20 answers

Cutting Dairy Out of Diet

At my twins' 9 month appointment today the pediatrican decided I needed to cut dairy out of my diet as a possible solution to my daughter's skin issues and allergies. I was too distracted with taking notes and asking all my questions I forgot to have him expand upon what that exactly means. Have any of you cut dairy out of your diet? I really want to continue nursing them both so I want to give this a try but I'm overwhelmed by the prospect of cutting such a huge thing from my diet-because I eat a ton of dairy, plus it's in so many things you didn't know about. So should I worry about any dairy that's in things that are baked, like bread? And what about things I don't realize have dairy in them (like some potato chips), if I accidenly eat those things will that cancel out all my hard work of cutting out the obvious dairy items like cheese? The good news is I can substitute soy milk for my cereal in the morning (please tell me if this is wrong), but what about butter and cheese, I can't think of substitutes. I would appreciate any suggestions and help.

What can I do next?

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Coconut milk is a great milk substitute--soy is pretty controversial, health wise. Also, I do a lot of cooking with coconut oil. It can even be used like butter. There are goat cheeses out there--many people that react to cow milk products are OK with goat milk.

Good luck! It is a tough one.

I have eliminated most dairy from my diet since Jan., and I feel so much better. My problem was related to digestion. I'd suggest getting some direction from the person who said to eliminate the dairy, as to how much you can have. If it's 100% no dairy, there are many Vegan cookbooks, websites, etc. that can help. I'm also getting a magazine called Living Without, which has great tips. Watch the soy - too much of that isn't good. Almond milk and rice milk are great, and taste better than soy.

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Hi, A.-- You are such a devoted mom. Your kids are so fortunate to have you!
My oldest son was admitted to the children's hospital as a newborn becasue his intestines swelled shut because of a serious protein allergy related to dairy. I consulted with a dietician and went dairy-free. The gasteroenterologists at the hopistal suggested I nurse him as long as we were both willing because that would help heal irritation in his digestive tract and prevent allergy issues from intensifying. I ended up staying strictly dairy-free and nursing for two full years and I can honestly say it was completely worth it. My son is healthy and comfortable now (at age 7) and can have dairy in reasonable "social" quantities with no side effects beyond constipation if he has too much (like three pieces of pizza instead of stopping at two). So this hassle really is a good investment in your children's health.
The dietician told me about 25 percent of children with allergies to cow milk products have a cross-reaction to soy products, so I did a month-long elimintaion diet with no dairy or soy. I used rice milk products during that time, and then gradually brought back soy after that with no repercussions. Soy milk is more nutritious than rice milk, and I needed soemthing to put on cereal so I didn't get hungry (and grumpy) when I was figuring out my food options.
Generally, the most allergenic componants of dairy are the proteins--listed as "casein" in many packaged items and the least allergenic is baked whey.
Shopping was labor-intensive at first, but then I started to know which brands were the right choice for my family and cook with a while foods approach that was healthier and cheaper than boxed items or eating out. You can do it!
I found the "Better Than" brand to be useful. "Better Than Sour Cream" and "Better Than Cream Cheese" helped me get a "fix." As someone else mentioned, I got into guacamole when I was dairy free so I could put something creamy on my burrito. I also got into Asian cooking since there's not a lot of dairy there anyway, so it doesn't feel like you're missing anything. Thai food is yummy and filling. Do watch the trans fats on dairy substitutes--it's better to cook with olive oil than with margarine (Nucoa is one of the only grocery store brands that is truly dairy-free, but it's straight trans fat).
I also ate chocolate chips as my "candy" when I was dairy-free. There are some vegan ones that helped me feel like I could have a treat. I also got a few recipes for other great desserts so I was not deprived, but I will say all the baby weight just peeled off when I was dairy free because I had so little saturated fat in my diet.
Most processed foods do contain dairy--hot dogs, cookies, spice mixes. It's safer to make simple foods from scratch. YOu might really appreciate the cook books "Whole Foods for the Whole Family" and "Whole Foods from the Whole World," both published by La Leche League. "The Un-Cheese Cookbook" is also a good one. You might like to attend a La Leche League meeting and visit with those moms--you'll probably get great encouragement as well as info from local moms who have experience with elimination diets. You can probably borrow their cookbooks to check them out--all LLL services are free.
Best wishes to you!

