Getting my greens in every day is a personal challenge of mine. It is also my job to get them in my 15 month old. Why? Calcium.
They are especially important for my baby girl because I am not giving her loads and loads of cow's milk. What? No milk? Well, I am feeding her some yogurt and some cheese (and the occasional few bites of ice cream cake for Uncle Dan and Auntie Kate's birthday party!) but I am not depending on lots of milk for her calcium.
I grew up on cow's milk like most kids do. I also suffered from skin rashes, chronic sinus infections and lots of mucus (Yuck, I know!). I never put two and two together until I went to nutrition school. There I learned that too much dairy in my diet could be contributing to my health issues. Plus, too much milk seems to give me a bloated feeling and gas. Yep, it's true!
Decreasing my dairy intake was actually easier than it sounds because the benefits were awesome for me. My seasonal allergies for the first time are much more manageable. I hardly ever have sinus infections or horrible allergy days anymore and I think it contributes to cutting back on my dairy intake.
Now, a few years later, after I cleaned up my diet, my system seems to be able to tolerate a little dairy now.
I can eat good quality cheese and milk now without too many issues. I sure hope this continues because growing up in an Italian family, I love myself some cheese! I also love Dairy Queen ice cream cake every once in a while. Not the healthiest by far but a few bites won't kill me, right? Nope, it won't kill me but right after I eat it I don't feel great. I have extra mucus in my throat and my stomach sticks out like I am 3 months pregnant. Not cool.
So what is the deal with dairy? Is it healthy or not?
I get this question all the time. My answer is... it depends. It depends on the quality and quantity. Milk, especially raw milk from grass fed cows, can be very nutritious for many people. For others, it might not work. Many people are afraid to try raw milk. For others, good quality local, pasteurized milk works best. Maybe it is organic milk. It all comes back to the fact that we are all different.
What's up with all the chatter about calcium?
If you turn on the TV during the day, it seems like every other commercial is talking about calcium. I see ads for milk, calcium supplements, even ads for cold cereal talking about what a great combo they are with milk. I don't see ads for kale or collard greens or chia seeds or flax seed. That is a bummer because these awesome foods have loads of calcium as well without the side effects (for many people) that milk has. Don't get me wrong, milk works for some people and that is totally cool but it doesn't work for everyone. I haven't met too many people that have side effects from too many plant-based foods in their diet.
Does milk do your body good or bad?
Just think about this situation. We live in a country that drinks tons of milk. Why do we have such high rates of osteoporosis. In many countries around the world milk is not consumed really at all and rates of osteoporosis are really low. What's going on?
When I was in nutrition school, I remember one of our speakers talking about how milk is meant to grow baby cows into big cows. Sometimes I wonder if too much milk could have something to do with kids being bigger and bigger. Just a thought. Maybe it is the way alot of the cows in our country are raises in industrial factory farms. Who knows.
What about soy milk, almond milk, rice milk?
I drank lots of soy milk in my $5 Starbucks lattes during my corporate consulting days. Unfortunately, soy milk is not the best choice because of all the phytoestrogens in it. Yucky stuff that have been linked to thyroid issues and infertility. I do have almond milk in my fridge on occasion. Not bad in moderation but I don't recommend drinking glasses of any of it on a daily basis. When I really want dairy these days I try to find the best kind I can find. Skim, 1%, 2%, etc. is not a whole food. That precious calcium found in milk works best in your body if you also give it the fat too. Plus, it tastes so much better. I don't feel my best when I drink loads of any kind of milk. Period.
How about you? How does milk make you feel?
One of the best ways I have found to get calcium for myself and my baby girl is through smoothies.
Smoothies are awesome for mommas because we can throw in all kinds of healthy stuff and if it tastes good our little angels will eat it all up! I don't really have a recipe because I just get creative. I usually start with greens like kale, spinach or collard greens. I add some carrots.
I then add some frozen fruit, a banana, some flaxseeds and some chia seeds for added calcium. I add some cinnamon, maybe some ice cubes or some fruit juice.
I blend it all up in my nifty Vita Mix and there you go... a yummy, calcium rich drink!
Madilyn and I often share a smoothie. I am also know for blending some greens and adding them to her morning oatmeal. Sounds weird but the girl eats them. Below is some kale and carrots pureed with steel cut oats with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. No complaints from this momma!
Come on, she is a multi-tasker like her momma. She checks her blackberry during breakfast! 🙂 (See first picture above)
I want to hear from you. Tell me your milk story. Does milk do your body good or bad?