Why I Gave Up Dairy

17 Apr

In October 2005, my daughter Isabella was only 4 months old.  She was born a month early and other than having a blocked passageway on the left side of her nose, she was healthy.  She had (and still has) a good appetite and, like any other European-raised mother, I fed her on demand and the more she ate the happier I was.  I was concerned, however, because her left nostril kept leaking fluids.  Sometimes clear, other times, not so much.  Her pediatrician told me that because she couldn’t actually breathe in or out of that left nostril she couldn’t control the fluids that would come out.  It still didn’t explain why her nose kept leaking.  So, upon the advice of another mom, I went to see a naturopath.  I didn’t know anything about naturopathy at the time so when I went to see this doctor who took one look at Isabella and I and said I had to change my eating habits (I was nursing) to find out if Isabella was suffering from any allergies or food sensitivities I was a little taken aback.  Me?  Change my eating habits?  I was a pretty healthy eater (or so I thought).  I put my bruised ego aside and the Leo in me happily took on the challenge.  I was to get rid of all wheat, dairy and sugar in my diet.  I lasted a week!  I had lost 4 pounds and although it’s every new mom’s dream to be able to lose unwanted weight, I was weak, tired, cranky and irritable and so was Isabella!!  All this elimination of food just wasn’t working for us.  I was running out of things to eat.  I gave up and went back to my usual eating habits and just got in to the habit of carrying Kleenex around with me everywhere I went to wipe Izzy’s nose every time it would leak.

Fast forward to 2009.  Isabella is now 4 years old.

I am now a certified personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist.  Isabella was still suffering from a leaky left nostril and had seen doctors, specialists, surgeons and had x-rays done – all to conclude that her left nostril is blocked and as she grows and her face gets bigger, so will her nose, which will open up the passageway.  Again, I wasn’t convinced that this was the cause of her runny nose.  So once again, this time on the advice of one of my personal training clients, I went to see another naturopath.  After running some tests, he concluded the same thing the first naturopath had told me 4 years earlier.  Isabella has food sensitivities that cause her body to react to the foods she eats.  He diagnosed her with candida which is an overgrowth of yeast.  Isabella’s digestive system was so overloaded with yeast that her body couldn’t digest foods properly.  This, in turn, was causing mucus build-up which was coming out from her nose.  We had to decrease the levels of yeast in her body by changing her diet.  This time around, however, I was much more educated about food so the challenge didn’t seem as tough.  The difference this time though is that Isabella was eating her own food.  It wasn’t coming from me so eliminating foods from a child who LOVES to eat was not going to be easy.

The naturopath gave me a list of acceptable foods for Isabella’s diet but the main thing was to try to avoid dairy, wheat and sugar as much as possible.  Dairy being the main group which should be avoided.  I did a lot of research and invested in a lot of cook books and began the journey to our new way of life.  I say “our” because it was a challenge we were both going to take on.  I decided right then and there that if my little girl was going to have to give up all these foods that we were so accustomed to eating, well then, so was I.  I had also read a book during this time called “Skinny Bitch” and after finishing that book it was easy for me to give up dairy and to take it away from both my kids.  (I also gave up eating red meat at that time but that’s another article in and of itself).  So almond milk became a staple in our household.  We experimented with vanilla flavour, chocolate, unsweetened original until we found one suitable to us.  Isabella and I stick to the unsweetened original (because of the little to no sugar content) while Julian still enjoys the sweetened chocolate version.

We weren’t very big cheese eaters but I experimented with different forms of rice cheese and vegan cheese and found rice cheddar cheese slices that look just like Kraft cheese.  I used to use these all the time to make grilled cheese for Isabella with spelt bread and vegan butter (she has since grown out of it).  Since I had also converted to Clean Eating at this time, processed cheese wasn’t part of my diet so I didn’t miss the cheese.  I didn’t miss the dairy at all.  I was using Almond Milk with my cereal or in my morning oatmeal and originally used to put it in my coffee.  I now drink my coffee black.

Today Isabella and I enjoy a variety of foods and drinks that are dairy-free.  From vegan shredded cheese to make pizza or tofu cream cheese to spread on home-made crisp bread and even soy-based ice cream sandwiches as a treat, the choices are not only endless but delicious.  I won’t deny that I allow Isabella to “cheat” once in a while with REAL pizza and ice cream but she understands that these are only treats and not acceptable on a daily basis.  She understands this (for the most part) – especially when her nose will start to run almost immediately after eating these “cheat” foods.

I no longer suffer from stomach cramps.  I don’t feel bloated.  My skin feels great and I feel healthier now than I ever have in my life.  I don’t for one second, regret giving up dairy or taking it away from my children.  With all that I have learned in recent years about the negative effects of dairy, it just doesn’t make sense to me to ever allow it to become a daily staple in the lives of my children or myself.  And for those of you wondering how we get our calcium intake, there are PLENTY of foods out there that contain calcium, not to mention that the almond milk we drink is a great source of calcium.

I won’t deny that some days are easier than others where Isabella and food are concerned, but I truly feel that as long as I continue to be a good role model to guide her (and Julian) towards healthy eating habits, they will make the right choices in the future to ensure better health.  One can only hope…


Until next time…

Have a fit and fabulous day!



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