When I learned that I had to remove all sources of dairy in my diet because my 10 day old, nursing daughter was allergic to cow’s milk protein I thought it was going to be a cinch.

“Oh, that’s no problem I don’t really consume dairy,” I scoffed to the pediatrician. “I’m a nutritionist.”

That was my subtle way of saying that I know better than to be consuming dairy. I don’t drink milk, take my coffee black and will happily choose a scoop of Coconut Bliss over regular ice cream. And if it was imperative to the health of my sweet little baby, well I could live without cheese – it was only a once in awhile treat anyway.

Or so I thought. Those first few days unfolded just as I thought they would, but then reality set in. I realized how often I reached for butter when cooking and all the places it hides when you’re out in the world. I now had to make sure that everything I ordered in a restaurant or picked up at a bakery was completely free of any milk ingredients. More often than not it meant having to take a pass.

It turned out that cutting out dairy was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. And the reason for that was because I was eating a lot more dairy than I realized. Just because I wasn’t dishing up cheesy casseroles or going through cartons of 2% each week didn’t mean that my diet was “dairy free.” I had let a little bit here and there, those once in awhile treats like a great pizza or a non-gluten free, non-vegan baked goodie become part of my every day diet without even realizing it.

I am sharing this experience because it gave me a new perspective on having to make drastic changes to our diets – something I am almost always recommending to clients. Sure in the past I have cut out things from my diet, but it was always voluntary and there always seemed to be exceptions to the “rules” I imposed on myself. But now even just a tiny amount of dairy is enough to cause my daughter to have a reaction, so I don’t ever want to risk it – not even just a bite on a special occasion (and isn’t it funny how you can convince yourself that just about anything is a special occasion!?).

Removing dairy from my diet wasn’t a cinch. It was a damn hard – and I’m a nutritionist.