Food allergies are increasingly common. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with one at first. If you or a family member you cook for has just been diagnosed with a dairy allergy, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. Grocery shopping, cooking, and eating out have just changed drastically. So what are the basics of this new diet?
Safety First! It’s important to learn the names of milk products, especially if consuming dairy products affect your breathing. The following list covers common ingredients to avoid when doing your grocery shopping.
- Cream or sour cream
- Casein or Sodium-Caseinate
Many non-dairy creams and cheeses actually contain casein or sodium caseinate. If your physician has told you to avoid milk protein, you’ll want to avoid those products. Fortunately, many manufacturers are making dairy replacements without those ingredients.
Remember that milk proteins and lactose are two very different things. If you have a protein problem, lactose-free milk that originated from a cow will still cause you problems. If you need milk for your cereal or a recipe, try a plant-based milk such as soy or almond milk. Different brands have different flavors, so keep tasting until you find a hit. No, they’re not the same as the milk you are used to, but some are still pretty good.
Read labels carefully! Even if you have bought a product before, read the label. Ingredients can change at any time and even differ from store to store. Mistakes can happen, so don’t simply go on the blurb at the bottom that tells you allergen information. While that’s a great place to start in order to narrow down choices, double-check the actual ingredients list every time you buy a product.
Ask questions at restaurants. If a restaurant puts cheese in every dish on their menu, it may not be safe to eat there. Even if they are willing to leave the dairy off of your plate, cross-contamination can be a real problem. The chef that just handled cheese for another customer and then put together your food probably didn’t wash his hands between plates. If you are really sensitive to the smallest traces of milk, you won’t be happy. So check online or call ahead to inquire about dairy free menu choices and how allergies are handled. And once you arrive, inform your server. They can help you navigate the menu and check with the kitchen about your choices. It will save you a stomach ache or worse.
Learn to cook. It’s more work than buying prepackaged meals or getting takeout. But learning some basic cooking skills will help your peace of mind. After all, you know what ingredients you used and whether or not you touched dairy while preparing the food. There are many cookbooks on the market that cater to dairy free diets. Vegans avoid dairy, so those are also good cookbooks to consult even if you love meat. It’s OK to add a steak or some chicken to a meal you find marketed to vegans.
Oh, eggs are safe. They’re chicken. So go ahead and fry one up in vegetable oil. Feel free to use mayonnaise too. It’s egg based. But double-check that they didn’t sneak some dairy into it before slathering it on that sandwich.
If you suspect that you have a dairy allergy or need more information about your allergy, please contact us. We’re happy to help.