THE “NUTS” AND BOLTS of FOOD ALLERGIES, Part 4
TIPS FOR LIVING WITH A DAIRY ALLERGY
Dairy Allergy vs. Lactose Intolerance
An allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in the United States. Approximately 3% of American children are allergic to milk. Also referred to as a “dairy allergy,” it is different than the condition known as “lactose intolerance.” It is important to understand the two terms:
Dairy allergy – an allergic reaction to any food product that contains milk.
Lactose intolerance – this is not an allergy; it is a “common sensitivity” to the natural sugar found in milk. The intolerance occurs due to a lower amount of the enzyme lactase in the digestive system. This enzyme is necessary to digest milk.
Living Without Milk
Milk is found so frequently in processed food that reading food labels to identify which foods include milk is very important. Milk can crop up in the strangest places. For example, restaurants often add a pat of butter to grilled steaks before serving. Milk is also added to some brands of canned tuna.
The most common sources of milk include cheese, butter, cream, and yogurt. If you are allergic to cow’s milk you should also avoid goat and sheep milk.
Remember that “lactose free” milk is safe for individuals with lactose intolerance, but it still contains milk protein so it is not safe for persons with a milk allergy.
Milk Substitutes to Try
With so many people allergic to milk, grocery stores now offer many healthy alternatives.
Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk and Hemp Milk are all readily-available alternatives. These milk substitutes come in many varieties, including chocolate, unsweetened, or vanilla flavored. They can be found “non-refrigerated” in most stores. However, they must be refrigerated after opening, and are best served cold.
Substituting for Yogurt, Sour Cream and Cheese
Substituting for other products with milk can be very easy. For example, you can try soy based yogurts which taste very similar to traditional yogurt. Try the WholeSoy Yogurt products, they are not only dairy free but have no chemical additives. They come in many delicious flavors from cherry to apricot mango.
On your milk free diet you do not have to give up sour cream. Tofutti’s Sour Supreme is an excellent non-dairy sour cream. The texture is a bit different, but the taste is very similar and delicious. Toffutti’s sour cream can substitute for traditional sour cream in your favorite recipes.
To substitute for cheese in your diet try the brand Daiya. They offer Cheddar, Mozzarella and Jack Cheese varieties. This dairy free cheese comes shredded, all ready to put on top of your pizza.
On-Line and In-Store Products to Try:
- Vance’s Dari-Free Milk is delicious and is made from potatoes.
- Divvies is an on-line bakery for all dairy free products.
- For a great book to help children understand milk allergies, read “Cody the Allergic Cow” by Nicole Smith.
Snacks for the Kids:
Even without milk kids can still have fun snacks. They will enjoy the following snacks and remain dairy free:
- Oatmeal with bananas
- Dried fruit
- Corn tortillas with soy cheese
- Raw carrots dipped in honey or hummus
Lezli Stone is a Registered Dietician and a consulting clinical staff member of the Arizona Asthma & Allergy Institute. She counsels AAAI patients about food allergies and nutrition. She is authoring a four-part series of articles about living with food allergies, which will be posted on this website over the next few months.