Last summer I was on a mission to gain back my health. I was feeling lethargic, bloated and living with an autoimmune disease and one sinus infection after the other. Not sure what to do about all of it or who to talk to, I sought out the help of a nutritionist that I had worked with years before. After a consultation and a long talk and an overview of my medical history, she ordered a blood test. Two weeks later my test results were in – I am highly intolerant of dairy. It was time to cut out all cheese, butter, milk, ice cream and yogurt. Plus, all of the trace proteins that come in baked goods and MANY packaged foods.
What?! No more cheese with my fruit and wine? No more Ben and Jerry’s on a Friday night? No more yogurt for a mid-morning snack? You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. Unfortunately, this was no joke. My dairy free lifestyle started right then and there. Within days I was feeling MUCH better. My sinus infections were gone, autoimmune symptoms went away, and I lost 10 pounds of weight that my body had been holding on to for a long time.
Over the last year of being dairy free, I have learned some tips and tricks to keep my meals and snacks interesting. I have been able to show my family new ways to cook and eat. I use more condiments and dips like pesto and hummus in place of cheese. Another good replacement is a ripe avocado. It gives the creaminess of cheese and the benefits of healthy fats. In place of ice cream I’ll eat sorbet or “ice cream” made from frozen bananas. Luckily in today’s grocery stores you can find all sorts of “milk” (almond, cashew, rice, coconut to name a few) and “cheese” (soy and almond based are popular). That way you don’t have to feel like you’re missing much.
Eating out at a restaurant can be a challenge since everything yummy seems to always be cooked in butter. But you CAN find good meals on the go! Salads are an easy go-to at any restaurant. Omelettes at the diner (hold the butter but load up on the veggies!) for breakfast, salads for lunch and burgers or chicken with roasted veggies (olive oil is my new best friend) for dinner. Also, most restaurants are happy to help out customers with allergies or an intolerance, and you’ll quickly get to know what to look for.
Confession – I still really miss dairy sometimes, even after nearly a year of not eating it. I would love not think twice about what to eat. However, I feel a thousand times better than I did last summer. As a result, I haven’t had any sinus infections this year, my autoimmune symptoms haven’t come back at all, and I have kept off that 10 pounds of bloat that I was hanging on to. Thankfully there are loads of great substitutes at the grocery store that make it feel like I’m not missing out all that much. I’ll raise my glass of coconut milk to that!
Check out some of my favorite dairy free recipes on my Pinterest page here. You’ll find links to dairy free dinners, sides, appetizers, desserts, breakfasts and more desserts! Life isn’t so bad as a dairy free mom after all.