Our Journey to Dairy-Free

These products are now staples in our fridge….here is the story of how that came to be.

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About a month ago I took one of my sons to the ENT for the third time in the past year. Clay snores very loudly and seems to always have a congestion. The specialist told me the same thing he has told me the past two times…”he needs to grow faster than his adenoids, otherwise we will have to operate on him soon to remove them…and ideally I do not want to operate”. So I asked him if there was any use in trying a diary free diet. I had done some research and could not find solid studies to support this question, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.  He said exactly that…he did not have solid research to support it, but the anecdotal evidence that he has seen first hand suggests it is worth while.  That was enough for me to give it a try.

Having said that, I was nervous of how I would continue to offer my three year old adequate nutrition in a way that he would enjoy. I know that the preferred milk alternative is fortified soy based products as they mimic the nutritional qualities of milk the best. Soy milk and Cow’s milk both have 8-9 grams of (complete) protein per cup and as long as the soy milk is fortified is is on par with cow’s milk as well. Also, the yogurt and cheese from each of these milks are comparable to each other as well. However, there is controversy about boys having too much soy in their diet; especially in their developing years. So I wanted to look at my other options.

Next I considered fortified almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and rice milk. Each other these is lacking in protein so if I chose one then I would need to make up 16-18 grams of protein in his diet per day. These products are fortified with micronutrients, but not protein. I went back and forth on what to do for a few days, and finally decided that I would go with almond milk and blend it with berries and hemp hearts (10 grams of protein per 3 Tbsp.) to make it nice flavour smoothie with a decent amount of protein.

So, I took Clay to the grocery store and I showed him the almond milks. I explained that by drinking these he may be able to breathe better through his nose. He liked this as his congestion is frustrating for him. I asked him if he wanted chocolate or vanilla or just plain. He excitedly picked the vanilla. It has extra sugar but at this point that is not of huge concern as he needs the calories anyway. I let him taste the milk on its own and then we made smoothies together for the whole family.  He actually liked both the almond milk on its own and the smoothies for about two days and then declared that he was “ready to go back to his old milk”. I was discouraged and unsure what to do.

So we went back to the grocery store. I showed him the coconut milk and asked if wanted to try that instead. He said yes he would try that but not right away. He is so funny. So the next meal I gave him his old milk. Then, the next morning I didn’t say anything. I just poured his new coconut milk on his cereal and put it in a cup and handed it to him. He puckered his lips and shook his head after he took the first sip. I looked the other way to stay busy and let him work it out on his own. He took another sip and declared “mommy, I like this milk!” I was so relieved, but also cautious. Would it stick?

Yes! It would. He absolutely loves the coconut milk and enjoys it with hemp hearts blended in as well. He also absolutely loves his new coconut milk yogurt on its own or with some chia seeds mixed in. I tried it too and I cannot get over how delicious it is. We are still working on finding a cheese that works well for grilled cheese and suits his taste, and I will be replacing store bought yogurt drinks with smoothies made at home that we can take away in resqueeze pouches (more on those in the coming few weeks!), but we will get there.

I have decided to join him in this journey and have purchased unsweetened coconut milk for myself. It really is very refreshing and I want to support him the best way I can. I will still drink some cow’s milk but he will see me using the same milk that he has when he is around and that is important to me. As an aside, David’s Tea Chocolate Macaroon tea with coconut milk added in is heavenly!!!

To make up the remainder of the protein that he is missing out on, I am offering him more protein rich snacks of dried chickpeas, roasted almonds, and hard boiled eggs, along with fruit, veggies, and crackers, etc.  We are definitely making this work.

The best news of all is that he is snoring less and sleeping better. If you are on the fence of trying dairy free for medical means such as enlarged adenoids or tonsils, ADHD, autism, or Asperger Syndrome, I hope that this gives you some insight into strategies both for making educated choices on product options, as well as ways to get your kids on board.

Until next time…stay healthy!

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3 thoughts on “Our Journey to Dairy-Free

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