When dairy is no longer your friend

Dairy. It’s in so many yummy things, yet it’s the culprit behind a growing number of food allergies and intolerances – meaning the dairy-free diet is pretty common these days. But before you take the leap, it’s important to figure out whether you have an allergy to dairy or whether you have a dairy or lactose intolerance. This will determine which food components you need to eliminate from your diet.

Dairy allergy

Those with a dairy allergy are allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk, and their immune system reacts badly as a result. Symptoms can include vomiting, wheezing, skin rashes and abdominal pain, among others. Unfortunately, the only solution to a dairy allergy is to eliminate products containing cow’s milk from your diet. But these days, that’s easier than ever to do.

Lactose intolerance

Intolerance to lactose is less severe than a dairy allergy, but can bring about symptoms that are extremely unpleasant if ignored. Lactose is a sugar that’s present in most dairy products and for some people, is hard to digest. If you’re lactose intolerant, your body doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme required to break lactose down for proper digestion, causing discomfort and gastrointestinal symptoms. Removing certain products from your diet or limiting your lactose-containing dairy intake will make a world of difference.

Tips for a dairy-free diet

Going dairy free, or at least partially? Here are a few tips to make it easier to keep you healthy in the process.

  • Avoid the most obvious offenders: dairy milk, cream, cheese, ice cream, and butter. Many components of these foods also hide in processed foods, so you may want to do a little extra homework.
  • Swap your dairy-laden faves for non-dairy ones. Love milk? Try trading it for soy milk (ours is pretty good, if we do say so).
  • Get your calcium elsewhere. There are loads of other non-dairy foods which are good sources of calcium. Foods such as broccoli, almonds, sesame and dark, leafy greens.