1 mom found this helpful

I had to do this for my 2 year old daughter. You really need to be a label reader. Or if you go to a bakery, ask the staff if the bread was made with dairy. Most of the time they have the information - it's just a matter of looking it up. There are substitutes for butter and cheese, such as rice, almond or soy cheese. I have to go to a special grocery store to find these. Nuco makes dairy free margerine, that I find at the local Albertsons. I also keep an eye out for vegan items, as they should always be dairy-free. If you live in an area that has an alternative/healthy grocery store they should sell quite a few dairy free items - soy ice cream, yogurt, etc. It's hard at first but it won't take long for you to know what to look for. Good luck.

Okay-- don't worry too much, this is what I would do if I were you.
Just cut out the obvious sources of dairy..meaning the big ones. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and the like. I would not worry about the items that you consume very little of, like butter, or dairy in baked goods, its just too tiny of an amount. Make sure that you are taking a vitamin to replace the calcium you will not be getting from your diet. I love viactiv, but check the label, maybe nursing mothers cannot take it- but if you are taking a prenatal or multi vitamin that should be sufficient. Veggie slices are a yummy alternative to cheese (sort of like a kraft single- don't let the name scare you) and silk is a nice alternative to milk. It does take some getting used to, but things will work out, its only a few months of your life if you plan to stop nursing when they are a year old, and my hat goes off to you..nursing twins, you go girl!!

My daughter's both have persistent eczema due to allergies...I only wish I knew then what I do now. You are amazing, nursing twins and I hope you can keep it up. Yes, avoid the major sources of dairy, but I would also include avoiding the other "milks" like rice and soy since my daughters are allergic to those also. Start with almond milk. Goat is good too if you can stomach it. If you are going to give it to them, start early to avoid aversion. I would also avoid consuming or giving them peanut for a loooong time. We use "Sunbutter" made from sunflower seeds (very tasty) and "Almond Butter" we can find it at Costco. Whew, there is soooo much, but what you are doing is a great start to hopefully avoiding a lifetime of steroids and misery and lost sleep due to itching. Soon you can go back to eating what you like and give your brain a rest while trying to figure out what they can have. My daughter is allergic to:
Corn (corn syrup too)
Wheat (whole grain)
Peanut (not tree nuts though)
Strawberries (not allergic, but the large amount of histamine causes and allergic type reaction)
Everything outside that is inhaled (pollens etc.)
Animal Dander

Everything that she is allergic to goes directly to her skin. There is a "nursing" diet I believe (Google it maybe?) that you can follow that starts with things that most people are not allergic to and you slowly add things and watch for reactions. I'm going to be armed when I get pregnant with baby #3! Good luck to you!

I would eliminate all forms of dairy to start. Your daughter may be very sensitive or she may not be. If you eliminate *everything* to start, then you can start to trial things back in once her skin clears up.

For my dairy intolerant 18-month-old nursling, I have to be very strict on dairy. He actually reacted (GI upset, colicky stuff) to lactose in a cold tablet! So yes, I'd pull it all to start. You can find great info & avoid lists here: www.godairyfree.org, www.foodallergy.org, www.nomilk.com (this one might be a little political, IIRC), http://kidshealth.org/parent/misc/milkallergy_cutout.html.

Places you wouldn't expect to find dairy but might: pickles, lunch meat, deli meat (shared cutting surfaces with cheese as well as lactic acid as an ingredient), olives, rice cheese, items labeled 'non-dairy.'

As for butter, Earth Balance has a couple that should work for you... I think the light and the new olive oil ones would both work. And I'm pretty sure some of the Sara Lee breads are milk-free.

You can try soy but it's also fairly highly allergenic (one of the top 8, along with dairy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts) so I'd try not to add too much of it in until you know if she also reacts to that. (Soy and dairy intolerance/allergy often go hand-in-hand.)
I'd be wary of goat's milk, as most who react to cow's milk also react to goat's. I'd also be wary of nut milks, but I do have a nut allergic child, so I'm always suspicious of nuts. ;) Rice milk would be a better bet, statistically speaking, as would oat milk, hemp milk or potato milk.

Forget about cheese, IMO. Most cheese subs are semi-horrible at best. I sub in guacamole (but if you don't make it yourself, ask! Lots of restaurants put dairy stuff in it!), hummus, etc.

You can do this! It is hard, and you might want to find a support group (I'm in a great allergy group on Yahoo... it's called TerrificKidsWFA.) to help you get through the tough days. I found dairy to not be as hard to give up as I thought it'd be (I'm a huge cheese eater), so maybe that'll be the case for you.

Best of luck! Email me if you have any other questions or need support!

