In my previous post, I talked about some interesting symptoms my family has been having, specifically Ella. Today I will share what we tried in order to figure it all out.
After seeing a few doctors who seemed to ignore my concerns and suspicions, I contacted a holistic nutritionist to see if she could be of help. Tracy Stevens of Intuity Wellness works with clients all over the country through phone and web conferencing but, luckily for me, we live in the same area and were able to meet in person. She instantly put me at ease, understanding my mother’s instinct and need to investigate this further. I started working with Tracy to not only figure out this situation, but also to further my own health goals of better eating, more energy, etc.
Under Tracy’s guidance, we decided to do a 10 day dairy elimination, since that is what I initially thought might be the problem. For this elimination to be effective, we had to remove every bit of dairy from our diet. This meant scrutinizing food labels and asking questions at restaurants. We became familiar with more obscure sources of dairy, like whey, lactose, caseinate and others. If we ate dairy during the 10 day period, we would have to start over. On day 11, we would then add dairy back into our diets for the next few days and note any changes or side effects. Go Dairy Free has some great information on products and methods that do not use dairy.
How Did We Do?
Initially, the elimination was hardest on Ella. She loved her bottles and since, in the beginning, she rejected milk alternatives anyway, we decided this was just as good of a time as any to ditch the bottles. After a few days, she was better and happily drank almond milk from a sippy cup. I missed my morning yogurt and cheese the most, but was surprised at how much I enjoy almond milk in my latte. As the elimination went on it was pretty easy to handle at home. The season certainly helped – we have been cooking simple meals on the grill or roasting vegetables with olive oil. Winter would have been more difficult, when I typically use more butter or cheesy sauces.
And as you can see from the photos, popsicles are an equally delicious substitute for ice cream on a hot summer day. ;o)
I was nervous about removing such a major source of calcium and protein from our diets. Mark Bittman recently wrote an article on milk and why we don’t really need it in our diets. Perfect timing for me. The article caught some controversy, but it was helpful for me to hear how we don’t actually need to drink milk for good nutrition, something that has been ingrained into our thought by the USDA and dairy industry. I’ve added a lot of calcium rich foods to our diet, like kale, beans, salmon and sesame seeds.
Eating out was the most difficult. Apparently restaurants like to put butter on everything (and I totally get it – it makes a sandwich taste so much better!). We had to be diligent in asking about everything. Not just removing cheese from a sandwich, but making sure there was no dairy in the bread (which I found in almost all sandwich bread).
We completed the elimination almost perfectly. Jackson had some crackers on Day 5 that we didn’t realize had “natural cheese flavoring” in them. After that, we still kept to our dairy free diet to see if by Day 10 we could still see anything. On Day 11 we added dairy back in and I noted some changes and side effects. Officially, however, our results were inconclusive. There was nothing so drastic or obvious to say that dairy was an issue, which is great! Could some of our symptoms be because of dairy or maybe it was a placebo effect? To find out for sure we are going to try it again, especially since Jackson wasn’t fully complaint the first time.
Ella’s diaper rash went away completely during the elimination. When we added dairy back in she got a slight rash, but not as awful as it had been. For me, I noticed changes in my energy level, mental clarity and digestion. These were all slight. If I get the same results from the next elimination, I will have to decide how diligent I will be in my dairy consumption. Should I eliminate it forever? Or maybe just have some once in a while. We shall see. In the next few weeks I will have more information to share with you.
Until then, I have been working on some dairy-free recipes that I will post soon…