I’ve written lots about how hard it can be to have a child with CMPA or other food allergies, and how overwhelming it can feel when you’re faced with the prospect of giving up those allergens and going dairy free. So now I’m going to give you some balance, and bust a few myths.
After you’ve read this, head over to the Breastfeeding With CMPA Directory for a full list of dairy free resources.
Here’s 10 Things That Don’t Suck About Going Dairy Free
1. Booja Booja. You’ll discover a whole world of dairy free chocolates and treats, some of which are just as good as the milk-versions, and some are even better. There’s all kinds of delicious varieties and flavours out there and you have an excuse to try them all.
2. Bourbon biscuits, Co-op custard doughnuts, and all the other ‘accidentally’ free from stuff you’ll find when you’re going dairy free. No need to stick to the expensive free from sections because there are plenty of things that happen to be dairy free or vegan hidden on the normal shelves for you to discover.
3. You don’t actually have to give up takeaways. You might feel at first like you do, but once you’ve found the courage to ask around you’ll probably find several local restaurants who can cater to your dietary needs. My local Chinese for example will prepare any dish I like minus the soya sauce to make it safe for Dil and I. Pizza bases are often vegan and a cheeseless pizza is way more appealing than it sounds. Try topping with hummus instead, or add on some violife once it gets to you and pop it in the oven for a few minutes.
4. Going dairy free doesn’t mean that eating out needs to be avoided. Restaurants like Nandos, Wagamamas, Pizza Express and Zizzi offer some really great choices even for those with multiple allergies and you’ll find that even the smaller restaurants should be willing to find something suitable. Remember that anywhere serving food has a legal obligation to provide you with allergen information for their food. Check out my Eating Out With Food Allergies vlog for loads of tips to make it easy and stress free.
5. Dairy actually isn’t that great for us, and, as tasty as it is, the more you learn the more likely you’ll be to admit humans shouldn’t really be drinking it. For example you’ll discover that when we stop consuming dairy for a long period of time our body can stop producing the enzyme needed to breakdown lactose – effectively making us lactose intolerant. This happens because we are designed to stop consuming lactose/dairy after infancy. We force our bodies to continue producing the enzyme by eating dairy but lots of us end up feeling much better after giving it up.
6. Vegan calcium sources will become your go to meal additions, and most of them are much easier for the body to absorb nutrients from than cow’s milk. Things like green leafy veg, oranges, nuts, seeds and fortified milks are brilliant at boosting your calcium intake and easy to include in your every day diet. It’s hard to get your head around the fact that kale is a better source of calcium than dairy but it’s true.
7. You’ll get healthier. Maybe. Cow’s milk is designed to help baby cows grow really big and really strong, so you can imagine what it does to humans. Cutting it out may help you to lose some weight, or it may not (see points 1 & 2).
8. Sometimes, you get the best options. I can’t lie, sometimes you’ll go to a wedding and you’ll get a fruit salad (fruit isn’t a dessert FYI caterers). But sometimes you’ll go and you’ll get given the most delicious looking, allergy friendly dish in the room and everyone will be envious. Restaurants will often go above and beyond to cater for you and you end up with something far superior to your friends eating from the ‘normal’ menu. It’s okay, be a little smug, enjoy it.
9. You don’t have to share when you’re going dairy free. Every allergy mum I know has a cupboard or a section somewhere in their kitchen. It’s full of all the dairy free treats from points 1 and 2 and it’s all for her. You don’t have to feel bad about eating a whole pack of bourbon biscuits because your husband has plent of others to eat. You can eat that Almond Dream ice cream straight out of the tub because it’s all for you and your husband can go eat a Cornetto. Just don’t ever let them taste it because you might find they start preferring it to their own…
10. You aren’t alone, and the minute you discover this you’ll feel 100 times better. There are lots of us, just like you, who have faced this and who have come out the other side. We have been where you are, we have felt how you feel and we have survived it. We can tell you how much easier it gets, we can answer every question you might have, and we can support you through every tough bit along the way. And we are here to remind you that it’s temporary, to remind you that it’s doable, and to remind you that it’s worth it.
To join our community of mums who have given up dairy and other allergens to continue breastfeeding their children check out the Breastfeeding With CMPA and Other Food Allergies Support Group – we’ve got dairy free doughnuts and we are willing to share!