Going Dairy Free, part two

Ever since I finished writing my last blog on going dairy free, I have felt like I left out some big pieces of info. I did cover the major points to get your feet off the ground but after seeing the response to the last blog, I wanted to make sure I provided a couple more things that helped me. 

Note: if you’re here for the recipe of the cream cheese danish in the photo, click here!

First, get a support system!

You are going to have people constantly saying “why you are doing this”, “why not switch to formula”, “only a little won’t hurt”, etc, which can start to get to you. For this reason, I strongly suggest connecting with a group of people that understand and can help. For me, I joined a Facebook group called “Dairy-Free Diet – Breastfeeding”. They were my saving grace. They were there to vent to but more importantly, they helped share information, such as new dairy free foods that they found or to help figure out if something I didn’t understand. I would definitely encourage you to find a good group that you are comfortable with. 

Second, foods that I found to be very wary of: 

  • Wine: Um… what? Yeah it blew my mind too. Apparently when wineries are bottling many use caseinate in the process. So how do you know because they don’t list ingredients?! Go to barnivore.com and type in the wine/drink you are wanting. This website tells you if your drink is VEGAN. I capitalize this because vegan means a lot more than just dairy free. With this search I found one of my favorite wines marked as “red” (meaning not vegan friendly) but once I checked why it was due to the use of honey, which would still classify as dairy free.
  • Seasonings: taco seasonings, all spices, or anything that is not specifically one herb, check it! 
  • Guacamole: for a long time I assumed guacamole was a safe option when eating mexican food. I was wrong! Many locations mix sour cream in with their guacamole.
  • Lunch meat: Meat is regulated by the USDA, not FDA, so they are not required to put allergen information. Boars Head is typically safe (they have information available online about which are not) but other deli meat that says things like caramel coloring or natural flavors, could have dairy.  
  • Sushi: There are the obvious items like cream cheese but you also need to watch out for sauces and crab meat. Many places use imitation crab which has dairy in it so you’ll need to verify that there is no dairy in the crab. 

Third, eating out! 

I mentioned in part one, that if you’re going to eat out then it is smart to call ahead and speak with a manager. With this, I always use the words, “I have a dairy allergy” because that is taken significantly more serious than trying to explain your baby’s allergy/intolerance through your meals. Most people just don’t understand. However, for many chain restaurants you can look up their allergen menu by googling the name of the restaurant + Allergen menu so you don’t have to call ahead. Here were my favorite go tos for chain restaurants: 

  • Chick-Fil-A: Grilled nuggets with fries. Many of their sauces are also DF, including their Chickfila sauce! 
  • Zaxbys: Boneless BBQ Wings with fries and TOAST. Yes you read that right the toast is DF. Careful, their tenders are not DF. 
  • Olive Garden: Pasta with meat sauce and ALL THE BREADSTICKS. Unfortunately, their salad dressing does have dairy so I always ordered the Pasta e Fagioli soup instead. 
  • Burger King: I’m not a big BK fan but their french toast sticks are DF and delicious. They have a good allergen menu to check for real meals 
  • Panda Express: Sweet Fire Chicken 
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: Check the sauce you like but their wings with Honey BBQ are DF. You can also get a plain burger (I would add avocado, bacon and Honey BBQ sauce) but make sure they do not toast the bun in butter! 
  • Chuys: Burrito or Nachos (without the cheese). Yes nachos without cheese are good!
  • Papa Johns: Regular crust and sauce are DF. Order no cheese and ask for a clean cut (roller that hasn’t cut pizza with cheese) 

Fourth, Long Term/Adding Dairy back into your and baby’s diets: 

  • The general rule of thumb is that once baby has been dairy free for a minimum of 6 months and is over 9 months old, you can test to see if they have outgrown their intolerance. 
  • There are different beliefs about if you should test adding dairy back in through breast milk or directly to baby. I personally went with feeding Luca directly but can definitely understand both sides! So here are the arguments
    • Through breast milk: Since the cow protein is processed through your body and then they receive it through the milk, there is a higher chance that they will pass each stage of the ladder (see below) because the protein is so broken down. Pro: you maybe able to add dairy back into your diet sooner! Con: if/when baby fails a stage, your milk is no ‘contaminated’ and could cause issues for the next few weeks.
    • Directly to baby: In order to avoid ‘contaminating’ your milk supply, you can feed the baby foods directly. Pro: Once a failed step is out of their system the symptoms are done. The baby won’t have issues while the protein gets out of your system and then their own. Con: Could increase the chance of failing compared to going through your system first.
  • Both you and baby need to reintroduce dairy back into your diet SLOWLY! I know when you wean or your baby is cleared you want to go straight for the pizza and ice cream but DON’T DO IT. While baby doesn’t run the risk of becoming lactose intolerant (because of drinking your milk), you do! Your body is not use to the lactose and you need to add it back in slowly. Jumping back in head first, could result in some severe symptoms (everything from very upset stomach to actual vomiting). Which brings us to our fifth and final point. 

Fifth, How to reintroduce? 

The different ways that dairy is cooked, fermented, made, etc. will break down the protein differently. Which means different types of food are easier to tolerate. The best practice is to start at step 1, eat that step in moderation for 3 days and then wait three days to see if there is a reaction. If there is no reaction, move on to step 2 and repeat until you finish step 7. 

  • If you are introducing directly to baby: once baby starts step 2, you can start step 1. 
  • If a step is failed, it is suggested to continue any steps that were passed and wait 3 months to start again at the step that failed. 
  • A reaction can be ANYTHING out of the ordinary: excessive crying, bad diapers, increased spitting up, rash, etc. 

The Seven Steps of the Diary Ladder : 

  1. Baked in dairy: something like a cake or bread that has dairy in it and is cooked for a minimum of 15 minutes at 350 Degrees. 
    1. Nothing with cheese or chocolate
    2. Casseroles do not count
  2. Butter on toast or veggies
  3. Yogurt or sour cream
  4. Melted/cooked cheese (pizza, lasagna, grilled cheese, etc) 
    1. Most mac and cheese has heated milk so you cannot use it for this stage
  5. Uncooked cheese
  6. Heated milk (mac and cheese, queso, latte, etc) 
  7. Unheated milk (ice cream, whip cream, etc)

As always, this is a lot of information! Please don’t hesitate to comment, email, or DM me with any questions you may have going through this journey.

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