For the the last 5 months, I have completely eliminated what also happens to be my absolute, most favorite foods from my diet – cheese, milk and butter. Or anything made from cow's milk. Let me repeat – no cheese, milk or butter in 5 months. No joke people. I do deserve something for this, right?!
Pretty soon after we arrived home from the hospital with little Bear, we were told by the doc that he had a very common "intolerance" to a protein found only in cow's milk (which I was eating and was coming through in breast milk). This would make him fussy and basically vomit all day. And apparently it's very common in infants and they eventually outgrow it. So, after a ton of research on this, I decided I would listen to my doctor and cut out all cow's milk/dairy from my diet for a few months until he could hopefully digest it again. After all, the blood in his stool kept proving that he had an intolerance to it. (Basically, if I eat anything with cows milk today and then I breastfeed him, he will be sick/vomit all day tomorrow.) Sad for him, sad for me.
Anyone that knows me, knows how much cheese I eat. It's my ultimate weakness in life -- Cheese. On. Everything. Tacos, pizza, burgers, mac n' cheese being my primary foods of choice. And I'm really bad at diets and "cutting back" on things. And just to be honest, I basically have zero food willpower. (So maybe this was karma for the years of over-indulging in cheese?) But, I guess the decision to cut it out is pretty easy when your tiny, 9 lb. baby is throwing up all day. So, out it all went. And thank goodness this Buzzfeed list was there to inspire my new non-dairy lifestyle. And being "dairy free" is a lifestyle folks. A lifestyle of constantly asking - "Does this have milk in it?" "Are you sure there's not butter in this bread?" Because usually it's there. In EVERYTHING. It's shocking how many foods have milk or butter in it that you wouldn't expect. English muffins have milk in them! Most pre-packaged foods are made with some kind of milk. Special K even has milk in it! Everything at Starbucks is basically out of question (unless you use their new coconut milk - yay). Every cookie, cupcake, lots of cereals, dressings (ranch, blue cheese dressing, sour cream...boo), breakfast sandwiches and a million other foods that are cooked in butter are off limits. The "may contain milk" list is endless. And it's daunting to think about when you are faced with eliminating all dairy.
|photo: Tristan Prettyman|
But I slowly started to learn that there are actually many dairy-free options that I could get behind. Chips and salsa. Hummus. Potato chips. Black beans. Avocados. BBQ chicken. Fresh baked breads/bagels. Eggs. Meats. Vegetables. Fruits. Brownie Mix! Marshmallows! And OREO'S, y'all! Surprisingly...there were lots of things I could still be happy with. I would be a sort of vegan, which is definitely something I never imagined possible. I like cows. I would now search far and wide in grocery stores for the "non-dairy" products by Amy's Organics, Daiya (thanks the good lord for the Daiya brand!), etc. I would eat lots of pasta and red sauce. I would eat LOTS of Amy's black bean burritos. And lots of Chipotle with no cheese and sour cream. Lots of salads and fruits. And LOTS of almond and coconut milk. Ultimately, a healthier diet.
So, it happened. I stopped eating all milk, butter and cheese and now 5 months have passed and I've never been prouder of myself for being able to stick with it, because it is REALLY hard for me. Life should only be lived with cheese I've decided. Burgers without cheese are basically a waste. Tacos without cheese or sour cream...also a waste. Pizza without cheese...not possible. Life without cheese = not life.
Weirdly, I feel no different having eliminated these MAJOR foods out of my diet. Shouldn't I have more energy, better skin, better "digestion," and be super skinny...or something?! Ok, maybe I lost a few lbs (but I better have for suffering through weeks without butter), but I'm a bit surprised how I feel no different. We are the only species that drinks another species milk. That is weird when you think about it, right? Why do we consume so much cow's milk? I guess because it's way too delish, but it's something to think about. And the alternatives can be pretty amazing. Almond milk and coconut milk especially...awesome. And I think I'll even stick to those from here on out.
I've learned that I don't need these things to be happy (I think). I can have a baked potato plain with a little pepper and some canola oil based butter and it's pretty darn good. I can somehow have tacos without cheese and love them. I can eat more vegetables and fruits. I can say "no" when a plate of cheese is in front of me. It is possible.
And for my child, I would do anything obviously, for as long as I needed to because that's what I've learned that parents do. They make sacrifice after sacrifice for their kids. Lots and lots of hard sacrifices. Hopefully someday he will thank me when I tell him the pain I had to endure when I couldn't have a good slice of pizza for months. Actually, mama is printing this here blog post for him and sticking in his baby book as proof of just how much I love him. I love him more than cheese. And pizza. And tacos.