These tips for going dairy free were inspired by a product I received at no charge for review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
When my son was born I looked into his tiny face and was awed by the sheer perfection of his little being. Within a month I was in tears and staring at this horrid creature who would not stop screaming no matter how often I nursed him. I knew he was getting plenty of breast milk because I seriously could have fed an army of babies with the amount of milk I produced. He nursed and nursed but still screamed. We danced through the living room to the tune of Allen Jackson’s ‘Chattahoochee’ more times than I could count because it was the only thing that made him stop crying. 14 years later I STILL know the words to that song by heart. Look at that cute face! You wouldn’t believe there was an evil demon in there just waiting to start screaming!
I asked my pediatrician what could possibly be wrong with this baby who would not stop screaming and he suggested an elimination diet. There was probably something that *I* was eating that was causing him issues. One by one I eliminated foods from my diet and finally…blessed silence! Turns out it was the dairy in my diet that was causing him grief. I was slightly devastated given my addiction to cheese. How in the world was I going to eliminate an entire food group from my diet? I did some research, started reading labels, and bought a lot of new foods…some good, some not so good! If you are considering going dairy free, either for your own health or because of a nursing issue, I thought I would share a few of the suggestions I followed during my forced boycott of all things dairy.
Tips for Going Dairy Free
1. Become a label reader: Honestly, you are going to have to memorize every type of dairy product there is…non fat dry milk, milk powder, milk. Those are easy. But then you have whey and casein and an assortment of other not so clear ingredients. For help, check out How to Identify Dairy Products on Food Labels.
2. Start with small samples: You can either call companies for samples or coupons, buy small sizes at the grocery store or try out a subscription service like Savorfull to try a selection of dairy free products. They are not going to be exactly like traditional dairy products and you will like some more than others. I threw away a lot of stuff when I first went dairy free but I also found some brands that I still eat today, even though my kids are teens and I am now allowed to nurture my cheese addiction whenever I want.
3. Focus on what you CAN eat: Just because you have to ditch an entire food group does not mean you are doomed to starvation. You have fruits, veggies, meats and grains. The hardest thing I found was to ditch the prepackaged things like granola bars, dried cereals, crackers, etc. Many of them are made with some sort of milk product. Sticking to whole foods made the process much easier.
4. Invest in a good cookbook: 14 years ago there was nowhere near the amount of awareness to the dairy free lifestyle as there is today. I had to skim through my random cookbooks looking for recipes for cookies that used oil instead of butter or just try replacing the regular milk with almond milk and hope it came out okay. Nowadays they have entire cookbooks dedicated to dairy free cooking. (affiliate link—>) Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living has some great reviews on Amazon.
5. Learn to love avocados: Seriously, this may seem weird but the creamy factor of avocados really makes the lack of cheese on a sandwich not all that obvious.
6. Learn what your alternatives are: You can try soy, almond, rice, coconut milk and many variations on those themes. Full fat coconut milk in a soup makes it incredibly creamy and flavorful and still 100% dairy free.
7. Hide your desserts from the family! Honestly, when I was nursing the one thing I went back to every single time was Tofutti ‘icecream’ . I got the pint sized containers and every time I would go to grab it I realized my husband had eaten it already! This stuff was addicting and thankfully, since I was nursing a butterball who ate every 2 hours, I had plenty of calories to spare. My solution? I bought two!
When I was contacted by Tofutti to try out a few of their new products I was thrilled…honestly, this is a product I loved already and I was happy to spread the word about their dairy free desserts. They sent me some coupons and I found some Tofutti ‘icecream’ sandwiches in the dairy free section of Kroger. Of course, now I am not just fighting my husband for them but I have to get to them before the teenagers do. And my son has actually been giving up his Halloween candy just so that he can eat a Tofutti sandwich treat! They are delicious with chocolaty wafers filled with creamy dairy free ice cream.
These Tofutti Cuties (little mini sandwich treats) come in Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies ‘N Cream, Key Lime Pie, Mint Chocolate Chip, Totally Vanilla, and Wild Berry. And they have tons of different varieties of dairy free desserts, although I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find more at any of the local grocery stores. They also have an assortment of cheeses, ravioli, pizza, and many other dairy free foods.
If you are considering going dairy free I would seriously recommend Tofutti dairy free desserts to feed your icecream craving!
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Disclaimer: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.”: I received product samples in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. Some of the links in this post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.