Dodging dairy: handling food allergies

Many people - particularly adults - have an allergic reaction to milk. However, you can give up dairy products without forsaking your favorite foods.

by Shelley Frances Deegan
f you or a loved one needs or wants to find replacements to dairy products (e.g., milk, butter, yogurt and cheese), the following information can help you learn more about food products available at local health food stores. You can make this lifestyle change successfully, as I and many others have.
When I was diagnosed 3 years ago with allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, yeast and sugar I thought my days of eating anything but dry salad were over. And I certainly thought I would never have milk on my cereal again. Thank heavens for Rice Dream - but more about that later.
I also was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is why I craved sugar, caffeine and many other non-nourishing foods & beverages. I was 25 pounds overweight and my body hurt all the time. I realized that my health was in my hands and no one else could help me get better. After a lengthy learning process, I founded Solutions to Food Allergies., whose goal is to inform you about available food products. We have done a lot of homework, so you don't have to.

Cheese alternatives

I know what you're probably thinking: "I just love my Tillamook extra sharp cheddar," or the Oscar Meyer lunch pack with the cheese, meat and crackers. I was the same way. Fortunately, there are some fine alternatives.
Each cheese alternative has its own distinct flavor. Your body will thank you for making the switch. My experience regarding the melting quality of these alternative cheeses is excellent. Try a grilled cheese for yourself!
Tofu Rella brand (my favorite!) is made of tofu, which comes from soybeans. It comes in Jalapeño, Cheddar and Mozzarella varieties. However, it contains casein, a milk protein, that some folks cannot eat.

Milk replacer


Egg replacer

I have found 3 egg replacements, other than the carton variety in the supermarket cooler.
First, ENG brand has a product called Egg Replacer. You can't make omelets, etc., with this, though. Tofu is the most common replacement for egg dishes.
Second, there are several egg replacement recipes, using oil, water and baking powder. Check out the cooking references at your health food store or library.
Third, WonderSlim brand replaces fat and eggs! It is made from dried plums. Use this product for baking, as it provides more of a cake-like texture.

Shortening replacer

Butter and margarine replacer

I found one excellent replacement: Spectrum Spread brand. Use this exclusively because: It doesn't melt quite like butter, but is it good!

Read the labels

Read the labels of all products closely. If you're not sure what an ingredient is, look it up in a reference book available at the health food store or library. (Muscle test each if you know how to do that.) Some products may have ingredients that you or a loved one may be allergic to. Be aware of the "trace of barley" in some of these products if you are gluten intolerant. With a little study, you'll be able to recognize what is safe and what to avoid.

Support system

I knew nothing about dairy replacement when I decided to heal myself. Every time I ate something that made me feel bad (like sugar, cheese and coffee), I paid for it with abdominal cramping, stomach pain and bloating, bad breath, bad skin, exhaustion and pain. These are symptoms many people live with everyday. I had been one of them, but found a way out. Share this information with others in need. Support is VITAL to success.

Shelley Frances Deegan is founder of "Solutions to Food Allergies." They offer informational health food store tours several times per month and "Food Police" services to support you in restocking your kitchen with healthy foods. Individual consultations available. For more information, please call (619) 543-0334.