It came as no surprise that our son wanted to dress up as the devil for Halloween. We have been having some challenges with his behavior for the past few years, and have privately referred to him as the devil on more than a few occasions…
We have seen several specialists and have appointments for a few more. But desperate times called for what felt like desperate measures. I heard that dairy allergies could manifest themselves as behavior problems in children, so we thought we would see if his attitude would improve if we did a dairy elimination trial with his diet.
I was worried.
Because I love cheese.
But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to eliminate dairy from dinner, the main meal that we share as a family, or even from his breakfasts and lunches. It just took a little bit of extra planning so that I wasn’t relying on standard meals that come naturally.
In case you ever need to try a dairy elimination diet for your family, I thought you might find it helpful to see what Ari ate for the first week of the experiment. I didn’t mention desserts here – but I stocked up on some special treats from Trader Joe’s for dessert: gum drops (with natural coloring), Joe-Joe’s, and Tofutti Cuties.
6 Days of Menus for a Dairy Elimination Diet for a Child
- Breakfast: vegan blintzes from Trader Joes, cornflakes with rice milk
- Lunch: dry mango, grapes, dehydrated pea snacks, orange, almonds, olives and a pickle (he dropped the pb/j sandwich on the ground at school)
- Dinner: fried tofu triangles, coconut brown rice (and chard, that he didn’t eat…)
- Breakfast: vegan blintzes, homemade pumpkin muffin (with rice milk instead of milk)
- Lunch: grapes, dried mango, peanut butter filled pretzels and leftover tofu from dinner
- Snack: fruit leather, graham cracker
- Dinner: soy cheese quesadilla and a chicken tamale (with no cheese, of course)
- Breakfast: homemade pumpkin muffin with Earth Balance spread, steel cut oatmeal
- Lunch: banana, dried mango, pretzels, peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Snack: Boo chips, fruit, olives
- Dinner: pork tenderloin with figs, coconut rice, roasted cauliflower and carrots
- Breakfast: homemade pumpkin muffin, vegan blintzes
- Lunch: tortilla chips, applesauce and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Snack: fruit leather, graham crackers
- Dinner (at my parent’s house): carrots with edamame hummus, salmon, roasted potatoes, salad with Asian pearss/avocado, artichoke with mayonnaise and fruit sorbet
- Breakfast: vegan blintzes, Cliff bar
- Lunch: ham/soy cheese quesadilla, grapes, lollipop
- Dinner: turkey burgers, salad, sweet potato fries
- Breakfast: cereal with rice milk
- Lunch: Peanut butter/jelly sandwich, pretzels
- Dinner: roasted chicken legs with Asian sticky sauce, rice and acorn squash
We had to start over after Day 6 because I found out that he ate a muffin from a friend at school. It was so hard for him to remember that he couldn’t eat anything from other people (unless it was simply fruit and veggies). It also didn’t help that we were doing this around Halloween, when he was surrounded by treats at school. There are lots of hidden sources of dairy in packaged foods – like our sandwich bread and crackers. I even found dry milk powder in our sliced salame!
We made it about three weeks after the do-over before deciding to stop. I talked to several parents and medical professionals, all of whom said that if dairy were contributing to our behavior issues, we would have noticed a change by then. It was worth a try – and was much easier than I had anticipated.
One thing that kept me going was the thought that simple changes in our diet would be the EASIEST fix for our issues – and much less expensive than therapy or medicine!
Have you had any challenges with your diet? Do you have any words of wisdom for the rest of us?