Friday, April 3, 2009

New mom primer for dairy elimination 101

So you have to cut dairy? That sucks. Big ones.

Give yourself a day or two to sulk and whine, but then realize that it really isn't all that bad.

The good news is if dairy is bothering your nursing baby, once you eliminate dairy from your diet you should see a dramatic change in your baby's happiness/health. Happy baby = happy momma. So let's think of that, not gooey delicious grilled che...

Ooops sorry.

Moving on.

I have only done this for about a year, so I am not the expert that some people are, but I do have a good amount of experience under my belt and I would like to share it with you.

First things first, newbie. You are going to have to get into the habit of label reading pretty darn quick. After recent legislation, allergy information must be printed on food labels. This can be done in 2 ways. Examples of both types of labels can be found here (#10). Be careful! Most companies label at the end, but the ones that label with parenthesis can be easy to mistake as allergy free if all you do is look to the end of a ingredient list.

Next, here is a list of everyday foods that you can consider as part of your diet. Some of these I have already blogged about, but some since you are new, you probably haven't poked around here too much.

Fruit and Veggie- Duh. Pretty much all are good to go as long as they are plain. Be careful for bagged frozen veggies with any type of sauce, or some veggie soups that may use milk to enhance flavor.

Salad Dressings- This one will make me think because we are egg free also so I will have to separate the allergens in my head. Ranch is pretty much always out, although Annie's Organic makes a dairy free version. Anything "creamy" is pretty much out including most Caesar. Anything French, Asian, or Vinaigrette has a higher likelihood of being dairy free, but like anything check your labels.

Bread- This is tricky. Do you love HFCS or not? We usually get Arnold whole wheat white bread. They have a couple other variations that are dairy free also. You can also invest in a bread machine. Beware, the majority of bread has milk so if you just go in with a cart full of kids thinking you will just read labels you will be standing in that bread aisle forever and your kids will have opened 2 boxes of cereal and dropped a glass jar of olives on the floor.

If you don't mind HFCS your cheapest option is Kroger brand white or wheat bread.

Both Arnold and Kroger make dairy free hot dog and hamburger buns.

Cereal- Hot cereals like hard cut oats and oatmeal as good to go as long as they are plain. Some flavored ones are some aren't your brand and label may vary. Cold cereals have a pretty decent selection also. Cheerios, Corn, Rice, and Wheat Chex, Frosted Miniwheats, Alpha-bits, Cinnamon Life, Pops, and I am sure many many other are dairy free. These are the just the kinds my husband has had around the house over the last year. (I keep a virtually dairy free kitchen.) Honey Bunches of Oats has dairy, as do the recent yogurt covered cereals. I am sure there are others on both sides of the dairy coin, but these are the ones I have checked out.

Meat- Anything single ingredient? Once again, probably don't need to tell you, but it's okay. A bit trickier is the deli meat section. I do not buy from the deli. They cut meat and cheese on the same cutter. Cheese pretty much sticks to everything and this is not in my comfort zone. If your baby just has a mild intolerance, though, you might not need to be so selective.

For deli meat we like Hormel Natural Deli Meats. The ham has lactic acid, but it is specifically not from milk. It also has the benefit of having no nitrates so it is just better for you in general.

Cheese- Sorry. There is no alternative I like. I am picky though. Dairy free brands/products I have tried and hated are: Toffuti, Vegan Gourmet, and nutritional yeast. All gross. Vegan Gourmet melts, but it is but rubbery and grainy at the same time. Not worth the calories in my book. Go ahead and try them though, maybe you will like them better then I. Beware Veggie Slices. They are not dairy free.

Candy- Pretty much anything gummy is okay. Starbursts, Skittles, and LifeSavers are A-okay also. I posted about chocolate here. Simple Harvest chocolate chunk granola bars are dairy free and don't make you feel like quite as bad a pig as if you eat a whole dark chocolate bar.

Butter- For straight butter your toast replacement, I use either Smart Balance Light or Earth Balance Spread. The water content in these are different then in regular butter or margarine so I wouldn't recommend them for baking. For occasional baking I use Fleischmann's Unsalted Margarine (green package).

Cream Cheese/ Sour Cream- Obviously the original versions of these are out. Tofutti makes a pretty decent replacement for sour cream. I can use it as a condiment on tacos no problem. It also works well in baking or cooking. The cream cheese is not so delicious plain, but it works ok as a replacement in some baking or cooking. (Not cheese cake I have heard.)

Ice cream- As with most things, the tastiest alternatives are not fake ice cream, but frozen desserts that are supposed to be dairy free. My favorite "ice cream" replacer is either Mango or Raspberry Sorbet by Häagen-Dazs. I am not a fan of most of the rice or soy milk ice creams. I have tried most common brands. The only one I like is Tofutti's Wildberry flavor. Rice and soy knock offs usually lack a creaminess that make the replacement not worth it too me. Go ahead and try them though! A lot of people must like them or there wouldn't be so many varieties. Warning for those allergic to eggs also, Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Sorbet contains eggs.

Yogurt- I am admittedly not a yogurt fan so I don't have a lot of help for you in this area. More of a warning. There are a lot of soy yogurts out there, but like soy cheese the majority contain some sort of dairy. I guess they were more aiming for teh lactose intolerant when they developed the products. There are a few vegan soy yogurts, but since I have never seen them at stores I regularily shop at I have not tried them. I hear Trader Joes and Whole Foods both carry them though.

Random Junk- And here is where I post random snacky junk you can eat. Warning I am sure it chocked full of HFCS and trans fat. Should you be feeling over deprived, however, you are free to have a nibble. Most plain potato chips, Pringles light bbq chips, plain baked lays, plain baked tostitos, tortilla chips, Oreos, Newman-Os, a bunch of 100 calorie pack cookies, Ritz Crackers, Premium Crackers, Hummus (not junk but crackers made me think of it), Popsicles, and a lot of other things. You can sift though a general list here.

I could probably keep going for a while, but I will stop there.

Look on the bright side, some people say that dairy free is one of the healthiest ways to eat! (They probably aren't scarfing Oreos and Fritos though.) You will probably be cutting out quite a bit of saturated fat.

If someone asks you if you are getting enough calcium, you can either tell them to mind their own business or tell them how you supplement your diet to get enough in. A list of foods containing calcium can be found here. An adult should shoot for around 1000 mg a day. I take a Target brand dairy free chewable gummy calcium supplement as an insurance policy.

Congrats. If you have made it through this post you are ready to go start your first grocery list and start making your way in the big, wide, dairy free world.

Now go forth and make some milk protein free breast milk!

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