Why I Gave Up Queso…

Shortly after bringing our baby Parker home from the hospital, a good friend of mine dropped by to visit, meet the baby, and bring us dinner. As we were chatting, I confided in her that I was really struggling with Parker. I shared with her that he screamed and cried so much that he was making me question my ability to be a good mom. It didn’t seem like he had colic because he would cry all day long and also struggled to pass gas. His tummy would tighten and he would curl his legs up to his chest. You could just tell that he was in so much pain. We tried everything – colic drops, gas drops, gripe water, holding him in different positions, massaging his tummy, essential oils – and nothing worked.

My friend listened to my exhausted rant and made an unwelcome suggestion. Based on the experience she had with her daughter, she suggested that I try giving up dairy, that maybe Parker had an allergy.

I laughed in her face {some friend I am, right?}. She was suggesting that I go on a restrictive diet. This was the last thing I was interested in. I had just been down that road the last half of my pregnancy because I was a gestational diabetic. Me go on another challenging diet? Thanks, but no thanks.

Well, fast-forward a month – and she got the last laugh. After developing a severe rash, our pediatrician suggested that Parker might have a milk and soy protein intolerance {commonly known as MSPI} and that I try a dairy and soy free diet to see if the rash would clear up. Sure enough, within five days it was almost gone and he was showing signs of becoming a happy baby. So, I was faced with a big decision. Switch him to an expensive allergy-free formula or completely alter my diet to continue nursing him. And did I mention this was all happening around Christmastime? Bah Humbug.

Living Dairy and Soy-Free

I didn’t surprise myself when I made the choice to go dairy and soy-free. It was a challenge I was ready for, and maybe in some way the diabetes diet prepared me for this season of life. For the past four months, I have memorized ingredient labels, learned a whole lot about food allergens and placed my fro-yo and Pei Wei addictions on hold. In the meantime, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Like I actually have will power and can stick to a diet! There is truly no will power like that of seeing your baby {finally} happy. And it’s an added bonus that I’ve lost weight. I’m 15 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight and fitting into my skinny clothes. But if I’m being honest, once queso re-enters my life…game over.

Giving up dairy and soy was tricky. Dairy seemed obvious enough – milk, cheese, butter. It was soy that I wasn’t sure about. And after further investigation, soy isn’t just soy sauce. It’s in just about everything processed. And I mean everything. If an ingredient label has the word soy, go ahead and put it back on the shelf.  You can’t eat anything cooked in vegetable oil {which in most cases is actually soybean oil}, and soy lecithin may be a great food additive, but it makes my life miserable because of the effect it has on my baby.

Getting Started

Fortunately, we live in a city that encourages healthy living and is populated with grocery stores that support allergy-free lifestyles. I’ve found that I can buy a lot of my foods at my normal grocery stores {Kroger or HEB}. Only a few things require a special trip to Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s. To manage on this diet, you will want to stock your kitchen with some MSPI-friendly basic staples ::

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • Spread butter and stick butter
  • Dairy free milk
  • Plenty of canola oil and olive oil
  • Heart Healthy Bisquick
  • Bread {I’ve found that Udi’s has the softest bread…but most local bakeries make their bread in-house and it’s MSPI friendly}
  • Chocolate chips {yes, I consider this a staple!}
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading ingredient labels. It’s handy that most foods have allergy information bolded at the bottom of the ingredient list, making shopping easier. And be sure to check your prenatal vitamins {if applicable}. Most of the leading brands have soy in them.

Maintaining the Diet

I have been able to manage on this diet for three reasons.

1. Focus on what you CAN eat instead of what you can’t.

The good news {for me and my sweet tooth} is that I can still have many of my favorite desserts, as long as I use the correct ingredient substitutions. Following the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chips package, I make my own cookies almost weekly – mostly so that I can eat the raw cookie dough! And, the MSPI Mama Blog has a delicious brownie recipe.

2. Always be prepared.

If I am going to be away from the house, I pack a snack to take with me. It helps you to be in control of what you are eating. If I am going out to a restaurant, I call ahead and speak to the chef so that I know ahead of time what to order. A few restaurants that have been especially accommodating during this journey include Lupe Tortilla, Papa Murphy’s, El Tiempo, Café Express, Ooh La La, and Pink’s Pizza {they’ll even make a pizza for you using dairy free cheese}.

3. Remember why you are doing it.

When I was in the trenches of dealing with a constantly screaming baby four months ago, I never thought we would get through it. But now, we have a smiling, laughing, singing, coo-ing almost six month old who has made every sacrifice worth it. I wouldn’t think twice about doing it all over again.


There are definitely days when this diet is frustrating and I want to give up. When those moments hit, I take a deep breath, pour myself a generous glass of wine…and all is right in the world again.

{Disclaimer :: I am not a doctor or a medical professional. This is simply my experience and what has worked for my baby and me. I hope it helps someone out there faced with a similar situation. You can find out more about our story by clicking here.}

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Brittney F
Originally from Louisiana, Brittney has called Houston home for nearly all her life. Brittney graduated from Houston Baptist University where she was a member of Phi Mu and a four-year cheerleader. It didn’t take long after graduation for her to meet her husband Jeremy on the sand volleyball courts at Memorial Park. She jokes that when marrying Jeremy, she also married LSU because she tied the knot with the most passionate Tiger football fan. Many weekends in the fall, they can be found in the shadows of Tiger Stadium at their big family tailgating party. Brittney has a Master's Degree from LSU and works in secondary education as an administrator and a cheerleading coach. Brittney and Jeremy have three boys, Connor {Nov 2012}, Parker {Nov 2014}, and Ryan {May 2018}. Brittney is a big baby-making, food allergy fighting, NICU surviving mom. Though she grew up surrounded by hairbows, pom poms, and lots of pink, Brittney now embraces being a boy mom. She loves raising her three boys and learning all about superheroes, baseball, and the pain of stepping on a lego when barefoot. In her kid-free time she enjoys working on craft projects, getting lost in a good book, and watching Grey's Anatomy.


  1. Yummm…. queso!

    I sure hope baby girl (coming in May) doesn’t have any alergies, but hearing your story helps me know I could take it on if I had to. Thanks for sharing Brittney!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Brittney! It’s great to know that some of our Houston staples – like Lupe Tortilla are so accommodating! Glad you and Parker are now BOTH feeling healthy and happy. 😉

  3. Aren’t food allergies so frustrating?! My little boy is allergic to dairy and corn which are in everything it seems. I also eliminated all of the Top 8 allergens for 4 months until we could get in to see a pediatric gastroenterologist. Adjusting to life with a new baby, breastfeeding, AND revamping your entire diet all at once is tricky. 7 months in though and my little guy is happier and healthier because of it. As hard as it is, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Isn’t it crazy what moms will do for their little ones? I totally agree with you on the chocolate chip thing. It’s one of the few treats I’m “allowed” and they are a staple in this house!

  4. I’m thrilled to see an article about this! I’ve given up all of the leading allergens too for my baby girl…it’s been almost three months of the diet now. If you had told me I would give up Queso before I had my daughter (much less the whole list of dairy, soy, eggs, shellfish, gluten and nuts)…I would have laughed in your face. But it does feel so worth it and I would do it again. One restaurant that has been very easy to eat at is Ruggles Green. Also thai curries are made with coconut milk and are dairy free! I’d love to hear more moms’ go-to restaurants. I’ll have to call Lupe Tortilla again…when I called they said they marinate all of their meats in soy. Soy is in EVERYTHING. It’s scary, really.

  5. This is so helpful especially the list of restaurants. Hoping other moms will add to the list. MOD pizza has dairy free cheese as well.


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