I’ve been dairy-free for about seven years now. I can honestly say that I don’t miss dairy at all, and that the benefits have been truly life changing for me and my family. When people find out that I am dairy-free, they always ask “How on earth do you do it?” or “Isn’t it so difficult?” Today I want to share with you why going dairy-free isn’t nearly as hard as you may think and offer some tips and tricks to make it work for you and your lifestyle.
WHY Go Dairy-Free?
Before we get into the how-to of going dairy-free, let’s talk about why it’s worth it in the first place. My personal dairy-free journey began when my daughter was an infant and she was having extremely negative reactions to nursing—seizures, rashes, and blood in her stool. After some investigating, we realized that the dairy I was consuming was the culprit. I began to educate myself about dairy and what it actually does to the human body. It actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Dairy comes from cows and is meant to feed their calves to help them grow a whopping 300 pounds during the first year of life! Now think about all of the dairy that the average American eats by way of cheese, butter, sour cream, milk, yogurt, etc. While the proteins found in dairy are great for helping cows grow, they were never meant for our human bodies!
So what does dairy do to human body? The most common effect is low-grade inflammation that upsets gut health, but it can also trigger allergies, asthma, and skin disorders. Going dairy-free has been shown to have a hand-full of really great outcomes including acne and eczema improvements, healthier hair and skin, better mood and decreased stress, and boosted respiratory and digestion health among other crazy good benefits.
HOW To Go Dairy-Free
It’s not as hard as you might think, I promise! Here are my top tips:
1. Remember the WHY:
Why are you giving up dairy? Are you breastfeeding and doing it for the health of your baby? Are you hoping to get rid of constant bloating or a skin issue? It’s important to remember what got you started on this journey, especially in the beginning when you are adjusting to living a dairy-free lifestyle.
2. Focus on what you CAN have, not what you CAN’T:
So many dairy-free options exist these days, so spend a little time researching and finding products and dairy alternatives that you love instead of lamenting all of the things that you are trying to avoid. I swear, there are SO MANY great options to replace the dairy products you feel like you can’t live without.
3. Go Cold Turkey
The best way to do this thing is to JUST DO IT. Trying to phase out dairy will just make you miserable and drag the process out—it will also cause you to continue to crave your dairy faves
4. Learn to Read Labels
You’re going to be shocked to learn just how many products are hiding dairy! It’s not just milk, butter, and creams you have to look out for. Whey, lactose, and casein are all dairy ingredients that should be avoided. Read up on products like crackers, sauces, cereals, soups, etc.
5. Plan Ahead
If you’re going to go dairy-free, you’ve got to do a little planning—especially in the beginning. If you’re going to eat out, look up the menu ahead of time and ask about dairy-free options. Don’t be shy about bringing dairy-free substitutes from home like dressings or sauces. If you’re really in a bind, just order a salad—hold the cheese, dressing on the side, and add some nuts, beans, or animal protein.
6. Stock Dairy-Free Snacks
As I mentioned earlier, there are TONS of great dairy-free products on the market, including snacks. Make sure to keep safe snacks on hand—I always have some in my car and in my purse. This way, you won’t be tempted to fall back on old favorites or consume dairy-filled snacks out of necessity.
Dairy-free living doesn’t mean you can’t have a decadent treat every once and a while. I’ve got TONS of great sweet dairy-free recipes on my blog for when you need a little something-something.
Here’s a little cheat-sheet to help you get started on your dairy-free journey. These swaps really are simple!
Swapping dairy milk for alternatives is the easiest and most important first step in phasing out dairy. Learn your milk substitutes: cashew milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk and rice milk are among the many dairy-free alternatives and taste just as good in whatever you’re making. Here are some of my favorite ways to substitute:
Swapping a plant-based spread for a dairy-based spread is easier (and tastier) than you might think. Try these:
You don’t need dairy to top off your meal. Try these dairy-free yet creamy toppings instead:
Yes, you can still treat your sweet tooth without dairy. It’s actually really easy:
Snack time doesn’t have to be a bummer without dairy. Here are some simple dairy-free options:
When eating out, be careful of these sneaky dairy hideouts:
BELOW ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE DAIRY-FREE BRANDS!
