I had no idea that I would be starting the greatest debate of all time when I posted about MILK in a few mommy groups on Facebook. It apparently made several mamas completely INCENSED that I would DARE to post about my own decision to take milk out of our family's diet and why. Let me preface this story by saying that whatever a mother decides to do for HER FAMILY is the RIGHT DECISION.
But, here's the deal. I got upset because I was honestly trying to share about something that was on my mind in an effort to support other mamas who may have been feeling the same way but didn't know how to voice it.
Because this is MILK we are talking about. Besides the American flag and cowboy boots, there is nothing that is more ingrained in American culture than a chubby little kid drinking a glass full of milk.
The question that I was trying to answer is WHY? Why does MY FAMILY need milk?
Once I became a mom, the game changed. I listened to my pediatrician without questioning anything. My kids were in the NICU and had some lactose problems with formula while in there (breastfeeding did not come naturally to me as I gave birth at 32 weeks and my body AND psyche were not ready to feed TWO children who desperately needed nourishment), so we were on Alimentum from birth until 1 year, at which point we switched to whole milk.
Now, I'm not saying that this was a no-brainer for me. As a woman who got her period at age 10, I was fully aware of the part that hormones play in little girls growing up too fast. And that was an honest concern for me. So the ped that we were with at the time suggested that I try for a milk delivery service, buy organic, and look for non-GMO and NO HORMONES ADDED varieties. And so we did.
Up until about 2 weeks ago, my kids drank milk that was delivered to our home from a local milk delivery service, who brought it in from a farm in Pennsylvania. As you can see, I did my research lol. However, after watching What the Health one night when I was home alone, I got to thinking -- my kids are 4. Why do I still have to fight them to drink a glass of milk every day? They eat cheese. They eat yogurt. They LOVE kale. Why am I following them around with a glass of milk every day trying to force them to drink it? Because kids need CALCIUM to grow? Alright, that makes sense to me, but I still wasn't sure.
So I hit up my ped. "Do I HAVE to give my kids milk? I'm lactose intolerant, my husband has IBS which is exacerbated by lactose, and my kids had a lactose sensitivity in the NICU and drank Alimentum for the first year. Can I take milk out of their diet at this point?" She lit up.
"NO. You can give them almond milk, leafy greens, cheese...are these things already in their diets?"
"Then cut the milk. Here is a list of foods that contain enough calcium for their age."
Well, that just seemed too easy. So I continued my OWN research before making our final determination.
Here are just a FEW of the reasons why my husband and I decided that it was OK for our family to say buh-bye to milk.
It's full of hormones. Even milk that comes from cows that are NOT injected with the bovine growth hormone is riddled with hormones. Think about it. MILK is meant to GROW A COW. A COW. Unless my child is going to weigh 600 lbs and become a grazer, she does not need the same hormones as a BABY COW needs to grow. Cow's milk is meant for BABY COWS (it's an energy-dense hormone-delivery system). Once a toddler is weaned there is no need to supplement a healthy diet with cow's milk.
It's an inflammatory. Many people have strong adverse reactions to milk for various reasons. If you are finding that you or your children have eczema, chronic viral infections, gastrointestinal issues, etc., milk may be the culprit, for a variety of reasons. From the type of cow, to how far along in pregnancy the cow is when she is milked, to what she's eating, to what the farmers are injecting her with if she becomes ill, to how the milk is pasteurized (or not) -- your body can react to ANY of these things!
The MILK industry is who advertises that MILK creates strong bones. The Harvard School of Public Health believes that there are better ways to get calcium and prevent osteoporosis than drinking milk. In fact, their list of reasons for NOT drinking milk include lactose intolerance, high saturated fat content, and possible risks for prostate and ovarian cancers. So all of those "Got Milk?" campaigns that boast strong and healthy bones from drinking milk? It's all just clever advertising.
Drinking milk does NOT reduce your chances of osteoporosis - The US has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world, despite having one of the highest calcium intakes. Explain THAT!
And finally, according to Whole30 developers Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig, "dairy consumption is linked to medical conditions in children, including acne, asthma, juvenile myopia, insulin resistance, and type 1 diabetes." (It Starts With Food)
So what do we have INSTEAD of milk? Dark leafy green vegetables (kale, boiled spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy); meat and seafood (bone broth, sardines, anchovies, shrimp, oysters, and canned salmon); nuts and seeds (almonds, hazlenuts, walnuts). Our ped actually said that almond milk has MORE calcium in it than MILK does!
The final word on CALCIUM and GROWING HEALTHY KIDS?
- Eat a balanced diet, FULL of greens.
- Get sunshine.
- Exercise regularly (including weight training).
This seems to be the BEST and HEALTHIEST way to ensure that we have STRONG, GROWING children who are healthy down the line.
Still not sure? Fill out my contact form and LET'S CHAT!!!
Before you make any decision about your child's diet, please consult your pediatrician and discuss with any primary decision-makers in your household!