A year ago (and some change) we took Rylan off of dairy. He wasn't showing actual allergic reactions to it, but he had a strange group of symptoms and was sick, like, ALL THE TIME. We took him off dairy, voila. The rash on his face and arms that came and went for the first 2 years of his life? Gone. The (sorry, too much info), watery doo? Not so watery. The asthma? Still there, but not making such common visits. Ear infections? One since giving up the sauce, er, milk. One tiny infection in over a year.
And here comes Max. Lover of milk. Max got ear tubes at 7 months after having 6 ear infections. Between 7 months and 15 months, Max had eight more ear infections, with ear tubes. EIGHT! So, we had the doc take the adenoids. This was the week of Christmas. Between the week of Christmas and February, he had four more ear infections. If you are doing the math, that is 20 ear infections in 17 months. Tired of medicine, tired of surgeries, and tired of seeing our kid sick and hurting, we threw caution to the wind and ditched the dairy for him to, because, really, what could it hurt?
Its been five months. Zero ear infections. Wha WHAT?????
Life without dairy takes getting used to, but it has been so worth it. And yes there are hard times, like playdates when I have to tell them they can't have the childhood favorite of goldfish crackers. And yes, I do occassionally let my guard down and let the poor kids have a cupcake slopped with buttercream icing at a child's birthday party. My theory is that they are not ALLERGIC to milk, they are intolerant, so it isn't life threatening. A very once in a while treat is okay. And skipping a few goldfish crackers on a daily basis makes it okay to have the very occasional yumminess like a yummy cupcake.
I have been able to substitute non dairy for most meals to the point that the kids don't realize they are missing out. It requires a lot of homemade vs. quick and easy, which is time consuming but healtier anyway. Bye bye Kraft mac n cheese, previously mentioned goldfish crackers, and out to eat pizza. The only things I haven't mastered at home is a non dairy cake icing and lasagna. What do you do for the ricotta/cottage cheese part? I guess I have their whole lives to figure it out.
Here are some helpful things that have helped us with our switch.
-"Light" margarine is dairy free
-Duncan Hines cake mixes and brownie mixes are dairy free
-If you take your own cheese, nice pizza places will make your kids a pizza with dairy free cheese and they don't have to do without.
-Anything labeled "vegan" is dairy free.
-Whole Foods has almond milk yogurt that my kids would like to swim in.
-Snack time was hardest, my kids have come to love peanut butter crackers, pretzels, nutra grain bars, dried fruit, applesauce, oreos, soy or almond milk yogurt, nuts, jelly toast, cereal, and hummus and veggies.
-DAIYA cheese melts the best for pizza
-Veggie cheese (found by the tofu) is nasty if you eat it as is, but isn't bad on a sandwich.
-When you remove massive amounts of milk from your kid's diet, they are hungry for food like meat, veggies, and fruit. At least at my house.
-Restarants that are easy: fast food (real butter costs a lot, they fry in cheap non dairy grease), chinese food, and seafood.
-Restaurants that are hard: pizza, baked foods, expensive restaurants such as a steakhouse. They cook in butter mostly. If you remember to ask for no butter, its fine, but I don't think of things like this.
July 4th Ribs and corn on the cob, he's in a dairy free food coma.
Holiday candy is tough. Mostly skittles and jelly bean type stuff. The flip side for my kids? More swag. Spiderman hats/color wonder paper/color books are dairy free.