Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I Learned When I Went Dairy Free While Breast Feeding

All over the map, right?  That's me.  Here's another topic that I know just a little bit about.  So naturally I'll use the internet to tell the world.

The story is that when Linus was about six weeks old he was sleeping very poorly and I was extremely exhausted and miserable.  Whenever a tiny baby who's breastfed is also very gassy (which seemed to be related to the bad sleeping) people always seem to point out that it could be dairy.  This happened with Lenny also, but I didn't try cutting it out because I have lots of food intolerances.  I already can't eat wheat, corn, soy, most red meat, lots of different nuts.... I'm probably leaving something out.  Also, I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so changing my diet can end up making me pretty uncomfortable.  Plus there's not wanting to eat too many gassy foods like beans for fear they'll make the baby more gassy.  Too complicated.

But with Linus I finally got desperate enough to try it.  I planned ahead.  I decided on some substitutions and went to the grocery store.  I spent a day cooking dishes for the coming week.  That went pretty well, actually.

 I use spelt instead of wheat flour.  I substituted coconut milk for cow's milk in these orange muffins.  I actually zested an orange when I made them.  They tasted awesome, especially straight from the oven.
 When I can't make a creamy dairy-based sauce I have a tendency to make a tomato-based one.  I started using ground chicken during this time and found it very convenient.
 I made this to put in wraps for lunches.  It has black-eyed peas in it which are high in....calcium, I think.
Here's a view you don't get on Pinterest.  After all the cooking there was some cleaning up to be done.

So I managed to go dairy-free and actually get enough to eat.  And I learned a few things that were useful to me.  Here they are in case they are useful to you:

  • Coconut milk based dairy substitute doesn't taste that good by itself.  But it's OK if mixed about half and half with orange juice (get the fortified OJ so you're getting more calcium and vitamin D).  It's also not bad with a little cocoa mixed in and warmed in the microwave to make "hot chocolate."
  • Orange juice isn't so bad if you get the expensive "not from concentrate" stuff.  And it generally helps me feel better when I'm feeling depleted from breast feeding.
  • Having some food cooked ahead of time made my life much easier - and I ate better.  Although since then I have found that having that knowledge is often not enough to get me to actually do the cooking.
  • It's possible to get chocolate chips that are free from all the stuff I'm trying to avoid.  Worth it when options are very limited.
  • Sometimes it worked better to eat food that was "safe" for me and let the boys eat something else.  This is not new to us, but it happened a little more often during the dairy free time.
  • Doing searches online for "dairy free" wasn't that useful.  Mostly it came up with recipes that were also free of gluten and were possibly even vegan.  I found it easy enough in baking to substitute coconut or rice milk for cow's milk.  
  • For main dish foods it was most useful to think of "normal" foods that could be made without dairy - soups, stews, stir fry, curry, and even some pasta dishes were pretty flexible.  Thankfully the wisdom of "crowd sourcing" also stepped in as I got help from friends on Facebook.
  • Bacon!  Thankfully I can eat this and since I needed to keep some fat in my diet.... Also I ate more chicken than usual and some legumes to keep my protein up.
  • Unfortunately I also found out that diary was not the source of Linus's problems.  It took a long time to figure this out because when I started eating it again he had a different problem which seemed possibly to be related and I went off it again.  Related to this, if you are breastfeeding and stop dairy then start it again you may experience changes in milk supply.  I had to start more gradually the second time to avoid problems.
So now I'm back to my regular diet - more or less.  I'm still drinking lots of that expensive orange juice and eating more bacon than I was before.  And I try to do some cooking ahead - when I'm not too tired or too busy blogging.

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