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As of Wednesday, I completed my 2-week dairy elimination and Thursday marked the first day of my dairy re-introduction. I haven’t been able to write much as I’m in a play (it premiered Thursday!) that has kept me pretty occupied with tech/dress rehearsals.

So generally, after a 2-week elimination of a suspected symptom-causing culprit, it is customary to complete a gradual reintroduction to assess for an increase in symptoms. Thursday, I added in a single dairy-containing food, and Friday I ate two, today three, etc.

Thus far I have noticed no improvement in symptoms since eliminating dairy. In fact, my second week in my throat clearing and phlegm seemed to get worse. That happened to be the week in which I selected rice milk as my beverage of choice and ate rice a handful of times. I suspect that maybe rice might be causing my symptoms. Perhaps I’ll do a rice elimination sometime to check.

I have identified several great products that have actually made dairy-free life not only tolerable but enjoyable! Check out my product reviews for milk alternatives and yogurt alternatives.

Dairy Elimination

My dairy-free friend Valerie made a recommendation for an alfredo sauce recipe from Silk’s website. She came over today and we made it!

Did you know Silk® has a ton of tasty recipes, like this one for Fast & Easy Fettuccine Alfredo? https://silk.com/recipes/fast-easy-fettuccine-alfredo
Photo courtesy of www.silk.com/recipes

It came out deliciously – almost better than my normal dairy-inclusive version! It smelled and tasted just like regular alfredo. We made the pasta with cashew milk and took the liberty of a couple of adjustments. Here’s the modified recipe I made (you can add any kind of meat or fish for protein as well!):

Ingredients

  • 16 oz fettuccine
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk (or soy milk)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella-style shreds
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. While fettuccine is cooking, saute chopped onion and garlic over medium heat in 1 Tbsp oil until fragrant and translucent.
  3. Remove onion and garlic to separate dish and reserve.
  4. Add remaining oil to pan and stir in flour and stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in cashew milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
  6. Whisk cornstarch into 1/4 c. cold water and stir into sauce.
  7. Add vegan cheese and return to simmer. Allow to thicken, stirring constantly.
  8. Stir in onion and garlic and pour over prepared fettuccine and stir well. Top with chopped parsley for garnish.

Recipe modified from https://silk.com/recipes/fast-easy-fettuccine-alfredo.

 



Dairy Elimination Recipes

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This dairy elimination has been a fun experiment! I have a conglomeration of brief thoughts:

  • Am I missing dairy? Not exactly. The biggest pain is having to stop before eating anything to think, “does this have any dairy in it at all?” It’s more of a pain than anything.
  • After asking multiple dairy-free friends for advice and product recommendations I have received the following piece of advice from 5 different people: “don’t expect it to taste like the original…it’s just not going to be the same. You have to take it as it’s own thing or learn to make food without dairy at all.”
  • Favorite products so far: rice milk and coconut yogurt.

People who eat dairy-free have been exceptionally helpful along my journey. In fact, at Trader Joe’s I met a new vegan friend who was very informational. He taught me that almond cheeses (which I had almost taken home with me) still contain dairy, just very small amounts. I might have never noticed!

Trying products, finding alternatives, and learning has been fun. My husband and kids have even tried all of the products along with me!  The big question – has it improved my symptoms? Not particularly as of yet. Time will tell!

 



Dairy Elimination

Rather than tracking my calories or my weight throughout this diet I have been using a food and symptom journal to keep track of the effect this food elimination has on my symptoms. The journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I have a simple form that I use, but a notebook and paper work fine.

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It helps to keep track of food eaten, symptoms (including severity), and times of each to recognize trends and differences.

 



 

A common frustration people experience with food and symptom journals is that sometimes symptoms will occur right after eating a food, sometimes 4 hours later or 10 hours later or even longer depending on the type of symptom and the part of the body that is affected.  This makes identifying trends a real challenge. For example, it may seem that the symptom occurs every morning after having cereal for breakfast when it is really the night time peanut butter cookie you’re reacting to.

Identifying these trends is just as much of an art as it is a science. If you’re having trouble identifying the food-related cause of your symptoms, meet with a Registered Dietitian and bring in as many days worth of food and symptom journals as you can. RDs are trained to weed through the confusion and find trends that may be difficult to identify.

Dairy Elimination

Buckle your seatbelts, folks. It’s quite a wreck.img_0937

This morning I made a lovely veggie scramble with some whole wheat toast for breakfast. Now generally I would toss some feta cheese in with the spinach, tomatoes, and eggs, but alas, I have said my temporary farewell to dairy. So I decided to try the dairy-free daiya “cheddar-style slices” I purchased.

