Which Milk Alternatives to Try (+ Which Ones to Skip)
I decided, personally, that I was no longer going to drink milk, like actual cow's milk, about 8 or so years ago when I was attending school for my health counseling certification. Almost instantly, my lifelong seasonal allergies nearly disappeared and my skin looked better than ever. I learned quickly that drinking milk, or even consuming it in cereal, was simply not necessary in my diet. It's actually not required in any of our diets.
Most of us were told as kids that milk "does a body good" and was a part of a "balanced breakfast." To start our days, we were raised on processed, sugar-laden cereals (which I have also banned from my diet in the last 8 years) and orange juice, or maybe on a special occasion: donuts. Our parents' parents gave their kids milk, the government told us milk was a vital part of our daily nutritional needs, and even babies were drinking milk after breastfeeding or as soon as they were one-year-old.
We were lead to believe, for a very long time, that milk was just a part of our American dinner tables and even that our health might suffer if we didn't drink it every day. It builds strong bones, right? So drinking milk meant we would be healthy and strong, and not drinking would result in osteoporosis. Well, guess what? All these claims were doing were selling more cow's milk. And it's not something you have to have. You might feel just fine when you drink it or consume it in the form of cheese, yogurt, or ice cream. Alternatively, you may also feel a whole lot better if you don't. Play with it.
So if you're looking for a milk alternative (or maybe your baby is graduating from breastmilk and you're wondering, "now what?"), you know you have a few options. But how do you know which is best?
I've found that upon comparing sugars, to proteins, to fats (I found a chart here via Healthline), none of the nut milk options that come to mind are really worth the calories. Many of us automatically assume that soy milk, rice milk or almond milk might replace cow's milk just fine (and if all you're looking for is texture or flavor, they may), however, there was virtually no protein in most of the options available and the only one that had a little fat was coconut milk.
In my opinion, what my toddler needed after breastmilk was protein and healthy fats. It wasn't that he needed cow's milk because that is just what comes next. I was lucky enough to find a milk alternative called Ripple, that is created from pea protein. It has the same amount of protein as cow's milk, healthy omegas and actually has a really great texture.
If you've decided that cow's milk is not the best option for you or your family, I would check this newer option out and see how you feel. Know that if you are eating a balanced diet based on whole, clean, organic foods, you'll be getting the nutrients you need (and don't feel like you have to have a certain number of glasses of milk per day). For more guidance on topics like this, contact me to learn about my one on one and group programs. I'm happy to help!