Dairy-Free Life Part 1: Starting Dairy-Free

If you follow me over on Instagram, you may have seen me mention that I am a breastfeeding mama that has gone dairy-free. I am dairy-free because we have discovered that my daughter Honor has a milk allergy, meaning that cow’s milk proteins I ingested passed through my breast milk to Honor and have caused an allergic reaction. This was sad but also unsurprising, since my oldest daughter Raegan also had a milk allergy as a baby and I breastfed her.

Dairy-free ratatouille before it hits the oven!

So, I’ve decided to leave dairy alone while I am breastfeeding Honor. I can’t lie and say that I was not expecting some personal benefit, like clearer skin and losing baby weight more quickly! While going dairy-free has not immediately fixed those challenges for me , I can say that Honor is doing much better and I am seriously enjoying the dairy-free life. I’m enjoying it so much so that I am sharing a series of posts providing tips, grocery items, and recipes that you all have liked over on Instagram! Today’s post will focus on tips for starting out dairy-free!

I know my girls are not the only babies allergic to cow’s milk proteins. So many moms on Instagram shared that their children are also allergic to cow’s milk, which makes sense given that dairy is one of the most common allergies for children. This post will help so many other moms who are now avoiding dairy products! Plus, it’s cool that we can talk about this over the next couple of weeks, since August is National Breastfeeding Month. I hope this post will make it easier for those families who choose to breastfeed their babies.

Even if you are not a breastfeeding mom, the dairy-free life may be what’s best for you. Whether you’re transitioning to vegan, lactose-intolerant, a breastfeeding mama who has a dairy-sensitive/allergic baby, dairy-sensitive/allergic yourself, or in quarantine mode and want to try something new, you’ll find this series super helpful.

Tip #1 – Check with your doctor

If you suspect that you or your baby is allergic to dairy, head over to your doctor. My daughters’ pediatricians confirmed their milk allergies in both of them. While it is tempting to compare your kids’ symptoms to those listed on someone’s blog, seeking medical advice can help bring relief to you or your baby sooner rather than later.

Tip # 2 – Check your labels

I cannot stress how important it is to check your labels if you’re avoiding dairy. You will be surprised at what food items are and are not dairy-free. This is imperative even if a food is labeled “nondairy” or  “milk-free,” since these items may still contain allergy-inducing milk proteins. Below are some sources of milk I watch out for:

  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Curds
  • Lactabumin
  • Lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Whey

Your doctor can provide a more comprehensive list for you. The Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also provide great resources for tips for hidden sources of dairy.

Tip # 3 – Think About Cuisine

When I needed to go dairy-free for the sake of Honor, I thought about cuisines that I enjoyed but were not heavy on dairy. That’s when it dawned on me: I love Asian cuisines, which are not usually heavy on dairy products. I have begun experimenting with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Indian dishes that are completely dairy-free. This allows me to eat what I love while also eating safely for me and my baby.

Of course, it goes without saying, but plant-based and vegan foods have been such a blessing to me. I am avoiding dairy, but also reaping the benefits of taking in more plants and less processed foods. While going dairy-free in and of itself did not bring me clearer skin or accelerated weight loss, I have found that shifting to a more plant-based diet has brought about numerous health benefits for me, Honor, and the rest of our family.

In Part 2, I’ll be sharing my favorite dairy-free alternatives for your next grocery trip!

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Honor’s Name

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Dairy-Free Life Part 2: My Top Dairy-Free Alternatives

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