January 9, 2011
How to Go Dairy Free
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I cut out dairy for a while because of lactose intolerance. I hoped the intolerance would go away, but it didn’t, and I simply began using lactose free milk and Lactaid pills. At times over the years, though, I have wondered if I would benefit from going dairy free. So many people who are gluten intolerant also have problems with dairy, specifically casein, a protein in dairy products.
I was never motivated enough to give up my beloved cheese and butter until I learned that going dairy free could help control autoimmune reactions related to my Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. In many ways, my thyroid problems have been more life changing than my celiac diagnosis, and I was eager to do anything that would help.
I went dairy free for a month last June, then went back on it. After consulting with a naturopath, I went dairy free again in September and have stuck with it since then. How dairy contributes to autoimmune thyroid problems is not something I understand well, and is a topic I may address in a later post. It is also not something that one would see immediate results from. However, I think there are other reactions I have to dairy which became evident when I recently had some dairy by accident. It happened when I was eating out and simply forgot that I needed to check for dairy ingredients as well as gluten.
I had two reactions. The first, not surprisingly was congestion. Just a couple of nights prior I was thinking about how perfectly clear my sinuses were—something I had not experienced in a long time. The second reaction was itching, specifically on my abdomen. I had that itching before I went gluten free, and it went away after going gluten free. It came back later, though, and then went away again. When the itching started this time it dawned on me that when I first went gluten free, I also went dairy free for a while because of lactose intolerance. I then understood why it had come back later.
Those symptoms alone are enough to keep me dairy free. It has not been easy, but it has been easier than I expected. For that reason, I want to encourage any of you who are thinking about going dairy free and share with you some things I have learned.
1. Do it for several months if you are doing it on a trial basis. It needs time to completely get out of your system before you will see all the benefits.
2. Don’t assume that recipes won’t work. I’ve adapted many of my favorite recipes to be be dairy free, and most of the time my family doesn’t notice the difference, or they like it even better.
3. Accept the fact that some things don’t have good substitutes. I’m thinking of cheese here. I know that many dairy-free people rave about Daiya. It is probably the best cheese substitute, but it doesn’t come close to real cheese for someone who can still remember what it’s like. It does help to make the loss easier, though, and is better than eating pizza with no cheese at all.
4. Focus on foods that are naturally dairy free. Eating real, unprocessed foods is healthy and most of the time those foods are naturally gluten and dairy free.
5. Use your gluten free skills. The label reading and ingredient checking you do to be on a gluten-free diet is exactly what you need to do for a dairy free diet. Since milk is one of the top eight allergens, it is required to be listed on labels, making our job easier.
6. You can do it! I wish I had gone dairy free sooner. I know it’s not easy, but our health is worth it.
Next week I will post part 2 of How to Go Diary Free and will talk about specific dairy-free products I have used. Part 3 will be published the following week and will discuss specific recipes I have modified.
Labels: dairy free
- for milk, try vanilla almond milk. It's sweet and creamy, better than soy (b/c of the processing of soy that naturally goes on), and it tastes great. Chocolate hazelnut milk is also a great treat.
- for creamer, try "So Delicious Coconut Creamer." It comes in a little blue carton, and is HEAVEN in coffee or smoothies or tea.
I went back to dairy too, for the holidays (lots of old-fashioned family cooking means lots of cheese, especially when you're talking Italian cooking!), but after this week's detox, me and hubs will be dairy and gluten-free again. Can't wait.
Blessings to you.
Purely Decadent and So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream (better than dairy ice cream, and no funny aftertaste)
Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Substitutes (contain no casein or unhealthful hydrogenated oils)
Soyatoo and Healthy Top Whipped Cream Toppings (Dangerously good!)
Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses (they have the "tanginess" of aged dairy cheeses!)
So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverages and Coconut Milk Creamer (the best milk and coffee creamer alternatives I've ever tasted)
Earth Balance Buttery Spread (verrrry buttery tasting!)
The most important reason for me to go dairy-free was the enormous, overwhelming cruelty of the dairy industry. The dairy industry provides torturous lives for the cows that it exploits, uses their babies for meat, keeps the females pregnant unnaturally frequently, and mistreats them in so many ways. (Also, the grossness of milk, there's puss and blood in all dairy milk.)
some organic butter. (Not daily) Now that the holidays are over I won't be using very much butter at all.
The majority of the processed dairy substitutes contain ingredients that are not healthy.
Things like, "natural flavors", "carrageenan", "annatto" etc....
These substances are tough on some of us. They contain "free glutamic acid" That is the same thing as MSG. These substances cause me as many health issues as gluten ever did.
If anyone has eliminated everything they can possibly think of, and are still having health issues......consider the above. It has changed my life.
Noting tastes as good as good feels. Keep healthy my friend.
Even though we both live completely dairy free now, we still enjoy dishes made with rice cheese or almond milk and overall we don't miss dairy one bit ... although it's hard to pass on those fancy cheese platters at parties, I've had my hand slapped more than once hehe.
Thanks for the great post, looking forward to parts 2 & 3 !
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