Work. School. Practices. Games. Meetings. Dates. And more. Life is busy. Which makes eating healthier seem challenging. Eating dairy free – now that takes eating to another level. But it can be done. And you can still live a normal life.
Eating dairy free at home
Of course, you’ll find it easier to eat dairy free at home. It’s much easier to avoid foods when you don’t buy them! This is why I keep less junk food around.
But what if part of your family eats dairy and the other part has to avoid it? Or what if you’re soooo craving some of the dairy you used to eat?
Here are some ways to satisfy your dairy dilemmas at home.
- Buy milk made from almond, cashew, hemp, coconut or rice.
- Stock up with yogurt made from coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
- Replace butter with olive oil or another oil in many recipes. Or you may be able to tolerate clarified ghee, but it is technically dairy.
- Choose sorbet. Or opt for coconut milk ice cream or rice milk ice cream.
- Make your own cheese from non-dairy milk or zucchini – yes, who would guess?! You can find paleo recipes for anything!
- If you need a candy fix, choose organic dairy-free dark chocolate or fruit-flavored candy that doesn’t contain food dyes (it must exist?!).
Notice I didn’t suggest soy as an alternative to dairy. Despite it having some health benefits, research has led me to believe that soy may do more harm than good, especially if it’s not organic. Read more about the “soy situation” in chapter 4 of my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.
Make sure any of your alternatives say “dairy-free” on the labels because even if something is “made with” coconut milk, for example, it could have cow’s milk in it, too. Read labels carefully!
Rotate your milk alternatives. Don’t buy all products made with rice, or all made with coconut. It’s important to rotate what you eat so your body does not develop new sensitivities. Note that because almond milk has high omega-6 content, you should use it more as a condiment than a drink.
Next, you may wonder. Does paleo cheese taste like “normal” cheese? Well, I’ve made a couple of recipes and found that no… it doesn’t. But it doesn’t taste bad and it can satisfy your craving. Some versions of paleo cheese may not be meltable, so be specific while searching online for recipes.
Eating dairy free while on the go
Eating dairy free at home should be easier once you’ve cleaned house or dedicated a dairy-free section in your refrigerator. But when out and about or socializing with friends, dairy-free options may not be as convenient.
Fortunately, many restaurants recognize the seriousness of food allergies now and offer alternatives. Don’t be afraid to ask if menu items are dairy-free. The reason restaurants have become more accommodating to food allergies is because people have spoken!
If you know you’re going to be running around for the day or evening, remember these tips to make eating dairy free easier:
- Opt for water instead of milk to drink. Even your kids will learn to like water if you keep reinforcing the importance of it!
- Instead of yogurt squeezers, grab some pre-cut raw veggies to eat in the car. This is a great way to get your veggie intake up to 50% of your diet for the day, too.
- Eat something at home before you go, in case you end up somewhere without dairy-free options. You can always eat a little more while out with the rest of your crew. This will minimize any stress about eating out.
- Keep a cooler in the car and stash it with your non-dairy favorites. I grab raw veggies, sweet potato chips or nut/seed bars as my go- tos. Yes, I’m that gal driving down the road with a whole washed but unpeeled carrot hanging out of my mouth. It can’t look any goofier than a cigarette. And nobody wants to see me hangry.
Concerned about your kids getting enough calcium? Make sure they eat plenty of healthy fish, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, bok choy and broccoli. If that seems like an impossible task, read my blog “Get your picky, grain-eating kid to eat more vegetables”.
If you’re thinking of going dairy free but aren’t outright allergic to it, you may find that different dairy products affect you more severely. Milk may make you feel worse than cheese because it contains more lactose. Soft and fresh cheeses typically contain more lactose than hard or aged cheeses. Check out this infographic about lactose intolerance.
Using a food journal can help pinpoint the exact foods you need to avoid. Remember though, if it’s casein your body does not like, you should avoid all cheese and dairy.
Have faith. Eating dairy free gets easier with time, just like everything else. Plus it may urge you to experiment with more recipes and foods!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.