Managing a Soy and Dairy Free Diet

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free for the Babe

After many requests from other dietitians, clients and moms I am finally sharing how I am managing the dairy and soy free diet that my daughter has. When I shared my Berry Oat Bar recipe, I shared a little bit about how we learned about my daughter’s allergy. We discovered blood in her stool and after a visit to the ER and pediatrician learned that she is likely reacting to soy and dairy that I was eating. This meant that I had to fully cut out both dairy and soy from my diet to continue breastfeeding or use a hydrolyzed formula. Blakely was a great feeder, so I wanted to continue to breastfeed. This meant I had to take on the daunting task of cutting out dairy and soy from my diet.

I want to clarify the difference between an allergy and an intolerance.

* Food allergies- a true allergy is when there is an immune system response that is triggered when a food is eaten that then lead to the inflammatory symptoms and reaction.

* Food intolerance- any adverse reaction to food or food additive that is not cause by an immune response.

My sweet babe was originally thought to have an allergy but after being allergy tested, we learned she has FPIES or food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome is a non-IgE (immune factor response) mediated gastrointestinal food hypersensitivity. This means, upon ingestion of the milk or soy protein, a response of repetitive, forceful vomiting, diarrhea and bloody stool with occur. FPIES is usually seen in infants in the first 3 months and very rare after the introduction of solid foods after 1 year of age. So why am I telling you this? I want to clarify that I would not ever suggest any mother or individual go milk or soy free without the support of a physician or dietitian. The diet is extremely restrictive and difficult and unless there is a strong reason to go on it, there is no need to restrict unnecessarily.

Now to the good stuff…

I have never actually worked with a client who has had an allergy (or FPIES) to milk and soy so I was not yet aware of all the hidden words for dairy and soy products. As I dietitian, I was lucky to have many resources and research at my finger tips but I still sought out the support of a pediatric dietitian who works with this diet much more frequently. Soy, in particular, is hidden is an unbelievable amount of food products and it is difficult for someone without the knowledge to know what to look for in an ingredient list. The biggest lesson I learned was:

1. Carry around a picture or cheat sheet of all the hidden words for soy and milk. I brought this with me to the grocery store and to every restaurant and pulled it up before I ate or bought anything. I also read every label, twice! I quickly discovered that you can never assume a food will not have soy or dairy. I learned this the hard way by having a slip up and then causing my daughter a reaction.

After about a month of eliminating dairy and soy, I found some great go to products that I now always have on hand. This is my favorite DF/SF product list:

*This post is not sponsored

* Silver Hills Bread- I had a tough time finding a bread that was both dairy and soy free. Silver Hills was the one brand I found that was always free of both.

* Earth Balance Vegan Spread- this was my alternative to butter or margarine. Earth Balance has both a dairy free and a dairy free/soy free version so be sure you pick the right product for your needs. This has worked great as a replacement in baking and cooking. I even love it as a replacement to butter on my popcorn!

* Natural Peanut butter- a must if you’re a peanut butter lover.

* Enjoy Life- this company makes all kinds of allergy friendly baking products. I particularly love their chocolate chunks for baking (cause we all need a little chocolate still).

* If you live in Saskatoon or are in the area, The Girls at the Market make amazing chocolate and can be found at the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market.

* Ripple Milk Alternative- Milk alternatives are coming out by the dozen. I tried everything from coconut to almond to oat but the only alternative that I found which has any decent protein content is Ripple which uses pea protein. The only downside is it will curdle in your coffee.

* Silk Coconut Coffee Creamer- I have tried black coffee but just cannot seem to do it. I have loved this coffee creamer and would go as far to say it takes better than regular milk.

* Hemp- I use both the hemp heart and the hemp protein powder as another protein booster. I have struggled to get in protein for snack and recovery so these have been a huge help to ensure I am getting in enough.

* Coconut Aminos- This is your soya sauce replacement for any Asian inspired dish you are craving.

* Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Stock- store bought chicken stock often contains soy. I have used this product as a great flavor enhancer to many dishes and for homeade soup. The organic version is the only one that is soy free.

Other products that I have loved but would not consider a staple include: All-Bran flakes, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars and So Delicious Ice Cream.

Other tips for eating and cooking include:

* Play around with spices to add more flavor to your dish. Be sure to check any pre-mixed spices before using as soy can hide in these as well.

* Swap out milk and butter with the alternatives in baking. If the recipe calls for buttermilk, mix your dairy alternative with vinegar to make your own.

* Make your own salad dressing. I have found it way easier to make my own salad dressing with oils, mayo (which is soy and dairy free) and vinegars than to sit and read labels.

* Always bring along an extra snack just in case wherever you go is unable to accommodate your restrictions. This way you will not go hungry!

Lastly, as I have greatly reduced the amount of calcium I am taking in with the loss of dairy products, I also take a calcium supplement daily. While breastfeeding, your body will prioritize giving the baby calcium first (it will even take from bone is needed). This means that calcium consumption is a must to prevent a fracture or break.

This diet is not easy, but once I found a routine with some favorite products, it has become much simpler and less time consuming. It is much more difficult to eat out both in restaurants and in other’s homes but I am not sure this will ever get easier. I have found a few favorite local spots who accommodate the restrictions. I always call ahead to check if they will be willing to accommodate my needs. If you live in Saskatoon, Leyda’s, Keo’s Kitchen, Citizen Bakery, Chopped Leaf and Mucho Burrito are all extremely accommodating. I am sure there are more, so if you know another spot, please let me know!

If you have other product favorites (especially cheeses as I miss cheese the most!), let me know! I want to hear from you!

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