Monday, April 30, 2012

Going Dairy Free…Almost Painlessly



About six months ago I noticed that the skin around my eyes was starting to get red and irritated. I assumed it was just another place that my eczema had decided to creep up. Over the course of the winter it got worse. The thin skin under my eyes became so tender that even the saline in my normal tears stung. And when the it started to crack and bleed I made an appointment with my nurse practitioner. She referred me to a dermatologist.

I have had eczema for years…on my hands, back, under arms and scalp. The patches on my scalp are so bad that my hair falls out. Nothing I take, other than topical steroids…and those are a temporary solution…seems to help.

I have been to an allergist, my NP, an MD and a dermatologist for this problem. Here is the part that irritates me…

Not one of them suggested finding the CAUSE! The derm actually wanted to give me a big injection of steroids in my rear, or scalp injections! Which she admitted would not last forever, and would need to be repeated!

Through the years I have been put on several antihistamines, nasal sprays (steroid and non), inhalers (steroid and non), and topical steroid creams.  I have known, through allergy testing years ago, that I am very allergic to dust mites and cats, and mildly allergic to tree pollen. I also have asthma. I have refused allergy shots…to the disappointment of my allergist.

Why does the entire medical profession seem to be focused on symptom relief as opposed to finding the root of the problem?

Right after Christmas we started an gluten-free diet to see if that was what was causing my skin problems…Gabe also went on the diet to see if it would help with his autism. For two months we suffered with this torturous plan…sorry all you gf fans…we can’t live like that! It did nothing for my eyes, and I swear made Gabe act worse (it broke his eating routines).

We stopped that fiasco. (Please do not email me about how wonderful a gf diet is…it could certainly be wonderful for some…it just did not work for us.)

I had my derm appointment in March (after waiting FOREVER to get into a derm office in my area).

While I declined the shots, I decided to use the steroid creams…yes CREAMS…there were three! One for each separate affected part of my body. AND…they cost me over $90…with my insurance! They worked…like I knew they would.

Guess what…?

A week after I quit using the ultra expensive, teeny-tiny tube of eye goop…my eczema came back!


eye cream

(This eye cream was the smallest container of each of the creams I was prescribed…it was almost $50…and it’s generic!)



Fed up with everything…

I decided to do a little research into common food allergens (which I have never been tested for…only environmental) that may cause skin irritation. Near the top of the list was milk!

My heart sank.

I LOVE milk! Cheese is the best! Ice cream and I are old pals!

I knew that I had to at least try it though. Or suffer through life looking like a monster with red, crusty eyes.

After a week of no dairy, and a good moisturizer, my skin looked better. After two weeks, it was completely clear of eczema. Darn. I was so hoping that dairy and I could still be friends. But, being the risk taker I am, I decided maybe it was the weather that had cleared my skin. It was a little moister…maybe it was a fluke. So…

I ate a teeny bit of butter in a cookie.


The next day…





Although mild compared to what it had been all winter, it had started again!

I can only conclude that I am indeed allergic to milk…RATS!

Plus, my skin cleared up 2 days after resuming my dairy free lifestyle.

I am now on a mission to find the best dairy alternatives out there. And I have actually found a few that I like better (gasp!) than their dairy counterpart.

Here is what I have come up with so far…



Coconut milk, the full fat, in a can variety is AWESOME in coffee as a substitute to dairy creamer or half and half! I was a convert from my first sip! Even if it turned out I was not allergic/sensitive to dairy…I was keeping the coconut milk!


cocnut milk_picnik


I LOVE both of these brands of organic coconut milk.


coconut milk 1


Another yummy use for canned coconut milk…whipped “cream”. Simply put the can in the fridge overnight, do NOT shake it up, open the can and scoop the thick cream off the top. If you like, whip it up with a mixer and add a little organic evaporated cane juice or stevia to sweeten.


I have also tried SEVERAL kinds and brands of milk substitutes…lowfat and fat free coconut milk (tastes like milk of magnesia), soy milk (okay in lattes), and almond milk.

I really like the almond milk.


almond milk


While I am hesitant to just pour a glass and drink it straight…I do love this in overnight oats and cereal.

Blue Diamond Original and Unsweetened Original are my favorites. It is thicker and creamier that the others I have tried, with a pleasant, only slightly nutty flavor.



almond milk 2


Coming in second…Pacific Naturals unsweetened organic almond milk. This is more watery than Blue Diamond…but the only variety I could find in organic. It has a pretty good flavor, just lacks the creaminess of Blue Diamond. The other brands I tried were a bit chalky, and hardly palatable.


On to the butter…

earth balance


All I can say about this is…YUM. I like it better than butter. With butter I always got a slightly “animal” aftertaste. Sound weird? This has a nice flavor and is all natural.

I did my research, because I did NOT want a margarine type product that would clog my arteries with hydrogenated fats. Earth Balance is recommended by a ton of people…health nuts and otherwise.

I am so happy to have my whole wheat bread and butter back!


This weekend I purchased this…



Which is highly recommended all over the web. It is apparently the best cheese substitute.

Well…It ain’t cheese…

But if I can’t have cheese, I can live with this.

I tried them on a salad…



and melted on some Food Should Taste Good Olive chips (HIGHLY recommend the chips as an occasional snack!).

Melted was definitely better than cold. But, there will NEVER be a substitute for my cheese. I will, however, purchase these again…and also try the Mozzarella Style Shreds.


Next thing I am hoping to try…

soy or rice milk ice cream!

Any suggestions on brands? Or maybe you have other dairy alternatives you are in LOVE with? Let me know!


Hope you are having an excellent start to your week!

Remember, if you want to follow my daily thoughts, rants, pics…or what I ate…I am on facebook 2






  1. Wow, great post Jessie! I was really into your story. I have the same frustrations with conventional doctors not seeking the cause, only prescribing based on symptoms. I have autoimmune issues for the past three years. It was triggered overnight, literally, I woke up one day different and never been the same since. :(

    1. That really stinks:( I know all of these autoimmune diseases have to be environmental! My mom has MS, hypothyroidism and is prediabetic. It is insane!

  2. Oh....I got Alexa's maxi dress at Target. They just got them in! They are in the girl's dept. starting at size XS 4/5. They come in different colors and a belt. Love them!

  3. If you ever get the chance, might I suggest locating a chiropractor that does NRT= Nutritional Response Testing.
    This is a great way to get to the bottom of symptoms instead of just treating the symptom with medications!
    I am loving your blog.
    I too am allergic to milk, no skin problems BUT my digestive system goes CRAZy train when I eat it.
    BUT I am allergic to pasteurized milk, not raw milk. I am yet to try raw milk but know many people who drink it..
    I have to try your list of things. I am still mourning the loss of my 3 glasses of milk a day, lol!


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