Dairy-free Diet for Milk Allergy

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
custard, pudding
hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, whey protein)
lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
rennet casein
sour cream
sour cream solids
whey (delactosed, demineralized, protein concentrate), whey protein hydrolysate

Other possible sources of milk or its derivatives:

artificial butter flavor
baked goods
brown sugar flavoring
caramel flavoring
high protein flour
lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages
natural flavoring

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?

Yes, too.

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.

Milk By the Number

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.

Non-Dairy Calcium Food Sources that Will Surprise You

When it comes to calcium, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is milk.

Thanks to the heavy marketing of the dairy industry, the world has been brainwashed to believe that cow’s milk or dairy products are the only sources of calcium and the best for bone development and growth.

If you think about it, the biggest sources of calcium is bone, which is the reason why we’re so concern about calcium intake, right.
So it makes sense that we should be eating animal bones to get our calcium. After all, it is the exact source of calcium that our body needed.

I’m just appalled that after all these years, no one has ever questioned the justification of having dairy product as its own group on Four Food Groups, Food Guide Pyramid, Food Step Pyramid and the most recent MyPlate.

RELATED READING: Forks Over Knives based on China Study by Colin Campbell

Anyway, my point is milk and all dairy products are just over-rated.

Contrary to popular belief and what the dairy industry wants you to believe, you don’t need to drink milk or eat cheese and yogurt to get your calcium for your bone health.

Many cultures in the world does not consume dairy, and if they do, dairy is just a small part of their diet.

RELATED READING: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price

And for some other people, their body just does not get along with milk.

Since we’re all so concern about our calcium intake, so how much calcium do we need?

Current calcium recommendation by age:

Infant 0-6 mos – 200mg/d; 6-12 mos – 260mg/d.

Children 1-3 yo – 700mg/d; 4-8yo – 1,000mg/d; 9-18yo 1,300mg/d.

Adult 19-50yo – 1,000mg/d; more if female older than 50 and male older than 70.

One cup of cow’s milk has about 296 mg.

Below is a list of non-dairy sources of calcium that comes close to the calcium content of cow’s milk:

Sesame Seeds A quarter cup of sesame seeds has 351 mg calcium.

Spinach A cup of boiled spinach has 245 mg.

Collard GreensA cup of boiled collard greens has 266 mg.

Canned Salmon 3oz has 181mg.

Blackstrap Molasses One tablespoon has about 137 mg.

Tahini Two tablespoons of raw tahini (sesame seed butter) have 126 mg.

*on a side note, blackstrap molasses and tahini mixed together make a very good dip from whole wheat crackers and pita bread.

Kelp One cup of raw kelp has 136 mg.

Broccoli Two cups of boiled broccoli have 124 mg.

Swiss Chard One cup of boiled chard has 102 mg.

Kale One cup of boiled kale has 94 mg.

Brazil Nuts Two ounces of Brazil nuts (12 nuts) have 90 mg.

Celery Two cups of raw celery have 81 mg.

Almonds One ounce of almonds (23 nuts) has 75 mg.

Papaya One medium papaya has 73 mg.

Flax Seeds Two tablespoons of flax seeds have 52 mg.

Oranges One medium orange has 52 mg.

Nutrition Tips: Mix and match any of the ingredients listed above and you’ll have an calcium- and antioxidant-rich salad.

The goal is to eat a healthy balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables of the rainbow colors, various types of beans, nuts and seeds. And animal proteins are used only for flavors.