The 5 Stages of Giving up Dairy

Disclaimer::  This post is purely satirical and meant to be a lighthearted look at why and how I am giving up dairy while breastfeeding my son. Finding humor in the inevitable curve-balls that life throws at me as a mother is my way of coping and working through my emotions. This post is not meant to minimize the danger that many children face regarding food allergies or to downplay the serious amount of effort and worry that goes into parenting a child with food allergies. So please keep that in mind if you choose to keep reading…

Setting the Stage::

Around the age of 3-4 weeks, my infant son began spitting up more than what I considered to be normal so I decided to take him to a pediatric gastroenterologist since dairy sensitivity runs in the family. Turns out, he’s got a sensitivity to cow’s milk protein. At this point, it is not serious and entirely possible that he will grow out of it like many kids do. However, his gastroenterologist told me that I would have to give up dairy in my diet which basically stopped me in my tracks. Dairy is one of my favorite things and represents probably 50% of my regular diet, if not more. So how on earth was I going to go from driving to the doctor’s appointment that morning while casually sipping a latte and snacking on string cheese, to not allowing ANY dairy {including hidden dairy} to pass my lips until I am done breastfeeding? Below are the 5 stages of giving up dairy.

Step 1:  Cry. Just flat out start crying. 

This isn’t the time to go all Carrie Underwood on the situation and cry pretty, so go ahead and ugly cry if you want. That was my approach in the doctor’s office when she told me my son’s stool tested positive for blood and I would need to remove all dairy from my diet. When she saw the tears flowing, she was really sweet about it and told me that eating dairy free wasn’t that bad which basically made me sob even harder. My love of dairy {cheese in particular!} runs DEEEEEEEEEP, y’all! Queso, cheese plates, H-E-B cheese balls, ranch dip, cheeseburgers, cheesecake, lattes, quesadillas, pizzas…the list goes on and on. It’s been a few weeks now and I still get a small tear in my eye when I think about pizza. Hence why I just cried and cried for those first few hours after leaving the doctor’s office. I went to H-E-B by myself that night and cried some more while strolling through the aisles, reading every single food label in sight and becoming more and more overwhelmed. I gave myself a few hours that first day where I told myself I could cry, feel sorry for myself, and be dramatic before I had to get over it for the sake of my son. When I put it into that context, it became less of a big deal. The point here is to let yourself feel the emotions and then move on. 

Step 2: Disable all of the text and pop-up notifications on your phone from Pizza Hut, Domino’s & Papa John’s. 

Better yet, just delete all of the pizza apps entirely! If you’re like me, you aren’t going to survive if Papa John’s is reminding you every 2 days that you’re close to earning $10 in Papa Dough or large 1-toppings are on sale for only $5. Turn those notifications off ASAP, sister!

Step 3: Call, text, and email everyone you know with a child that is sensitive to dairy and post freak out messages to all of your private mom Facebook groups soliciting advice.

I immediately reached out to 3 other moms who also have children that are sensitive to dairy. I made them tell me everything they knew about eliminating dairy and asked each of them if I was going to be able to survive {oh the drama!}. All 3 of them chuckled, told me to calm down and that I had this. Just knowing I had people I knew who had charted these waters before {and survived} helped a ton.

Step 4: Join 9,000 Facebook groups on the topic. 

Y’all. My Facebook feed is now basically nothing but “Dairy and Soy Free Support Group”, “Dairy & Soy Free Meals for Breastfeeding Moms”, “Dairy-Free Diet Breastfeeding”…the list goes on. The beauty of these groups is that you can pose a question {even if it seems obvious} and within minutes {sometimes seconds}, you have nearly immediate feedback or advice on the topic. There are always a few nut jobs on these pages that spew things that have absolutely no basis in modern medicine but those are usually pretty easy to spot. Generally, these support pages are a treasure trove of ideas and cool information, which I find pretty supportive.

Step 5: Start planning your return to dairy party. 

Next spring when my son turns a year old and we hit our breastfeeding goal, the blow out of all blow out return to dairy parties will be held at my house. I will be in my foam Wisconsin cheese hat and all guests will be handed complimentary bottles of Miralax as party favors on their way out. The menu will include several H-E-B cheese balls, baked Brie, enough queso and ranch dip to swim in, pizza, tacos, and enough cheesecake and ice cream to rot an entire mouth full of teeth. I want ALL.THINGS.DAIRY at that party! Having an end goal in sight helps keep my eye on the prize on the rough days when I am at restaurants and can’t trust anything on the menu, so I reach for the pack of dairy-free Ritz crackers and peanut butter in my purse {believe it or not, there isn’t any butter or dairy in those things!}.

So there you have it. The 5 stages of giving up dairy for the sake of your child. If you’re like me, you’ll quickly discover that it’s not as hard as it seems initially because you’re doing it 100% for your child. I was laughing a few days ago with my sister-in-law that there’s no way I could do this if it were just for me. I’d give in the second a bowl of queso was put in front of me. But since I’m doing this to make my young son feel better, it’s a no brainer and a lot less effort than I originally imagined. Ahhhhh motherhood.  

Want to hear the good news though? There are SO.MANY resources out there for people avoiding dairy and MANY restaurants post their allergen information on their websites and in plain view in their restaurants. I’ve even found places that have really nice non-dairy options for people with dairy sensitivities and/or allergies. But I have to admit…the coolest one I’ve come across so far is at the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, Texas. My sister and I took our kids there last week and did you know they give out Blue Bell bullet popsicles FREE.OF.CHARGE to people with dairy sensitivities and/or allergies?  How awesome is that?! 

After having moved pretty quickly through these 5 stages {of grief!} as part of giving up dairy in my diet, I now have my head wrapped around this concept and know I can do this. And you can too!


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