It depends on how sensitive your twins are. It also depends on whether its the protein they are sensitive to or the sugar (lactose). My daughter (seven months old) has a dairy allergy and I am nursing her so I have to avoid ALL dairy, no chips no butter nothing. By the way you should use rice milk instead of soy milk. Sometimes people who are sensitive to the protein in milk will also be sensitive to soy milk. I can have soy sauce and stuff like that but I have noticed that my daughter is sensitive to soy milk. I would suggest that you go off all dairy for at least two weeks and see if your twins' situation improves. Then try eating something like butter, but nothing else added back in for a while and see if it changes things.
When my brother was about nine months he had to go off of everything except rice cereal for two weeks and then my mom slowly started adding things back in. He got over his allergies. Not every situation is like that but i just thought I would throw that in.
My daughter is pretty sensitive. I accidentally had some croutons that had butter in them (i didn't think to check the package) and she broke out in a little rash.
When I went off all dairy my daughter's skin issues went away. If I eat something with dairy in it on accident then she will get little tiny red dots or a little rash but nothing like it used to be. You just have to see how your twins react.
There is this stuff called smart butter light that i use that is dairy free. i use rice milk for cereal instead of cows milk. I am still learning stuff to substitute. And I am not going to lie it is really hard, but you can have brownies (from a mix) no dairy and there is this coconut milk ice cream that is fantastic if you need a dessert. I also love mango sorbet.
Good luck
M. kirton

While I nursed my daughter for her first 10 months, I completely cut dairy out of my diet because she had milk protein sensitivity (not allergy). I did not drink milk or eat yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, or ice cream. I never even considered that milk might be in bread... I don't think it would be a big deal for that. But in baked dishes, like macaroni & cheese, I would avoid that.

It was really hard to eliminate dairy from my diet but my daughter did so much better because of it. I'm so glad I did it. My first daughter had similar problems, and I never considered eliminating dairy (wish I had). Now she has persistent eczema. Good for you getting on the ball with a good solution.

If you are concerned about not getting calcium, you can always drink OJ with calcium and also take prenatal vitamins.

And, yes, soy milk is fine. Also fine is rice milk, almond milk, or goat milk. I think goat milk tastes the closest to cow milk, but it's got a kind-of "gamey" taste.

As for butter, you can substitute margarine because it is not made from animal solids (it is made from oils and water). Cheese... you can eat goat cheese (as an alternative).

When my daughter went to whole milk, she did fine on Lactaid which is cow milk with the lactose removed but I think every child is different. For some children, this would still bother their tummies or allergies, but for others it may be a solution.

Hi, A..
Here's what I tell moms whose babies have dairy "issues." The cow protein in milk piggy-backs on breast milk protein, and many babies are sensitive to this protein. A typical dairy elimination diet for breastfeeding is to stop all dairy products for 10 days (though 3 days often works for fussiness or gassiness). Cut milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, some salad dressings, etc. It is usually not necessary to look for trace amounts in bread, etc., if you have cut out the above list. Once dairy clears mom's system, a lot of moms can slowly add hard cheese and yogurt back into the diet--you can watch your baby and see what happens if you add yogurt of cheese. The problem with soy milk is that while cow's milk is the #1 allergen for babies, soy is #2. Many babies who are sensitive to cow will be equally sensitive to soy. Maybe try rice milk, nondairy creamer, or a different breakfast other than cereal. Oh--the substitute for butter is nondairy margarine (many are oil, not milk based), and omit cheese for the 10 day elimination and then see if you notice any changes in your baby when you add *some* (not a lot) of cheese back into your diet.
Hope you see a big improvement!
A., mom and IBCLC :)

Hi A.--
Unfortunately I am an expert at this stuff--both my boys are allergic to dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs, and gluten. Here's what you need to know:
--Dairy will stay in your system for up to seven days after you last ate it
--A dairy allergy is not a lactose intolerance--it means an allergy to the actual milk proteins, casein and whey. These ingredients are hidden in lots and lots of stuff. In addition to removing milk and cheese, you have to think about the hidden dairy. Look for these things on labels: butter, cream, casein, whey, anything with caseinate. Most things now will actually say "contains dairy". Also, when eating out you have to watch anything that is breaded--IE chicken nuggets, because they usually have dairy. Lots of breads have nonfat dry milk powder in them. Red Robins french fries even have milk in them. Any french fry that is breaded will have milk.

