A few weeks after sweet Baby J was born my sister, her hubby and my adorable niece came to visit. My niece and Baby J are about the same age and she was just content and happy as a little lark while my baby, on the other hand, was incessantly crying. Like, crying his little head off. He wouldn’t calm down, and nothing would soothe him. I knew something was really wrong – not just gas.
Through several conversations with his pediatrician we realized that he likely had a dairy allergy. And after we realized he had a dairy allergy we also realized he likely had a soy allergy too. And since I am nursing, that meant no more dairy or soy for me. SAD DAY… So I cut out yogurt, butter, sour cream, anything soy and cheese. I cut out CHEESE. It was definitely hard at first but there are so many good alternatives to dairy these days that it’s become easier over time. But I won’t lie… I still miss cheese.
Of course I had to bring this up with my counselor. Imagine the scene with me: my counselor asks how I am 4 weeks after having a baby and I’m so full of raging hormones that my response was something like this, “You know, no sleep. Meeting with lawyers, going through a divorce. My baby won’t stop crying his head off and (this is when the crying started) …I can’t eat CHEEEESE!” You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. It was funny and sad all at the same time. We then started laughing… because out of everything I listed I started crying about CHEESE.
But seriously, being a new mom AND having to totally revolutionize your diet can be very overwhelming. Googling became by best friend. Pinterest was a lifesaver and hopefully I can help you chart into the dairy-free, soy-free waters too by sharing some of the brands, restaurants and recipes that have been staples for me over the past 7 months.
Eating out is hard because you never know what “extras” they will garnish your food with: extra parmesan, a drizzle of sour cream, or a slab of butter. You have to be so careful (read: obnoxious) when ordering out. These are some great guidelines to read over when ordering out dairy free. Soy free is often harder because it’s not as straightforward. Reading labels for soy-free eating is the most important. (For example, 99% of salad dressings have some kind of soy in them.)
Chik fil A – I already loved this place but after becoming a dairy-free mama, the fact that they had some yummy options for me AND it had a drive thru meant I was even more in love. For breakfast their oatmeal is about the only option I liked, plus oatmeal is good for nursing so that’s a win/win. For lunch/dinner the grilled marketplace salad can be ordered without cheese and it’s really delicious! The fat free honey mustard is the only salad dressing I found that is also soy free (I held up the drive thru one day for the sweet high school boy to check for me). The grilled cool wrap is also amazing and can be ordered sans cheese too. It usually takes them a minute to make it without the cheese but it’s worth the wait. I order it with the non-fat honey mustard dressing too.
Mexican/Tex-Mex options are usually really easy to avoid dairy and my favorite so there are several places that can accomodate:
Moe’s – I love Moe’s and I get the close talker salad without cheese or sour cream and the vinaigrette dressing is also safe. Add whatever fresh veggie options you like and you’re in business!
Chipotle – I love their burritos, burrito bowls or taco salad and again, just nix the cheese and sour cream and add their amazing guacamole and you’re set.
Chuy’s – I love Chuy’s. I do miss the creamy jalapeño dip but their salsa and guacamole is good too so I’ve been ok with that. I typically order the fajitas and ask for no cheese or sour cream but extra guacamole. Sometimes I order soft tacos without cheese, but the fajitas are way better. I always mention my dairy allergy so they don’t garnish anything with cheese or sour cream.
YOU NEED THIS RECIPE: Best chocolate chip cookies ever – My sister shared this amazing and heart healthy recipe with me and I’ll admit, I was skeptical. A dairy free chocolate chip cookie, how is that even possible?? Instead of canola oil I substitute coconut oil and it’s amazing. I’ve made these cookies several times and they always hit the spot.
Here are some things to remember if you’re making this journey as a nursing mama:
- It seems wildly overwhelming now but you can DO IT!!
- Find a grocery store with alternatives. (Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s was where I shopped mostly)
- READ LABELS. There are SO many things that have dairy or in them and you don’t realize. Especially highly-processed foods.
- When in doubt, Google it. (“Does _____ have dairy in it?” “Dairy free options at Chick-fil-A” etc.)
- It’s the easiest diet you can be on once you see how dramatically your baby transforms. Just keep remembering that your sanity is more important than cheese. Eat dairy = screaming child. Not worth it.
- Find several great recipes that you LOVE and make them often so you don’t feel deprived.
- Let everyone in your life know about your new way of eating, my sweet friends and family were so gracious to bring me meals, cook me meals and snacks that were dairy free. What a blessing.
- Eating out is way more challenging than just cooking in, so it might just be a season when you don’t eat out as much. Or find the few places you can eat and go a lot. 🙂
- Keep remembering that your new way of eating is both good for you AND your baby!
There Is An Upside
There is an upside in the fact that anything bad for you/fattening/processed/deliciously sinful probably has dairy or soy in it, so you’ll lose lots of that baby weight if you go completely dairy free and soy free. So far I’m down more than 55 lbs from the height of my baby weight, which is CRAZYTOWN but I feel so much better. Small graces from God if cheese isn’t an option. 🙂