I think I’ve mentioned it in passing a few times, but I’ve had to completely eliminate dairy from my diet. It’s been about two full months of it now, and I’m still finding it tough to avoid dairy! I’m really feeling for vegans. I’ve had to get in the habit of looking really hard at the ingredients label because it’s hidden in so many things. Ingredients like casein, whey, and lactose all mean that the product contains dairy. For a full list of sure fire dairy ingredients, click here. You’ll find dairy in cereals, chips, soups, and well…pretty much all processed food.
So why am I dairy free? Well, it seems as if Monkey has a sensitivity to dairy. He’s been a pretty gassy baby ever since day one. It took me a while to realize just how gassy he was, and it wasn’t until we found some blood in his stool that we (with the suggestion from our pediatrician) decided that I should go dairy free. Monkey’s gas strikes him mostly at night. He used to toss and turn and moan and groan all night long. He was in so much pain it was heartbreaking to watch. I’ve been told that a lot of babies have a sensitivity to dairy in their mother’s breast milk, but that most eventually grow out of it.
I didn’t see an immediate improvement when I initially removed dairy from my diet, but slowly things started to get better. Things were going so well that I even tried to reintroduce dairy 2 weeks ago by drinking a glass of milk, but poor Monkey ended up having a rough night so I said goodbye to dairy, yet again. I’m hoping I’ll be able to try reintroducing it again around the 4 month mark.
Honestly though, cooking and baking without dairy has been so much easier than expected. I’ve started looking for “dairy free” on packaging and shopping in the vegan sections of the grocery store. The toughest part is studying the ingredients in processed foods, which is probably a good thing because it’s made Brian and I eat so much healthier since we are forced to eat more whole foods. Since going dairy free, I’ve discovered that Earth Balance makes an amazing butter substitute and I’ve grown to love coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk. I can’t say enough about coconut milk – the stuff is amazing. There’s even coconut milk yogurt and coconut milk ice cream. Speaking of ice cream, that’s been one of the toughest things for me to give up – if you know me in real life, you know that I’m an ice cream freak; however, the coconut milk ice cream is so good that it might even be better than the real thing. Yep, I said it. There’s a local company called Coconut Bliss that makes the most amazing bars. I even turned a can of coconut milk into a substitute for evaporated milk for my Peppermint Fudge that I made for Christmas this year. Coconut milk is some seriously amazing stuff. And so is coconut oil, by the way, but I digress.
I’ve found other ways to satisfy my sweet tooth; I love eating sorbets like the blood orange sorbet I’m enjoying as I type this (shown above), dark chocolate, and vegan carrot cake from our local health food store. If you’re avoiding dairy too, be careful with dark chocolate though because many still contain milk products – I love Theo chocolate because it’s organic and fair trade and they have a couple of dark chocolate options with no dairy.
Some of my go-to dairy free snacks include:
- Apples with peanut butter
- Luna bars (not the extra protein ones, those contain dairy)
- Celery with peanut butter
- Hummus and veggies
- Coconut milk yogurt with granola
It’s been a tough ride, but it’s been doable. I’ve got to admit though, a nice tall glass of milk with some chocolate chip cookies sounds pretty much amazing right now.
Have you had to give up dairy? Have any awesome dairy free recipes you love or tips for going dairy free? Were you able to reintroduce dairy successfully while you were still breast feeding? Please share your experiences in the comments below!
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