Dairy Free Diet: Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms
Dairy free breastfeeding is a challenge, yes, but there are some underlying benefits (aside from a baby allergy to dairy, of course) that may surprise you and motivate you to go for it!
This post is part 3 in a short series on Breastfeeding: Going Dairy Free for Beginners. If you’re fairly new to going dairy free for baby check out the first two posts for some awesome tips on dairy free breastfeeding, including dairy free recipes and ideas on how to get started with an elimination diet for nursing babies with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy or Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance.
Ok, on to Part 3!
5 Reasons Cutting Out Dairy While Breastfeeding Isn’t So Bad
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This was my favorite part of the series to write. Once I was finally done with dairy free breastfeeding (over 17 months into motherhood) I realized something I never expected…
Giving up dairy wasn’t THAT bad.
This came as a shock to me. I’m a huge dairy lover, so while getting started was an unpleasant adjustment, in the long run I made it through and actually kind of enjoyed the process. Not alllll of the process, I admit, but in the end I could say that going a year and a half without my favorite foods or ingredients could have been worse. In fact…I even found some bonus benefits that I never expected…
So whether you need some motivation to start cutting out dairy while breastfeeding or you just want to know what to expect when quitting dairy, here are some upsides to bring out the optimist in you…
1. Losing Weight
So, first let me say that I don’t see “losing the baby weight” after pregnancy as a necessity.
I think our bodies change for a really good reason as we get older and when we have babies. And that is ok. BUT if you want to burn some of the extra fluff from pregnancy or get to a healthy weight, here are some bonuses to dairy free breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding in and of itself can help you lose weight!
This doesn’t happen for every mama, but for some, it’s a huge bonus. If you need one more reason to breastfeed, you’ve got it! The contractions that breastfeeding cause (not usually painful, don’t worry) burn calories and help mama lower her weight a bit. Why thank you, Baby!
On top of that, cutting out dairy is a great way to be healthier. Turns out things like cheese, cream, ice cream, etc. are kind of fattening…who knew?
While cutting them out is super sad and pretty challenging, the reward is nice. I was at my healthiest adult weight when breastfeeding dairy-free. While I didn’t plan on cutting out dairy to lose weight, it was an awesome added bonus.
So, if you’re needing something to help motivate you toward cutting out dairy while breastfeeding, focus on a bit of (somewhat) easy weight-loss!
2. Feeling Better
Alongside the potential for weight-loss, eating dairy free just helped me FEEL better. I really did feel lighter and able to be more active. Struggles like heartburn, irregularity, and stomach aches that plagued me during pregnancy ceased and left me feeling even better than before I got pregnant. It was awesome.
I was more motivated than ever to get outside and go for a walk (which I highly recommend with a new baby.) Without being bogged down by pounds of cream cheese and…well…all the cheese, I was truly feeling physically better than ever when avoiding dairy and breastfeeding.
3. Being Flexible and Creative Cooking
This was a really unexpected bonus of going dairy free!
I was forced to change up our normal eating habits and really take a look at what I was feeding my family. Because I refuse to make multiple meals for family members, our home-cooked meals were always dairy-free.
Not only did I have to start cooking healthier recipes, I was challenged to be flexible and find ways to work around dairy in some of our favorites. It actually became kind of a fun obstacle every week as I made our grocery list.
Pinterest is a great asset here, especially those recipe pins with the ingredients listed at the bottom. I could quickly skim the list and decide whether or not it would be simple to substitute or eliminate the dairy in a recipe. If it was just a pasta recipe calling for ½ cup or less of Parm, I just made it as directed and left it off. Easy. Peasy.
Anyway, dairy free cooking pushed me to try some things that I never would have tried before too. I’m a prettttty picky eater, so it was a good challenge. Some of the new options turned out to be really, really good. We still use a lot of them, even though I can have dairy again. Check out my list of resources at the bottom of Part 2 in this series for examples!
4. Healthier Long-Term Eating
That leads me to my next point:
I fully intended to dive back into the wonderful world of cheesy, chocolatey, creamy goodness the moment I could.
BUT when the time came, I was surprisingly ok with taking it slow.
During the brief MONTH that I was back on dairy before getting pregnant, I continued to use Silk creamer in my coffee because it was super yummy and the idea of the loads of sugar in my old stuff just kind of repulsed me. (Btw, most supposedly “dairy-free” creamers, like the powders, still contain milk derivatives that CMPA babies can’t handle. Check those labels, Mama. Here are more tips on that.)
So in the long run, I’m still eating much healthier than before I breastfed baby #1. It helps that we still cook mostly dairy free for him…
Which leads me to:
5. Preparing for a Dairy Free Toddler
Annnd finally, a huge benefit to a non dairy breastfeeding diet is that you can work out all the kinks in advance. I really hope your baby grows out of their allergy super early, but we just hit age 2 and still have to be super careful with what we give our allergic little tot. Milk allergy in toddlers is not uncommon and not exactly easy to tackle.
If I hadn’t gone dairy free for breastfeeding myself, this would have been really overwhelming once he started solids (as early as 6 months). A giant chunk of those awesome “get your toddler to eat their veggies” recipes taste so good because they are smothered in cheese. Yeah, I’d eat more veggies like that too!
When your new little bundle grows (yep, it’s going to happen) and sprouts teeth, you’ll have to start getting creative with what you’re cooking. The classic kid fallback of mac n’ cheese and corn dogs just isn’t gonna cut it.
But after going dairy free while breastfeeding, you’ll be well prepared to make awesome and creative meals for that little one. You’ll be able to whip up a batch of dairy free pancakes like it’s no big deal so baby doesn’t miss out on any of those classic childhood staples.
And most importantly, you’ll be a PRO at shutting down any accidents that might occur when a well-meaning relative tries to play “here comes the airplane” with their spoon of butter-loaded sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving Dinner.
There’s a learning curve, but after months of doing it yourself, you’ll be super well-equipped to help baby enjoy all the fun of eating new foods without any stress. New mamas don’t need any more of that.
Dairy Free for Beginners
I have to highly recommend grabbing this awesome guide by Brenda from Paper Heart Family. She literally wrote the book on breastfeeding a baby with Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance. Her book, Breastfeeding the Baby with MSPI, is an incredible resource with meal ideas, store-bought snack suggestions, tips for cooking dairy-free, and other amazing info like how to reintroduce dairy and soy into your diet once you’re done breastfeeding. She goes into way more detail than I was am able to do in 3 short posts. Check out her book here.
I hope this series was helpful for you! Committing to breastfeeding long-term is such a great way to love on your baby. Dairy free breastfeeding was a huge part of my life and very well could be again in the future. I’d love to know that my experience helped you get started on your own dairy free challenge.
You can do this, Mama. It is sooo worth it!
And if you haven’t yet…
And for more tips on life as a new mom, follow me on Pinterest.