YOUR GUIDE TO DAIRY ALLERGIES
Just diagnosed with a dairy allergy or sensitivity?
Are you lactose intolerant?
Wanting to avoid dairy as a personal preference?
Does the thought of not having pizza, mac-n-cheese, or even Panera’s cheddar broccoli soup send you into a head spin? I get it, we’ve been there! Well, folks, there is no need to stomp your foot, pull your hair out, or scream to the heavens, “Why me?!” or “What am I going to eat now?!”
I’m here to tell you that you can live without dairy and you can even enjoy these foods again, dairy-free. I’d be glad to show you how!
So, follow along with us on our dairy-free path, and let me help you navigate through this often complicated world of milk-free living.
We Are the Dairy-Free Tribe
So many people begin this journey because they are either allergic to cow’s milk, cannot tolerate the casein in dairy or have made a conscious effort to avoid dairy.
And yes, CHEESE IS DAIRY! I can’t remember how many times we have told someone that our daughter has a dairy allergy and they offer her a slice of pizza with cheese on it.
We are in this together! We are one tribe!
For those of you with an allergy or are lactose intolerant, let us take a closer look at why you are avoiding dairy. If you are lactose intolerant, you cannot have any food or drinks with lactose, which is the main sugar in milk. People who are lactose intolerant do not produce the lactase enzyme which breaks down the lactose in the body and it causes pain, discomfort other nasty symptoms. If this is you, there may be good news for you! Depending on how severe your intolerance is, you may still be able to enjoy some baked goods with dairy in them but may need to avoid cow’s milk or cheese, that contain lactose in them.
Dairy allergies are different because it’s the protein, casein, which needs to be avoided. Casein is found in cow’s milk and other dairy products. In this case, if dairy is eaten, an allergic reaction can happen which can be mild, severe, and sometimes life-threatening. Be sure to check with your doctor if you think you may have a dairy allergy.
Today, milk allergy is the most common allergy in infants and young children. When we started this dairy-free journey, my daughter didn’t know anyone else with a dairy allergy. Fast forward sixteen years and she is no longer the only one.
Did you know an estimated 1.3% of children in the U.S. have an allergy to cow’s milk? That’s a lot of kids!
Some of these children will grow out of this allergy but many will not.
What Should You Avoid?
Educate yourself! Your first stop is to learn what ingredients contain milk and then how to read a label to make sure what items you will need to avoid. I’m sure you have already seen people in the grocery store reading a label, some for calories and some for salt content. Maybe some of these people are also looking to avoid certain foods. That’s usually me!
Now, what should you look for?
Since 2004, all food labels need to clearly identify the eight most common food allergens in the U.S. So now all labels must list the ingredient and all must place a “Contains: Dairy” statement beneath the list of ingredients. You will sometimes see statements such as “may contain milk” or “made in a facility with milk”. These are all voluntary and not required so make sure you read your ingredient list. Not all products are regulated by the FDA so always be careful before you try any new personal care items, prescription, over-the-counter medications, or pet food.
I’ve included a printable list of these ingredients here. You can even print your list out and carry it with you to the store. Remember to read all labels carefully before using any product, even if it has been used safely in the past.
So, go ahead …..
Read those labels!
Know your avoid list!
Always tell your server about your allergies!
Look for hidden sources!
Check all lotions, cosmetics, even prescriptions!
Kosher doesn’t mean it is dairy-free. Kosher Pareve may contain small traces of milk protein.
Stay tuned for additional posts where I will explain where you may find hidden sources of dairy and how to substitute dairy when you are cooking.
Sources: FDA http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm; and FARE Food Allergy Research and Education.
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