But that doesn’t mean it’s always a walk in the park.
Taking a Realistic Approach: Reduction, Not Complete Elimination
In my 20+ year journey to optimal health, I’ve experienced the full spectrum when it comes to dairy: store-bought dairy, raw milk, and everywhere in between. Today, my family is somewhere in the middle. I’ve basically eliminated cow’s milk dairy to avoid GI symptoms, but we eat a lot of sheep and goat cheese, along with nut milks, in our house.
For many of us, this patchwork approach works best for our busy lives. Achieving 100% dairy-free isn’t always possible with social functions and the different needs and preferences of our kids and partners. The best food options are the ones that feel sustainable for your family. For those of us with dairy sensitivities, reducing our intake or knowing which dairy our bodies can handle occasionally can have a huge impact.
What’s Causing Your Dairy Sensitivity?
If you’re experiencing dairy sensitivity, ultimately we want to find out why. Looking at the root cause is the best way forward for long-term holistic health. Nutrition Response Testing is a highly effective way to pinpoint your exact sensitivities and make a plan to resolve them. Contact us today to schedule your free discovery call.
How to Go Dairy-Free
Each meal is a new opportunity. It may feel daunting to think about being dairy-free for the long term. Instead, break it down by meal: If there are 21 meals in a week, that’s 21 opportunities to avoid overwhelming your system with dairy, and 21 opportunities to find your new favorite dairy substitute.
Pay attention to your body. Everyone is different, and some of us have a greater tolerance for variables like non-cow cheese or baked-in dairy and trace milk. Take a curious approach to your body and try things in moderation. Record your results. Experiment and do your best to track what works — and what doesn’t — over time.
Consider sheep or goat’s milk cheese. Some people with cow’s milk sensitivity can eat goat and cheese dairy just fine, or in small amounts from time to time. Sheep’s milk cheese tends to be less bothersome. Many feta and pecorino cheeses are made with sheep’s milk.
Read ingredient labels. This is extra important if you have other food restrictions. Several dairy-free brands are soy or nut based, so make it part of your browsing routine to check the label.
Find your staples. At my house, our two all-time favorite dairy-like ingredients are full-fat coconut milk and cashews. I use both daily, and coconut milk especially is such a versatile option for getting our healthy fats in. It’s great for making yogurt and ice cream, and adding to soups, smoothies, and hot chocolate. And I always keep raw cashews on hand to make incredible cashew cream.
Consider Nutrition Response Testing for personalized insight. Pinpoint your specific food sensitivities accurately and non-invasively without having to mess around with confusing and time-intensive elimination diets.
The Best Brands for Dairy-Free Alternatives
Food science has come a long way, and there are more incredible dairy-free options than ever before. Below are some of our favorite brands and products I’ve found at Whole Foods and the local natural foods co-op.
Milks: Almond, oat, coconut, cashew, and soy are all options. Experiment to find the best plant-based milk for your family! Ideally, look for organic and unsweetened. Or take it one step further and make your own with the Almond Cow — it’s so easy!
Cheese: These specific suggestions are my family’s favorites, but most of these brands make other kinds of plant-based cheeses as well.
- Miyoko’s Creamery for cream cheese, shredded cheese, cheese spread
- VioLife’s Just Like Parmesan wedge
- Field Roast’s Chao cheese slices
- Daiya Food’s mozzarella style shreds
- Good Planet
- Follow Your Heart
- Siete, Mother Raw, or Good Foods queso (Or make your own queso! We love Danielle Walker’s easy and fast recipe.)
Butter: Many of us with cow’s milk intolerance do fine with a high-quality grass-fed butter like Kerrygold. Others need ghee (clarified butter) or a totally vegan option like coconut butter or oil.
Chocolate: Hu is my favorite. It’s sweetened with coconut sugar and the variety with cashew butter is to die for.
Enjoy Life is another good brand — free of top 8 allergens, made with evaporated cane sugar, and available in chunk and little chocolate chips size.
Macaroni and cheese: If you’re looking for convenience, and as close to the blue box as possible, Annie’s has dairy-free and gluten-free options.
We’ve got loads of them on this blog. Here are some favorites:
- How to Make Dairy-Free Coconut Yogurt
- Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing
- Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream
- Dairy-Free Chunky Monkey Ice Cream
- Healthy Hot Chocolate: Three Ways
- Grain-Free Egg-Free Waffles (includes butter)
- Berry Coconut Smoothie
The journey to reducing or eliminating dairy can feel daunting at times, but for those with sensitivities, it’s well worth it. Learn more about individualized support for your food sensitivities by booking your free discovery call today.