How To Adjust To A Dairy Free Diet
It isn't easy at first but you can do it
Sometime in the beginning of 2014, after suffering with Fibromyalgia symptoms of body aches and fatigue for 2 years, I was in my family doctor's office. My complaint list was already long, but I had a new one that caught the doctor's attention. I told him my skin was burning and itching, everywhere.
"Let's do a scratch-test for allergies," he said. He continued to explain that a lot of times, symptoms are made worse by allergies. I also had a history of head congestion and sinus infections. The scratch test is a series of skin pricks on the patient's back. A little bit of the most commonly offending allergens is applied in a grid pattern.
I expected most of the results we received - allergies to a few weeds, even mold. But I did not fully expect an allergy to casein. I wasn't even completely sure what it was. Casein is one of the proteins in mammal's milk, the doctor explained. He also recommended I take all dairy out of my diet.
I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, so use this information at your own risk. I simply want to share my experience conditioning myself to a non-dairy lifestyle.
Photo credit: Ronnieb on Morguefile
What To Do Now?
Of course like most people, I was resistant at first. But when you have been feeling as sick as I had been for so long, you are more willing to do ANYTHING that will possibly help you feel better. I decided not to be a baby about it and just face up to it. It's pretty dumb to know something is bad for you and still ingest it, isn't it? I know it isn't easy. But I'm here to tell you that it's possible to still enjoy a dairy free diet.
The first thing to do is educate yourself. Since you're reading this, you've already taken an important step. Search online for all the ways dairy hides in foods. Even a tiny bit of an allergen will cause damage to your body. One secret way casein hides in foods is under the term "Natural Flavors" or "Natural Flavorings." Casein and dairy IS natural, after all isn't it? So unless you are really sure, don't eat or drink something that may have hidden dairy. A saying I repeat to myself is "When in doubt, do without!" Another favorite saying is, "Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels." Think of these phrases when you are feeling sorry for yourself and tempted to eat stuff that you shouldn't. Here is a list of the words and terms that will help you recognize hidden dairy.
When a food says "Natural Flavors" on the label, you can call the manufacturer and simply ask them if the Natural Flavorings are plant based or animal based. If animal based, you do not want to eat it!
Replacements for Cream Cheese and Sour Cream
Review of Tofutti "Better Than" Sour Cream and Tofutti "Better Than" Cream Cheese.
A Favorite Dairy Free Cookie Recipe
Books on the Dairy Free life!
I would love to hear your questions about avoiding dairy and casein. Keep in mind I am NOT a doctor, NOT a nutritionist. I'm just another person on this journey with you :)