I have “Midwestern”in my bones. Casseroles = hot dishes. Snowy nights. “You betcha”. And drinking cow’s milk like it’s my job.
Throughout my first pregnancy, I drank several whey protein shakes a day. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk, specifically, fyi. It’s one of the proteins found in cow’s milk, along with casein. While nursing my newborn, I continued the protein drink regimen because it was filling, healthy, and gave me plenty of protein to keep up my supply. He was a miserable newborn, and the culprit: whey protein.
This is a common problem. There have been several medical studies done to support what I’m about to say: whey protein causes colic in many, MANY newborns. Why? Tiny human digestive systems aren’t meant to break down these kinds of proteins. If you think about it, cows have FOUR stomachs. Their milk is meant for their calves, who have digestive enzymes to break down whey and casein proteins found in cow’s milk. A significant portion of the population, as adults, has digestive issues associated with the consumption of cow’s milk. Humans are the only animals who willingly drink another mammal’s milk (except when necessitated, like when a little kitten is orphaned…). Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying infants are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a kind of sugar found in cow’s milk, not a protein. Furthermore, an inability to digest whey protein isn’t an allergy, it’s an inability to digest whey protein. I’m not talking about a rash, I’m talking about gut wrenching pain from rotten, undigested proteins creating gas in the intestines in a little baby.
Got it? Good.
Both my mother and mother in law have reported that Captain Laser Pants and I were VERY colic-y babies. Upon inspection, I found out that both our mothers consumed dairy while nursing (my dad later told me I was also on a formula supplement, and most infant formulas, especially from 29 years ago, were cow- milk based). Whey protein intolerance is genetic. So, when our pediatrician and pediatric gastrointestinoligist (that’s a mouthful) finally discovered the culprit of my always- in- pain- never stops crying- newborn, I stopped nursing immediately (milk proteins can stay in your system for a long time, and I wasn’t able to cut it out of my diet) and switched to a pretty pricey formula (called Nutramigen). After burning through $2,000 in formula in the first year of our baby boy’s life, CLP and I knew that if we were to have a second child, the second baby would a) have a 95% chance of having the same intolerance to whey and b)I would have to quit dairy entirely before the kiddo was born.
That being said, ya’ll, I love to cook. And bake. And drink milk, and eat cheese, and donuts, and ice cream. And although I know how unhealthy cow’s milk is (cows are getting dosed with growth hormones to produce way more milk these days, and this hormone is linked to early puberty in girls as well as a higher likelihood of contracting prostate cancer in men), it just tastes so creamy and yummy. But I’m combating this deep seeded desire to consume a gallon of milk a day with other options.I’m swapping the dairy habit for things like dairy free creamer in my coffee, almond milk for cereal and baking, and coconut oil or olive oil for cooking. I can make ice cream with frozen bananas and make fudge without a smidgen of dairy (I even made raw vegan chocolate pudding and -gasp- liked it!). Some days are hard, cause I really REALLY want to bite into a Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bar, but mostly, I’m able to curb the cravings. Tonight I made chicken tortilla soup for dinner, with which we usually have sour cream and shredded cheese to accompany the bed of crumbled tortilla chips and delicious soup. I opted for chopped avocado instead, and while it wasn’t the same, it was still pretty dang good. It’s not easy, but with the exception of a candy bar, I’ve pretty much found a solution to each dairy problem. To keep up my protein intake, I’m doing an all natural egg white protein shake to replace my whey protein- great for after workouts or when I need to consume some calories and feel full. Homemade cakes don’t need cow’s milk or butter. There are dairy free creamers out there for coffee.
And, really, knowing that $2,000+ won’t be going toward formula next year, and knowing that this will be something we will avoid with our second little guy, I already feel great about going dairy free.