I went dairy free over 4 years ago because I was having multiple health problems, and IgG allergy testing showed that I had an intolerance to dairy. Giving up dairy was hard at first, but I felt it was important to do whatever was necessary to regain my health. My doctor told me that I had a true dairy allergy and not lactose intolerance which meant I needed to avoid all dairy. I couldn’t have:
- Cream Cheese
- Ice Cream
- Whipped Cream
- Whipped Topping
- Many ingredients in processed food including: Calcium Caseinate, Casein, Potassium Caseinate, Whey Protein Concentrate and more!
It was overwhelming! I realized I had two choices:
- Find a product in the grocery store with no dairy ingredients
- Make a substitute myself
It is getting easier to find dairy free products in the grocery store because allergen labeling laws now require companies to state if their product contains milk.
Another thing to note on labels is that some product state that the product was “made on shared equipment” or “may contain milk”. This often means that the product doesn’t have a dairy ingredient, but that there may be very small trace amounts of milk because the product was made on the same equipment as milk containing products. People who have mild to moderate reactions can often have these products as they are probably safe.* (Of course use your own judgement as you know your body best.)
Even though there are some dairy free products in the grocery store, many of the products ingredients were less than stellar. So, at the beginning of my dairy free journey, instead of buying lots of products from the grocery store I simply started cooking basic meals that were naturally dairy free. I would use a healthy fat to cook my protein and add some rice or heat up some corn tortillas to go with my protein. And of course I would cook a vegetable.
I also gave up cereal (I believe cereal is unhealthy anyway). I started eating eggs or leftovers. The healthiest breakfasts include high quality protein and vegetables anyway! Eating leftovers is an excellent way to get your protein and vegetables for breakfast.
Ways to go dairy free
Later on I researched ways to replace milk, cheese, and butter. Here are some good replacements for dairy products:
Make homemade coconut milk from water and shredded coconut. Click here for a recipe.
Coconut milk powder is also available from an online company called Wilderness Family Naturals (just mix with water).
Almond milk is available in many stores (some of the ingredients are not the healthiest) or you can make your own almond milk.
Use coconut oil instead of butter. Your coconut oil may need to be cooled first if your recipe needs the oil to be solid (like biscuits).
Cheese is a harder thing to replace. Many brands are not going to taste like cheese. I have gone without cheese personally. If you’re looking for a good brand, Daiya brand mozzarella usually gets good taste reviews. (unlike many other non dairy cheeses).
- Many grocery stores carry the So Delicious brand. They make lots of dairy free products including dairy free ice cream, yogurt, and whipped cream. Many of their products do contain processing ingredients like guar gum, xantham gum, and locust bean gum. These ingredients seem to be safe for most people. However, the gums might aggravate those with digestive problems.
- If you need some buttermilk for a recipe, try putting 1 Tbsp lemon juice in a measuring cup and adding enough “milk” to make a cup. Coconut or almond milk can work well for this.
Going dairy free can be tough, but not impossible. It definitely gets easier as time goes on. And, I found out that I still get to eat yummy food!
*If you have severe to life threatening reactions it is important to call the company to find out what the ingredients are and what processes are used in the manufacturing.
What are some ways you’ve adjusted to going dairy free?