This week’s post is by Christine Luken.
If you’ve been following my Meal Planning Monday blog for any length of time, you know how much I love cheese! So, you can imagine my dismay when my natural health practitioner told me that I was sensitive to dairy and if I wanted to see real improvement in my allergy symptoms, I need to cut way back on milk products. (My biggest allergy is mold… and cheese is essentially moldy milk, so this definitely stands to reason.)
I was glad that my health practitioner recommended a gradual replacement of my dairy products with alternatives rather than going cold-turkey. She had me keep a food diary so we could pinpoint potential problems. The first week of keeping the food dairy was an eye-opening experience! I didn’t realize how much dairy I was eating every day: half & half in my coffee, whey protein in my post-workout smoothie, a slice of cheese on my breakfast sandwich, string cheese for a snack, cheese on my taco salad for lunch, cheese on my turkey burger for dinner, and Greek yogurt for my evening snack. Yes, that is a LOT of dairy on a typical day for me. So, one by one, I’ve started replacing all of that mucus-producing dairy with other options.
My coffee is extremely important to me and I like it to taste good! I normally sweeten it with a little stevia or coconut sugar, add a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder, and some half-and-half. I began replace ½ of the half-and-half with vanilla coconut milk until I worked up to all coconut milk. I also liked the chocolate almond milk as a coffee creamer, but my husband drank most of it because it is that delicious.
Finding a replacement for my protein powder was a little more challenging. I’m doing Shaun T’s Insanity program right now, and I feel better post-workout if I have a good protein shake. My stomach is sensitive to artificial sweeteners, so I had to find one that was whey-free and sweetened with stevia. I finally settled on PlantFusion which is actually a vegan protein powder. It is slightly grainy, but blended with a frozen banana and berries, it’s very tasty.
I’ll admit, I had a lot of heartache over finding a replacement for my favorite evening snack – Greek yogurt. It took me a while to warm up to coconut “yogurt” (cultured coconut milk). I also realized that I don’t HAVE to have yogurt as my final snack of the day. I could have some berries, nuts, or a little bit of Enjoy Life’s dairy-free dark chocolate chunks. Or… some of this awesome Cookies ‘n Cream coconut “ice cream”!
Here are some other things I’ve learned during this process of culling out dairy from my diet:
- I’m not alone in my quest to avoid dairy. As I’ve talked to friends about it, I was surprised how many others were avoiding it because of allergies, stomach issues, or a desire to avoid added hormones.
- Butter doesn’t affect my allergies at all! Yay for butter!! The one dairy product I can eat with almost abandon! (Grass-fed, organic butter is best – which thankfully I can buy that at my co-op).
- By putting turkey bacon on my egg sandwich – instead of on the side – I don’t miss having the cheese. Also, using hummus or pesto as a spread on my sandwiches serves as a good replacement for cheese.
- I feel weird about asking the waiter to “hold the cheese” when ordering in restaurants.
- I wonder, “Is it possible to OD on coconut products?” I hope not!
Do you have any food allergies? If so, what do you do to avoid your triggers?