People always ask me how I managed to go dairy free with 2 small children. It’s really not that hard, but there are a few tips that can help you ease yourself into a dairy free life.
Why Go Dairy Free?
I’m going to answer this question without any science:
It’s worth a shot.
I mean it. As crazy as that sounds, to see real results from a dairy-free life only takes about 3 weeks (how long it presumably takes to get it out of your system). I recommend it if:
- Your child frequently has a runny nose, sinus allergies, respiratory issues, etc. Dairy is notorious for making those issues worse. With Amelia, we discovered that dairy WAS the cause of her sinus issues. After years and years of red, runny noses (ALL her baby photos show inflamed cheeks) and no answers from doctors, 2 weeks off dairy did the trick. She was SEVEN at the time, meaning we went through 7 years of unnecessary tissues, being sent home by daycare and, God help me, Zyrtec.
- Your child has a diagnosis (past or present) of autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS or some undiagnosed issue and cannot sleep through the night, cannot get to sleep in the first place or sleeps during the day and is active at night. For Zoe, dairy was 100% to blame for this. Again it only took about a week or 2 for her to go from sleeping in 3-4 hours shifts (from birth through age 5) to sleeping in 6, then 7, then 8-hour shifts. She now beds down between 8 and 9, is usually out no later than 10 pm (worst case scenario) unless something gets off schedule, and is up at usually 7 or 7:30 naturally.
- You’re at the end of your rope with sleeplessness. One sleepless child disturbs a whole household, including your other kids. You’ve tried everything else to get your child to sleep but they won’t. Been there. Routine up the wazoo. Reading. Tiring them out as much as humanly possible. Melatonin. No food or water hours before bed. Turkey, warm milk, etc., etc. You’ve tried everything else, now try the one thing that *might* work.
“But We Love Milk!”
Well, I get that, but know what I love? Chocolate. Wine. Pasta – and not the gluten-free kind either. Bacon. Mac & cheese. Do I eat these every day? NO way. In fact, I can’t even look at Mac & Cheese now without cringing in guilt. However, it’s not the same, that’s true – I can eat those. I don’t have to give any of those things up 100%. For dairy YOU DO. It’s got to go, every molecule of. What do you do?
Find ways around it.
Read Labels and Know Sources of Dairy
What are we avoiding? Dairy contains a protein called “casein” which tends to be the culprit. Here are various names and sources of casein:
Some margarines, butter, butter fat, butter oil, casein, caseinates, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, curds, custard, hydrolysates (casein, whey, whey protein, milk protein,) lacuose/luctulose, lactoglubulin, lactalbumin phosphate, milk, all derivatives including powder, dry, evaporated, whole, protein, low-fat, milk-fat, non-fat skimmed, goats milk, solids, malted, condensed, cream, etc. Pudding/nougat, rennet casein, sodium lactylate, sour cream, sour cream solids, and whey in all forms.
Items that contain casein: caramel, bavarian cream, coconut cream, hot dogs, lunch meat, sausages.
8 Strategies To Remove Dairy From Your Life
- Try it for 3 weeks.
If you do a lot of dairy, you need to go a solid 3 weeks without cheese, butter, milk, ice cream, cream, etc, etc. 21 days is a reasonable stretch of time. It’s definitely not as painful as it sounds.
- Involve the whole family.
I’m telling you now: hiding milk from one or two family members doesn’t work. When we put Zoe on the autism diet, we added Amelia to save our sanity, even though she doesn’t have autism. As mentioned, it had an unintended side effect of ending her allergies. You never know, you could find someone else in your house has improvements! Just don’t keep it in the house – and that includes milk for your coffee! Buy a dairy-free creamer or order it out.
- Find dairy free resources.
Cookbooks, recipes, pin sites, etc – all these will help! Kindle has lots of free cookbooks to download every day, at least once a month there is a dairy-free one.
- Give up cheese.
This is the hard one, but cheese substitutes are not going to taste good. If you have an unfussy child, maybe she’ll eat it – Zoe likes one of those subs, Amelia hates them all. I know that it’s a popular lunch box snack, but you can replace it with fruit, veggies, chips and, of course a side of nut or seed butter. Amelia loves celery with sunflower seed butter.
- Give up ice cream.
Sure, you can replace it, but if you’re going into winter, you’re not going to need it.
- Replace butter.
There’s no way around this. You have 3 options: 1.) coconut oil. This is #1, because unless your child is sensitive to salicylates, this is an EXCELLENT source of healthy fat for a growing child. But the consistency can be challenging, and even a high-quality one can taste like coconut to a sensitive palette – coconut fried eggs? Yuck. 2.) In that case, you can use. Now, ghee technically IS dairy, but the caseins have been removed.This is the item that keeps kids with autism up. So, switching to ghee should have the desired effect. Finally, you can use organic butter substitutes – NOT margarine or any of that junk, but replacements that are in your organic/gluten free aisle. Be careful of the chemicals in those too, like soy. And don’t do a lot of baking until you get the swing of this!
- Find a substitute milk for every occasion.
One thing we like about using Silk Almondmilk is that it’s not only Non-GMO verified and free of carrageenan, it’s also got a lot of variety. We can use Unsweetened (Original OR Vanilla) for cooking, and regular, Vanilla or Dark Chocolate for drinking.
- Find other sources of calcium.
Forget dairy for calcium. Put that out of your head, OK? There’s so much wrong with that and, in fact, dairy – especially if it’s not organic – can be doing a lot of harm. Secondly, if you’re not getting enough Vitamin D (and mostly like, you’re not, although your kids *might*), calcium isn’t being absorbed properly anyway. So lay the foundation to make sure your kids are getting enough Vitamin D daily.That means 15 minutes in the sun – and yes, I’ve read it as “without sunblock” but use your judgment or ask your doctor. Get your family’s levels tested and talk to your doctor about a high-quality supplement.Top foods, according to Dr. Weil, for calcium include salmon, sardines, tofu (but I don’t recommend soy), and a LOT of dark green and broccoli.Almonds, sesame seeds, and chia are helpful too — so you’ll be really helping yourself if you substitute Almondmilk! Otherwise, a supplement may be in order.
One thing to keep in mind: if you or your kid’s don’t like something, don’t eat it! There are SO many options nowadays to find dairy-free items, you shouldn’t eat anything that worries you or is not to your liking.
And that’s your complete guide to giving up dairy. As you can see, giving it up means adding in healthy fats and bumping your vegetable intake – a good thing!