Updated: Oct 16
* SPOKEN WORD added 10.16.21 *
I have been living a dairy free way of life for an estimated twelve years now. Prior to eliminating dairy products made from cow's milk, this food group was my all-time favorite.
Before 2008 and for as long as I can remember, I suffered from recurring severe ear infections, nasal congestion, nasal pressure, sinus infections and acne lasting well into adulthood.
I was routinely prescribed antibiotics by my PCP (Primary Care Physician) to address my recurring severe ear infections. I was closely monitored by an ENT (Ear Nose & Throat Doctor) and given ongoing allergy medication, nose spray, migraine medication and more antibiotics. I underwent environmental allergy testing but never food allergy testing for some unknown reason to me. In the past, I would see my Dermatologist monthly for medication refills and blood work to evaluate my LFT (Liver Function Tests) as I was on Accutane for severe acne.
There was a low grade crappy feeling within my being, almost daily, from the cocktail of medications I was prescribed and willingly taking. I discussed this terrible feeling with my medical providers and to cover their bases a referral to a Psychiatrist was their conclusion! The next thing I know, I am adding depression medication to my routine!
In 2002 and 2003, I was faced with the daunting task of deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up. Filled with terror, my parents signed me up for a carrier development course in High School. The instructor that lead this course, handed me a deck of playing cards. Each card had a potential career path noted. She explained that I needed to divide the cards into three different piles; a yes pile, a no pile and a maybe pile. Nursing made my "yes pile" and I quickly moved in this direction being that the majority of the women in my family were also nurses and this decision felt comforting to my being.
I finished my Freshman and Sophomore years of college at the University of Cincinnati within the College of Nursing. Although, a career in Nursing felt noble, the information I was studying and learning couldn't be applied to my being to improve my temple. At this point in my life, I desperately wanted to be studying and learning material that I could directly apply to myself in hopes of becoming a better or best version of me.
At the start of my Junior year, I found myself accepted as a transfer student into the Nutrition & Dietetics program at the University of Cincinnati! I was so excited about this change and intrigued that the topic of nutrition felt more like a foreign language to me than Spanish itself! I wondered why nutrition was not already a strong foundation in my life. In reflection, I rarely remember the topic being discussed in elementary, middle and high school. In my opinion, the topic seemed to be as important as teaching mathematics and I was determined to be well versed on the subject matter!
Close to my graduation, the controversial topic of the dairy industry was placed so nicely on the table for discussion. It is here I learned that my severe ear infections, nasal congestion, nasal pressure, sinus infections, and acne lasting well into adulthood, could potentially be linked to my daily dairy intake. I learned that food allergy testing is not always dependable. I learned that the "elimination diet" was my best chance to determine if dairy was my culprit. I learned that dairy products interact very interestingly with brain chemistry creating strong addictions and euphoric effects. Needless to say, I was hooked and the elimination of the dairy food group from my life, was one of the most challenging feats I have encountered thus far.
My struggles with this task, this elimination, was well worth it, once mastered. I was able to go off all medications. I no longer suffered from recurring severe ear infections, nasal congestion, nasal pressure, sinus infections, adult acne and my crappy/terrible feelings diagnosed as depression. My complexion these days is not perfect but mainly shows the scars of my past unhidden as I no longer pay into the cosmetic industry.
During my eleven years of abstaining from cheese, on occasion I've tried different "dairy-free" products in hopes of filling the void on my plate. Nothing was worth paying for; nothing was worth swallowing...until now!
Introducing my favorite dairy free cheese alternative, also vegan, lactose free, casein free, soy free and Non-GMO Project Verified! "Follow Your Heart" has truly blown my mind! So far I have tried and enjoyed the following:
Mozzarella brick cheese, cubed in photo and video below:
Although I don't have a picture available, I am pleased with their American style cheese as well!
I enjoy these products cold out of refrigeration with fresh grapes and nuts or on a cold sandwich! I love these products warmed and melted on top of my burgers, sausage, grilled cheese and chips to make nachos! I may be a Nutritionist, but more importantly I am human and the items listed above make up some of my favorite meals!
Now I know what you are thinking! Eleven years...how could I possibly remember how good cow's milk cheese tastes to determine an appropriate substitution!? Now I could not disagree more with your skepticism but I have anticipated it!
To prove I know my cheese even after eleven years, I served Follow You Heart Dairy Free Cheese Alternatives to several carnivores who have no future plans of meatless Mondays, vegetarianism or veganism. Most importably these carnivores had no ducking clue that I did not serve them cow's milk cheese!
Regardless, should you be my statistical outlier, keep in mind that all groceries have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you try my recommendation and dislike it, save your receipt and return the opened, partially consumed product. I consider this process to be great market research results for the manufacturing companies. If we purchase products off the grocery shelves, dislike them, find them unpalatable and instead of returning them we throw them in the trash. How are the companies suppose to know their products belong in the trash if the only results they have are purchase records? Return your undesirable purchased products and expect better items to appear at your local grocery shelves in due time!
Do you have unfortunate side effects that could be linked to your dairy intake?
Could a dairy free way of life be best for your being?
Are you interested in trying a dairy elimination diet?
I have no affiliation with Follow Your Heart but maybe you should checkout their website and products?! I would recommend one serving of their product on a given day that you desire a dairy free cheese alternative added to your meal or snack! Remember, too much of a good thing is not necessarily better!
This Blog will always remain advertisement free so that you can fully trust that no person or company has bought my typed words, persuading my recommendations!
*Did this expression add value to your life? Simply donate to support my cause in buying me a symbolic cup of coffee! Thank you for your generosity!
Peace, Love, & Everlasting Protection!
Namaste from one seriously satisfied customer,
Maggie Fekete, E-RYT, CHC, BCHHP
Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher
Certified Health Coach
Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
This blog post was written on my parents front porch in Worthington during a rain storm. A very special thank you to both of them for providing such as beautiful location to write!