Posted in Breastfeeding, New Mom

Eating Dairy Free

When my son was 12 days old, we hit the wall. He couldn’t stop crying- and nothing I did helped; he had terrible gas which seemed to be coupled with pain (hence the crying). His had been diagnosed with reflux and twice a day I had to force 15ml of Nexium down his throat with a massively large syringe which resulted in screams and tears from both of us. On his pediatrician’s hunch, we were told he may have an intolerance to dairy; he was too young to test for allergies, so the only way to test the doctor’s theory was to eliminate dairy from his diet. Because I was breastfeeding, that meant I had to eliminate dairy from my diet. Totally.

Before this moment, I had never paid attention to dairy ingredients. Shortcut: dairy is in everything. Everything: Bread, some pasta, most sauces, some cereals, even some processed meat contains dairy as a binding agent. So I read a lot. I researched. I became an expert in non-dairy eating. Because once the dairy was out of my breast milk- my son settled down. His painful spit up happened less (it still happened, but much less), his constant crying became sporadic crying that we could soothe. Eliminating dairy helped.

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But it was hard. And if I can help someone else, I’d love to. Here’s my outline of helpful resources¸ recipes, shopping lists¸ and brands to help you.

Also, dairy takes 2 weeks to get out of your system and another 2 weeks to get out the baby’s system, so you might want to try it for a month….

Essentially, you want to look for recipes that are vegan. That way you know they are dairy free ; lactose free isn’t enough… it will still have dairy protein in it.

Ingredients to avoid:

This link gives you a wallet sized list of the hidden dairy ingredients to avoid: (Very helpful for grocery shopping)

Recipes and Ideas:

I have a Pinterest Board loaded with dairy free recipes or recipes that are easily substituted for dairy free ingredients.

Basic Substitutions:

Instead of butter, I use Earth Balance ( or Willow Run (

Instead of ice cream, I get So Delicious Almond Ice Cream (http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree) which is really good AND has so much less fat! Have you tried frozen blended bananas? It’s on my Pinterest board. I mix it w PN&J company’s dark choc peanut spread….delish! And cheaper than almond ice cream. **** Note: Sherbet has milk in it. Gelato has milk in it. Most popsicles have milk in them. Read ingredients.

You should also watch your bread. A lot of breads contain dairy; I get Arnold Natural bread. It  is with the other breads, you just have to look for it.

Typically chocolate contains dairy . Try dark chocolate instead. Giradelli

( ) has a number of dark chocolate chips and brownie mixes that are dairy free.

When you are baking, you can substitute Earth Balance for butter or margarine- you can also use applesauce.

Drinking Milk: I started drinking Soy milk at first, but it upset my stomach and I am not too crazy about the hormones and GMOs in soy, so I switched to Almond Milk. Silk makes a good brand, but I prefer Kroger’s Organic Regular Almond Milk (as opposed to unsweetened) ; I love Dark Chocolate Almond Milk.

** Even if something says  “Non Dairy” read the ingredients**

**Eggs are not dairy. You can have eggs if you are eating dairy free. **

*OREOS are dairy free. Oreos. So are Nutterbutters. ** You can do this with Oreos. Also dairy free, wine.


To get calcium, I eat a lot of dark, leafy lettuce (spinach, romaine, kale) and veggies, and just put a non dairy dressing on it. You may want to talk to your doctor about a calcium supplement for you though.

Eating Out:

Many restaurants have online sources that will outline meal ingredients in detail. Just plan ahead using this link:

Whenever we go out to eat, I order items that are dairy free, but then I also tell my waiter that I am allergic to dairy and none of my food can contain or come into contact w/ dairy. They tell the cook and it all works out. I have been saved by many a waiter that way! Best place to eat out… hands down: Panera!

Please be careful at Starbucks even if you order your drink with soymilk, many of the mixes (like the Frappuchinos and the blended drinks) are premade with cow’s milk.

Typical Meal for a Day

In general, this is a typical day’s menu for me.

Breakfast: coffee w/ soy creamer or almond milk and sugar, instant oatmeal made w water (oatmeal also boosts your milk production) and maybe a banana

Lunch: peanut butter & jelly or lunch meat sandwich on dairy free bread w/ veggies or chips and humus (so so good, humus is full of protein and dairy free) (Or now that I am back to work, left over dinner )

Dinner: Some kind of meat (tonight I am roasting a chicken), a veg (cooked in either soy butter or olive oil), and usually a starch (pasta, rice, ect…). When I make dinner for the family- it is all dairy free. My husband can’t tell the difference and I know everything is safe to eat.

Snack: Giradelli’s brownie, almond ice cream, or another dairy free dessert ( I just made oatmeal cookies for tonight).

Special Challenges:

The hardest part of this is eating out or family get togethers. I have started reminding my family of diet restrictions weeks ahead, but sometimes I still just bring my own food. Or I offer to make the typically dairy heavy foods (like mashed potatoes which I make with Earth Balance and chicken broth instead of milk). When in doubt about something… don’t eat it. Better safe than sorry!

Baby Cereal (If you decide to go that way)

We ran into problems because we used Gerber which has milk but it is not listed as an ingredient. So…. we switched to Beechnut and it’s been great. (Beechnut has vegan options for all of their baby food/ snacks/ etc…)

Helpful Websites

If you are dying for a dairy substitution of something common (Mac & cheese, etc…) this is a good site.

No doubt, this is hard. But if it helps your babe, it’s so worth it – also it’s a killer weight loss plan!!



I have a Master's degree in Secondary Education, a Bachelor's degree in English, and a Secondary Ed teaching license. I also have a four year old son, a one year old son, a husband, and a cat. Let's see how those degrees help me manage my life..... Spoiler alert- they just decorate the walls.

One thought on “Eating Dairy Free

  1. I didn’t know that gerber had milk in it. Luke is allergic to milk and after doing a cleanse his eczema cleared up. Post cleanse I went back to eating milk and it came back with a vengeance. I’m always looking for ways to cut milk out of my diet. Thanks for the article it is great. 🙂


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