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Resources for a dairy-free lifestyle

by Karen on February 11, 2011

It’s so overwhelming to consider cutting an entire food group out of my diet.

I was already struggling to meet my daily calcium requirements, especially as a nursing mother. This is just going to make things that much harder. Not to mention, I love cheese, you guys. Like seriously love cheese.  This dairy-free thing is going to take some serious commitment, and it’s going to be challenging. I never thought I’d voluntarily give up gouda. Oh, the things we do for our children.

To make things easier on myself, I’ve compiled some resources — many of them shared by my lovely friends and readers and some of them discovered through my own research.

It seems this dairy-free thing is quite common these days, and lots of women have been in my situation with a nursing infant who has a dairy intolerance. If anyone else is able to feel a little less overwhelmed at the idea of a dairy-free diet through these resources then all the better.

First and foremost, I found this list of non-dairy calcium sources to be incredibly helpful. Without milk, cheese, and yogurt, meeting your daily calcium requirement is a little more challenging, but it can be done! And don’t forget to take a daily calcium supplement just to cover your bases.

Kelly Mom also shares some tips on meeting your daily calcium requirements without dairy.

This list of vegan baking substitutions offers suggestions for what to use in place of milk and other dairy products in recipes.

I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered that one of my favorite recipe sites, All Recipes, has a special section for dairy-free recipes. Their search engine makes it easy find dairy-free recipes with ingredients you have on hand, and user reviews make it easy to find meals that actually taste good.

This handy cheat sheet outlines “hidden dairy” ingredients (pdf) that you should avoid on a dairy-free diet (it’s not as simple as avoiding foods with “milk” and “cheese” in the ingredients list.

There’s even a dairy-free diet page at About.com, which is a good place to find the basics if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

After several hours of research, I’m not feeling quite so overwhelmed anymore. I’m even somewhat excited at the prospect of coming up with new meal ideas to fit our new dairy-free lifestyle. I won’t lie; life without cheese and chocolate and the occasional decaf non-fat no-whip mocha will be a struggle, and I’m not convinced that almond milk and rice ice cream will satisfy my dairy cravings. But it’s temporary and it’s best for my baby. So I shall carry on.

All I have to say is, I better start losing this baby weight quick if I’m giving up ice cream, cheese, and chocolate, or I’ll be writing angry letters to the Weight Loss Fairies.

Photo by amuckin77

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