If you do for some reason accidentally eat dairy it will effect your children. With an allergy the body is sensitized to what it is allergic to. Sometimes small amounts will actually cause a more severe reaction than large amounts. However, do not beat yourself up if this happens. You are a stellar Mom for trying to do this for them and continue breast feeding. Give yourself props!!! Also, you may think about doing some cleansing with them to get the dairy out of your, and their, systems.

As for substitutions, there are lots.
For butter you can buy "Ghee"--this is clarified butter. What this means is that it only has the milk fat in it, but none of the milk proteins.
In deserts I substitute rice milk or if I need a fatty milk I use coconut milk. You may not want to substitute with soy milk because soy has phytoestrogens in it---this can mess up your hormones and your children's hormones, particularly if they are boys. I would use rice milk instead.
In place of cheese on sandwiches I use avocado.
We get no cheese on pizza--you have to ask about the pizza sauce and bread, though, because sometimes they use parmesan cheese in it.
The namaste line of food is great, as is enjoy life, for avoiding allergens.
I have a doctor who specializes in treating allergies from an alternative health perspective. I believe he saved my older son from all sorts of health issues. If you are interested in his name let me know.
I know this seems overwhelming now, but it will get easy very quickly. I don't miss it at all anymore. The hardest part is eating out--try to go to restaurants that cook things fresh, as a lot of processed foods have milk protein products in them.
If you have any more questions feel free to email me directly. It was really tough when I first went through this so I am committed to helping others avoid what I went through.
Good luck!

I could not have any dairy when I was nursing both of my girls, so I've been there! It is not easy at first, but it very quickly becomes second nature. I was fine with eating foods that had dairy mixed in, such as bread, but couldn't eat "straight" dairy. I used soy milk too (they have it at Costco!) and got used to "veggie" cheese. They also make soy yogurt ifyou like that, as well as soy and rice ice cream! I basically just went back to the basics, meat, veggies, and fruit, which ended up being healthier for us all anyway. To date, my older daughter can now drink milk, but we limit how much she gets and we try to avoid too much cheese. My younger daughter is still dairy free, as she does not react well when she has it. Good luck, and feel free to send any other questions my way!

Check out the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network at www.FAAN.org. They are a wealth of information and support. It will depend on your baby as to whether cutting the dairy out of your diet will be beneficial. Some people notice a marked difference when they are off dairy and when they accidently ingest some; some don't. After 7 months of eliminating dairy, and not seeing any improvement in my son's issues, I reintroduced it with no change in his symptoms. He is still extremely allergic to milk and eggs, but they are back in my diet. His skin eventually cleared up on its own - it's hives and asthma that are his reaction on contact - vomiting and asthma with accidental ingestion.

One thing that has made the biggest difference and improvement for us has been NAET. Check out www.naet.com for information on this alternative treatment that will treat the allergy, not just avoid it. Most of my friends who have had it done, including my husband, have their food allergies completely resolved within 2-10 visits. My son's allergies are more extreme and complex, so the treatment is taking longer.

It is hard to contemplate changing your lifestyle and food choices, but it is doable. Rice Dream makes a fabulous ice cream, and there are great sorbets out there. You can do guacamole rather than sour cream for Mexican food. Olive oil became my substitute for butter on bread. A lot of these changes become habit and you will find it difficult to go back to the way things are now as you become more aware of processed foods and what is in them. That is the benefit of going through this.

You will have to eliminate dairy for 30 days in order for all the milk proteins to clear your system and be sure that you're seeing change in your daughter. Some doctors say 10 days, but the research shows 30 days.

Good luck. Feel free to email me for the name of our NAET practitioner if you are interested.

~ H.

It is really just the milk and cheese. I actually have just cut out the milk, but give my daughter cheese and other dairy and she is fine. She has very red cheeks and a constant runny nose. If any of these come back I know she has too much (but it hasn't unless I give her the milk.)

Oh boy, been there done that. I actually chose to quit nursing because my list was so extensive....dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, beans, lentils. I just figured there was no way I could avoid it all and give both of us proper nutrition. We actually ended up giving him rice milk...big help to his skin and tummy. I would also suggest finding a good allergy doctor. We actually started carrying an Epi pen for allergy reactions when he was about 9 months old. Good luck!

