One of the other Big 9 Allergens is of course...DAIRY! Since my "What To Avoid With A Soy Allergy" post got some great responses and requests for posts on the other allergens, I thought I would do one for each. Again, a major hope for this blog is to make it a safe resource for allergy-free advice, tips, and healthy recipes. I don't have a dairy allergy, but I do not consume any form of it (i.e. all my recipes are dairy-free!) I've talked about the ethical and logical reasons as to why I don't here!
On to the important parts. A dairy (or "milk") allergy is different than lactose intolerance, don't get them confused. Lactose intolerance is a very prevalent disorder where the body is lacking in the Lactase enzyme, which breaks down the sugar is dairy (lactose). This is just another fact as to why humans were not made to consume another mammals milk. This intolerance ranges in severity and really differs from person to person. You may be fine with ice cream, but a glass of milk will kill you. Thankfully, there are products that are lactose-free and OTC meds like Lactaid to help with digestion if you want to continue consuming dairy.
Just like soy, dairy allergies are very common in young children and can be grown out of. Cow "dairy" is the biggest culprit, but the allergy can also include milk from goats, sheep, and other animals. Since this is an allergy, symptoms will appear after a dairy product is ingested. That can include mild to severe reactions. Hives, trouble breathing, digestive upset (diarrhea, other gross stuff, etc.), coughing/wheezing, rash, runny nose or eyes, or anaphylaxis, which will require immediate use of an Epi-Pen and 911.
Here is what to avoid if you have a dairy allergy so you WON'T have to deal with the above reactions!
Grab this word search activity to help teach your kids which dairy terms to look for on packages!
Again, the red flags are things you must avoid at all costs and the yellow flags are things that you need to be extremely cautious about. They may contain dairy, they may not. That means you must ask questions, contact companies/brands, and read labels! Even canned tuna can contain a dairy derivative as a preservative! (Just like that sneaky soy!) Even products that claim to be non-dairy, may in fact contain dairy. Some cheese alternatives may not have whey, lactose, or milk solids, but contain casein. So you must be extremely cautious when you first start your allergy journey and are getting used to things.
Just like a soy allergy, a dairy or milk allergy can be easily navigated. There are SO many alternatives now and 1 to 1 swaps. It really isn't complicated to switch out dairy which is a good thing! And with the declining tread of dairy and milk consumption in the first place, there are so many new dairy-free products popping up everywhere you look...and they taste damn good! Take almond milk for instance...probably the greatest thing ever! Here is just a sampling of alternatives for you to try out!
Homemade Plant-Based Milk (so easy to make with a good blender)
Daiya - Non-Dairy Cheeses
Earth Balance - Non-Dairy Butters, Spreads
Coconut Butter (also a great natural "butter" alternative!)
Equal Exchange - Chocolates
There are so many brands out there and great products, all for easy swapping! Try a few and find the brands you love! When you have food allergies or a restricted diet, you have to be willing to try things (multiple times) before giving up. I know for me, the best almond milk is Silk's unsweetened original. It's completely safe (allergy-free) and carrageenan-free too 😉 You might like a different brand, you may opt for always making homemade. Whatever makes you happy and safe is the way to go! Allergy-free living is manageable once you have the knowledge and understanding that you health is of utmost importance (not that fact that you have to give up your favorite ice cream!).
So tell me:
+ Do you have a true dairy allergy?
+ Are you one of the millions who suffer from lactose intolerance?
+ What's you're favorite dairy-free alternative?
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