Dairy Free – The Facts

June 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was in Borders Books doing some research on dairy allergies and lactose intolerance. After wading through cover after cover of ‘low GI’, ‘raw food diets’, ‘gluten free’ and ‘low calorie’ I finally stumbled across one particularly useful book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dairy Free Eating by S.H. Sicherer and L. Scott, which demystifies medical research and includes tips on spotting ‘hidden dairy’, what to happen if you suspect you ingested dairy, the difference between intolerances and allergies, the dairy substitutes and the recipes.

Sarah Hatfield from No Whey Mama also recommends Dairy Free For Dummies. “The author, Dr. Robert Wood, has a food allergy himself, so he knows of what he speaks. The text is very accessible, and it is full of information about and reviews of other food allergy books and websites.”   

I have also just stumbled across Go Dairy Free: a simple change for a better life. I will delve deeper into the site to see what I can pick up from someone in the know! Apparently there are people out there who enjoy soy….I’m sure I can become one of them!

Ok, so from preliminary research here are some basic facts: (ps of course if you actually have a dairy allergy, please consult your doctor!)

  1. Why don’t people consume dairy?
    1. Personal convictions – vegans
    2. Religion – kosher
    3. Health – milk allergies or lactose intolerance

What is a milk allergy?

Whole cow’s milk contains a variety of proteins, mainly casein and whey proteins, which are at the base of most dairy allergies. A milk allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks one or more of the proteins in milk, this can be life threatening.

What is a milk intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a deficiency in the enzyme lactase (which breaks down the milk sugar lactose). This means that the lactose passes along the intestine undigested and unabsorbed. Gut bacteria can get hold of the lactose and ferment it, causing gas, and the extra sugar in the intestine can draw fluids out of the body and into the gut, causing diarrhea.

Can you get the same vitamins and minerals from other food groups?

The protein, calcium, magnesium, Vitamins C, D, A, K and many B vitamins found in milk are also present in animal proteins, fish, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. By ensuring a well rounded diet, the dairy free eater will easily absorb these vitamins and minerals.

What are the symptoms?

2.5% of young children are affected by milk allergy but it is rare for an adult to have or develop a life-threatening milk allergy; 70% of adults are lactose intolerant to some extent.

In addition, people with food allergies are often allergic to more than one type of food, so if you had a dairy allergy you should caution eggs, nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish until you have cleared other potential allergies.

Following the consumption of milk, symptoms include:

  • skin rashes & swelling
  • breathing problems
  • stomach issues
  • blood circulatory issues
  • itchy mouth
  • feelings of anxiety

Is dairy always easy to spot?

Not necessarily. Here are some tips:

  • Lactose free is not safe for those with allergies, it still contains dairy
  • Always read labels – the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires foods that have milk ingredients use the word milk on the label, but it might be hidden to check everywhere.
  • Dairy free means what it says. Foods marked non-dairy are dubious. Read the ingredients list.
  • Buzz words in ingredients list:
    • Artificial butter flavour
    • Butter fat
    • Butter
    • Butter oil
    • Casein
    • Cream
    • Curd
    • Custard
    • Ghee
    • Lactalbumin
    • Lactoglobulin
    • Lactoterring
    • Lactulose
    • Nougat
    • Pudding
    • Rennet
    • Recaldent
    • Simples
    • Whey
    • Yoghurt
  • Generally vegan labeled food is safe
  • Caution when eating out – consider things like butter being added to the pan in a restaurant, aioli on a steak sandwich…It is a good idea to create a chef-card to list your milk (or other) allergies for eating out, which includes the hidden dairy that the chef may not consider. Print out your own Chef Card.

Does this mean I’ll never eat something creamy again?

Certainly not! Here are some milk substitutes to get you started:

  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk (great for people with soy/treenut allergies)
  • Coconut milk (caution, coconut cream may contain milk)
  • Use healthy oils in place of butter
  • Dairy free margarine provides that buttery taste
  • Soy creamer/soy sour cream/dairy free cream cheese
  • Soy yoghurt also has the protein and healthy bacteria of regular yoghurt
  • Faux cheese is quickly improving in quality
  • Chocolate with over 50% cocoa content is generally safe for dairy allergies
  • Eggs can be questionable, check with your doctor.
  • Yukon Gold potatoes have a buttery taste
  • Use vegetables that naturally caramelise like pumpkin and golden squash
  • Add rice to soups for creamy consistency
  • Beans will also add creaminess and thickness

A corpse is meat gone bad. Well, what’s cheese? Corpse of milk – James Joyce


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