not easy.
This guy makes it worth it!