I'd ask the pediatrition if he means all dairy. my nephew can't have any. there are lots of options, I was vegetarian for a couple of years and there are great cheese products out there that are non dairy. you can find them at the health food store, at first the taste was a little bit to get used to but once I did I loved it. I have a dairy sensitivity, not full blown allergy but when I am in high stress my body rejects dairy. so I go back to some of this. I made a lot of smoothies with silk tofu instead of yogurt, vanilla rice, almond or soy milk in it with my fruits and ground flaxseed or wheat germ. you can add some honey if you want it sweeter but I liked it just sweetened by the fruit.
Pringles original chips don't have dairy in them. we have those at my house for my nephew when he is over. we also have soy milk, and lots of fruits and veggies. its easier than you think it is going to be. and there are so many great recipes out there. lots of dairy substitutes for sour cream, cheese, pretty much anything. and they can taste really good. get some carob at the health food store, its a great substitute for chocolate, I used to bake with it in cookies using applesauce instead of eggs and making them bar cookies.
you don't have to go full out vegan with no meats either so that makes it easier on you. (even though it doesn't feel like that right now) there are breads without milk or eggs in them. it will be about learning what to look for on your labels.
here is a great article that I hope will help you out. You're a great mom doing this for your kids. Hugs and good luck.

Ironically enough I'm trying to convert my family to being vegan, and i started with dairy It was actually easier than I thought it would be. You can go to whole foods where they have almond cheese (really good) you can try rice "milk", they also have almond, and hemp seed milk substitute. You can also make your own! They have none dairy butter well everything you need. At first it seems hard because you're so used to having dairy a part of your everyday life, but once you go to like an organic store you can get everything you need.

good luck.

I have eliminated most dairy from my diet since Jan., and I feel so much better. My problem was related to digestion. I'd suggest getting some direction from the person who said to eliminate the dairy, as to how much you can have. If it's 100% no dairy, there are many Vegan cookbooks, websites, etc. that can help. I'm also getting a magazine called Living Without, which has great tips. Watch the soy - too much of that isn't good. Almond milk and rice milk are great, and taste better than soy.

Dear A.,
It is good you found this out quite early. Funny enough when our littlest was about 3 weeks old she started to develope this "rash". EVeryone kept telling me "it's baby acne". I knew after as many babies as I have had that it WAS NOT. Then around her 4 mo. our next oldest daughter (about 3 at the time) accidently spilled her milk on baby. And she broke out in hives!!! I gave her Apis 30C (like natural benedryl) and we went to see an allergist, sure enough it was a severe milk protein allergy. I was told that I needed to omit ALL dairy out of my diet. And that is what I did, for over 10 mo. NO DAIRY :(.

The good news is the sooner you omit all dairy the better. And that a milk protein allergy has an 80% chance of our kids outgrowing it!!! But the more we help our little ones now the better. Soy is an ok occasional alternative but with alot of estrogens it can wreak havoc on everyones body & system. Especially boys. Tofutti has a few great alternatives like "cream cheese & sour cream" substitutes. For an everyday option for milk I found my favorite is super cold Almond milk. A great vegan butter substitute is Earth Balance original vegan spread. And there are great soy creamers for your coffee. YOu can do it. And it takes 21 days to make & break a habit so persevere & remember that your little ones will thank you for it. If you have any questions please feel free to message me. :0) G

PS Look for whey, casien, casinate, caramel color, natural colors & flavors, etc. Ask your doc for a list of milk "names". Even Mcdonalds fries have milk in them...

soy products will need to be your friend, but make sure you take a calcium supplement (pill). My sis-in-law didn't and when she went back to drinking milk it caused all kinds of problems.

Look around the store, you may need to go to a health food store. Our Smith's has a health food section. There you will find many substitutes and replacements. Simplify your meals so that you don't cook with butter (use olive oil) and find things to cook without cheese in them. I have a Chicken sauce. Basically it's Chunky Salsa, Dijon Mustard (or pesto Sauce), Lime Juice. Mix together spread over your chicken and back for an hour. It is really good! If you want the exact amounts of everything let me know.

My mom is insanely lactose-intolerant. She eats soy yogurt, Smart Balance butter, they make lactose-free cheese (not sure if it's dairy-free but I didn't care for the taste of it), she prefers vanilla soy milk to original (she says the original tastes nasty) & even uses it in Kraft mac & cheese (tried it, it's not bad at all!). She goes to her local food co-op for a lot of her stuff, but several things (soy milk, Smart Balance) can be found at any grocery store.
Good luck!

Coconut milk is a great milk substitute--soy is pretty controversial, health wise. Also, I do a lot of cooking with coconut oil. It can even be used like butter. There are goat cheeses out there--many people that react to cow milk products are OK with goat milk.

Good luck! It is a tough one.

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