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Dairy Free Questions...
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I've been putting off going dairy free since my celiac diagnosis early last year. gluten-free alone has improved my symptoms drastically but still have the occasional tummy upset, gas, headaches, etc. I have strong suspicion that issue is dairy but not sure why giving it up seems so much more daunting than going gluten-free to me. My biggest question is how careful do you have to be with dairy? Is cross-contamination an issue like it is with gluten or is it ok to have small amounts? I know many with lactose issues can tolerate small amounts or certain types of dairy. I bought almond milk this week and plan to give it a shot but hoping I don't have to also give up foods that have small amounts of milk as an ingredient.

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I don't think there is a straight answer to this - you will have to go by 'feel'. Some folks don't have a problem with dairy, some can tolerate a bit. Myself, I have half & half in my coffee and cheddar now & then, sometimes homemade veggie dip with plain yogurt. Too much dairy can give me a similar reaction to gluten. I don't worry about cross contamination - but that's just me.

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I think I've just figured out that I need to be trace-dairy free too, as most of the foods I've been eating that I seem to not feel well after don't guarantee dairy free status. Of course, chips and chocolate might just not be making me feel well anyways...

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I'm even more sensitive to dairy than to gluten, if that's possible. So everybody is different.

And while I don't find it harder to avoid, it is much tougher on me emotionally. After a few years down this path, I don't really miss gluten (something as a former bread and pasta addict I never would have thought possible). I don't miss milk (I actually prefer almond milk) or ice cream (I love coconut milk ice cream), but I still deeply miss cheese. Every day. Several times every day. There is just no good substitute.

But, it does get easier with time.

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I agree with chamomilelover. I, too, am more sensitive to dairy than to gluten (at least, it seems that way) and it has been much harder for me to give it up, mostly because I love it so much and was eating a lot of it before I realized I needed to stop.

My problem is with casein, which means I can't have any dairy from a cow. But, I can have dairy from goats and sheeps. I really enjoy the goat cheeses, because I have always preferred sharp cheeses. Have you tried goat cheese and not been satisfied? I eat goat cheeses nearly every day and with the substitute "milks" and their associated products (coconut milk ice cream is my favorite, too), I have been able to keep these dairy-type products in my diet. Although, I wish they were all enriched (especially the ice cream), as I do miss the calcium I was getting from real milk products. The only time it really is a problem is when I am away from home, because most restaurants and ice cream shops don't carry these non-dairy substitutes. And, it just seems like all the yummy stuff on every menu is either made with butter, served in a cream sauce or has melted cheese on top - even when it is gluten free.

To the original question, it's very easy to determine whether or not you need to eliminate dairy from your diet. See an allergist for a full allergy panel. This can be done as a blood test (no need for that skin patch stuff) and can test for all food and environmental allergies. One tube of blood and a few weeks later, you will have your answer. A lot of pharmacies with walk-in clinics offer this panel, if you are not working with an allergist. Or, you can just eliminate dairy from your diet for a few weeks and then re-introduce it to see if you notice any reaction. I recommend the test, because sometimes our brains can trick us into attributing our symptoms to something else, especially if the symptoms mean you have to give up eating something you really enjoy.

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I'd say do a trial first: avoid as much dairy as possible for a couple weeks and see if it makes a difference. If no, then it might be something else. If yes, try reintroducing a few things like a little cheese or yogurt and see how you feel. If it it makes you feel like crud, then I'd say you've got yourself a dairy problem.

I'm also casein intolerant, but i can't handle ANY dairy, including goat and sheep. Every so often I can stomach a very small amount of goat/sheep cheese (like, a finger-tip's worth), and trace amounts aren't as much as an issue as gluten or soy (my nemesis), but I'm sure staying away from it as much as humanly possible makes a big difference in the long run.

I live off almond milk. Earth Balance makes great dairy free margarine that is close enough to butter for me, Cheese is the hard part. I miss it sooooo muuuch!

good luck!

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I'm even more sensitive to dairy than to gluten, if that's possible. So everybody is different.

And while I don't find it harder to avoid, it is much tougher on me emotionally. After a few years down this path, I don't really miss gluten (something as a former bread and pasta addict I never would have thought possible). I don't miss milk (I actually prefer almond milk) or ice cream (I love coconut milk ice cream), but I still deeply miss cheese. Every day. Several times every day. There is just no good substitute.

But, it does get easier with time.

Dairy is very hard on my system so I stay clear of it as best as I can. Maybe some day it won't be so bad but for now I am so sensitive to so many things.
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