Three weeks ago my 5 month old little guy Ben was diagnosed with early signs of eczema. It was really tough to hear because having had eczema myself when I was a teenager, I know how painful (and itchy!) it can be. So what did I do as his mom?
Of course I booked him in to see an integrative practitioner right away, but I also decided to avoid dairy and soy for 3 weeks. There’s strong link between food allergies and eczema and with lots of research showing that allergens pass through breast milk, there’s a good chance I can help him through my diet.
I’ve eliminated foods to learn about how they affect me before. It’s how I learned about my gluten sensitivity and is also a part of my biannual detoxification regime. This time, I’ve especially been thinking of you through the transition and am excited to share the process.
5 Steps To Going Dairy (Or Anything) Free:
1. Pick Your Date
You can quit cold turkey or gently ease into a dairy free diet. Both options are perfect but either way, you’ll definitely need to pick a specific date to be 100% free of the food.
Amidst work events, dinners out, being a busy parent, weddings, travel and everything else you have going on, there’s NEVER going to be a perfect time. Your best plan is to simply pick a date, and stick to it. Things will fall into place from there.
I personally chose a gradual phase-out approach this time. As a busy mom it gave me a bit of room to explore my options as I made the transition again while breastfeeding two babies. As I used up the organic dairy in the fridge and cupboards, I replaced them with non-dairy alternatives.
2. Brainstorm Replacements
This is KEY for avoiding feeling grumpy and starved in the first few days on your new diet. To help you nip that issue before it starts, write down the usual meals or snacks you have that contain dairy (or other food you plan to avoid) and come up with alternatives. I do this with my clients all the time.
You can even get a little nerdy about it and make a table like this:
3. Go On A Grocery Store Recon Mission
If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, start with the first step andtake your list of usual foods to your local grocery store. Trader Joe’s and other natural food stores often have printed lists of all gluten, dairy, soy, etc. free products.
You can also ask the staff or go on a personal reconnaissance mission. Dairy free options are all either next to the dairy products (i.e. coconut and soy yogurts are in the yogurt section), or they’ll be in the “natural” section if all organic and natural products are lumped together.
4. Find 3 Recipes You Love and Cook Big Batches
Having food on hand for when you make the transition will make it go smoothly. Cooking up big batches of soups, stews, etc. means you canfreeze them in individual servings for quick meals on the go.
Whole foods website has a great recipe database that you allows you to refine your search for dairy or other allergen free options. Check it out!
5. Clear Out Your Cupboards
Now that you’ve got your replacements sorted out and a few meal ideas planned, it’s time to tie off the last loose ends before the big day. Scan the ingredients list for dairy or the food you’re eliminating.
Be prepared: there WILL be sad moments when you realize that a favorite food of yours has dairy or gluten, etc. in it and you had NO idea. One of my favorite gluten free rosemary and thyme crackers had dairy in the ingredients, so it was time for me to say goodbye to them.
Is a Dairy (or anything) Free Diet Right For You?
If you have eczema, other skin problems, digestive issues, mood swings, sore joints, an auto-immune condition or fatigue, food sensitivities could be an issue for you.
There’s no better way to find out if a food is behind your issue than exploring it first hand.
What Are My Next Steps To Help Ben?
If avoiding dairy doesn’t do the trick for him after 3 weeks, I’ll move on to exploring the wider list of top allergens. These include corn, tomato, eggs, soy, peanut, shellfish and citrus in addition to my gluten free diet. I’ll let you know how it’s going!
All the best,