The dairy-free diet is an elimination diet that eliminates all dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and all ingredients derived from milk.
It is intended for someone who is allergic or sensitive to cow’s milk.
The goal is to eliminate allergens from milk that trigger allergic reaction.
To successfully implement the dairy-free diet and achieve the best results, one has be meticulous with nutrition label reading, and savvy in the kitchen.
There’ll be new behaviors and habits, and new recipes to embrace.
Because milk is such a cheap commodity (as the industry is heavily subsidized by government’s grant), milk and its derivatives can be found in almost anything food products as additives. So you might not recognize these hidden milk ingredients on plain sight.
Fortunately, the US laws requires all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain a “major food allergen”, such as milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish and soy, as ingredients to list that allergen on the product label.
For tree nuts, fish and crustacean shellfish, the specific type of nut and fish must be identified.
The phrase “non-dairy” on a nutrition label indicates it does not contain butter, cream, or milk. However, this does not necessarily mean it does not contain other milk-derived ingredients.
The Kosher food label “pareve” or “parve” almost always indicates food is free of milk and milk products. A “D” on a food label next to the circled K or U indicates the presence of milk protein. These products should be avoided.
Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats, frequently contain milk or are processed on milk-containing lines.
Carefully read all food labels before purchasing and consuming any items. When in doubt, call the manufacturer to find out more.
Avoid foods that contain these ingredients:
Milk in all forms (derivative, dried, powdered, condensed, evaporated, goat’s, from other animals, lowfat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, skim, sour cream, yogurt, cream, cheese, buttermilk, Half and Half™ )
butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester, ghee
casein, caseinates (ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium), casein hydrolysate
cheese, cottage cheese, curds
hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, whey protein)
lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
sour cream solids
whey (delactosed, demineralized, protein concentrate), whey protein hydrolysate
Other possible sources of milk or its derivatives:
artificial butter flavor
brown sugar flavoring
high protein flour
lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages
Many pediatricians and parents automatically raise concern about adequate calcium intake with a dairy-free diet, as milk is a very good source of calcium and other nutrients, as advertised by the Dairy Council.
And according to the various dietary guidelines over the past decades, milk and dairy products has always been represented as one group by itself.
There’s an over-emphasis on the importance of milk and dairy intake in our culture, in the American culture.
First of all, let me point out that many cultures in the world do not consume milk or dairy products on a daily basis. And people from these cultures thrive.
There are many non-dairy food that are rich in calcium.
Check out these non-dairy calcium food sources.
Second, let’s look at the nutrient profile of milk.
The macronutrients in milk are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Can you get any of these nutrients from other food in your diet?
The micronutrients in milk are mainly calcium, potassium, and vitamin B12. Can you get these nutrients from other foods?
Can you replace cow’s milk with plant-based milk?
Yes. But here’s the caveat. Plant-based milk is not a compatible replacement. Most plant-based milk, such as soy, almond, or coconut milk, has significantly lower caloric and protein content.
So, if you’re going to replace cow’s milk with one of these plant-based milk, you need to be sure to increase protein and calorie intake from other food as well.
Another point to remember is that many infant and children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also sensitive to soy protein. About 60% to be exact. In these kids, replacing cow’s milk with soy milk will not solve the problem.