Eliminating dairy while breastfeeding, simple right? Do a quick search for some dairy free swaps, learn the words for hidden dairy, grab a pack of Larabars in the case of a snack emergency and you’re good to go! Think again.

At first, eliminating dairy (or any other allergen) can make you want to cry when you think of everything you have to give up. But how great is it that this one change can give you a whole new, happy baby?! As moms of little ones, we cling to those things that we can actually control, and with some simple swaps you’ll be happy to be free of screaming baby (ok fine, all babies like to scream their heads off to some extent). Some simple changes and no more worrying about weird poops, no more rash or eczema.

I know you, you’re a mom, that instantly tells me you’re a superhero (even though it may not feel like that sometimes), but no matter how much you try it’s not always easy to change. Furthermore, why get by just surviving this new way of life – why not embrace it and thrive?

What do I mean by thrive? Well a couple things. Let’s look at the nutrition aspect first.

You could swap out your morning bowl of cereal with milk for a plant-based alternative; your coffee creamer with a non-dairy creamer, and your mac and cheese with that Daiya “cheeze”. Now that you’re reading food labels religiously, why not use this new way of life to really get curious about everything you’re eating?

  • That plant based milk, is it filled with chemicals and emulsifiers? Maybe sugar too?
  • That morning cereal, is it laced with sugar, most likely the second or third ingredient?
  • That non-dairy creamer, is it loaded with ingredients you can’t pronounce, and you guessed it, more sugar?
  • That soy “cheeze”? I don’t even know!

There’s got to be a better way, and in my workshop we’ll look at some strategies to help you make sounder choices.

Next, the emotional side of things. Take a look at how you’re feeling. Sleep deprived, anyone? Stressed and constantly worried if you’re doing the right thing for you and your little one? And ugh, it’s so hard to go out to a restaurant or a friend’s house, feeling like the obnoxious one with dietary restrictions.

Stress on your system can really take a toll on you mentally and physically. Maybe you’re not feeling great about your body, maybe you can’t remember the last time you did something just for you, maybe by the end of the day you just want some damn ice cream!

Where do you Begin?
A dairy free cheat sheet is a great place to start. Talking to a mom who’s been through it before is excellent too. In addition, working with an expert in nutrition is super duper! But this adjustment goes much deeper than simply what you are eating. Sure, you can get by, and for you (and most likely your baby, too) this change is just temporary. But why not get that extra support and take this challenge that life has thrown at you and turn it into something great?

  • Take this opportunity to get a little more curious about what you’re eating.
  • Take this opportunity to make steps towards an even healthier you.
  • Take this opportunity to practice standing up for yourself and your baby.
  • Take this opportunity to really get to know yourself and what motivates you.

However you go about it, know that there’s something in this to be gained (and yes, you have my permission to mourn the loss of cheese).

Here are my top 5 tips for any mom who is eliminating dairy (or any other allergen from her diet):

  1. Look closely at vaccines: let’s just get this controversial one out of the way first. I feel like this is one of the least talked about places where you can find hidden allergens – most likely because it’s such a small amount so not all babies are affected, but I still like to make sure I spread the word so everyone can make an informed decision. Many vaccines are produced using proteins such as casein, soy, or egg. Have the nurse read through the insert that comes with each vaccine and talk to your doctor about risks associated with potential reactions vs. risks associated with delaying certain vaccines.
  2. Focus on the why, embrace your new lifestyle: a decision to step outside of your norm will only be successful long-term if you know the why behind the decision. For example, this is why many people fail over and over again to lose weight; they haven’t yet found the right motivation to stick to the new lifestyle required to reach their goal. For you, you’ve made the decision to continue breastfeeding through this challenge. You will struggle with cravings or find yourself wondering, “will this one piece of pizza really matter?” If you are really clear with yourself on why you decided to do this in the first place, it will be easy to pass and tell yourself it’s not worth it.
  3. Find support: if you haven’t yet discovered how important a support system is with anything mom-related, you will soon! Just being able to share experiences and ask questions is extremely valuable.
  4. Cook, find some new staples or go-to blogs/cookbooks: if you don’t already cook a lot at home, now is a great time to start working on that skill. It’s #1 of my 6 simple rules to healthy eating!
  5. Get creative: don’t be embarrassed to order a pizza with no cheese! (just make sure it’s loaded with all kind of yummy veggies instead)​

Originally published at mlbfamilywellness.com