The front of the package boasts that this product “Melts and Stretches!” so I thought I would give it a chance to go ahead and melt into my scramble.

 

Once I opened it up, I was definitely skeptical – this was an extremely “fake looking” item somewhere in the texture range of plastic to rubber with an orange color similar to that of boxed macaroni and cheese. It had a smell similar to the “cheese product” that comes with breadsticks or crackers in Kraft Handi Snack packs.

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I tossed it onto my eggs still hot from the pan and waited. After about a minute it refused
to melt, so I put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds to give it a boost, after which time it did melt onto the scramble.


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The melted texture somewhat resembled a thick Velveeta.

 

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The flavor…was…awful.

 

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I am somewhat baffled that anyone in product development at daiya would have approved this as “close enough to regular cheese” to be passable. This product, for me, was a major disappointment. I ended up scraping off all that I could (I gave my dairy-loving husband a tiny taste just for giggles) and topping the whole thing with some Cajun seasoning to cut the taste. Most of the scramble went down the hatch, but I left behind a pile of melted cheese replica that even my cat rejected.

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My search for a palatable dairy-free cheese alternative continues…

 



Dairy Elimination

I shopped for my first round of dairy-free products today!

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Total cost left? $9.20 Total cost right? $12.33

 

My featured players?

Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk

daiya dairy-free “cheese style slices” *snicker*

Silk dairy-free yogurt alternative

SO Delicious dairy-free coconut milk yogurt alternative

The dairy-free options were definitely more expensive, as you can see by the price breakdown. Next week I plan to go to a different store with a wider variety of options and hopefully better prices. Anybody have any good recommendations for dairy alternatives you like?

 



Dairy Elimination

For my next experiment I’m going to do something a little different. Rather than having you vote from a selection of diets, I’m opting to trial an elimination of dairy because I’m concerned that my body may actually be telling me to do so.

Photo from realfoodpharmacist.com
Photo from realfoodpharmacist.com

Here’s why I think that may be a possibility:

  1. For the last couple of years I have had an obnoxious frog in my throat in the mornings. Most days, *ahem* I end up *ahem* clearing my throat *cough, ahem* frequently. It’s annoying (I’m assuming you picked up on how annoying just by reading that sentence). In the past, I haven’t made a particular effort to determine what has been inviting my unwelcome amphibian.
  2. The other thing that I’ve got going on is from time to time I get itchy and bumpy along my belt line. For the longest time, I thought I was reacting to the metal on my jeans buttons, but since I started working I wear jeans much less often and I still get this issue on occasion. I have no explanation for this either.
  3. The final piece of evidence that really put the nail in my “you should try eliminating dairy” coffin? I have two close family members who have had similar issues. One has been officially diagnosed with a *ahem* post-nasal drip and *ahem* coughs and throat-clears *ahem* frequently in the mornings. After cutting out dairy, it got better. The second family member dealt with snoring, coughing, and a super-itchy shin rash, all of which improved with a dairy elimination. Darn you, genetics.

 



 

So here I am. This will still be helpful to my practice as a dietitian because I take patients through dairy eliminations if their bodies are having symptoms that may show they’re reacting to it. Unfortunately, I’m having to face the acceptance that my own body might be.  For those of you who personally know me (or particularly, know my husband) you know would be a significant change for me. My husband is the Dairy King…I’m convinced I stole him from our well-known Blizzard making friend somewhere along the way. When we started dating, he was delivering ten thousand gallon tanker trucks of milk all over the I-5 corridor and frequently being gifted dairy-laden treats from the farmers he visited. Needless to say, the Parsons family are big drinkers of milk. We tend to go through around 4 gallons per week.

Thinking about cutting out dairy is a little sad. Honestly, I’m actually not opposed to milk alternatives like rice milk or soy milk. I think they’re pretty tasty. I’m more concerned about the dairy that’s in things I love to eat. Hmm…time will tell.

I’ll be starting my two-week dairy elimination Dec 1, so stay tuned to see if my symptoms resolve. I’m kind of crossing my fingers that they won’t (because I don’t want to cut out dairy long-term), but I’ll tell myself the same thing I always tell my patients:  “If you do the elimination, at least you’ll know what is causing your problems. Then you’re empowered with the choice of whether to have symptoms and eat that food or not have symptoms and not have that food.”

The choice doesn’t have to be permanent, 100% all the time either. Life is a spectrum. If my problem is dairy, at least I’ll know!

 



Dairy Elimination