Going Dairy-Free

At the close of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I’d like to share my experience eliminating dairy from my diet.

I went cold turkey from milk on New Years Day 2009 to determine if my son was allergic to it. I did a little research beforehand (www.kellymom.com is an excellent resource for breastfeeding moms facing any bf challenge) and knew that it would take two to three weeks for the milk proteins to work their way out of my body.

Those two weeks were extremely difficult. I felt like there was nothing I could eat because, as I began reading food labels, I discovered that milk hides in a lot of foods.

I distinctly remember making dinner one night and, just as I was adding in the last ingredient, realizing that the gravy I was using contained milk. I cried. I screamed. I thought about throwing the dish I had just made against the wall. What was I going to eat now?!!! This new diet was extremely frustrating.

But, alas, it was necessary. My son’s symptoms improved and he was diagnosed with allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts. (Once I took milk out of my diet, the egg allergy became evident as well.)

Over time, I got used to the new diet and discovered the alternatives. For us, soy easily replaced milk, however, that is one of the common allergens and many food allergy sufferers don’t have that option. I basically followed a vegan diet and began to try new recipes. It opened a new culinary world for me.

I continued on this diet until my son stopped breastfeeding ten months later. I could have stopped when he was diagnosed but I was committed to breastfeeding for the first year. Whether I was breastfeeding or not, he was still allergic to these foods. His allergies were not going to go away if I stopped breastfeeding.

After being dairy-free for ten months, I had a hard time introducing it back into my diet. It felt like I was doing something wrong. But I did go on a dairy binge (and ate way too many Christmas cookies). I gained back the weight I had lost and then some. Now, I’m trying to phase dairy back out. My son doesn’t yet understand that certain foods make him sick and he’s at the stage of his development where what’s on mommy’s plate is more appealing than what’s on his. So, I eat what he can eat and we continue our food allergy adventure.

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