When I was in college I could sometimes be found crouching in front of the refrigerator biting giant chunks of cheddar directly from the Cracker Barrel block of cheese. I was like a mouse in the night. A hungry, crazy, cheese addicted mouse. Growing up, chocolate never spoke to me and candy was a joke. My treat of choice has always been cheese… melted between tortillas, piled on pizza, and scooped from the tub to spread thickly onto a bagel. And really it was not just cheese that made my heart sing, but giant glasses of ice cold milk, coffee prepared so light with half & half it looked more like a milkshake than a cup of joe, and countless boxes of mac and cheese. Truth be told, dairy, in all of its forms, has always been my god.
So when it was suggested that my precious little three week old, who would not stop screaming, waking every half hour, and pooping in disturbing shades of green was extremely intolerant to cows milk, I was faced with a serious lifestyle change. How would I cut it out? Was it possible to eat a turkey sandwich without cheese on it? Eat cereal and oatmeal without milk? Abstain from eating (horrified gasp) pizza?!
After several weeks of standing lost in front of the refrigerator eating cereal dry out of the box, and crying a lot, I started to get the hang of it. I realized much of what I missed was that decadent rich feeling that cheese gave me so I got creative and found it in other ways. On my turkey sandwich bread I would spread a thick layer of ripe avocado. I started making amazing thai curry dishes with straight-up fatty and delicious coconut milk. I found that banana bread tasted just as good (if not better!) made the vegan way.
My son’s sleep, screaming fits, and bowel movements improved drastically, and strangely enough, issues I had my entire life began to disappear. Chronic, severe and painful constipation had always plagued me, even landing me in the hospital as a child. Within 10 days it became an ailment of the past. Phantom stomach aches that had caused me to compulsively gulp Pepto Bismol on an almost daily basis were gone as well. I noticed increased energy, accelerated weight loss in all the right places, and a general feeling of well being emerge. While I was glad to feel so healthy I also found myself angry that milk had been the culprit all these years, and furious that no doctor or specialist suggest I eliminate it. That’s when I began to do some reading…
I was absolutely horrified to find that the consumption of cows milk has been linked in countless studies to chronic ear infections in children, diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, acne, IBS, bedwetting, the common cold, colic, asthma, infertility, and even mood swings! For more in depth info citing specific scientific studies check out one of my favorite sites: Milk Sucks!
You have probably heard it before but it bears repeating: Humans are the only creatures that drink the milk from the mother of another species. It’s as unnatural for us to drink the milk of a cow as it is for a cat to nurse from a giraffe. As much as our culture needs to believe it, WE DO NOT NEED TO DRINK COWS MILK. Not as babies and definitely not as adults. For some more interesting milk myth busting check outNotMilk.com.
Here’s my challenge to you: If your newborn is struggling with colic, gas, reflux, sleeplessness, or bad poops – cut out cows milk for 2 weeks. See what happens. If your child is experiencing chronic ear infections, allergies, asthma, colds, or recurrent bronchitis – cut out cows milk. See what happens. If you have battled IBS, constipation, depression, acne, weight gain, infertility, cancer, or any digestive problems – cut out cow’s milk. See what happens.
There are a ton of alternative milks and cheeses out there. Some stink but many of them are yummy! Our family favorite? Hemp Milk! Nope, it has none of the substance from the Cannabis plant that made you munchie for cheese straight from the block back in your college days. Hemp milk is actually made from the seeds of the plant, which are soaked and then ground. Hemp seeds are amazing. They contain all of the essential amino and fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life as well as those critical Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids! Other nifty nutrients hiding out in the hemp seed include magnesium, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.
This sweet, milky smoothy treat is great for kids and adults too and easily whipped up in your blender at home. It would make a great snack for newly nursing moms short on time and perhaps struggling to find good dairy free snacks!
Happy Hemp N Butter (courtesy of the Fabulous Tidal Creek Co-op!)
- About a cup of Hemp Milk
- Several blobs of Almond Butter
- A frozen Banana
- A scoop of Hemp Protein Powder
For me becoming dairy free has not meant going without (regardless of what my occasional, very intense, “bordering on sexual” dreams of eating a piece of pizza might indicate). It has meant learning to find good information and then implementing it into my life. It has meant no longer waiting for a doctor to save me from my ailments. It has meant getting creative in the kitchen.
Bottom line? Had I not had the experience of spending a pregnancy deeply entrenched in researching and understanding my body and then delivering my son naturally, I don’t think I would have had the sense in me to take charge of my health the way I did. In the same way you educated yourself while you were pregnant, listened to your instincts, and sought out good information in order to do what was best for your body and baby, so too can you stand up for your best health now.
**This blog post is one of a series of four I will write on food intolerances. Stay tuned for my next post on gluten in about 6 weeks!**