If you’ve got a Fuss, take heart!  You might have everyone from your husband to your pediatrician telling you to switch to formula, but if you’d like to continue nursing, it IS possible.  It ain’t easy, but it’s possible.  Below are some lessons I’ve learned after trial and error:

1. Focus on what you CAN eat:  If you want to keep your sanity, you have to focus on all the delicious food you can still enjoy, rather than pining over what you’re missing.  Meat, vegetables, fruit and many breads are all OK.  You even have several dessert options if eggs aren’t off limits.  And if nothing else, a hamburger and French fries are still allowed, so you’re not going to waste away eating bits of lettuce and grilled chicken.

2. Dust off your pots and pans: If the recession hasn’t already put a serious crimp on your restaurant habit, this new diet certainly will.  If you or your husband enjoy cooking, you’re golden.  If not, hopefully the posted recipes are easy enough to follow.  If you’re less than six weeks postpartum, get help!  Enlist a spouse, friend or relative to help you cook some things you can stash in your freezer, such as spaghetti or chili, so you always have dinner at hand.

3. Read before you eat: Examine food labels carefully before you eat anything.  You’ll most likely be shocked by what contains milk or soy.  According to our GI doc, food manufacturers are required by law to state if their food contains one of the common allergens such as wheat, peanuts, milk, soy, etc.  They usually print “Contains ___” in bold at the end of the ingredients list, but I like to scan them anyway.  Some just highlight the allergen in bold.  If you’re eating in a restaurant, check their website beforehand to see if they offer anything you can eat.  If they don’t post allergen information, be very careful before taking their word for it.  Use your best judgement, and insist that the server checks with the kitchen about everything you order. (See number 5 for more on restaurants.)

4. Stock the pantry (and fridge): There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than being hungry and feeling like there’s nothing safe to eat.  You’ll need things that are easy to grab between feedings and nap times.  For snacks, I can’t live without chips and salsa, almonds (or other nuts) and fresh fruit.  For lunches, my go-tos are turkey sandwiches or leftovers from dinner.  I highly recommend cooking things like spaghetti, pulled pork or chili in bulk so you always have dinner in the freezer.  Other throw-together dinners include pasta dishes (which can include any produce and meat you have on hand) as well as quinoa and black beans.  Finally, always have a stash of Oreos if you have a sweet tooth.  They’re one of the few (packaged) sweet things you can eat.

5.Learn how to order at a restaurant:  The first time you order in a restaurant, you’ll feel like Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.”  You might be high maintenance, but it’s worth it.  Don’t just ask if the dish has dairy or soy in it because most servers are too harried to stop and think what that means.  Ask if the bread is made with milk or butter.  Most restaurants don’t make their own so ask them to please check the package.  Also ask if the dish is made with butter, which is a very popular ingredient.  Soy sauce is another one to watch out for.  In fact, really quiz them on all marinades and sauces.  Oddly enough, soybean oil and soy lecithin are usually OK.  (See special note about soy.)

6. Accept imperfection:  The best advice I received from my daughter’s GI doctor was that I wasn’t doing any permanent damage to my baby if I accidently ate something that triggered her problem.  Bottom line, if you’re going to choose the hard road and continue nursing, you’ll most likely eat something with dairy or soy in it at some point.  Accidents happen.  Just try not to feel too bad, which is tough when you know your sweet baby is in pain.  Reassure yourself that you’re doing what you feel is best for your child, and no one is perfect.