A casein-free diet has been found to be beneficial for a variety of health reasons. Casein is a protein found in mammal milk. It is commonly found in cow (and other bovine) milk, and human breast milk. You may have a casein allergy or sensitivity if you have swollen lips, develop hives, eczema, GI Issues, migraines, or other symptoms.
A gluten-free and casein-free (GF/CF) diet has provided positive results for many people diagnosed with thyroid issues, immune issues, and autism spectrum disorder.
FOODS THAT HAVE CASEIN/MAY HAVE CASEIN
Dairy-free cheese (most brands)
Cosmetics and medicines
Ice cream/ice milk
Creamed soups and veggies
Ghee (unless guaranteed CF)
* Dairy free may contain casein Many non-dairy foods contain casein proteins. Avoid foods that contain any ingredient with casein or caseinate.
Rice, Soy, Almond, Cashew, Hemp, Sunflower Seed, Coconut, or Potato-Based Milks
Pareve Creams and Creamers
Sorbet (but not recommended on the elimination diet due to high sugar content)
Italian ices (not recommended on the elimination diet due to high sugar content)
Soy ice cream (NOT ALL and not allowed on Full Elimination Diet or Main 7 Option)
Ghee (if guaranteed CF)
Coconut ice cream (no sugar added is encouraged for elimination diet)
* Kosher pareve foods are casein free. Foods certified as kosher non-dairy or pareve are free of dairy proteins.
Milk Alternatives: Plant Based Milks
Many dairy-intolerant older children and adults enjoy plant milks. These products have favorable attributes but each also has its drawbacks. Soy and almond milks are problematic because both are highly allergenic (soy and tree nuts are two of the top eight food allergens). Rice milk is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction but has little protein and is chock-full of sugar.
Hemp milk, made from hemp seeds, is easier to digest than soy, according to manufacturer Living Harvest. Allergy to hemp is rare and hemp is fortified with calcium. However, like rice milk, the protein and fat content are low and the sugar content is high.
Oat milk is an option for those who don’t react to gluten, the protein in wheat, rye and barley (there’s a risk of cross-contamination during oat processing). However, oat milk isn’t high in nutrients; it’s primarily carbohydrates and sugar.
Potato milk, like DariFree, is non-allergenic for most people but it contains no fat and no protein. For some, potatoes can be hard on the digestive system because they contain a lot of starch.
Whatever your reason for going dairy-free, it might seem like a scary prospect at first. Dairy is in so many favorite foods and recipes. But with a little know-how and effort, you can cut the dairy out of your diet and still eat really well.
Most importantly, you should know that you aren’t alone. For many reasons, there’s a growing number of people who are choosing dairy-free lifestyles to avoid allergens, live healthier or even manage other conditions. Milk allergies are among the top eight food allergies in the United States. And like other food allergies, the symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Foods to Avoid
The first step in a dairy-free lifestyle is adjusting your diet to cut out dairy-filled foods. You should avoid everything that contains dairy including milk, cream, milk-based cheese, butter, some margarines, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and ice cream. You’ll also want to be careful with chocolate – milk chocolate is off limits, and so are certain other chocolates like semi-sweet. Be sure to read the ingredients list before eating.
If you can identify the reason for your reactions to dairy - a full-blown milk allergy, a casein allergy, or your average lactose intolerance, as examples - you will have a clearer understanding of the foods you need to avoid.
It’s also important that you be careful to avoid hidden sources of dairy. These will appear on nutritional labels as things like curds, whey, ghee and lactose, among others.
But moreover, you don’t have to go without. Your favorite recipes can still be part of your repertoire, even if they call for dairy. Simply substitute dairy-free options when making the recipe. Coconut oil, ghee and plant based milks work great as substitutions. Luckily, it isn’t too hard to find dairy free recipes these days. Be sure to keep your eye out for our favorite dairy free recipes!
If you haven’t downloaded our GF/DF recipe book, head to the resources section of our website and click on downloads!