Julia's Guardian Angel Fund

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Living with a Dairy Allergic Kid

This post is a response to a friend who asked about dairy allergies:

It's possible to live without dairy.  We did it for three years when my first two were 5 and 4.  The four year old was positive for a dairy allergy.  It made the 5 year old have an upset tummy and it caused some issues that I think were a 5 year olds way of saying, "Hey, I don't feel so great!"  So we got rid of it.  Actually, we also got rid of it because I believed (and still do) that the dairy was causing problems with their behavior.  There are articles that talk about it, but I believe that medical research still needs to be undertaken for that to be truly PROVEN.  I can tell you removing dairy made a huge difference in my children's behavior.

So, to cut dairy out means no:

  • Acidophilus milk
  • Casein
  • Caseinate
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Galactose
  • Ghee
  • Ice Cream
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactate
  • Lactic acid
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Malted milk
  • Milk
  • Milk fat
  • Milk solids
  • Nougat
  • Potassium caseinate
  • Rennet
  • Skim milk
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Whole Milk
WE USE BUTTER HERE...we don't give that up because it doesn't seem to cause a reaction in my dairy allergic kid.  If your child is severely allergic, you can find dairy free margarines OR you can make GHEE, which is clarified butter where all the milk solids are removed from the butter.

Be aware that foods containing "artificial butter flavor," "caramel color", "non-dairy substitutes" (believe it or not, they often contain dairy!), or anything that doesn't describe what "flavorings" or "seasonings" means, may contain milk. Non-dairy whipped topping actually has dairy protein in it (the trigger for dairy allergies).  In addition, milk may be hiding out in canned fish (such as tuna), many processed meats and deli meats, nutritional supplements and medications.

READ THE LABELS.  When you go to a restaurant, you need to ASK. 

If you are breastfeeding a child with a dairy allergy, you MUST avoid dairy, too.  REALLY.  I know that sounds harsh, but if you are going to do it, do it for love and make the sacrifice.  I had to give up dairy while I breast fed my 5th child.  One day before his 1st birthday, he snitched some chocolate protein pudding (1 scoop of protein powder added to my chocolate pudding).  The protein powder was casein based (dairy based).  He broke out into welts, started making a gagging type of sound and started wheezing.  Off we went to the hospital in the ambulance.  We came home with an epi pen.  He nursed for nine months past that date.   I couldn't have dairy so he wouldn't have dairy. So, I know the sacrifice you are making here.

How do you cope and what do you do?
1) Find a milk substitute you like, they like and you can cook with.  Rice milk is my first choice if you aren't allergic to rice.  (I am.)  Vance's Dairy Free is a powdered hypo-allergenic milk replacement we use at our house.  These are all vitamin and mineral fortified to have the same calcium/vitamin D levels as cow's milk.   I don't recommend soy milk because I'm convinced the soy causes LOTS of problems with early onset puberty in girls and issues with estrogen induced reactions from boys.  I use coconut milk a lot.  It has lots of fat in it.  It used to be used in formula before the evil health cops came along and (wrongfully) said coconut fat is bad for you.  They were wrong.  Coconut fat is GOOD for you.  Oh, so good for you because it has Lauric Acid in it, found in few places besides breast milk, cow's milk and goat's milk.  I use coconut milk in my baking.  It also whips, with lots of work and chilled implements (bowl and mixer attachments put in freezer before whipping). 

2)Decide which camp you will belong to:  NO dairy for anyone or NO dairy for the allergic child.  If you decide to feed the allergic child differently than the rest of the family because you are afraid of a family revolt when the menu changes, just be sure all other sources of dairy are cleaned up after meals and snacks.  My scavenging dairy-allergic toddler has found his way to many a dropped cheese cube or leftover glass of chocolate milk.  We're used to dairy free cooking here, but many families can not live without dairy on the table.  It might be necessary to remove dairy only from the allergic child's plate. It might be necessary to remove it from the whole house for a short time so the allergic child isn't the only one "restricted" from the food.  Trust me, that's a hard thing for a small child to understand - they can't have something everyone else is having.  You have to decide.

3)Cook from scratch.  Canned soups, many processed foods and prepacked meals contain milk.  Cereal bars, meal replacement bars and many snack foods have dairy.  Read the labels.  Anything with cheese, ranch dressing, chocolate coatings, butter flavor or creamy texture may have dairy (i.e. Tootsie rolls, caramels, Zone bars, Ranch Doritos, some brands of microwave popcorn, dill pickle potato chips...you get the picture.)

4) Calcium can be found in many other sources.  When in doubt, supplement.  Drinkables Coral Calcium at Sam's Club is a great supplement recommended by my pediatric dentist for my dairy allergic son.  There are other ways to get calcium.  Calcium fortified OJ is a great way with having the added bonus of having Vitamin C.  Broccoli is great as are many other leafy green veggies.  Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D and your body will grab the calcium out of any food that has it.

5) Know that this may only be temporary.  Most kids outgrow dairy allergies by 5-7 years of age.  Also, if you are just starting, it will take 8-10 days to see a difference.  Once it's eliminated completely, you will see when they have gotten into the dairy!

Good luck and hit the com box if you have more questions. 


  1. Great list! This is such a useful thing, I'm going to mark it for myself to pass on to others. 3 of my 7 kiddos are dairy allergic, as well as my dh, we've been doing this for almost 13 years now. I agree, it really isn't that hard. If you need to be allergic to one of the big 8 this is probably the one to pick. I often get asked how to give up dairy by other people as well so I'll be sharing this.

    And...I totally second that note about giving up dairy when you are nursing a dairy allergic child. When our 2nd was just a week old he was projectile vomiting everything and then refused to drink ANYTHING, he was losing weight rapidly, it was really scary. I won't go into all the details...but that's when we found out he was reacting to the dairy I was eating. And...he was still reacting to even the miniscule carmel coloring that I had been eating before someone told me it was dairy.

    The rest of our kids were very fussy if I got milk and I don't think I would have realized it was dairy had it not been for their older brother's suffering.

    Since it is now only older kids in my house that are dairy allergic we do both. I buy dairy ice cream because I don't want to fork out the bucks for Tofutti (really yummy) dairy free stuff for everyone. But for bread and margarine, salad dressing, etc. I just normally buy dairy free. It's easier. BTW: earth balance now has a dairy free organic buttery spread. It even holds up in rice krispie bars, something the only other dairy free margarine we could find failed miserably at.

    Thanks again for all the information in one place!

  2. Thank you for the tip on the Earth Balance Buttery Spread!!! I will have to look for it.

    We're a mess here with allergies to Soy and Rice, so finding a frozen treat we can all have means we resort to sorbet or popsicles. I miss Ben and Jerry's!

  3. I found your blog when researching bread/ soaking/ fermentation but have noticed about your food allergies. I'm just curious how they have been diagnosed thanks. morjulie@gmail.com