As a mother, it is so important to ensure my kids are getting the healthy fuel they need before the school day starts!
Blueberry Muffin Mix
-plant based shake mix (13g Protein, 8g Fiber)
Hard Boiled Eggs
-Hard Boil a dozen eggs on Sundays to have them throughout the week!
-Gluten Free bread from trader joe's
-Spread an avocado on the toast
-drizzle olive oil
-sprinkle 'everything but the bagel seasoning
-cut up apples
-vanilla shake mix for sweetener
-cut up strawberries
-plant based milk
-yummy shake mix
-plant-based shake mix
-personalize with frozen ingredients if you want a thick shake
-spinach/some type of green
-personalize with fruits
If you are interested in muffin recipes, go over to my blog and check them out!
As parents, we have a huge responsibility to set our kids up with the appropriate nutrition! Please reach out to me if your children don't like or want to eat the food you are making for them- I'd love to brainstorm with you!
I have my sidekick today, Emmylou, as I discuss how I get my children to eat the food I create for them
Emmylou tells us what she loves by using our food chart. She lists of multiple fruits such as blueberries, mangos, and oranges.
My secret weapon was feeding myself these amazing foods and nutrients since she was six months old! Juice Plus is an amazing, easy, and safe way to get the nutrients you need in your diet without the hassle or frustration. It has fueled all of our bodies for years, and we want to spread the amazing benefits with you all!
You are what you eat, so why not be a wonderful assortment of beautifully colored fruits and vegetables? Reach out and I can help your family make that one simple change and add Plant Powders to your diets to bridge that nutritional gap we all have! FYI Kids Eat FREE!
In this video we are on the Graze Tray craze!
The girls, Emmylou and Virginia, help me make a Graze Tray to their liking in order to receive fantastic nutrients in a fun, organized, way! Make your own Graze Tray along with us as you watch!
From pepperoni to kale chips, the tray begins to fill up with a beautiful assortment of snacks! The really cool thing about these trays is the fact that they are simple, fun, and customizable for even the pickiest of eaters!
Healthy eating does not have to be boring, and I hope that the excitement on the girl's faces shows you how fun it is to be conscious of and interactive with your food!
Have you tried seaweed snacks? If not, swing by Trader Joe's and try them out and let me know in the comments below!
I KNOW I am not the only momma out there that feels like the kids are asking for snacks 24/7/365 a year! We have been using graze trays for awhile, and we are OBSESSED. Use an ice cube tray, a muffin tin, or a compartmentalized plastic dish. Fill each section with bite-size portions of colorful and nutritious foods and we call it a “graze tray.” The kids LOVE it! When you think of snacks, often packaged foods come to mind but this creative idea encourages more whole foods rather than packaged foods. Snacks that are good for grazing leave kids feeling satisfied but not too full. Also, graze trays takes the pressure off of the child because the child has options, and he/she may be willing to try something they normally wouldn’t touch. Come 4pm, you might find this momma stealing a few carrots from the tray!
Here are some guidelines for healthy grazing snacks:
Below are some graze tray ideas:
Hard boiled eggs, carrots (my kids are more willing to eat these if they are steamed), broccoli, dates, bell peppers, apple slices, raisins, fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, bananas, etc), nuts, hearts of palm, turkey pepperoni, banana chips, kale chips, sliced turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, popcorn, olives, pickles, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas, beans, pomegranate seeds, edamame, avocado
Also, we love a “snackle box” for trips and after school snacks!
Fill a clean tackle box with lots of yummy, whole food snacks for planes, trains, or automobile rides! Remember, keep it simple! Involve the kids! Offer a dip! Graze away!!!!
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